Title: Villains by Necessity
Author: Eve Forward
Published By: Tor
Publish Date: 1995
Length: 535 Pages
Purchase From: Amazon @ $35.00
Villains by Necessity is a story that takes a different approach than your usual fantasy novel. In this case we are given the perspective of evil rather than that of good. Some near one hundred fifty years before the main storyline takes place, there is a great war between good and evil. When this war concluded, good triumphed over evil and the Dark Gate was locked shut, slowly strangling all evil from the world.
After the Dark Gate was closed, a way to open it once again had to be created. For this, a key was created. The key was far too powerful to wipe from the face of the earth, so it was broken into six segments. One segment for each of the Heros that ended the war against evil. Each segment was hidden from the world and linked to a test designed by each Hero. Pass the test and that portion of the key was earned, fail and the outcome was death.
A century and a half after the key was broken apart and hidden away, we are introduced to Arcie (a thief) and Sam (an assassin) holding a conversation in an empty guild house. For a time they reminisce of the good old days when evil was spread throughout the world and things were fun.
With little to do and the world growing more pure by the day, the two men headed over to a tavern to laugh and drink. Soon after having their fill of drink, they were captured and taken to the castle dungeon. While in the pits of the dungeon they learn that all of their friends, who mysteriously turned good, were whitewashed by a great white mage.
After escaping they meet a woman named Kaylana (a druid) in the woods. She teaches them of the imbalance of the world and asks them to help her open the dark gate and prevent the world from being destroyed by the excess of light flooding the world.
From this point forward their journey begins and they strive to locate each segment of the key required to balance the world once again. Along the way they meet Blackmail (a dark knight), Valerie (a sorceress), and Robin (a centaur). In their travels they are hunted by the great white mage and several other people fighting to keep the light thriving and the Dark Gate locked.
When I learned that this book focused on evil rather than good, I was very interested in reading the story. Rather than the normal good vs evil, where we follow the story of a hero, I was instead given a dark twist. I think that this twist alone makes this book worth reading as it was the complete opposite of what I got started with in the Sword of Truth Series.
This book took quite a bit longer for me to read than others. I think the reason for this was the way it was formatted. Rather than traditional chapters, the book was broken into roughly ten parts that spanned a number of pages. This never allowed me to set the book down at what I felt was a good spot.
The storyline felt a bit clunky as it jumped from one portion to the next. Rather than have inner dialog, or conversation between characters, we immediately arrived in new locations for the story to continue. I was left wondering if the characters traveled in silence or if there was nothing worth noting along the way. I’m not sure if this was left on the cutting room floor so that the story didn’t expand beyond one book or if it was by design.
Towards the end, when all of the key segments were assembled, the charterers went into a labyrinth. At this point there are many dream sequences that made things tough to follow. Once this part of the story progressed, things got hot and heavy with battle and dialog. At that point, things were easy to follow and fun to read.
All in all, I’m glad that I read this book. I loved the concept of the story and would definitely recommend it to someone looking for another fantasy novel to add to their bookshelf. Because Villains by Necessity is out of print, it is tough to find and carries a hefty price tag (for a mass market paperback). For this reason, I’d recommended keeping an eye out at your local used book store or yard sales in hopes that you may find it for its cover price of about $7.00