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So You Want to Be a Villain?

(A Practical Guide to Evil #1)

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  530 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Catherine Foundling has a plan.

She’ll join the Legions of Terror that occupy her homeland and work her way up the ladder until she can effect the kind of changes the former Kingdom of Callow so badly needs. Yet after a night gone from bad to worse she is offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by the right hand of the Empress, the infamous Black Knight: to become his
ebook, 477 pages
Published March 25th 2015 by Wordpress

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 ·  530 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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Start your review of So You Want to Be a Villain? (A Practical Guide to Evil, #1)
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a web-serial, premised on the idea that the plucky protagonist, rather than trying to overthrow the evil empire, decides to join it and reform it from the inside. The book is a one-man operation, published on WordPress at the rate of a chapter a week, and it's definitely rough around the edges (fairly high rate of typos, the occasional iffy scene)...

...and it's still one of the best books I've read this year. The writing is clear, flowing, and descriptive. You always know what's
Adam Woods
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A classic rise to power story with a meta magic system bases off Story Roles. It hooked me.
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A Practical Guide to Evil #1 started out pretty weak, but ended strong. I love the idea of a world where narrative theory drives events, and I think the way characters like the Black Knight are super well done. It's a very compelling premise.
The writing style feels very amateur-ish, which of course it is, but it really took away from the good things about this novel for me. Catherine, especially at the beginning, doesn't feel like a fleshed out character. She feels very one dimensional.
The final
Shane Moore
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you want a Fantasy story about the kind of person who would take a look at the army of Mordor and then inquire about the signing bonus for joining up, this is your book. I've often enjoyed Fantasy stories like this one that focus on a villain's perspective. They tend to be light and fun even when they're dealing with apocalyptic events, and this story delivers exactly that. The protagonist, Catherine Foundling, isn't entirely evil (and neither is the Evil faction in general). However, they ...more
Dániel Darabos
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
It's not a bad swords & sorcery book. But I expected more than that.

What is supposed to set it apart from a million other fantasy adventures is the concept of Roles. Being a Lone Swordsman or an Heiress is not just a cliche here. It has tremendous power. The force of narrative compels people and makes miracles possible.

That sounds great. I was so excited for the clever twists this setup allows! And maybe this series goes there and it's awesome. But after reading the first book and part of
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Really good entry for a series. Loved the Name system and the world building. The book as a whole is pretty fast paced while still being easy to keep up with everything going on. The second half of this book really shined and was probably one of the most enjoyable things I have read in a while. The thing that hooked me with this book is how fleshed out a lot of the characters personalities were but how they interacted with each other and the world. I found some of my favorite moments were
Jul 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of my first forrays into web serial and actually the first non-fiction book I've picked up in months - it made me realise how much I've missed them. Loved the way that this book subverts fantasy tropes and follows the Evil empire. Also the beginnings of some promising worldbuilding: seems that the empire is based more on African kingdoms, while the states it occupies have the generic European middle ages vibe. Also loved that the region is medieval era, yet it's hinted that elsewhere has ...more
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
God I love this series. I started re-reading it when it went on hiatus after Book IV wrapped up (it's back now though yayyyy!), and it holds up just as well the second time through. Catherine Foundling is a fully legit BAMF, and a world where being Dangerously Genre Savvy is an essential tool for survival but that isn't played for laughs is interesting as heck. That said, when the humor is present it's pretty damn funny (Dread Emperor Traitorous is best girl). I recommend this series to ...more
Karin Bergdahl
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a good read! And I am always weak for the clever, bantering characters... A bit rough around the edges (spelling and grammatical errors), as you would expect from a self-published book, but the story compensates for that by far!
Oct 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Bit iffy in some parts, but it does have good worldbuilding, a perfectly twisty plot, and unpredictable, morally gray characters. Mildly terrified to see what comes next. Oh also Scribe is my spirit animal and must be protected at all costs.
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this story. Great characters with a good amount of depth to them, and very funny. However, I've knocked off a star for the high amount of typos. Yes, it's not that unusual in a self-pubbed book, but it's not hard to fix on a medium like Wordpress.
Dec 16, 2018 added it
Shelves: reddit-recs, dnf, reread
The archetype of the main character is clever witty impulsive heroine who wants to change the world. I wasn’t interested in reading about what is essentially stereotypical YA heroine who does stuff. Granted, I stopped 10 chapters in, seeing that she wasn’t getting any less one dimensional.
Feb 24, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.
Constance Carroll
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
The plot is really good, but damn it is in desperate need of an editor.
Richard Kemp
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rational, webfic, fiction
Constantly fantastic in its portrayals of Good and Evil. Prose is trite in places.
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Decent fantasy story where the characters do not suffer from Genre Blindness, quite the opposite. A better than average use of magically capitalized Words.
Ashley Kempkes
I would love to see this published for real, the idea behind it is brilliant, the characters are well thought out. Put this with an editor and beautiful things would happen.
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had to force myself through the first few chapters, and honestly thought I wouldn't continue, but somewhere along the lines the MC I thought I'd hate ended up being one of my favorites.

I'd recommend giving this on a shot.

Love the cast of side characters, while the pacing is slower because of the supporting cast, three-dimensional characters are worth it.
Xenophon Hendrix
Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a fantasy story in which the more important characters, at least, know they are in a fantasy story. Some of them are trying to fight the story line.
Jason Hu
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This series is better than most published fiction you've read, by a significant amount. And it is completely, 100% free.

Characters: 10/10

Great characters, both protagonists and antagonists are interesting and worth exploring. Each character has depth and development, while keeping the focus on the protagonist. Characters grow and change over time.

Plot: 10/10

Strong pacing keeps you interested. The climaxes are simultaneously enjoyable and creative. Choice and consequence is invoked in this book -
Bill Zhang
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've always loved this web serial but lacked the proper words to describe what it is to other people.
Thanks to /u/lolbifrons:

"A young, cynical orphan girl is approached by the most dangerous and Evil man in the entire Dread Empire. She becomes his apprentice to help the Kingdom he helped to subjugate.

Also everything is governed, in-universe, by narrative logic, and the orphan girl's main advantage is that she's exceptionally genre savvy.

But whatever impression you got from my shitty summary,
Brad Bennett
rated it it was amazing
Jan 29, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Aug 21, 2018
rated it liked it
Dec 06, 2019
Connor Frye
rated it it was amazing
Sep 17, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Oct 21, 2019
rated it liked it
Oct 31, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Sep 03, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Aug 28, 2018
rated it it was amazing
Mar 30, 2017
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Other books in the series

A Practical Guide to Evil (5 books)
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized (A Practical Guide to Evil, #2)
  • A Practical Guide to Evil III
  • A Practical Guide to Evil IV
  • A Practical Guide to Evil V
“What Foundling does isn’t thinking outside the box so much as stealing the box and hitting her opponents with it until they stop moving.”
– Extract from “A Commentary on the Uncivil Wars”, by Juniper of the Red Moon Clan”
“What say you, Empress of Praes?
Here you lie upon the blood-soaked ruins of your dominion, surrounded by the corpses of the legions that once swarmed over the world. Hundreds of thousands dead for the sake of your wretched ambition, your mad design to bring to heel the kingdoms of man. In all the history of Creation no one woman has been so wicked as you, and I will have my answer.
Why, o Empress of Ruins?”
She shrugged.
“Why not?”
– Last lines of the “The Fall of Empress Triumphant, First and Only of Her Name”
More quotes…