Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Villains by Necessity” as Want to Read:
Villains by Necessity
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Villains by Necessity

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,249 Ratings  ·  109 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Villains by Necessity, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Daniel Nicolai Hey there Trygve, I've actually been working with Eve over the past couple of months and we're working on getting the book converted to an eBook…moreHey there Trygve, I've actually been working with Eve over the past couple of months and we're working on getting the book converted to an eBook format. The answer is currently "Soon" but we're hoping it's sooner than "Soon" :)(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
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
Jan 16, 2008 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
Jaydee Faire
Mar 30, 2008 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 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 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
Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)
May 20, 2016 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast) by: David - proud Gleeman in Branwen's adventuring party
Shelves: to-buy
I recently asked you guys what your single favourite book is, this recommendation is courtesy of David.

Keep on recommending, friends, broaden my horizons!
Lisa King
Oct 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: re-reads
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
May 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 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.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it liked it
It hasn't aged well. The idea is clever, but aside from the basic concept it comes off as a fairly turgid Tolkien retelling, and the 'bad guys as good guys' idea has been done better since. Not uninteresting, but I can't say I enjoyed it much.
Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: If you have read a lot of fantasy, you will find this book hilarious.
Shelves: 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
Michael Hall
Dec 10, 2012 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
Sep 01, 2011 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
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
Sep 16, 2011 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!
Aug 15, 2013 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 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.
Oct 02, 2007 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...
Oct 08, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the story and the characters, but the book felt a bit too long at times. I found myself skimming pages and that way I could enjoy it. But it's a nice take on the topic of what could actually happen if good triumphs over evil.
Apr 13, 2010 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.
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must read. Kill the nifty gnomes!
Sep 05, 2007 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.
James Latimer
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: standalones
A hidden gem if ever there was one!

An epic adventure with a simple twist - what if the bad guys had to save the world - unfolds like a classic D&D party adventure, but with characters whose alignments range from true neutral down to chaotic evil rather than the norm. None of them are perhaps as grim or dark as today's anti-heroes, most having scruples and honor-amongst-thieves and all that. But they are characters you can get behind and grow fond of, even the annoying centaur.

The heroes are
Jonathan Scotese
A cult classic. The protagonists are "bad" guys trying to save the world, where the forces of "good" are dooming the world to sublimate into the higher planes but are too arrogant to see it. It's very much working within/commenting on the alignment system in D&D.

The idea that "Good" taken to extremes is narrow minded, judgemental and conformity, while neutrality/balance is a better path, have been examined using the elves in Dragonlance and the Harpers of Forgotten Realms. I think it may hav
Oct 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A unique twist on the classic fantasy tale. I loved the character dynamic. The only downside was the writing was not quite as good as the story in my opinion. I thought the book started off pretty slowly. It took me a few attempts to get through the first 100 pages, but I'm so glad I did. The last paragraph of the book was awesome because it reads like an average, nondescript statement, but, after reading the full novel, it was powerful.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another adventure story
But this time, you follow the villians as they deal with a world of Light and Good.
Some seriously shady shit behind that.
Pretty cool all around and down right captivating near the last hundred pages or so.
Scott wachter
Jul 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I think I'm twenty years past the 'use novelty by day's. still has its moments.
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
A nice twist on the hero's tale, full of fantasy tropes, humor, and wit. Worth the trouble of finding (it's out of print). A little cheesy at the end, but a fun read.
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantasy loving friends, I can't recommend this book enough. A wonderful twist on the classic "save the world" trope, wherein the heroes, evil all, set out on a Quest to Save the World from Good and preserve the crucial Neutrality the world needs to survive.
Simcha Lazarus
Mar 09, 2010 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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • The Unhandsome Prince
  • To Ride Hell’s Chasm
  • Villains Victorious
  • Rogue's Home (Knight and Rogue, #2)
  • The Gate of Ivory (Ivory #1)
  • Spera, Volume 2
  • Goblin Quest (Jig the Goblin, #1)
  • Hawkspar (Korre, #2)
  • Random Magic
  • Shadowbridge (Shadowbridge, #1)
  • The Goblin Corps
  • A Sorcerer's Treason (Isavalta, #1)
  • The Assassins of Tamurin
  • The Labyrinth of Flame (Shattered Sigil, #3)
  • Ginger High
  • The Lost Prince (The Dark Border, #1)
  • The Ultimates: Against All Enemies
  • Bazil Broketail (Bazil Broketail, #1)
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 and the sister of Bob Forward, also a writer and film director.
More about Eve Forward...

Fantasy & Science Fiction Deals

  • The Silent Shield (Kingfountain #5)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines #1)
    $3.99 $2
  • The Immortal Circus (Cirque des Immortels, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Boundary Crossed (Boundary Magic, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Gods Themselves
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Lines of Departure (Frontlines, #2)
    $3.99 $2
  • Gateway to Fourline (The Fourline Trilogy, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Scourge of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood, #3)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Nightstalkers (Area 51: The Nightstalkers, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Book of Truths (Area 51: The Nightstalkers, #2)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Rift (Area 51: Nightstalkers, #3)
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Blight of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood, #2)
    $3.99 $2
  • The Forsaken Throne (Kingfountain #6)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Caraval (Caraval, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Rebel Genius
    $6.38 $2.99
  • Time Patrol (Area 51: The Nightstalkers, #4)
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Secret Hour (Midnighters, #1)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • Camber of Culdi (The Legends of Camber of Culdi, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The King's Traitor (Kingfountain, #3)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Fear the Drowning Deep
    $16.99 $1.99
  • The Grand Tour: or The Purloined Coronation Regalia (Cecilia and Kate, #2)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Slippage: Previously Uncollected, Precariously Poised Stories
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Insignia (Insignia, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Hollow Crown (Kingfountain #4)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Blood Rose Rebellion
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ocean of Storms
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Timequake
    $8.99 $1.99
“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.” 12 likes
More quotes…