Reviews: Villains By Necessity

A flawed but decent twist on the standard fantasy story.

This book was the first fantasy novel I remember ever reading. It opened the world of fantasy fiction to me with it's fairly unique twist: the villains must save the world from the forces of Good. Reading it at the time, I was honestly blown away.

In retrospect after learning with age and much more reading, it has many flaws. Most of all, it's "villains" are not really that villainous (even Sam the assassin and Valerie the cannibalistic dark sorceress). Naturally, it would be hard to sympathize with the characters otherwise.

Even so, the book itself raises this point, and notes that real villains are not usually the pure evil found in most stories, but more complex. A very good and important observation, certainly. It's something I'd like to see more of, rather than the black and white morality that frequently prevails in fantasy novels.

Overall, I deeply enjoyed this book's characterization and plot. Most fantasy cliches find a place here, very often to be deconstructed and lampshaded. It's overall an enjoyable adventure story whose pace does not let up until the finale.

The only thing I regret about it is that the author, Eve Forward, basically saw her writing career start and then die with this one book. She wrote just one more, which was much inferior, and then nothing else since. That, to me, is tragic.