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