[[quoteright:280:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/VillainsByNecessity_3050.jpg]]

A fantasy novel written by Eve Forward.

Good has not only defeated Evil in the last great war, but continues to hunt down and eradicate all representatives of darkness. While this makes the world a happier, safer place for the common folk, this also puts the protagonist, Sam, out of a job. After all, Sam is an [[HitmanWithAHeart assassin]], and since the [[{{Utopia}} world's in a state of peace, calm and goodness]], there isn't much call for his services.

But wait! There's more: as the forces of Good continue to eradicate Evil, the [[BalanceBetweenGoodAndEvil balance of the world shifts]]. After Sam and his [[strike: friend]] [[strike: companion]] often annoying acquaintance Arcie narrowly escape the forces of Good, they stumble across a [[LastOfHisKind druid]] who tells them the ugly truth: if the forces of light continue to overwhelm darkness, the balance will be irreversibly disrupted and the world will be consumed by Good.

As in, ''cease to exist.''

So, they form a FiveBadBand of [[EvilCounterpart Evil Counterparts]] to SaveTheWorld and [[SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong Set Wrong What Once Went Right.]] Mostly notable for taking the usual "Evil trying to take over the world" fantasy yarn and turning it on its head. Even if the villains aren't exactly all that evil.

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!!Tropes include:

* ArtifactOfDoom: Valeriana's medallion is one of the last surviving {{Hellgate}}s (called Darkgates in the book). A very small one, yes, but a {{Hellgate}} nonetheless; [[spoiler: given that, you'd think Sam would know better than to put the damn thing on, but that's part of its evil, tempting power...]]
* BalanceBetweenGoodAndEvil: The very premise of the novel, with a small twist: if the world remains precisely balanced too long, it will be locked in stasis for all eternity. Periodic fluctuations in balance are just as vital as making sure neither side gets the upper hand for long.
* BalefulPolymorph: It's implied that [[spoiler:Blackmail's horse used to be his brother.]]
* BlackKnight: Blackmail.
* BlondGuysAreEvil: Sam. Though he usually has it [[ColorCodedForYourConvenience dyed black]] to be less conspicuous... and he's more of an AntiHero than actually evil.
* {{Brainwashed}}/BrainwashingForTheGreaterGood: The plainer term for "whitewashing", where a wizard in service of Good forcibly drives out the evil in a person, leaving the victim in a state best described as GoodIsDumb. Could be considered a form of MindRape.
* CantArgueWithElves: Well, Mizzamir seems to think it applies, and most everyone he talks to either agrees with him already or does by the time he's through with them (see {{Brainwashed}}). {{Subverted}} in that Sam refuses to give in and just keeps trying to kill him.
* ChessMotifs: "In chess, someone has to take the black pieces."
* ChildByRape: [[spoiler: It turns out that Sam is one, via Mizzamir]].
* ChronicBackstabbingDisorder: The reason why the druids are all but extinct. Once Good overpowered Evil, the druids were obligated as [[BalanceBetweenGoodAndEvil keepers of the balance]] to join with the forces of Evil. Unfortunately, they're [[LawfulStupidChaoticStupid Stereotypical Evil, and both sides killed the Druids]]...
* ColorCodedForYourConvenience: Straight and subverted. Sam wears black, Mizzamir wears white. [[spoiler: The subversion lies in that Mizzamir is a ''deluded'' wizard who only cares about Light and Dark, not right or wrong. Sam is an ordinary bastard, in [[IncrediblyLamePun both senses]] of the word]].
** Sam also notes that assassins take this to the logical extreme of wearing black undergarments, the better not to give away one's position if one's outer garments tear on an assignment and, as he puts it "show a white bunny tail."
* CosmicKeystone: The Spectrum Key, used to seal off the main [[{{Hellgate}} Darkgate]], then fragmented and each part hidden in a trial (just in case it's needed, however unlikely).
* DarkIsNotEvil: Kaylana (and Robin after his HeelFaceTurn) are nominally part of the dark side, despite lacking evil traits. Sam and Arcie aren't particularly bad sorts either, their professions notwithstanding, and Blackmail, for all his BlackKnight trappings, proves to be downright noble. The only one of the "villains" who can really be described as "evil" in any way is Valeriana, and even she had children and a husband she loved [[spoiler: which also lends her a SympatheticBackstory since they were slaughtered by "heroes."]]
* {{Deconstruction}}: The book's goal.
* DefrostingIceQueen: Kaylana.
* EpiphanicPrison: The Labyrinth of Dreams, the last test the protagonists face, works only if you believe in the illusions.
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: Arcie's thief-friend Kimi left the ThievesGuild for love. Also [[spoiler: Valerie, easily the evilest person in the entire party, lost her family and ''entire people'' to brutal slaughter by the Verdant Company, which is one reason she hates Fenwick so much. Blackmail left the Six Heroes for his brother's sake. Sam's first kill was of his mother's rapist]].
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Sam.
* EvilFeelsGood: An implied effect of Valeriana's medallion.
* EvilGloating: Subverted, [[spoiler: when Blackmail finally gets around to talking; he keeps fighting all the way through his monologue.]]
* TheEvilsOfFreeWill: In a rare twist, it's said by the "good" guys, who [[BrainwashingForTheGreaterGood "whitewash"]] villain's minds to make them good citizens.
* EvilVersusOblivion
* FaceHeelTurn: [[spoiler: Blackmail, as far as the Six Heroes are concerned.]] Also see HeelFaceTurn.
* FeedTheMole: [[spoiler: When Robin is found out, everybody starts giving him false info.]]
* FiveBadBand: With Robin as the SixthRanger.
* GoodIsDumb: The common and whitewashed segments of the population.
* GoodIsNotNice: There's Mizzamir, [[spoiler: who let's face it, is pretending to be a hero, even if he won't admit it to himself.]] There's several other "good" characters who indulge in less savory practices. Among the members of a good guy adventuring party were a woman who quite clearly wouldn't have taken "no" for an answer from Sam, while Fenwick tried to date-rape Kaylana, having dosed her drink with aphrodisiacs.
* HeelFaceBrainwashing
* HeelFaceTurn: Robin and, before the start of the book, [[spoiler: Blackmail]], for certain values of "heel" and "face."
* HeroAntagonist: The side of light is, unknowingly, destroying their world by eradicating every speck of evil in it, to the point that they are annihilating everything that could be qualified as "not-light". This included the druids, who were keepers of balance, and the bards, who were more or less neutral. They then begin [[BrainwashingForTheGreaterGood whitewashing]] thieves, assassins, and other criminals, who were more or less just grey.
** The entire premise of the story is basically this: in a world of magic, once the {{BigBad}}s are fully eradicated, what would happen if the good guys started taking their intended plans for the betterment of the world ''to their inevitable conclusion?'' [[FridgeHorror After all, the only way you can remove all evil from the world is if you remove choice, and freedom, from the world.]]
* HeroesWantRedheads: Kaylana, since she's got both Sam and Fenwick trying to get her attention.
* ILied
* IncrediblyLamePun: When the knight in jet-black armor shows up, the protagonists have to come up with a name for him (he declines to give one, or even say anything). They settle on "Blackmail". For extra fun, [[spoiler: his real name is Sir Pryse.]]
** Not to mention, the names of the Six Lands themselves - Ein, Dous, Trois, Kwart, Seicks...
* ItsAlwaysSpring: Explained as a side effect of Good having such a stranglehold on the world; the characters note that it ''should'' by all rights be autumn, but the sun only stays up longer (to the point where Kaylana's attempt to tell time by the sun's position is four hours off) and the flowers only get more abundant.
* ItsPersonal: Cited as [[spoiler: the reason behind Blackmail's final break with the Six Heroes. When his brother turned evil, he asked Mizzamir to be merciful... and Mizzamir turned his brother into a warhorse. It's implied that this is the same warhorse he rode and lovingly cared for until Fenwick's men killed it.]]
* KnightTemplar: So-called "Good" in a nutshell.
* [[LastOfHisKind Last Of Her Kind]]: Kaylana and Valeriana.
* LawfulStupidChaoticStupid: The main problem with the premise is that it depends heavily on LawfulStupid and StupidGood behavior from the ostensibly "good" antagonists in order to keep them in conflict with the protagonists, who aside from Valeriana really aren't at all evil.
* LawyerFriendlyCameo: Barigans are stand-ins for hobbits, with Arcie going so far as to lampshade this. On a more parodic level, the Gnifty Gnomes are thinly-disguised Smurfs.
* LightIsNotGood: The behavior of the side of Light being obvious enough.
* LukeIAmYourFather: [[spoiler: Mizzamir and Sam.]]
* MindRape: [[spoiler:Mizzamir did this to Sam's mother, to cover up his physically raping her. It left her permanently mentally damaged.]]
* MyNameIsInigoMontoya: Sam, during the climax. [[spoiler: Mizzamir raped his mother, conceiving him and indirectly putting Sam on the path to becoming an assassin. This leads to Mizzamir's death at his hand in the end.]]
* MySpeciesDothProtestTooMuch: {{Averted}}.
* PlotCoupon: The fragments of the Spectrum Key.
* ProfessionalKiller: Sam, though he [[HitmanWithAHeart isn't that bad of a person]]. There used to be an [[WeirdTradeUnion entire guild]] of them in his home city.
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits
* ReallySevenHundredYearsOld: Kaylana, who was a child during the last war between Good and Evil... over a hundred and fifty years ago.
* SavingTheWorld: From the forces of so-called Good, no less.
* ShadowWalker: Sam, which turns out to be very useful in [[ProfessionalKiller his work]]. This involves traveling into a shadow world which is entered or exited through shadows, though it doesn't appear to make travel any faster, just easier getting into otherwise inaccessible places. It's stated there used to be others-apparently they all went into the shadow world one by one, though, and never returned... Naturally, the assassins decided it was best to stop teaching it after that. It seems this was due to being {{addictive magic}}, since Sam grows more and more unable to stand being in the normal world after he starts using it.
* SixthRangerTraitor: [[spoiler: Robin.]]
* SoulJar: The heart stone acts as a variant of this. It's also a subversion [[spoiler: as Sam is a hell of a lot ''more'' vulnerable having his gift locked away in the thing]].
* StalkerWithACrush: Fenwick.
* SuperpoweredEvilSide: [[spoiler: Sam, courtesy of Valeriana's medallion.]]
* TakeThat: To the Smurfs, and perhaps the fantasy genre overall.
* TautologicalTemplar: The side of Good is actually pretty damned evil. Not only is the world becoming "mystically unbalanced" by their actions but they've turned it into a horrible theocratic dictatorship and most of them ''still'' insist that they are Good and all who oppose them are Evil.
** As it's put at one point-they know nothing of right or wrong, only Good and Evil.
* TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt
* TheMole / TheInfiltration: Robin.
* TheReveal: Blackmail [[spoiler: is Sir Pryse, one of the Six Heroes.]]
* TrueCompanions: By the end of the book, the main characters.
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: Or at least the Good crowd thinks it does, if it's even occurred to them that not everything they do is automatically right in the first place.
* VillainProtagonist
* WhiteHairBlackHeart: Mizzamir.

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