The Broken Hero (Villainous Intent Book 1)

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For a millennium, these opponents have coexisted in an uneasy peace, enforced by defenders like the Night Watch, forces of the Light who guard against the Dark. But prophecy decrees that one supreme "Other" will arise to spark a cataclysmic war. Anton Gorodetsky, an untested mid-level Light magician with the Night Watch, discovers a cursed young womanan Other of tremendous potential unallied with either sidewho can shift the balance of power. With the battle lines between Light and Dark drawn, the magician must move carefully, for one wrong step could mean the beginning of annihilation.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. Lord Foul's Bane begins the epic Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever , a series in which a leprosy-stricken man in the real world is transported to a stereotypical fantasy world.

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However, what ensues isn't a cutesy Narnia -like adventure, but something far less cutesy. To say the least. The darkness in this book isn't primarily in the world, or the action, but in what an utter son of a bitch the protagonist it. Thomas Covenant isn't like other anti-heroes in that he's a bastard with a heart of gold. He's a bastard through and through, and utterly unlikeable.

Despite this, he's a well-drawn character grappling with the crippling disease of leprosy, refusing to believe that the fantasy world he's found himself in is even real.

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Covenant is so despicable at times, that on my first read of the book, I found myself doing something that I haven't done before or since; putting the book down because I was too appalled to continue. Offsetting this is the flowery, poetic, old-fashioned way in which the book is written. Lord Foul's Bane isn't fun to read, nor will it probably be your favourite book, but it's an experience important to fantasy as a genre.

Or even protagonists that aren't complete assholes. This book is about the titular vagrant, who is a mute, and his journey across a desolate, demon-ravaged world with a baby and a goat. It sounds pretty weird and it is, but in a good way. As you might imagine, a world overrun by demons is more than a little dark.

Demons have swept into the world and are basically fucking everything up, and seeing the journey of such interesting, yet opaque protagonist play out is interesting.

We're not given access to the Vagrant's direct point of view, so it's a slow reveal of character, backstory and purpose. The Vagrant literally never speaks, which gives him a 'Man With No Name' cool-factor, and while this would be annoying if every book did it, it works as something different. The book is certainly unique, and odd, but it's actually quite a quick read, and the weird elements all come together well to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

The setting is very unique and compellingly dark, and beyond the monstrous creatures, even normal people are generally corrupted. Low Town titled the Straight-Razor Cure in the UK , is the first instalment in the Low Town series, and is a gritty noir crime story that just happens to be set in a fantasy world. The fact that the word 'noir' is French for 'dark' is, alone, a compelling argument for Low Town 's place on this list. It's the tale of a drug-dealer in the slums of a fantasy city, and his journey to solve a murder that the police can't be bothered with.

The darkness of Low Town is integral in the setting, the characters, and the underlying nihilistic view of humanity. The horrors and monsters here are the people, and Polansky proves that people can be far more terrifying than any zombie, werewolf or vampire. The characterization of 'the Warden', the drug-addicted, world-weary investigator protagonist is one of the highlights of the book, and is enhanced by the close first-person narration.

You can almost taste the puke, drugs and shit on the streets of Low Town , yet somehow Polansky turns that into a pleasurable experience. The titular 'witcher' mutated, sorcerously-powered professional monster hunter cool, I know is Geralt of Rivia, the White Wolf, lover of women, slayer of monsters, and kicker of asses. He's just about the coolest protagonist a reader could ask for, and the stories he finds himself in are as horrifying as you'd expect from books based on eastern European fairytales and monster legends.

The monsters Geralt hunts are the real deal. These are the sorts of nightmare-fuel that could only be generated from hundreds of years of stories told by the fire in Sapkowski's native Eastern Europe.

Forget Sleeping Beauty, the princess Geralt encounters turns into a flesh-eating horror every night. Despite this, the true monsters Geralt encounters are always human ones, and he considers his mission of 'killing monsters' to include the all-too human variation. He fights with a combination of swords, potions and sorcery, and he's just plain cool. I feel like I'm gushing, am I gushing? I'll stop now. This book and the rest of the Wardstone Chronicles genuinely scared the absolute shit out of me when I first read it.

It's a YA book, but still worth reading for anyone older. It's such a small-scale, folksy story. There's no 'fate of the kingdom' battle, and the protagonist remains a young, terrified boy, and that's the charm of the book. It's like a fairy tale gone wrong, and a single witch provides enough scares to keep a dozen kids under their covers for a year.

Rather than relying on violence and gore, Delaney succeeds in getting inside your head and reminding you why you were once afraid of the dark. I think that letting younger teenagers read this technically qualifies as child abuse in seven states. Spooks Apprentice leans more towards horror than a lot of other entries on this list, and it features staples of that genre like a haunted house.

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Nevertheless, it's still definitely a coming of age fantasy tale. Or read it yourself if you like fast-paced YA dark fantasy. Either way. Gaiman's work is perfect for anyone who's after stories with 'mundane' protagonists from the real world who are pulled into worlds of unsettling dark fantasy. His stories have worth not only as entertainment, but as deeply contemplative and philosophical works. Neverwhere is about a Londoner who finds himself, due to an act of kindness, drawn into an unsettling magical world beneath London.

It's like Alice in Wonderland ramped up for adults, but still with all the charm. Somehow Gaiman manages to blend the darkness of adult urban fantasy with the charm and whimsy of an old-fashioned fairytale, and his villains dress like gentlemen, his protagonist is bumbling and well-meaning and the denizens of his magical world are ancient and dark.

His writing is an absolute pleasure to read, and things are described in such clever and witty ways that it's easy to imagine Gaiman sipping on some piping hot tea in his office and chortling as he clacks away on his keyboard. That doesn't mean, however, that nobody ever says fuck and that sex is never mentioned. This is dark fantasy, after all. This is the opening to a book series for young adults, and holy shit is it heavy for something supposedly aimed at young people.

It's urban dark fantasy rather than being set in a secondary world, but there's plenty of portal-hopping, and not every book is set primarily in the world we know. In Lord Loss , a teenager finds himself confronted with the existence of horrifying, blood-soaked demonic monstrosities from another world, and their age-old battle with humanity. The violence is shocking, and I suspect that any school librarians who have it in their collection haven't actually read it. When reading, there were a few moments that I genuinely uttered 'what the fuck?

Cosmic horror, body horror, werewolves, and a particularly mean demon with snakes where his heart should be all make an appearance. While the protagonists are teenaged, the thematic depth, darkness and levels of cynicism mean that adult readers could enjoy it too, and its pace is super-fast. We generate a very small commision if you buy an amazon product linked to from this site. These comissions help us keep the BestFantasyBooks running and funds site improvements.

Best Dark Fantasy Books. Comments 1. Abercrombie's work has become synonymous with the growing sub-genre of grimdark fantasy Naturally there's a lot of crossover between grimdark fantasy which subverts the tropes of traditional heroic fantasy and dark fantasy which is more adult fantasy that takes elements from horror. Read this book if: you want to read a book that follows a similar structure to The Lord of the Rings , but written by the criminally insane.

Similar Recommendations. Listiverse Recommendations. Comments 0. Read this book if: you're a sicko who likes reading from the viewpoint of an evil prick. The Axe and the Throne M. Read this book if: you want your 'elves' running brothels, your 'orcs' figuring out how guns work, and your hero with his hands inch-deep in some poor bastard's chest cavity. Scott Bakker.


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Read this book if: you like more intellectual novels, but don't want to miss out on all the sex and violence either. Read this book if: you think necromancers are given a bad rap, and want to see from their perspective for a change. Comments 4. Read this book if: you want to get to know the grand-daddy of all brooding, tragic anti-heroes. Read this book if: you want to read some retro dark fantasy featuring an ultimate badass.

Comments 6. Read this book if: you're pissed about fantasy heroes always taking down the dark lord and leaving thousands of good, hard-working grunts unemployed.

Comments Read this book if: you think zombie apocalypses aren't quite dark enough, and you need something a bit more intense to sate your depraved appetites. Read this book if: you want to read the most disgusting demon-dog to grace the printed page. Comments 0 Awards Won: LocusF. Read this book if: you haven't already.

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Tears of a Heart Chase Blackwood. Read this book if: you want to see a pampered prince get chased halfway up a continent by zombies, and think you might enjoy the quips he makes along the way. Comments 2.