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Old 01-24-2012, 12:35 AM   #31
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not fantasy per se but the ultimate anti-hero/villain in fiction has to be Paul Atriedes from the Dune series. no matter what his intentions were i don't think anything else in fiction can top being responsible for hundreds upon hundreds of billions of deaths across thousands of worlds.

when you get right down to it, everyone in those books was a varying shade of evil, barring maybe the fremen.
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Old 01-24-2012, 05:18 AM   #32
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There's the YA anthology Troll's Eye View edited by Ellen Datlow/Terri Windling; stories more on the perspective of the villains.
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:06 AM   #33
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Great suggestions all, which are greatly appreciated!

jehane: If I Were an Evil Overlord looks like great fun and has been duly appropriated. Cheers!

Drake-san: thank you for that absolute abundance of suggestions! One or two I've read, one or two I've got and the remainder I'm in the process of looking into.

MicheleA: The Sad Tale of... looks great too and has also been duly picked up, along with K. J. Parker's Autumn series. Thanks!

xg4bx: I have all the Dune books under my belt already, although in the case of several of the later ones I rather wish that wasn't the case. Appreciate the input though!

flipreads: I'll certainly have a look at Troll's Eye View too. Sounds like it could be enjoyable and I've no problem with books meant for a younger audience. Cheers!

Although I'm beginning to ever so slightly lose hope of actually finding a book which fulfils the stated criteria, please do keep those suggestions coming.
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Old 01-25-2012, 06:03 PM   #34
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I just recently read Karen Miller's "Blight of Mages" which is a prequel to her other books (which I haven't read). It's a story of how a nation of huge magical power collapses (it's kind of allegory for doing stuff with science you probably shouldn't do).

I don't want to spoil the story too much but it's about a pair of mages breaking the law, hubris, and what happens when you violate laws and principles that are there for a good reason. It doesn't end all that well.


The other one that comes to mind as more fitting the bill is "The Far Kingdoms" by Allan Cole and Chris Bunch.

It's a very different sort of fantasy - they write in the author's note that they were inspired by the not-so-nice guy explorers (I guess especially Sir Richard Francis Burton) who would speak dozens of languages and travel, make free with the ladies and push around the natives, etc.

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Old 01-29-2012, 06:44 PM   #35
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I have high hopes that in the end, justice will prevail but here is a cozy/noir where the end was a downer because, well, the choices made were quite ugly. It's a VERY weird combo because cozy is generally...well cozy. But in this case, you've got your suburbia mom faced with some pretty awful choices--and not always making good ones. In ends where she made some that I didn't find particularly hopeful. Straight to Hell by Michelle Scott.

AND, I'm still very hopeful that when the series ends, good WILL prevail. But that can't change the darkness in this first book.
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:30 PM   #36
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Perhaps Repairman Jack by F. Paul Wilson. Mostly bad guy against the badder guys with some overtones of fantasy/horror.
Not necessarily fitting your criteria, as the protagonist triumphs, but that was not the original intent of the author. It became a series by popular demand, and of course for a series to continue the main character must carry on.

Another series with a seriously disturbed individual as the protagonist is Tim Dorsey's Serge Storms. This guy does unmentionable things to repugnant people, simply because they offended his sensibilities. Skittering around Florida to avoid taking his medication, he wreaks havoc when he can. Quite funny, but more than a little unpleasant in parts.

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Old 02-03-2012, 06:20 AM   #37
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Don't know if anyone's mentioned it but The Fencer Trilogy by KJ Parker. Not a nice main character to say the least. In most of Parker's books it can actually be a bit hard to tell who the good guys actually are.

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Old 02-03-2012, 10:22 AM   #38
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I haven't seen this mentioned so far, I believe.

The Night Angel trilogy by Brent Weeks. I'm still in the middle of the second book, so I'm not sure if it'll end as a heroic fantasy or not... but the first two books are definitely not heroic. Without going too much into details, most of the story is told from the perspective of the underworld characters: assassins, prostitutes, cutthroats, prisoners, etc.

http://www.goodreads.com/series/45765-night-angel
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Old 02-03-2012, 03:40 PM   #39
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@ekster wow that series looks great.

Thanks
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Old 02-03-2012, 07:04 PM   #40
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Some of the stories in the old Thieves' World anthologies have very non-heroic protagonists.
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Old 02-09-2012, 01:40 AM   #41
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Thank you once again for all your excellent suggestions!

I guess I just have to accept that what I requested simply doesn't exist, but at least you have made my already far too lengthy TBR list even longer.
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Old 02-09-2012, 02:08 AM   #42
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It does exist. I am just not happy reading totally bad guy/girl/child with no redeeming qualities takes over the world or one small village before he/she moves on to universal domination so they are hard to recommend. I try not to remember them.

Horror books abound in every genre, so I am pretty sure there are lots you would like. Just keep on looking

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Old 02-09-2012, 02:40 AM   #43
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Oh, I'll certainly keep looking and I do hope you're right. Mind you, there are certainly books fitting my description out there (American Psycho springs immediately to mind); just not fantasy books that I'm aware of.
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Old 02-09-2012, 03:14 AM   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belfaborac View Post
I guess I just have to accept that what I requested simply doesn't exist, but at least you have made my already far too lengthy TBR list even longer.
I think it exists, only you're going to have to go a lot closer to the edges overlapping horror or science fiction to get it, probably because sf is a lot more accepting of non-overturned dystopias and horror is, well, horror.

Anyway, I did recently finish a George Alec Effinger book which I think came very close to being an sfnal take on the 2nd of your requirements, which is probably the harder to ultimately fulfill.

Sandor Courane, the protagonist of the stories collected in A Thousand Deaths, is based upon this one gimmick idea: no matter what happens in the story, he always dies. No last minute rescues, no deus ex machina saves, he lives and dies separately for every story and that way the author gets to play out whatever scenario he likes whether it ends up being a "win", "loss", or "WTF just happened?!" from the view of the character.

The first story in which Courane appears is a novel-length serious sf work (some of the later stories get progressively more meta and spoofier) which combines the classic basic plots of man vs himself, man vs the world, and man vs the machine all into one nicely assembled package which is gradually opened up as Sandor has to put together the pieces of what really happened to him and his world and find out what, if anything he can do about it.

Since you were specifically asking for "non-heroic" books I will tell you straight off that no matter how it may look like it's going at points, the endgame is definitely tilted in favour of the opposing force. Not to mention, the "hero" dies in the end and the expected heroic sacrifice does not exactly have the effect intended by said hero.

Anyway, if you think you might be interested, it's available DRM-free MultiFormat from Fictionwise, though I would advise waiting for one of the 50%+ weekend discount coupons regularly posted in the Deals forum, as there are a few minor typos and some apparently missing linespaces which would naturally divide section breaks. This doesn't render the book unreadable as the storyline can be easily followed even with the run-on scenes, but it's something that one really shouldn't pay the list cost the re-publisher has set it at when they could have done a somewhat better job with the conversion considering the regular asking price.

And don't read the Mike Resnick introduction until you've finished at least the first novel and the two or so stories immediately after it, because his commentary is thoroughly spoilertastic.

Resnick, by the way, has an sf novel that IIRC almost fits your scenario, with a guy who goes around arranging disasters and committing genocide because all that death brings him closer to some vision of his ideal anthropomorphic personification or something. I forget exactly what happens in that, though, but you might want to look up reviews for The Dark Lady (which Resnick sells directly off his website) to see if it's the kind of thing you think you might want to try. ISTR that the people trying to stop the guy don't quite succeed and he manages to get at least part of whatever he ultimately wanted. But I don't recall him being a primary viewpoint character.
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Old 02-09-2012, 03:40 AM   #45
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Probably I am a nutbar in this instance, but fantasy to me implies happy endings. Often too happy saccharine endings. There have been books I have read that far too many inane characters survive. Some days I like noir, some days I don't. Can almost recall some noir mythology series that may fit your criteria(Lovecraft ?) and the Heroes in Hell series is kind of ok.

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