Books - Where the bad guys win

By on January 11, 2014 5:37:52 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Rhadagast

Join Date 05/2006
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I recently read 4 of Joe Abercrombie's books, and really enjoyed their "grit" and dark humor.  It got me thinking about if I've ever read a book that had a main POV character which was completely evil and wins, or had "good" main character(s) that in the end, utterly fail.

Can anyone think of (and recommend) any books published like that?

 

P.S. If you like Abercrombie, GRRM, or fantasy in general, I highly recommend The Broken Empire trilogy from Mark Lawrence.

 

 

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January 12, 2014 3:02:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hmm, the original Godfather novel on which the movie was based?

Though there really aren't any "good" characters, it's just bad people doing bad things to other bad people!

 

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January 12, 2014 3:16:16 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The Horus Heresy (warhammer 40k) has been pretty filled so far with half of them becoming corrupted. Although obviously there are powerful external influences. Several times the bad guys win, and the entire Horus Heresy lore ends up with man's greatest friend in a coma for 10 000 years. That part hasn't been written into the book series yet, but I think it's not a spoiler to say how that ends up since it has been a part of the wider w40k lore since 1987.

The http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_of_Nothing series has several bad factions nuking it out against each other. One wins.

The Silmarillion by Tolkien of course, pretty much chronicles the end of good things in the world.

1984, a book which should need no introduction.

 

 

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January 12, 2014 4:41:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Thanks for the suggestions, that Prince of Nothing looks interesting.  Looks to have Dune like complexity, I may save that series for a vacation.

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January 12, 2014 4:52:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It is more a theological philosophical battleground than the political/personal one featured in Dune though.

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January 12, 2014 5:52:40 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Elric of Melniboné , by Michael Moorcock.  Had a sword that could suck out and devour your soul.... need I say any more?  lol...  Classic Anti-Hero......

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January 12, 2014 5:56:07 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Oh.... I almost forgot...  The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever!!! Wrtten by Stephen R. Donaldson.  He was a miserable old leper thrown into a world he refused to believe in!!!  Mind blowing anti-hero if there ever was one

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January 12, 2014 8:24:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Ah, Elric, one of my all time favorites as well.  They should really make that into a TV/Movie show of some sort, though I fear they would ruin it.  He often at least tried to do the right thing though as I recall, so I can't say he was truly "evil".

I'll check out Thomas Covenant, that does look rather mind bending, thanks for the suggestion.

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January 12, 2014 9:06:36 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting JimPeck,

Oh.... I almost forgot...  The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever!!! Wrtten by Stephen R. Donaldson.  He was a miserable old leper thrown into a world he refused to believe in!!!  Mind blowing anti-hero if there ever was one

Oh those were awesome. I made my class ring white gold with an emerald stone. LOL

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January 13, 2014 12:10:12 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums
Would you consider Shakespeare, or some of the Greek classics? These had their share of both heroes, and anti-heroes.
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January 13, 2014 9:58:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The problem with telling you books where the bad guys win is that, unless the bad guy is also the protagonist, you're ruining the ending of the book. 

I can think of several books I'd list to answer this question.  The problem is that as soon as I tell you them I've ruined the book's punch.

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January 13, 2014 10:09:52 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Maybe the Discworld series... there's this Rinsewind wizard who wins the day, but is always very miserable in the end. I like the books about him, he is a nice anti-hero.

In Dune book 4, the line between good and bad is somewhat blurred. Is Leto the God-Emperor a good worm-guy, or is he evil? I cannot tell, this book might also fall in this category.

 

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January 14, 2014 8:14:10 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Kantok,

The problem with telling you books where the bad guys win is that, unless the bad guy is also the protagonist, you're ruining the ending of the book. 

I can think of a few Anti-hero books that don't really have "happy" endings for our anti-hero, so, IMO, it balances out... 

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January 14, 2014 8:16:02 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting GeomanNL,


In Dune book 4, the line between good and bad is somewhat blurred. Is Leto the God-Emperor a good worm-guy, or is he evil? I cannot tell, this book might also fall in this category.

 

 

I'm a huge Dune fan, and that is an excellent question...  I would love to debate this more, but it would give the book away... let's just say Leto II is a really fascinating character....

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January 20, 2014 5:09:17 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think that Prince of Thorns may be a good series for you. It follows the story of an (evil) prince. the series consist of three books.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9579634-prince-of-thorns

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January 21, 2014 11:01:19 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting JimPeck,


Quoting GeomanNL, reply 11

In Dune book 4, the line between good and bad is somewhat blurred. Is Leto the God-Emperor a good worm-guy, or is he evil? I cannot tell, this book might also fall in this category.

 

 

I'm a huge Dune fan, and that is an excellent question...  I would love to debate this more, but it would give the book away... let's just say Leto II is a really fascinating character....

Imho it is fairly obvious that it is acting with good intent. The Predator is a necessary evil as part of the Golden Path after all. It is some utilitarian morality.

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January 22, 2014 10:23:42 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

And who created the path? He and his father.

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January 22, 2014 5:37:47 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

The best way to get stories where bad guys win (minus the stupid bad guys(('sometimes')) and where comeuppance and Kama are as dead as the dinosaurs.... go outside and look around the real world.

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January 23, 2014 8:21:54 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Quoting Heavenfall,



Imho it is fairly obvious that it is acting with good intent. The Predator is a necessary evil as part of the Golden Path after all. It is some utilitarian morality.

 

I thin the biggest argument would be "Does the ends justify the means" argument..... yes, the Golden Path was meant to save Humanity,... but at what cost?  I can sit and argue this with myself until I'm blue in the face... lol.  Herbert did a wonderful job at blurring the lines between good and evil with Leto II

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January 28, 2014 9:45:30 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Well... I think that he shaped the path as much as he was shaped by the path. That makes him personally accountable for his actions.

One the other hand he's the only one who could save the human race, and that makes it a meaningless discussion. There's simply no choice in the matter and if there's no choice, then good/evil lose their meaning.

 

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January 28, 2014 11:28:18 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Right, it's just the Trolley problem on a universe-wide scale.

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January 28, 2014 12:36:41 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Not really, because Leto II could follow the consequences of his decisions into infinity.

For example, I don't give money to cherity organisations, even though I know that they use the money to save people. I cannot decide what good it would do to save someone I don't know. He may turn out the savior of mankind. Or he may turn out to be a terrible dictator. It's out of my hands, but Leto II... he knew

 

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January 28, 2014 12:42:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Knowing the consequences of your actions is part of the trolley problem, so I am not sure what you mean.

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January 28, 2014 12:56:59 PM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

You don't know who you save.

Suppose you knew that the 1 guy is your friend and he has a good job, a wife and children, and the other 5 people are people you've never seen. What would you do then?

 

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January 28, 2014 2:03:40 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting GeomanNL,
Leto II could follow the consequences of his decisions into infinity

I may be getting Dune novels confused, but wasn't the intent of setting up the whole elaborate situation supposed to create a chain of events so that he (and any possessing similar faculties) could not follow the consequences any longer, thereby letting humanity control its own destiny without the oversight (for good or ill) of any with prescient skills?

RE: the trolley problem - there are tons of variations on it, and in some you know the participants, some you don't.  Analysis of the difference in peoples' reactions depending on what the parameters are (as a kind of simplified morality system) is kind of the point.

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January 29, 2014 8:22:42 AM from Sins of a Solar Empire Forums Sins of a Solar Empire Forums

Uhm... yes you're right, perhaps he didn't see into infinity, only just far enough to see a point of no return.

And I suppose if that's the way the trolley problem works, than it's applicable to this situation too.

 

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