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Villains by Necessity

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,007 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published March 1st 1996 by Tom Doherty Assoc Llc (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

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Jan 16, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I first read this book when I was 15. I now have a bachelor's in English, and this is the only book I've read more than 2-3 times. I LOVE this book. I think there's a clear message here that is beyond a classic fantasy story with great humor and an epic plot. This book says to me that we choose (and have a right to choose) who we are, "good" or "evil." Some reviewers criticize the book for making evil characters that aren't 100% evil. In actuality, THAT IS THE POINT! People are not "good" or "ev ...more
David "proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party"
"In a game of chess, someone has to take the black pieces." - In that one sentence, Eve Forward brilliantly summarizes the premise of her debut novel. Most fantasy writers feature a battle between good and evil where good wins at the end. However, "Villains By Necessity" takes a different approach, and explores exactly what happens AFTER good has triumphed over evil...and the result is one of the most compelling books I've ever read!

In Eve's novel, the ultimate triumph of good over evil has left
Jaydee Faire
Mar 30, 2008 Jaydee Faire rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: The Young at Heart
Shelves: top-favorites
No, this book isn't heavy, thought-provoking reading, and it isn't a huge, epic thing like Lord of the Rings. It's just a good book! The characters are likeable, the plot is straightforward, but involved enough to pull you in. It's a good rainy-day book, or as a mental break from heavy, complicated fantasies (or English textbooks).

If you can find a copy, read and enjoy it-- that's all!

I read this book the summer I turned fifteen; I'd checked it out from the local library. From start to finish, I
Josh Taylor
Aug 03, 2007 Josh Taylor rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Terry Pratchett
Shelves: comedy
Unforunately, this gem of a book has been out of print for quite some time and is worth $50 paperback and $100 hardback.

This is not your typical fantasy novel, it is written in a fantasy realm where good has prevailed. There is no murder, no stealing, no mugging. Fortunately, the ex-head of the theives guild is set to make things right in the world. Travel with the band fo merry theives as they set out to open the portals of darkness and unleash evil back into the world.

Villains by Necessity is
Mar 02, 2007 Kelsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone, fantasy lovers
I... loved this book. It is an imaginative and refreshingly new take on the classic save the world fantasy adventure novel, with nods to the world of D&D and the popular fantasy universes were all so familiar with. The characters are wonderfully believable and imperfect, but loveable, and the plot takes many unexpected turns. An old favorite from the first time I read it, and highly recommended for all fans of fantasy novels. ...more
This was a fun read; not a serious one or one that added to
the fantasy genre.
The highlights of this book are:

(1) Evil has to save the world by trying to restore the
game balance; so good people are after them;
(2) the humor is fairly good in this tale;
(3) the pacing is well done;
(4) the story is light on evil so if you don't want a serious
spread, you got it in this tale; and
(5) There are some clever outcomes for the villains; in other words, they succeed in ways that aren't usual

The areas that are
Feb 19, 2015 Reni rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2015
Torturously boring. I'm just so glad I'm done with it I can't even be bothered to write a proper reviw right now. Maybe later.
Michael Hall
Dec 16, 2012 Michael Hall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever wondered what happens when the epic battle of good (light) versus evil (light) is won? Is it all as peaceful and loving and happy as typical stories make it out to be? This book says no! "It all goes to pot", according to Sam the assassin and Arcie the master thief. Ultimately, it is conflict that drives progress in the world and without it it begins to stagnate.

This is an enjoyable story, terrible prose and all. All questions of morality and ethics aside it entertains in a fun way
Mar 01, 2014 Sam rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness, I finally finished a novel over 500+ pages this year and it was excellent!

Usually my big beef with chunky books is often they are so bloated that sometimes parts feel unnecessary or convoluted, but that is totally not the case with this book. Villains by Necessity is hilarious, charming and is easily one of the best novels I read where the villains are the stars (outside of may be Vicious by V.E Schwab) and they mean business... if business is trying to restore order to the world
May 31, 2008 Angela rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: If you have read a lot of fantasy, you will find this book hilarious.
Shelves: fiction, favorite
This priceless parody of fantasy novels functions on two levels. As a parody, it is very funny. The author lovingly mocks every fantasy cliche you can think of - it's obvious that she has read and enjoyed a lot of fantasy.

However, this book also works perfectly as an epic fantasy novel! Somehow, it manages to be a great example of the exact type of novel it is parodying!

This book also remains enjoyable over many readings. I am not one to re-read books often as a general rule, and I can't even te
This was quite fun, (terrible prose and all.) The conceit is rather thin - our villain protagonists soon prove themselves to have hearts of gold and a good cause - and maybe a bit too long, but still perfectly enjoyable. Characterization which is not all together terrible and a really quick pace help, and theres the nostalgia crack factor. Ambiguous morally grey anti-villains far nicer than your run of the mill contemporary fantasy hero! Elves! Dark Elves! Running around the continent to collect ...more
Rebecca Smucker
May 21, 2014 Rebecca Smucker rated it it was ok
The best way to describe this book is to give you an overview of the concept.

Imagine, if you can, a Dungeons and Dragons-type world, full of thieves, assassins, magicians, druids, warriors, dragons, unicorns, demons, etc., etc., etc. Then, take away all evil things, all bad things, all shady things, all dark things, and wait to see what happens. In Forward's take, the world slowly skews to the Light and Good side of things to such an extreme that the whole thing loses any texture at all and bec
Sep 16, 2011 Terence rated it did not like it
Recommended to Terence by: Nobody
Shelves: sf-fantasy
Truly awful and simplistic. I picked it up hoping for a reasonably intelligent take on the relationship between "good" and "evil."

I wasn't expecting Kant or Spinoza but I didn't even get Moorcock. I didn't make it past the first 50 pages before tossing it aside in disgust.

PS - I'm adding it to my shelves now (Sept 2011) because I just saw it on the new Recommendations page that they added to the site. Until now I had mercifully forgotten it.

Thanks, GoodReads!
Oct 02, 2007 Kelsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is easily one of my favorite books of all time. The final battle between Good and Evil has been fought, and Good has won...but a small group of anti-heroes decide to quest to bring Evil back into the world. It parodies more things than I can even think to name, although the most obvious is the Dragonlance Saga. It is really sad that so few copies of this book were printed...
Aug 31, 2013 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: sf, meta
Fun and very likeable, but I'm just not its kind of geek -- I could tell many affectionate references (mostly to D&D, I think?) were flying over my head, and some of the ones I did get, expressed more affection than I felt towards traditional straight, quest fantasy books. Still very cosy, sunny fun and some beats genuinely made me laugh out loud.
Kathryn Corbin
Jul 12, 2007 Kathryn Corbin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What would happen if the forces of good managed to completely destroy or drive evil off the face of the world? It goes to pot. That is according to Sam, the last assassin, Arcee, the last thief master, and their moltly crew of evil-doers. It's a very interesting read, and one that I highly recommend.
Aug 12, 2012 Ollivier rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
Absolutely loved it. For once, Good is not the winner (that is not really a spoiler)... Loved the characters, plot is not really complex but who cares in this case? Lots of dark-ish humour. Long-time favourite of mine. Recommended.
Zach Dromsky
Jul 31, 2014 Zach Dromsky rated it it was amazing
After Good triumphs over Evil in an aggressively stereotypical fantasy world all of existence is threatened by the imbalance of power. A critical mass of Goodness is building, and when it hits, nothing will survive. The remainder of the forces of evil, who at this point are really just a bit shady at worst, must come together to restore the forces of darkness and save the world. Yep... That's the premise.

This is a light read with good humor, and is fairly self aware. That self awareness involve
Camille Dent (TheCamillion)
Jan 21, 2016 Camille Dent (TheCamillion) rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Camille by: Nicholas Dinep-Schneider
Shelves: favorites, fiction
This is undoubtedly one of the best books I have read up to date (12/29/2015). Because I was hooked within the first 30 pages, I was terrified that the charm would dull over the 500 pages ahead of me. However, I only became more engaged as the story progressed! I love each character, the plot is exciting and well-paced, and the entire novel continues to explore the question that is proposed in the beginning: What is the meaning of and relationship between good and evil? Too many novels will rais ...more
Sep 05, 2007 Sirdarksol rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes fantasy
This is an unbelievably funny book. Despite its humor, however, it is also a beautiful rendition of the traditional heroic fantasy, with villains in place of the heroes.
Aug 10, 2012 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must read. Kill the nifty gnomes!
I have to admit, I really did enjoy this. I thought it might be a somewhat amusing little book, but there was much more to it than some role reversal.

Alright, I'm not sure to what degree several of the characters are actually villains, but since (view spoiler), that's not a downside. So, the beginning was intriguing, which led me to continue reading it, to see where this strange plot was headed. From there it was sort of an off-color, typical
Simcha Lazarus
Mar 09, 2010 Simcha Lazarus rated it really liked it
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
Jul 08, 2011 Sunhi rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: D & D fans!
Reviewed at:

Rather hilariously, I've already reviewed this book, and I hadn't realized it until I went to the Amazon page and saw my own review for it there! I will paste my review in and add a few thoughts.

In a twist on the usual fantasy story, Forward's heroes are not classically good-hearted heroes, but instead villains. Including an assassin, an evil sorceress, a greedy thief, and a black knight, the main characters are likable and intriguing. They b
Mar 29, 2012 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first stumbled upon this book when I was in high school, and it is fair to say, in 90's parlance, that it "rocked my world." A world where Good has triumphed, and that triumph will cause the end of the world? A plot where the bad guys are the good guys? I've always had an anti-hero love, so my reaction was, sign me up!

I've read it a handful of time since then, usually every couple of years, and the older I get the more I like the plot. As an adult, I do notice some areas where she overwrote or
Eileen Phillips
Apr 20, 2008 Eileen Phillips rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: d&d nerds
Recommended to Eileen by: Tim Schuetz
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
Great role reversal fantasy novel. The villians have to save the world from being sublimated by too much goodness in the world by bringing evil back into the world. But in doing this the villians sort of become heroes themselves...Wherein, things get a little bit fuzzy. I mean, good people can do bad things & bad people can do good things, but really, the "villians" were essentially good people... I'd say in the villian party their d&d alignments would be as follows:
Blackmail - Chaotic
Lisa King
I read this book many years ago. I borrowed it from my brother who borrowed it from his friend. I enjoyed it then and I still like it to this day. The story is very much classic fantasy of the swords and magic, good, neutral and evil alliance variety. If you have ever read Dragon Lance books or played Dungeon and Dragons games then you will know what I am talking about.

Good has triumphed over Evil and the Heroes have defeated all the Big Bads in the six lands. Bands of heroes have almost wiped o
Ruby Ridge
Dec 02, 2015 Ruby Ridge rated it it was amazing
Hell of a novel for a first book, loved it. The fact that it is a first novel shows in the over use of humor especially in the first half but I am willing to overlook it as it is based on an interesting concept and a damn good story. The idea that good and evil can get so out of balance that the universe (and possibly the multiverse) can be in danger is interesting and to see the bad guys (and girls) working to save the world is different.
If you like Dungeons and Dragons, if you played Neverwint
Chris McGrath
Jun 01, 2011 Chris McGrath rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teens
Shelves: fantasy
A simple but fun fantasy novel that doesn't take itself too seriously, and yet has a point to make about good and evil. I found the first half of the book to be lacking any character depth or excitement; it reads like a saturday morning cartoon (but then, so does The Hobbit). But then suddenly it gets far more interesting as we get a better sense of what the characters are like and what motivates them. I enjoyed that second half far more, and though most of the ending was fairly predictable, it ...more
Christine Hill
Dec 08, 2015 Christine Hill rated it it was amazing
I love this book. A ridiculous amount do I love this story. Its the typical motley crew bands together with their particular skills to save the world format - but the how and the why are opposite the usual reason. The writing is cle er, the characters are witty and engaging, and the story is gripping. I re-read this story at least twice a year!
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Eve Forward is an author and television screenwriter. She is the daughter of the late American physicist and popular science fiction author Robert L. Forward,[1] and the sister of Bob Forward, also a writer and film director.
More about Eve Forward...

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“But see you, we should travel by night. Dark times for dark business, as they says. No sun to bother Valeriana or you, Kaylana's surely no' disadvantaged, and I know I work better in darkness. Anybody looking for us will have a harder time of it. Besides, marching in daylight is for the heroes. If we're going to do this, we may as well go all out.” 14 likes
“In a game of chess, someone has to take the black pieces.” 9 likes
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