Book Review: If I Were An Evil Overlord

I don’t know if I have previously mentioned my love of anthologies (I’m reasonably certain I have), but in case I haven’t, let me state it again.  Anthologies are a great way to discover how a bunch of different authors tackle the same sort of theme.

If I Were An Evil Overlord is, as might be guessed, an anthology about evil overlords and dictators.  Being an anthology, there were some stories that I liked better than others.  This time around, I decided to do a quick recap of each story, and my general thoughts on it.  Keep in mind, this is based exclusively on my personal taste, which yours probably won’t match up with.

  • If Looks Could Kill: The story was a delightful LOTR spoof, then ended on a transphobic joke.  Disappointing.
  • The Man Who Would Be Overlord: Eh.  I don’t know whether it was a stupid character or plot holes, but there were too many big gaps in this story to find it truly enjoyable.
  • Ensuring the Succession: I liked this one.  There is something satisfying about competent evil characters.  Plus, a successful succession is the main problem most empires face–this handled it well.
  • The Life and Death of the Fortune Cookie Tyrant: Not bad.  The premise is a bit silly and incompletely explored, but it is still entertaining and ended in a satisfying fashion.
  • Daddy’s Little Girl: I have a deep love for creepy children, so this was perfect.  Just perfect.
  • Gordie Culligan vs Dr. Longbeach and the HVAC of Doom: This story made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions.  Plus, I enjoyed the conversational tone and the look at ordinary people using totally practical skills to save the day.  Probably my favorite story in the anthology.
  • The Sins of the Sons: Intriguing, especially the family dynamics.  Not bad, but also not memorable.
  • Loser Takes All: This has a particularly satisfying ending.  The actions in-game reflect in reality and reach their expected bitter consequences.
  • The Next Level: Eh, I feel like the planned rape at the end was gratuitous to establish the character as an evil overlord.  It left a bad taste over what was otherwise an entertaining story.
  • Advisers at Naptime: I’m tickled by this simply for the direct reference to the Evil Overlord List about five-year-olds.
  • A Woman’s Work: I love smart villains.  Especially ones smart enough to make themselves beloved of their people.  This was perfect.
  • To Sit in Darkness Here, Hatching Vain Empires: Okay, this was actually one of the more chilling ones.  The villain won.  Completely.  And he has the resources and skills to do it again, world after world.
  • Stronger Than Fate: A delightful story with an excellent closing line.  Pay attention to the details.
  • Art Therapy: This story felt almost disappointing.  I liked the voice of the villain, but he went all soft at the end.

 

Overall, I liked the blend of stories that let the villains win and those that didn’t.  Definitely an entertaining read.

Recommended for: Fans of fantasy anthologies, fans of villain protagonists

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