T5W: Required Reading for Evil Overlords

Top 5 Wednesday is a goodreads group created by Lainey (gingerreadslainey) and now hosted by Sam (thoughtsontomes). This week’s topic is Book List for Class on [pick genre/trope/etc].

Just in time for back to school, create a reading list for a class on a bookish topic of your choice.

I probably should have written a post about which books I would choose for a class on a genre, but Evil Overlords need help too (and will never admit it). After all, what’s a SFF book without a memorable villain?
This is a list to help you conquer your enemies with class. A list to make you unstoppable. A list of books for those days in which you can’t see the light darkness at the end of the tunnel.

And if you need some additional tips, there’s an Evil Overlord list online! (It also kind of inspired this post and it’s an useful lists for writers too, if you’re not familiar with it.)

Shadow and Bone


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: a YA fantasy book set in a Russian-inspired world.

Here you’ll learn:

  • that you absolutely should try to seduce the heroine: your readers will demand you get a redemption arc and happy ending no matter what terrible things you do, and you can count on being the most popular character in the book too until a handsome prince steals the spotlight
  • I’m not saying you shouldn’t move around the country in a black carriage pulled by black horses, dressed in black and also cutting people in half, but you know, sometimes subtlety really does pay off.
  • On the other hand, the aesthetic is 10/10

Ancillary Justice


Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie: a well-known adult sci-fi novel about AIs.

Here you’ll learn:

  • how to give a whole new meaning to “you are your own worst enemy”
  • why multiplying yourself to achieve ubiquity is a bad idea
  • starting a civil was with yourself, while being a sign of good, healthy megalomania, is not recommended
  • don’t be like Anaander Mianaai. But by not being like Anaander Mianaai, you might end up being Anaander Mianaai.

Ninefox Gambit


The Machineries of Empire series by Yoon Ha Lee: sci-fantasy books I like to describe as mass murder magic math in space. Almost everyone is a manipulative bastard here.

Here you’ll learn:

  • that war is so much better if other people fight it for you – you can spend your time exploring this year’s new fashion trends (as long as they don’t involve neck frills. That’s just ugly)
  • Sometimes you just have to torture someone. Reducing stress, taking negativity out of your life – those things are important and good for your skin.
  • trying to fit all your past boyfriends in a refrigerator is a bad idea. You’re not a praying mantis, stop

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns


Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao: A Snow-White retelling set in a East Asian-inspired world, told from the point of view of the evil queen.

Here you’ll learn:

  • that love is overrated. Why bother with romance when you could spend your time being powerful, pretty, and eating your enemies’ hearts?
  • After so many books in which the villains get defeated, sometimes it’s good to see someone like you succeed
  • however, this can also work as a cautionary tale: beauty is an important weapon, but it shouldn’t be the only source of your self-esteem
  • and you’ll love Xifeng, of course.

The Stars Are Legion


The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley: an adult biopunk horror book set in space with an all-lesbian cast.

Here you’ll learn:

  • to not get involved in political intrigue. Why bother with secret plots when you could use more effective tools (…like mass murder?)
  • that marrying someone who kind of wants you dead might not be the best idea, no matter how much you want to sleep with them and they want to sleep with you.
  • inspirational quotes from the Annals of the Legion
  • you’ll feel validated because literally everyone is kind of into villains here
  • also the best female villain ever is here, so.

One more! A Court of Mist and Fury


A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas: A new adult fantasy romance about the fae.

Here you’ll learn:

  • If this is your villainous style, why are you even here. Your calling is not being an evil overlord, it’s opening a matchmaking agency
  • you hopeless romantic
  • I don’t know if anyone is going to pay you to get thrown in a cauldron, though

What would you recommend to an Evil Overlord? Have you read any of these? Who are your favorite and least favorite book villains?

4 thoughts on “T5W: Required Reading for Evil Overlords

  1. Bu–But what’s the fun of being an Evil Overlord if you’re NOT draped in all black and carted around in black carriages while going on murder sprees? 😦 It seems to be working out for Kylo Ren! (…sorta)

    Love the post–thanks for the giggles, Acqua! 😀 Also, I should really check out The Stars Are Legion–I need that best female villain in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. People might not recognize you’re evil! That really would be a problem.
      (And the Darkling does feel a bit like Kylo Ren, but with significantly less temper tantrums).

      And thank you! I hope you like The Stars Are Legion too

      Liked by 1 person

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