How To Become The Dark Lord And Die Trying

Groundhog Day meets Guardians of the Galaxy in Django Wexler’s laugh-out-loud fantasy tale about a young woman who, tired of defending humanity from the Dark Lord, decides to become the Dark Lord herself.

Davi has done this all before. She’s tried to be the hero and take down the all-powerful Dark Lord. A hundred times she’s rallied humanity and made the final charge. But the time loop always gets her in the end. Sometimes she’s killed quickly. Sometimes it takes a while. But she’s been defeated every time.

This time? She’s done being the hero and done being stuck in this endless time loop. If the Dark Lord always wins, then maybe that’s who she needs to be. It’s Davi’s turn to play on the winning side.


“Tremendous fun.”

Kirkus (Starred Review)

“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.”

Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)

“Highly recommended for anyone who loved watching the “hero” die in Edge of Tomorrow, readers who enjoy Christopher Buehlman’s, K.J. Parker’s and T. Kingfisher’s snarky, sarcastic, and ultimately pragmatic protagonists with hearts of gold, and especially readers looking for stories where the stock villains finally get a fair shake.

VERDICT Wexler’s (Emperor of Ruin) latest is a wild ride of fake it ’til you make it, full of high adventure and low chuckles every step of the way.”

Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Wexler’s narrative thrives on its humorous tone, punctuated with pop-culture references and a Deadpool-esque charm. … Perfect for fans of irreverent fantasy and wisecracking protagonists, How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying delivers laughs, excitement, and a fresh take on the classic hero’s journey. Get ready to join Davi on her quest—it’s a rollicking ride readers won’t want to miss.”


“All-afterburners isekai adventure—twisty, pacey, and full of reverent irreverence for fantasy. I can’t get enough.”

—Max Gladstone, author of The Craft Sequence

“Fast-paced, brilliantly raunchy, unforgettable. The Pratchett-esque American isekai you didn’t know you wanted. My favorite read of the year.”

—Seanan McGuire, author of the Wayward Children series

“Takes the old saying ‘If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,’ to the next level. A sarcastic, action-packed, intrigue-filled (mis)adventure. One of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time.”

—Matt Dinniman, author of Dungeon Crawler Carl

“All hail Dark Lord Davi! How to Become the Dark Lord and Die Trying is outrageously fun, filled with campy humor, action and unexpected warm-heartedness. I grinned from the first page to the last.”

—Fonda Lee, author of Jade City

“A brash swords-and-satire romp that draws you into its rollicking adventure even as it pokes fun at the whole genre. Gamers in particular will appreciate the irreverent upending of classic roleplaying tropes.”

—James L. Sutter, co-creator of the Pathfinder and Starfinder Roleplaying Games

“Wexler smashes a dozen tropes and then glues them back together like a Japanese vase in what can only be called a page-turning manic pixie Dark Lord story. Part portal fantasy, part Groundhog Day, part R-rated D&D campaign gone off the rails, and just so much damned fun. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had this much sheer fun with a book. “

—Peter Clines, author of 14 and Ex-Heroes

“Funny as hell, multi-layered, and affecting. Wexler’s irreverent demolition of the fantasy genre doubles as a reverent exploration of where the magic comes from.”

—Scott Lynch, author of The Lies of Locke Lamora

“Django Wexler takes the concept of progression fantasy to a whole new level in this darkly comic delight of a novel. Finding comedic, and sometimes tragic, potential in the absurdities and contradictions offered by well worn fantasy tropes, How to Become a Dark Lord and Die Trying works wonderfully as both satire and tribute.”

—Anthony Ryan, author of Blood Song and The Pariah

“This book cold-cocked me out of the worst reading slump of my life, and I’m not just saying that to stay on Dark Lord Davi’s dark side. Join the horde and read it!”

—Yoon Ha Lee, author of Ninefox Gambit

“Awesome! This book is all kinds of fun. It’s dark, irreverent, and funny as hell. I tore through this thing in a day. It’s that good. All Hail Dark Lord Davi!”

—Sylvain Neuvel, author of The Themis Files

“Witty and clever but stuffed with heart to boot, a wonderful twist on familiar tropes presented with skill and polish and Wexler’s trademark pacing. I can hardly wait to read the next one!”

—Howard Andrew Jones, author of The Chronicles of Hanuvar

“High-brow fantasy? Low-brow hilarity? Maybe the other way around? Whatever, it’s awesome. If only I was trapped in a time loop, then I could enjoy this gem fresh every day. Wexler’s done it again!”

—Jason Hough, author of The Darwin Elevator

“Wickedly sharp, funny, and raunchy. Wexler delights in punching holes in the beloved cliches of fantasy, and I adore this. If you ever thought: if I was the villain, I’d actually be smart about things, then this is the book for you.”

—Jenn Lyons, author of The Ruin of Kings

“Fun and relentless. It’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a time loop portal fantasy. Palm Springs if Andy Samberg could cast fireballs.”

—Robert Brockway, author of Carrier Wave

“Lord of the Rings crossed with Groundhog Day, narrated by a gender-flipped Deadpool.”

—Mike Brooks, author of The Black Coast

“Wexler’s wise-cracking heroine grabs the reader in the first sentence and never (and I mean never) lets go. With expert pacing, the plot has rhythm and energy…An utter delight from start to finish. Both hilarious and wise at once, Wexler has created a brilliant comedic novel and one hell of a ride!”

—Constance Sayers, author of The Star and the Strange Moon