Clay Cooper is an old mercenary/sword for hire who’s been in retirement. He has a nice life with a wife he loves and a daughter he adores. He’s visited by an old friend who used to be in his mercenary band and is told his friend’s daughter is in trouble. She’s trapped in a city that’s under siege by hordes of monsters and has little chance of surviving. The journey is a suicide mission, and Clay is hesitant to go, but after a comment from his daughter asking if he would rescue her – he decides to go.
They need to get more people to go with them though, two old fogies won’t stand a chance on this kind of mission, so they try and get the band together.
One of their band has now become a King, another is a Wizard who’s set up shop in town, and another is enslaved by someone who’s kept him in a stone form for ~18 years. Rounding them all up to go on the mission was a lot of fun, all of these characters are entertaining and endearing in their own way.
After they’ve gotten everyone together their journey really begins, and it’s plagued by bounty hunters, monsters, and mayhem.
Final Score: 8/10
Clay Cooper is sort of a begrudging hero, he doesn’t really enjoy all the attention he gets when people recognize who he is. Their old band, Saga, is legendary and he’s sort of a celebrity. He loves his daughter and that’s really the only thing he wants to get back to,
Gabe is the friend with the daughter who’s gotten herself trapped. Against his wifes wishes, he trained her to be a fighter and she went out on a mission only to get herself stuck in a very bad situation.
Moog is my favorite character of the book, he’s goofy and absurd and he’s everything I love about aging wizards. He could easily fit into Discworlds Unseen University and I love him to pieces. He has a good heart and loves animals, he has an obsession with a legendary species known as Owlbears, and it’s just so adorable.
King Mattrick has a horrible, horrible wife – she’s actively cheating on him with basically everyone, and none of his kids are really his kids. He knows it, but treats them well anyway. He’s sort of resigned to the fact that he’s not a great kind and not a great husband and is sort of depressed when the band first meets him. I love this guy, he has a great heart and his banter with his friends was hilarious
Final Score: 9/10
This book has every single monster or fantasy creature I’ve ever heard of put into one book, and it wasn’t overwhelming – it actually read fun and sort of natural for this world. Cyclops, manticores, unicorns, dragons, centaurs – the works.
There are minotaurs that are harassing villagers and killing people.
There’s an ancient race that’s thought to be long gone that have left behind ancient cities and portals. Clay and the band meet up with one of the last of this race and there’s a lot of lore that goes along with this race – including their connection to the current religion of this world.
Bands/Mercenaries are sort of the celebrities of this world, there’s parades for them and everyone crowds around when they head into town wanting stories of their adventures.
Wizards and magic are very mysterious, there’s no magic system of any kind. Moog just kind of does his thing and it’s totally unexplained. I love it. One of Moog’s specialties is an erectile dysfunction magical remedy – totally absurd and awesome.
Final Score: 8.5/10
This book is hilarious, I definitely count it as a comedy adventure story. No one can fill the void that Pratchett left, but I understand the comparisons people are making when referring to this as a Pratchett kind of book. The humor can be absurd, and there are references to the real world just like in Discworld. Some people compare this to Ready Player One – but I think it’s only relevant in a broad sweeping sense. Ready Player One is very in your face with real-world references, this book has them much more streamlined.
The pacing was great, the first 10% of the book is intro to the world and characters, and after that it’s almost break neck paced with all of the action and adventure going on.
Pacing Final Score: 9/10
Writing Final Score: 9/10
I haven’t read a book like this in a long time, so many books takes themselves so seriously it was a breath of fresh air to read something that’s purely fun and entertaining. The writing style and the tone of the book is the most original thing about it, it’s so rare to get a real comedy in the fantasy genre outside of the few giants that everyone already knows about.
On top of that, the world building was great, the characters were unique – everything about this read very fresh and new.
Final Score: 10/10
- For people who like comedy
- For people who like a lot of action
- For people who like mysterious magic
- For people who like a lot of monsters
- For people who like a band of friends on a mission
Final Score: 53/60 or 8.8/10