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Old 01-23-2012, 01:53 PM   #16
Penforhire
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The Paladin of Shadows (Ghost, et al) is misnamed. It is fairly straight ahead heroic military fantasy. Just because a fellow has some dark urges, that he never acts out non-consentually, doesn't make him an anti-hero. It was juvenile fantasy to me (hmm, probably explains why I liked them but rarely recommend them).
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Old 01-23-2012, 02:03 PM   #17
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That's a shame, but thanks for the info Penforhire. Still, as long as the books are worth reading it's not a big deal.

In any case it means I'm still without what I'm looking for, so keep racking your brains for books where evil triumphs.
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Old 01-23-2012, 04:03 PM   #18
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Try "Elfstones of Shannara", by Terry Brooks. It's possibly his best work. Evil is on the brink of winning. Good does triumph at the end, but not quite in the way you'd normally expect. It hit home rather hard, with me, anyway.

When you read it, you'll also see that the book has quite the wrong title, IMHO.

If you really want a book where evil wins out... I don't know of any.

Last edited by Katsunami; 01-23-2012 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 01-23-2012, 05:25 PM   #19
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Thanks for the suggestion Katsunami. The original Shannara trilogy was also among my first fantasy experiences and I think I read them all twice in no time at all (fantasy books were decidedly thin on the ground where I lived thirty years ago, so most things got read at least twice). Although I agree it's a dark story, the protagonists are all of the decidedly good variety, so not quite fitting the bill. I also agree it's his best book, although I remember being particularly fond of Garet Jax. :-)
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Old 01-23-2012, 05:53 PM   #20
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Joe Abercrombie's "The First Law" series?

Virtually nobody is a good guy.


There is a little bit of good and bad in everyone.
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Old 01-23-2012, 06:19 PM   #21
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Thanks for the suggestion Katsunami. The original Shannara trilogy was also among my first fantasy experiences and I think I read them all twice in no time at all (fantasy books were decidedly thin on the ground where I lived thirty years ago, so most things got read at least twice). Although I agree it's a dark story, the protagonists are all of the decidedly good variety, so not quite fitting the bill. I also agree it's his best book, although I remember being particularly fond of Garet Jax. :-)
Garet Jax was a fine character indeed. Nice that he did achieve his biggest dream.

With regard to stories that have an evil protagonist that wins, or a good protagonist that loses, I don't know any. Even with computer games I only know two: Dungeon Keeper 1 and 2.

I think most people wouldn't like those stories because they seem to be the wrong way around.

I'll watch this thread to see if any come up.
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Old 01-23-2012, 07:20 PM   #22
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Even with computer games I only know two: Dungeon Keeper 1 and 2.
Ohh, I loved those. The complexity of creating the perfect dungeon, the being evil bit, the bile demons and most of all the dark Mistresses... Ahhh.



Quote:
I think most people wouldn't like those stories because they seem to be the wrong way around.
I'm sure you're right, but I'm hoping that somewhere there's at least one or two such books and that they're also decent reads.

Quote:
I'll watch this thread to see if any come up.
Fingers crossed for both of us!
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Old 01-23-2012, 07:36 PM   #23
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Not fantasy, but the Flashman books by George Macdonald Fraser are brilliantly done historical fiction - meticulous research, hilarious stories and Flashy, who is an absolute rotter somehow always gets away with it.
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Old 01-23-2012, 08:03 PM   #24
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Even with computer games I only know two: Dungeon Keeper 1 and 2.
I still have that on CD somewhere. I recently bought Overlord (Steam Deal) but didn't get far in the first game I'm afraid, although the game got some good reviews.

In the third part of Citizen Kabuto you get to play the horrible gigantic men-eating monster you killed in the first part... wonderful game... oh well


Ethshar is a great series but it contains too much jokes to do more than slighly shave on the dark really. If you read the first five books it's an amazingly fresh take to get it from a bad girls point of view (which makes it a great book) but standalone you'd probably be a bit disappointed if the expectation is serious badguy protagonist.

I'd love to mention World of Tiers by Philip Jose Farmer here but unfortunately by the time you find out the protagonist is a bad guy the story is already over. So it doesn't really fit in your requirements either, still, great books...
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Old 01-23-2012, 08:13 PM   #25
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Not fantasy, but the Flashman books by George Macdonald Fraser are brilliantly done historical fiction - meticulous research, hilarious stories and Flashy, who is an absolute rotter somehow always gets away with it.
Yes indeed, the Flashman books are brilliant and the guy himself a true rotter. True classics those. I've only read about half, but I'll remedy that soon enough.
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Old 01-23-2012, 08:43 PM   #26
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you'd probably be a bit disappointed if the expectation is serious badguy protagonist.
No such expectations as of yet, only hope.
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Old 01-23-2012, 09:05 PM   #27
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AndrewH: Elric...

Since you've not read the books I strongly suggest you remedy that forthwith and if you enjoy them go on to read more, much more. Moorcock's "Eternal Champion universe" is undoubtedly one of SFF's greatest creations (in my opinion, of course) and any fan of the fantastic ought to read up on Corum, Jerry Cornelius, Count Brass, Hawkmoon and the rest. Of the entire "super-cycle" my personal favourite is the first book dealing with Ulrich, Graf von Bek: The Warhound and the World's Pain.
Elric is on my TBR list. Thanks for the other suggestions, I'll look into them!
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Old 01-23-2012, 09:11 PM   #28
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Another one I thought of...

If I Were an Evil Overlord... an anthology of short stories edited by Martin H. Greenberg. It's mostly comic fantasy but there are a few darker stories in there.

Inkmesh link
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Old 01-23-2012, 10:10 PM   #29
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Personally, I'm not sure you'd get much in the way of evil protagonist + evil wins full-length novels outside of suspense horror-borderline thrillers like the Hannibal Lecter books or American Psycho. Even the Dexter novels the TV show is based upon put him as "semi-cuddly evil we like vs not-so-cuddly evil we don't like".

That said, if Flashman-type self-serving callous bastards who usually manage to get out more-or-less on top appeal, then you might want to try Peter David's semi-satirical Sir Apropos of Nothing series. I've only read the 1st, so I don't know if he reforms in some way afterwards, but he was pretty unrepentant in that book while managing to screw a bunch of people over (admittedly, a number of them quite deserved it).

Also, if you're again willing to look outside classic-type fantasy, here's a few more candidates:

Grey and greyer morality predominate in several historical urban fantasies of the old-school "unexpected magic in modern life" type (not the current 1st person snarker paranormal PI in a world of overt magickal creatures).

I highly recommend Ian Tregillis' WWII set super-science vs eldritch magick Milkweed trilogy, the 1st book of which I found very enjoyable. Unfortunately, the other parts of the trilogy aren't out yet and you've stated you don't want to do unfinished series, but I suggest reading the online tie-in story @ Tor.com (no real spoilers and will give you a definite taste of why I think this almost fits what you want, keeping in mind that the character in question is one of the main not-quite-viewpoint, but very prominent ambiguously intentioned motivators who part-dominates the narrative): What Doctor Gottlieb Saw.

If you find this story appeals to you and you'd like to read more like it, then I also highly recommend Tim Powers' Declare, which is basically what you'd get if you had a John Le Carré novel and mashed it up with some Biblical/Lovecraftian mysticism and turned it into an arms race. Again, good and evil become increasingly irrelevant terms as the people who pretend to themselves that they're working on the right side find themselves sliding increasingly into the self-justifying abyss, as is the case in many espionage thrillers.

The following are spoiler-texted in case you don't want to know too much about the story in advance, but I assure you these are worth reading if you haven't come across them already.

For a flat-out
Spoiler:
"evil wins, and it doesn't care, and it just ate your lunch"
take on this trope, I suggest Charles Stross' excellently creepy novella A Colder War, available to read free online and also in Stross' collection Toast, which he offers for free download in a variety of e-book formats off his website.

For a nifty
Spoiler:
"evil already won, and it's been eating your lunch all this time"
take on this trope, you might want to try Neil Gaiman's marvelously subversive A Study in Emerald if you haven't already, which is also a truly brilliant Holmes pastiche, and offered free for download (PDF, but worth it) off his website.

On the sf side, you may also want to try some of Peter Watts' stories and novels, since he often has a rather dark and cynical take* on things and tends to go for "your victory is hollow and tastes like ashes in your mouth".

In any case, here are two of his Hugo-winning or nominated stories free to read online which I think will fit in fairly well with what you want.

The Things is probably the closest candidate to doubleplus ungood protag not defeated in the end. It's also a riff on a classic sf story and movie based upon.

The Island is more the grey-and-greyer what-you-thought-was-right-may-not-turn-out-to-be kind of story. It's very good and you can get it from his website or in an e-book version in our very own Patricia Clark Memorial E-Book Library collected with some of his other stories (I recommend reading "Fractals", which I consider a rather good look at the fractal nature of human hatred, and "Bulk Food" is a very funny dark satire, especially if you keep in mind that Watts is a marine biologist who probably had to deal with things much like that when he was still living on BC's "Sunshine Coast").

If you like these, you may want to try his Rifters Trilogy, which he offers for free download under a Creative Commons license off his website. It's very dark in places, there is an evil viewpoint protagonist in some parts of it, and no one really "wins"; they just get to rejoice that maybe they're not quite as screwed as they thought they would be.

Anyway, hope these aren't too far off-topic from what you have in mind.

* This may or may not be due to having been beaten up by the US border guards and contracting flesh-eating bacteria. Mind you, he was kind of like that even before the border guards and having to have a chunk of his leg cut out.

Last edited by ATDrake; 01-23-2012 at 10:15 PM. Reason: Remove redundancy because I know more than one adjective to describe things I liked.
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Old 01-23-2012, 10:18 PM   #30
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You might want to try The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington. It's a medieval history fantasy type of book, and the main characters are unrepentant killers and thieves. I couldn't get past the first few chapters, but judging by the reviews, readers either loved it or loathed it. I'm impressed an editor was brave enough to take a chance on a book like that.

Also, K.J. Parker's books feature some pretty appalling main characters, and I generally enjoy them even while not exactly loving the characters.
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