Monday, March 1, 2010

Villains by Necessity by Eve Forward

Posted by Simcha 5:46 PM, under | 6 comments

What happens after the forces of evil are finally vanquished and the victorious heroes bring peace and harmony to the land? The classic epic fantasies end with the defeat of the villains and a land that is now a better place, filled with peace and harmony- but is that really the happy ending that it seems to be? Perhaps too much goodness and light can, in fact, be deadly, and only those who live in the shadows can see that the world is on the brink of destruction.

Sam, Arcie and Valeriana appear to be the only remaining villains in the land, after their friends and family have all been killed or mysteriously reformed. One is a deadly assassin, the other an untrustworthy thief and the third, a dark creature of the night who feasts on human flesh. Nothing could convince this unlikely trio to work together, except that if they don’t they might all soon be dead, along with the rest of the world.

Following the druid, Kaylana- whose purpose is to keep the balance of light and dark in check- Sam, Arcie and Valeriana must uncover the broken pieces of the key to the portal and bring evil back into the world, restoring it to it’s former state. Along the way they are joined by a mysterious, silent knight and a young minstrel centaur, each of whom joins the quest for their own secretive purposes.

But the heroes who had valiantly battled to destroy all evil, will not stand by as these villains attempt to wreck all of their hard work. The handsome and heroic Prince Fenwick gleefully gets his group of adventurers back together in order to hunt down the villains (and perhaps romance the pretty druid). From his tower, the “kindly” and powerful Wizard Mizzamir uses his magic to track the questing group and turn them towards a purpose of his own.

As the villains struggle to find the keys to the dark portal before it’s too late, they are hounded at every step by the good citizens of the land who will do whatever it takes to stop the evil villains, because that is what heroes do.

I had first read Villains by Necessity many years ago and loved it for its fresh and unique take on the standard epic fantasy and I decided to read it again to see if it’s as good as I remembered. I’m pleased to report that I enjoyed this book just as much now, as I did back then. Eve Forward successfully turns the classic battle of good and evil on its head in fun and interesting ways, forcing the heroes to be the antagonists, and the villains to be the heroes.

This is particularly interesting when you find yourself cheering for the vicious, sharp toothed cannibal or wishing for the death of the do-gooder unicorn who keeps trying to kill the protagonists. Every so often there will be an overly-sentimental scene in which one of the villains will give a cheesy "we must work together to save the world" speech or an unnecessary explanation of how they are not really as evil as they may seem, which the author seemed to have inserted in order to gain reader's sympathy for the villains. But these, along with a few other slight flaws, are forgivable because the rest of the story is so enjoyable.

Villains by Necessity is a great book for anyone who enjoys fun and humorous fantasy. Though, after reading it you might be disappointed to discover that Eve Forward has only published one other book after this one, back in 2001. Considering the great potential that Villains by Necessity hints at for this author, this seems to me a great shame, but hopefully Forward will make a reappearance someday, and in the meantime you can enjoy this gem of a book.


I love anti-hero stories, but it's sometimes hard to find the right balance of redemptive and evil
this one sounds great though, thanks for the review!

I always know that when I'm wanting to read a fantasy book that I'm not famniliar with but one that I know I would love, I come here and always find one. This one sounds amazing and it's going on my wish list right now. Thanks for the review.

Fantasy is not usually my go to genre - but you've given some great reviews that are starting to change my mind and I might start adding it into my reading list!

I'm passing on some blog love here!

Ninefly: You would probably would like this book then, , though, as I mentioned in the review, the author does seem to try a little too hard to make the villains likable by trying to show us that they aren't as dark as they might seem.

Ryan: Thanks so much! That's a real compliment. I hope you get a chance to read this book and that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Beth: Thanks Beth, I'm honored! And fantasy has something for everyone. I'd be happy to give you some recommendations if you are ever looking for a specific type of book (I love recommending books!)

This sounds like a great read! I love the idea too. What would happen if all the evil is gone? Well, could all evil be gone? This really does sound like a great take on that whole thought. Glad you enjoyed the book even a second time around. :)

One of of my top 5 fantasy books....would like to see it as a movie...lets get to work on that.....

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