Back to evil: yes, I agree -- nobody would really think of him/herself as evil, which is why, say, R.A. Salvatore's omniscient style bothers me a lot. He keeps describing his villains as "the evil priest", "the evil mage" and so on and so forth. Glurg. (Okay, my problems with Salvatore's writing does not stop there, but this is one of them. Does he think his audience consists entirely of braindead Homo habilis or what?)

I love, love, love a well-written villain. It's something many shared worlds I enjoy lack, IMO. Star Wars? Oy vey. Vader is about as threatening as a pink rubber duckie. Palpatine's manipulations in the prequel movies make him look a bit better in my eyes, but still, not much oomph here. Malak in KotOR just makes me want to cry. (Well, no, he makes me want to throw a rotten tomato at him and seethe. Then I go off and write fanfiction in an attempt to make him more three-dimensional.)

Incidentally, if anyone's interested, I've written an essay/rant on Mary Sue, the pit-trap of characterization into which many beginners will fall.