log(book)

So You Want to Be a Villain?

Cover of So You Want to Be a Villain?.

Web-serial that is generally not terrible! Takes place in a world with clear Good and Evil, with the protagonist an orphan in a country that was taken over by an Evil state. She starts her path to become a Villain to help her country, kinda? Complete with a mentor, a short stint at a school, and then some actual war. The morality on any of this is extremely iffy, but if you squint past that, it’s decent enough fantasy fast food.

I liked the Roles / Named ones (the superpowered Villains and Heroes), it’s going very much all in on archetypes to avoid stereotypes. (Doesn’t always succeed, but hey). There’s a Black Knight, the Captain, the Ranger, the Scribe (who is the best!), the Lone Swordsman, and so on. Roles are well-known, and can be claimed / evolved. I also liked the explicitly addressed fantasy racism: Orks and gnomes have different cultures from humans (and not just humans-with-funny-teeth, either!), and they have been oppressed in the past, and how their cultures are handled and handle others is a relevant part of the worldbuilding.

Sometimes things got too comedic or roleplay-y for me: The meta commentary about villainous monologues was too cute, and the fact that every Role gets three Powers (e.g. Struggle, Learn) went too far into character sheet directions for my tastes.

What I really liked was the pragmatic approach to everything, spotty though it was. The functional Evil government institutes quotas on assassin kills, regulates black markets, and takes care to bolster its economy (which involves being generally decent to people, in many cases) – which, in turn, will make you think too much about what “Evil” can really mean in this world. (Don’t go there!)

Related books Books related to the whole series are linked at the first part of the series.