Looking for good books in which the bad guy wins or the good guy dies.


Books

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Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
...To be clear, I'm looking for either a complete death of all the good guys in order to stop the bad guys...

Legend by David Gemmel fits the bill for this.


Icyshadow wrote:
Kelsey, do tell, did you ask for these books because you intend to kill the next party you play with (or let the bad guy win in some other dastardly way), or is it just for entertainment purposes? Because I'd have no idea how to react if the former theory is correct.

Entertainment purposes. I have no plans for f&!#ing over my players at the moment. I just feel like reading some brutal stories.


I want to try out A Song of Ice and Fire, but all copies at the library are on hold.


Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:
Kelsey, do tell, did you ask for these books because you intend to kill the next party you play with (or let the bad guy win in some other dastardly way), or is it just for entertainment purposes? Because I'd have no idea how to react if the former theory is correct.
Entertainment purposes. I have no plans for f~~+ing over my players at the moment. I just feel like reading some brutal stories.

If its brutal stories you want - then Joe Abercrombie is, like many have suggested, ticks that box in spades.

Not that I'm bias or anything ;)


Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
Yup. All I ask is that it be medieval fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, space fantasy, or some other type of fantasy, and that it does not have any sort of happy ending.

Nine Princes is great . . .I met Zelazny before he died of cancer. The game is pretty good too but very different from PF.

Technically, what you are asking for is a tragedy. The previous comments hit some very excellent ones.

I like the medieval myths, like Beowulf. In the end, he gets killed and the young hero has to take over and the cycle starts all over again. I also like the Song of Roland. The Bishop of Turpin is MY archetypal cleric, using a sword and making people shorter by a head. In the end, they overwhelmed and killed.

Think of Fifth Element without Bruce Willis. Suppose Ben Afleck had been cast instead? Evil would have won! Now, if Matt Damon had been cast instead, Mr Evil would have just packed up and gone home after a conversation with Jason Bourne, I mean Matt Damon.

Two movies bear mentioning: Alien (1980) and Silent Running (1972). Silent Running is darker than Alien, so have Kleenex handy.

I tend to recycle my bad guys . . . its the whole antagonist protagonist thing, but thats more plot and plot device than anything else.


The Elric books (well, at least the first five) tend to have protagonists dropping like flies, too.


A Song of Fire and Ice would be a good fit for your interests. I will also echo Jack's suggestion of Legend, Gemmel put some great books out in his time.


This will be controversial... I really think A Song of Ice and Fire has gotten its death toll on characters overhyped. Yes, people die, but these are brutal times and a sizable chunk of time. A good number of them also die in what I would consider the origin stories of the various characters. Looking back at it, there are few deaths that did not improve the narrative compared to without them.


Recommending books where everybody dies at the end is a little bit like recommending films where the woman is actually a man (i.e. it rather spoils it) but... the following authors may be of interest:

HP Lovecraft
Alan Moore
Iain Banks


Sissyl wrote:
This will be controversial... I really think A Song of Ice and Fire has gotten its death toll on characters overhyped.

Maybe, but

A Game of Thrones Spoilage:

I can't think of anything else I've read where the author sets you up to see a character as the protagonist of the series, then abruptly kills him 2/3 of the way through the first book.

I've yet to meet anyone who read AGoT when it first came out, i.e., before anyone or anything or internet memes or HBO could spoil it ahead of time for you, and who didn't get to the chapter where Ned Stark died and actually believed he was dead right there and that it wasn't some kind of crazy trick or plot twist. Because the protagonist obviously can't die right there...

There are other kind of shocker moments, of course, but that one I think remains the biggest gut punch because you just don't see it coming.


Galnörag wrote:
I was always partial to Jacqueline Carey's "The Sundering", which is a two novel series, Banewreaker and Godslayer which is kind of the standard fantasy trope told from the bad guys side and leaves him as a rather sympathetic character force by the "evil" good gods to be the antagonist.

I was thinking the same, although depending on your point of view it doesn't fit the bill.

Basically, it's Lord of the Rings told from the side of Sauron's guys. Carey isn't exactly ripping off LotR a la Sword of Shannara; she makes it so obvious she clearly wants you to know and make the connection that she's riffing on it.

I might also add R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing to the list; things go rough for the only character I could make a serious argument for having a Pathfinder-style Good alignment, and mostly it's like a sociopathic character scheming against other sociopathic characters, evil political opportunists, and, hey, some monsters that are like Cthulhu monsters, if Cthulhu monsters had an overdeveloped sex drive, with a psychopathic murderer as one of his closest allies.


Norse mythology.


Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
...I just feel like reading some brutal stories.

For brutality try Cormac McCarthy. B-R-U-T-A-L. It's not fantasy but some of his books have a mythological or fantastical feel.

Child of God - "Protagonist" is a necrophiliac murderer. I have never felt so empty after reading a book.

Outer Dark - Appalachian hillbilly sleeps with sister, sister gets pregnant, he abandons baby in woods, attempts to flee consequences. The "unholy trinity" found in this book is straight out of Dante.

Blood Meridian - The Book of All Books. Cutthroat scalp-hunters hired by the Mexican government to kill Apache Indians. Has the most evil antagonist found in literature: Judge Holden. Who, or rather what, is he?


Dire Mongoose wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
This will be controversial... I really think A Song of Ice and Fire has gotten its death toll on characters overhyped.

Maybe, but

** spoiler omitted **

There are other kind of shocker moments, of course, but that one I think remains the biggest gut punch because you just don't see it coming.

Well...

Spoiler:
That is what I mean by origin story. Also, I was waiting for it. The first thing he does is execute someone, in person, because he believes in personal responsibility and leadership. As the other bookend, then, he is himself executed by a professional headsman.


Dire Mongoose wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
This will be controversial... I really think A Song of Ice and Fire has gotten its death toll on characters overhyped.

Maybe, but

** spoiler omitted **

There are other kind of shocker moments, of course, but that one I think remains the biggest gut punch because you just don't see it coming.

You say that but I can't really remember being that surprised by it at all. I think I had always

Spoiler:
assumed that the books would turn out to be about his children (probably due to the dire wolves/chapter headings) so I was actually much more surprised by the Red Wedding.

Eradico Pravus wrote:
Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
...I just feel like reading some brutal stories.

For brutality try Cormac McCarthy. B-R-U-T-A-L. It's not fantasy but some of his books have a mythological or fantastical feel.

I only ever read No Country for Old Men, but, yep, that was pretty brutal!


So many people like George Martin's Fire and Ice series.

I've never read it, as the the whole premise just doesn't appeal to me.

It's not like I haven't read any of his books, I read Dying of the Light, Tuf Voyaging, the first 11 or so Wildcards books.

I just don't care for low magic settings in general, unless it is clearly swords and sorcery or has a unique hook.

I read fantasy for escapism and entertainment. Any series where you'd like to planeshift in and let loose with a streetsweeper to execute all the protagonists just doesn't appeal to me.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

FallofCamelot wrote:
Oh and whilst I agree "Nine Princes in Amber" is a great book you shouldn't stop there. Read the whole series, it's damn good.

And, y'see, the entire series was my vote for "story where the bad guy wins."


Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Eradico Pravus wrote:
Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
...I just feel like reading some brutal stories.

For brutality try Cormac McCarthy. B-R-U-T-A-L. It's not fantasy but some of his books have a mythological or fantastical feel.

I only ever read No Country for Old Men, but, yep, that was pretty brutal!

Yeah, most Cormac McCarthy stories that I know of would definitely fit the OP's bill. The only one I have read through was The Road, and while at the end

Spoiler:
The main character's son seems to be taken in by a maybe-not-quite-feral group, after dad dies

it was still one of the bleakest stories I have ever read.


Readerbreeder wrote:
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
Eradico Pravus wrote:
Kelsey Arwen MacAilbert wrote:
...I just feel like reading some brutal stories.

For brutality try Cormac McCarthy. B-R-U-T-A-L. It's not fantasy but some of his books have a mythological or fantastical feel.

I only ever read No Country for Old Men, but, yep, that was pretty brutal!

Yeah, most Cormac McCarthy stories that I know of would definitely fit the OP's bill. The only one I have read through was The Road, and while at the end

** spoiler omitted **

it was still one of the bleakest stories I have ever read.

Compared to Blood Meridian, The Road reads like a fairy tale. lol!

Give it a try sometime. :)

I will admit when I finished The Road, I got out of bed, walked down the hallway to peek at my six year-old son who was asleep, and wiped a tear from my eye. Great read.


Legend by David Gemmell..... Not a happy ending and the postscript promises more bad stuff.


R. Scott Bakker's SECOND APOCALYPSE series-of-series. To save the world from a race of alien space rapists intent on resurrecting a womb-destroying force of ultimate evil, humanity surrenders its rule to a Nietzschean superman whose superior intellect means that all humanity is as puppets dancing to his strings and he has no qualms on seeing millions die to ensure his aims are met.

It is not a laugh riot.

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