cover image How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying

How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying

Django Wexler. Orbit, $19.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-39220-4

By turning the themes of chosen-one fantasy on their head, this sardonic romp from Wexler (the Burningblade & Silvereye series) brings out the smiles. Davi, an exile from the human world, has been reborn 238 times over the 10 centuries she’s spent trapped in the fantasy land known as the Kingdom. She’s tired of trying and failing to stop the Dark Lord from conquering the land—so this time around, she switches teams. (“We have an expression back home concerning what course of action to take if you find yourself under no circumstances able to beat ’em. I intend to follow its advice.”) Using her past-lives’ knowledge, she convinces her former foes that she is destined to be the next Dark Lord. Events snowball, and soon Davi has her own horde of orcs, stone monsters, and shark-toothed dwarves marching off to the Convocation that anoints the next Dark Lord. (“I don’t know exactly how they pick the Dark Lord, but a major factor is personal charisma as measured in armed henchpersons.”) Wexler balances the snarky asides with the angst of Davi’s repeating existence and evolving awareness that her actions have consequences. Under the flippancy, a truly touching grimdark story lurks, complete with hilarious footnotes. Readers will be wowed. Agent: Seth Fishman, Gernert Co. (May)