Wednesday, January 27, 2010

CharacterExploration: Men of the Volturi by LoreliD

The Men of the Volturi


If Twilight took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I am absolutely convinced that the Volturi would have joined up with that Emperor guy. Jane and Alec would be locked in an epic, twisted battle with Darth Vader over who could Jedi mind-fuck the other with more finesse. Aro and the Emperor would sit companionably, sipping on the blood of a virgin and chamomile tea respectively, while they discussed the endless advantages of a Volturi Guard turned Sith. Place a light saber in the hands of Felix and Demetri and the Rebellion wouldn’t have a hope, because let’s face it, evil usually wins. Evil is sexy. And good…well…good is dumb.

No, no, I jest. We know that’s not true, but power laced with evil is kinda hot. Deep down we can’t deny the allure of a man who can command others, his bidding readily and happily executed without question…ever. Who can resist a man who can solve problems and make it look effortless? A man who knows he has talents and, much more importantly, knows how to use them. Think Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Captain Rhett Butler, and even the devoted and protective Edward Cullen. Or consider the darker, more sinister variation, like Bronte’s Heathcliff. Perhaps a stalkerish and domineering Edward Cullen might be more to your liking. Regardless, they had a goal, either to protect the one they loved, or to turn that love into a possession. That’s the thing with powerful men - they go after what they want, and you just hope you are the lucky object of their desire.

The men of the Volturi are such men…vampires…whatever. With their immense wealth and a reputation carefully crafted and protected over three millennia, they have the means and power to achieve just about anything. The only thing they haven’t been able to acquire it seems, is a devoted fanfic audience. Here’s hoping we can change that. To do so, we need to see who they are in the series, and Stephenie didn’t give us a whole lot to work with in that regard. In my opinion, that is a blessing because it gives us authors a big, beautifully blank page to work with. Something we can really get our hands dirty molding and shaping as we create a history for these dark and seductively powerful characters.

The Nighttime Patrons of the Arts - What's With the Robes Anyway?

original art credits: “The Volturi”

From their castle in Volterra, the Volturi Ancients quietly rule (I imagine they would prefer the word govern) the Vampire world unchallenged, secure in the knowledge that the laws, and their reputation of enforcing them, are enough to keep them in power. Edward calls them the Ancients, and the nickname alone inspires a vast swirl of historical pageantry to sweep through my mind like a Texas twister. Three thousand years of human history the Ancients have been witness to, and undoubtedly played some part in. Seriously people, the plot possibilities here are endless. The Ancients have seen the fall of Rome, the glory that was Ancient Egypt, the Crusades, the onslaught of the Black Death and the discovery of the New World, each with a different set of eyes and a unique perspective, which makes endless fic fodder for those willing to take them on.

When we are introduced to the Volturi inner-circle-of-not-so-much-trust in New Moon, Aro clearly stands out as the overly enthusiastic and utterly manipulative Don Volturi. He conducts those around him as a Maestro would his orchestra, and enjoys himself thoroughly as he has them play whatever dark little symphony he has already composed for them. Officially, he is the spokesperson for the Volturi council, but it is soon apparent that his role goes much further. His gift makes him perfectly suited to be the intermediary between the loyal and the disloyal alike.

Under the pretense of upholding the law, he ascertains the truth, as only he can, then pretends to confer with Marcus and Caius as to what shall be done. It seems apparent that he asks their opinion only out of convention and courtesy rather than any real regard for their opinion. After all, Aro would have already decided the fate of the poor, groveling soul upon touching him, which is exactly what makes his gift downright frightening. One errant subconscious thought and you are convicted and sentenced before you can say “welcome, tourists.” His gift guarantees obedience as lying to him is impossible, unless you happen to be that one incredibly confounding brunette girl. He is revered by many (Jane), and loathed by some (Caius), but feared by all, otherwise he’ll sic his little pet on you, and she will happily and eagerly acquiesce to make you suffer.

Oh and he’s mated. Forgot about that, huh? That’s because we hear virtually nothing about his wife, Sulpicia throughout the series (another hint, gentle readers/writers.) He’s also a great strategist, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he learned the art of war from Julius Cesar himself. He is always looking for an opportunity to strengthen the Volturi coven whilst gaining resources. He is described by Bella as a collector, a collector of gifted vamps and apparently …jewelry? Trinkets to woo his subjects into submissive loyalty, I suppose. He also knows every corner of the mind, all its hidden secrets and its most fervent wishes. He could fulfill your heart’s every desire without you ever having to ask. That almost cancels out the onion skin in my book. In short, Aro is the man with the plan, and a horridly out of control God complex.

Caius would be Count Dooku in my Twi-Wars universe. Grumpy and eternally annoyed by Aro’s never-ending simpering, it seems he is eager for provocation, and equally eager to dole out his version of justice. Perhaps he’s bitter that he is eternally Aro’s sidekick and resentful he has no special gift to usurp him with.

Of the three Ancients, he is the least developed in the series and the most difficult to understand. Oh, and he’s mated too, to Athenodora.


We know that Marcus's gift is for seeing the strength of the relationships of those around him, but did you know that Aro's desire to keep Marcus and his gift close to him resulted in a drama fest that could rival Day of Our Lives?

It all happened many, many centuries ago. Back in the day, Marcus was happily mated to Aro’s lovely sister, Didyme. She radiated so much happiness that she drew people to her; this was her vampiric gift. Like so many others, Marcus fell in love with her and she returned his affections. They loved each other so much that as time passed they didn’t care about Aro’s silly evil plans anymore. They resolved that they would be his instruments of evil no longer and began to plot their escape. I like to imagine them happily frolicking though a Tuscan field dotted with red Papavero poppies, sparkling brilliantly and flipping Aro the bird.

But what did the ever ambitious Aro do when he realized he might be losing Marcus to true love? He offed his own sister, who had the less powerful gift of the two, and kept Marcus and his gift for himself. Obviously.

Marcus never found out that Aro was the killer. His zombie-like indifference to everything is a result of his eternal grieving for his beloved, Didyme. He remains with the Volturi mostly due to Chelsea’s influence, and goes through the motions of an endless eternity with apathetic impatience.

The other half of the gifted witch twins, Alec and Jane are obviously close. He welcomes her lovingly upon her return in NM when she brings Edward, Alice and Bella for their audience with the Ancients. He comforts her with reassuring protectiveness in BD when Bella’s shield renders Jane’s burning gift useless. His gift is more frightening than Jane’s in many ways, depriving his victim of all their senses, sight, sound, scent, everything. Really effing scary if you’re in a fight with the guy. He is one of Aro’s most prized possessions and aside from the fact that he was saved from burning at the stake with Jane, his history is a huge blank page just begging to be written.

To be an excellent tracker, you would have to be cold, calculating, merciless and relentless, hunting your target as an assassin would. Demetri is feared by Edward and Alice even more than Alec or Jane. At least they represent a relatively quick death. Demetri’s gift promises the accused an eternity of running in a world that is only so big with hiding places that are quickly exhausted. Demetri would find you should you ever get away… you naughty girl, you. His complete disregard for humans is frighteningly apparent when he requests that Heidi "save a few" for him, few of course being tourists. Poor souls who would be the last die, after witnessing the manner of their end and seeing Demetri coming for them. *Shudders with creepiness*

It seems natural to me that if you were the biggest badass vamp in the biggest badass vamp army in the world, you’d be one cocky son of a bitch. Meet Felix, the undisputed goon of the Volturi guard. His flirtatious banter with Bella is endearing in a creepy way, and I have the distinct feeling that if Emmett ever turned to the Dark Side, he and Felix would be the vampire equivalent of the Weasley twins. Felix could toss you around the bedroom and make you his bitch like no other, before making a snack out of you. And why is that hot again? I'm not exactly sure and I don't exactly care, it just is.

Finding Darkness in the Light:
The Voluturi Men in FanFic

Finding good Volturi fics is, I imagine, akin to combing the world for your singer. In preparation for this piece, I spent an evening (well, several actually) searching the one hundred and twenty five thousand Twilight stories on by character. A search for Aro yielded 15 pages of summaries for what turned out to be mostly drabbles. Searches for Alec, Demetri and Felix yielded similar results. Very few cast any the Volturi men as a main character, as most have some connection to Edward and Bella. If they are cast as the focus, they are paired with introduced characters or are used as pawns for PWP. Needless to say the pickings were slim, very slim. Finding fics to rec was nothing short of excruciating. I want to say here and now that its not only possible that I may have overlooked some amazing stories, but it's probable. The reason being as I said, it really was like the proverbial evil needle in the haystack. So please PM me on ffn and I will add your awesome recs to the Volturi Fic community I created.

I'd like ot begin with a story that explores the idea I mentioned earlier. In her little gem of a one shot called An Unnatural Life, Starshinedown touches on the historical vastness that Aro has witnessed. With an amazing eloquence and an obvious knowledge of antiquity and Greek mythology, she transports us to another time, eons ago.

He (Aro) spent the better part of the century traveling across the Egyptian kingdom and the Phoenician ports and cities along the north African coast. To his great disappointment, the people on this side of the Mediterranean tasted much like the people he'd been hunting on the other side. What he did gain appreciation for, however, was the scale in which the Pharaohs thought: the size of the pyramids and monuments appealed to him. Why build small when you could tell all the world of your wealth and power?

Why indeed? It’s easy to imagine that seeing the evolution of history and human civilization would teach Aro and the Ancients how to avoid the collapse of their own empire over the millennia. Walk softly and carry a big stick, or in this case, an invincible blood lusting army of the undead.

HMonster4's The Power to Be had me crying within the first few paragraphs (for which I was promptly called a cream puff by the author, I'll have you know). I can't say too much without giving the completely engrossing plot away, but suffice to say it was heart wrenching. Her characterizations of the Volturi were very much in canon, and HMonster gave us a glimpse of Marcus's background, showing us a surprising sympathy we might never expect from him. Aro is politely manipulative and ever intent on acquisition, and I love her characterization of crotchety Caius banging his staff on the stone floor like an ill tempered old man. Fair warning, no real happy ending here (for which I clap enthusiastically).

letmesign crafted a deep and heart-rendering story with a unique premise that stood out from the rest. In Marble and Mahogany Bella is a vamp, and has spent the first 60 years of her life as little more than a slave to the Volturi, her gift treated as a possession on its own apart from Bella herself. We see her treated cruelly, abused repeatedly before finally freeing herself from the fear that keeps her shackled to her past and unable to move forward. The Volturi play a supporting role in this fic, but a very important one as Edward and the Cullens try to help Bella heal.

Stregoni Benefici by giselle_lx hasn't begun to post yet, but I'm so very anxiously awaiting its beginning. In Stregoni Benefici, giselle_lx will examine Carlisle's early life and obviously the Volturi had a great influence over him, and perhaps he over them. She hopes to begin posting in February but gave TLYDF a sneak peek with her summary:

Carlisle Cullen has always been different—a frustrating son to a distant father; an enigma to the rulers of his world. But when he faces the biggest decision of his immortal life, he’s forced to grapple with the moments that have shaped him most. When you've lived your whole life among killers, what kind of man do you choose to become?

What’s missing?

As I read the past character explorations, I noticed that many of our other favorite secondary characters seem to be suffering from a lack of development in fic. Although it makes me sad, it isn’t surprising in the least. We are all here because of our love for Edward and Bella, certainly not for the bad guys that show up briefly at the end of the last three novels.

The Volturi are sprinkled here and there throughout the one hundred and twenty five thousand Twilight fics on, but to find them, you have to dig, and dig deep. For the most part, the Volturi are in the background with the stories focusing on some connection to Edward and or Bella. Jane and Aro get the majority of attention by authors, possibly because out of all the Volturi, they were the most developed in the series. Felix and Demetri seem to continually be fodder for pwp, and Alec gets hardly any love at all. I was determined to find out why this was the case, so I posted on Edwardville and asked the members what they thought about the Volturi.

Where's the love?

There are various reasons, but one seemed to stand out first and foremost.

regina__falangi told it like it is

With the Volturi comes a distinct lack of Edward, and people love reading about Edward.

'Nuff said. There's really no need to elaborate, is there? I didn't think so, so let's be moving on...

hexumhunnie311 shared this thought

I think it might be because the Volturi are essentially secondary characters, we don't get much of a back story for anyone, AND they are the bad guys... I just think that fact scares people away from having them be the focus of their stories.

They are certainly secondary, after all Stephenie Meyer had to keep the novels within a reasonable length, so that we could all carry our copies with us everywhere. They are bad guys, and, as much as it pains me to admit it, bad guys, no matter how hot they are never get as much love as good guys.

I think jennylynnfs sentiment below mirrors the feelings of many readers.

I admit that when I read Twilight ff, I'm of a singular mind. I have to have some kind of B/E stuff in it. I do like the Volturi. I am intrigued by them and think their story would be interesting, but if I had a choice, I probably wouldn't choose to read it because there's no Bella and Edward in it.

I can certainly understand this perspective. We like-a the romance-a, that is sorta the point of Twilight. I propose however, that there may come a time when readers may want to read something different. Something beyond Edward and Bella, but I'll get to that in a second.
fiorelina said:

They lack a romantic and sexual dynamic. They're too old, too young or actually, ugh, related.

This comment fascinated me, because I totally get that. The Ancients are old and onion skinned and filmy eyed and rather…eww. Yet, I see potential for that missing dynamic to be created in the hands of an experienced and seasoned author using the remaining, younger Volturi characters.

Anonymous EV'er said

I've never read a fic that the characters of the Volturi are the main one. It's a shame. I want to read a non-Edward and Bella story.

starshinedown elaborated on the idea of craving something new,

I've occasionally looked for
Volturi fics--when I first started reading Twi fanfic and got past the urge to read all about Edward and Bella all the time, I looked around, but at the time all I found were stories that weren’t so great. So I stopped looking.

See? The desire to read something beyond Bella and Edward really does exist in the fandom, they just want something to read. So please to be getting on that, m'kay? *bats eyelashes*

And in the genuine interest of being fair and balanced, nsyfials552 said -

I’ve never really been too interested in the Volturi...they’ve just never really grabbed my attention. Like in the books they didn’t have much screen time, so to speak, and I felt like they fulfilled their purpose well enough there. So I haven’t been curious about any further explorations of any of them in ff.

We all have our own particular tastes. And that is absolutely fine. Diversity is varh varh pretteh.
So is honesty, thank you all for sharing your thoughts and letting me use them so I had something more to talk about in the sparse Volturi piece.

I'd like to leave you with the following thought to ponder in the hope of swaying a few of you over to the Dark Side with me. The fact is we love bad boys. Even if you don't think you do, I'll bet you have at least one favorite fic where Domward, Possesiveward, Darkward, or drug-using Rockstarward has a starring role. Although Edward is a bad boy in the series, in the fandom we seem to love making him naughtier. He's not bad enough, and the various Badwards have a HUGE following. So I pose this challenge: why not take the readymade bad guys Stephenie gave us, give them a hint of good guy qualities and take them out for a spin? Perhaps, if we knew them better, if we understood where they came from and what kind of people they were before they turned all scary bad ass, we could identify with them. We could care about them. We could want them to toss us around the bedroom in true Domward fashion. So, bust out the quills ladies and gents, and do your worst. I triple dog dare you.

LoreliD is a diehard geek who fervently wishes that Apple would hurry up and invent the damn Holodeck already so she can live out her Edward fantasies. She has a bizarre and increasingly worrisome fixation with Jane; someone may need to help her soon. She is the author of Becoming Jane and Deceptive Little Flower. She also co-authored I'll Be Seeing You and its sequel, My Girl Friday with the amazing LightStarDusting.

Archived Explorations:


  1. Great job, Lore. I know how much work you put into this and it looks fantastic. :)

    I agree with dark being sexy - hell, we all love reading those Darkward stories so much and I like your point about the Volturi being ready-made dark characters.

    So um, get working on that Jane/Alec piece - okay? Not that I'm pushing you or anything (yes, I am).

    Also, since you explained the Holodeck to me and provided pictures/video, I want to keep you forever and ever.

  2. "Good...well...good is dumb." Spaceballs reference? Nice. I love it.

  3. Thank you for such a thorough exploration of the Volturi boys. They really do get left behind in the fandom.

    I adore your Twi Wars universe, and I shudder at the idea of the Emperor and Aro ever actually meeting. Or, gah, someone strong in the Force being turned into a Volturi-approved Sparklepire.

    Thanks for the shout-out! I'm still tickled that you liked my little one-shot enough to mention it.

  4. For some Volturi-based one shots, readers can check out the entries for the "I Get Off in Volterra" contest currently underway. I've submitted a Demetri fic called "His Angel," and I read a fantastic Aro/Sulpicia one just the other day. There was also a good Bella/Alec one that I found intriguing.

    KariAnn is currently writing a very intriguing Felix in "In Pursuit of Normalcy."

    Especially after seeing NM, I find I'm craving some good Volturi stories...and I agree that they are lacking in the fandom.

  5. Hey, Ellab-twilight, thanks for the pimpage! =D I personally love writing about the Volturi. I heart bad boys.

    I hear good things about "Finding Forever" by Suzybear/susanashlea. It's a Felix/OC fic.

    In regard to comparing the Volturi to the Sith - I think that's a bit funny, 'cause I got told by a reader that that's exactly how I should think of them, lol. (They thought my Felix was OOC for being sexually attracted to human women, from what I got out of the review.)

    Anywho, nice article!

  6. This character exploration made me dance a little jig! i'm hopelessly obsessed with the Volturi and as a writer of Volturi fic, I'm excited to see that there are more Volturi-centric stories out there.

    Thanks for an excellent article!


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