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Villains by Necessity Paperback – March, 1996

4.6 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

With the banishment of Evil from the realms, the final victory of Good is assured-unless a few stalwart antiheroes can save the world from a serious and potentially fatal imbalance. First novelist Forward explores the complications that arise from a surfeit of "goodness" in the world. The result is a skewed version of the epic fantasy that features an assassin, a thief, an evil sorceress, a dark knight, and an implacable druid as the villains-turned-heroes who must restore the delicate balance of opposing forces before their world disappears in a blinding flash of Goodness and Light. Fans of role-playing games will recognize many familiar conventions in this seriocomic fantasy adventure. A candidate for fantasy collections in large libraries.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Forward's first novel gives the concept of the balance between good and evil a most ingenious twist: What if good were so totally triumphant that it became a worse danger than evil, and a band of unemployed evil characters had to go on a desperate quest to find the means of putting the saving bit of evil back into the world? The result of this twist is an almost straightforward quest tale, with numerous well-drawn characters (including a centaur who starts off as a secret agent for good and eventually joins the side of evil), great ingenuity about magic, very creditable world-building, and considerable wit. Although bearing its share of first-novel flaws, it has many more virtues, which include an underlying, serious examination of the good-evil dichotomy that is the basis of so many role-playing games. Roland Green --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Assoc Llc; First Paperback Printing edition (March 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812522281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812522280
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 4.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,805,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In a twist on the usual fantasy story, Forward's heroes are not classically good-hearted heroes, but instead villians. Including an assassin, an evil sorceress, a greedy thief, and a black knight, the main characters are likable and intriguing. They band together to save the world from destruction by the powers of good.
In the beginning, I found the characters one-dimensional. However, as the story quickly unfolded, I was fascinated to see that both character introspection and interaction developed their personalities to an amazing degree. After that, even minor, short-lived characters managed to grab my attention fully.
There are a number of sly digs at other fantasy works, which make Villians By Necessity an even funnier book if you're well-read in fantasy novels.
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Format: Paperback
You know this has happened to you. You're reading a traditional, high-fantasy type novel. About fifty pages in, you're skimming through the third long-winded, introspective inner monologue of the hero of the story about battling the evil in his heart. Don't you just wish sometimes that the bad guy, who's usually a much more interesting person anyway, would just come up and whack him? This is the book for you. Along with all the traditional aspects of high fantasy--the warrior, the mage, the theif, quests, labyrinths and insurmountable odds--this book has a wicked sense of humor and depth, and characters that will stay with you forever. It's for those of us who have always wanted to step on the lovable gnomes, smack around vapid princesses and say "BWA-HAHAHAAAA!!" and mean it. Definitely my favorite book of all time :)
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Format: Paperback
A first glance and a quick skim through, Villains by Necessity, by Eve Forward, seems like your average, run-of-the-mill comic fantasy epic, involving a band of adventurers out to save the world against unlikely odds. However, take a look closer, and you'll find something familiar, yet strangely unique, and a great read along the way.
What Forward does here is not introduce new types of fantasy worlds, but lampoon already existing ideas that have been beaten harder than any dead horse could hope for. "Villains by Necessity" takes place in a world called the Six Lands, a place Forward most likely intended to resemble Middle-Earth. The prolouge tells the tale of a great war long ago, where a Dark Evil King battled the forces of good. It took a small band to overcome their differences and defeat the Dark Lord (hmm, where have I heard THAT before?). Now, 150 years later, the banishment of evil threatens to destroy all in a blinding flash of goodness. Now, THAT's a bit different.
Enter our anti-heroes. An assassin, a thief, a druid, a sorceress, a dark knight, and a centaur must band together to bring balance back to the world, ere it sublimates itself. Take what you're used to and flip it. The bad guys must save the world from itself.
Interesting, no? Having the left-overs from forces of evil, defeated in the decisive Final Battle described in countless fantasy novels, set out to undo that Victory. Despite preconceived roles of pure nastiness that one would prescribe to this group, Forward instead develops these supposed irredeemable souls into a group one might actually find after the Absolute Victory.
Some have complained that these characters are not "evil enough", but it makes sense, the way Forward weaves it; the most evil creatures in existence were snuffed out...
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Format: Paperback
"Villains by Necessity" is indeed a dreadfully derrivative fantasy quest, with all the exesses we have sadly come to expect. However, the fact that the heroes are villains, out to save the world from the forces of good, makes all the difference. Besides which, Eve Forward is perfectly well aware that her story is derrivative, and pokes fun at cliches even as she uses them.
Our "heroes" are Sam, a depressed and unemployed assassin; his thieving friend Arcie; Kaylana, the druid who warns them of the world's immanent destruction; Valeriana, the evil sorceress; a dark knight who never speaks or raises his visor; and the centaur Robin, a rather hapless young minstrel. They travel through the Six Lands, searching for pieces of the key that will open the Dark Gate and return evil to the world. As their quest progressed, I did find myself wishing Forward had been slightly less tied to the strict conventions of epic-quest fantasy, which forces her characters and plot into a very familiar pattern. But though the story arc and episode types are predictable, the details are well-handled; many scenes are utterly hilarious, and some are unexpectedly poignant.
There are a few efforts at philosophy, including discussions about the relationship of ultimate good and ultimate evil; both are dangerous and meaningless without each other. The idea that no worthwhile art has been created since evil was vanquished strikes me as dead-on accurate. And the secrets of Valerie's past, while never making her in any way a nice person, do illuminate the sticky, evasive morality inherent in battles against "irredeemably evil" creatures.
Mostly, though, "Villains by Necessity" is just sheer fun, very welcome to anyone who ever secretly doubted unicorns' perfection and dragons' nobility, found the villains more interesting (and human) than the heroes, and wished that after all their effort, the bad guys could finally win. Even just once.
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