Actually, chapter 11 was done a few days ago, and I’m already into Chapter 12. This is where the heroes and heroines believe their finally starting to make gains against the adversaries who have done such horrible things. What they don’t realize is that the unseen conspiracy has planned for their responses, all along.
I remember in Frank Herbert’s Dune when Barron Vladimir Harkonnen chastises his nephew Rabban who has executed a covert attack on House Atreides when they had just taken possession of the dessert planet. This completely goes against the Barron’s own plan because he wanted to lull house Atreides into thinking it was secure and in control of the treacherous planet. He wanted them to let down their guard, and now, thanks to the bungled attack on the Duke’s son, Paul Atreides, that can’t happen. In reading Dune, what impresses some is that the enemies are not stupid – they are very, very clever.
I like clever villains, in particular those who believe they are acting out of altruistic or noble belief. I also like ones who plan multiple steps ahead, and who, like the common yard lizard, are not against losing their own tails to ensure that the predators are misdirected at the jumping, writhing distractions left behind. They are willing to look beyond what they think “should” happen and clearly observe what has happened, and act accordingly. They can adapt, and even worse, they are patient and committed.
Clever villains don’t monologue; they don’t leave ridiculously elaborate traps heroes can escape from, and they don’t leave copies of their plans just lying around. They destroy and ruin without ever getting their hands (or paws) messy. Such fun writing ahead… See you in the future!