I’ve been trying to read more indie comedy because it’s my favorite genre, but also my least read genre since you kind of have to dig for many of them.
This one caught my attention with Steve Thomas’s comedy fantasy review series he does on Reddit and over at https://www.sfffoolsguild.com.
This one follows a young halfling named Epik who dreams to get out of his small town and go on adventures, most of all, he wants to learn about magic. Sound familiar? This book is sort of like a love letter to the tropes of fantasy and has a ton of references throughout the series.
Epik is a likable character, he means well and he reflects the hopes and dreams of young kids wanting to go out and see the world. He comes from a tiny town known as The Bog that has a small-statured population of nosey, yet non-adventure-seeking-folk. His mother didn’t want him to leave and assured him that he could stay in The Bog for 9 more years rent free if he wanted. He was not the most popular guy in the village and had a bully named Frank Biggle that was a constant source of grief. Epik’s father died years ago, and it’s left him with questions that no one wants to answer. His mother has been closed lipped about it, and no one in his village is willing to talk about it either. He swears that he saw a wizard when he was younger at a birthday party, but since no one else saw this “wizard” they think he’s a little crazy, it’s one of his bullies favorite topics of torment.
Epik finally gets to go and have an adventure in the big city of Dune All-en. The same big city that just recently outlawed magic on the King’s decree. Epik has pretty poor timing, one could almost say it’s comedically bad timing. It’s said that every ten years the king of Dune-all En is doomed to fall, and another King will rise to take his place. It’s been happening for as long as people can remember, and the present king has run out of time. He believes that magic is one of the biggest threats, and has outlawed it throughout his city. Witches, wizards and sorcerer’s are laying low or leaving the city – but Epik manages to befriend one named Gabby. Epik now has to learn how to wield magic illegally while surviving the inevitable downfall of the King, and a troll invasion, being helped along by his motley crew of a half-elf, a half-dwarf, an old wizard, and himself.
This isn’t a long book, and it has a nice medium pace throughout so it reads pretty quickly. It has a very light tone, so if you need a break from darker stuff you may want to give this one a go. For me, it was a little heavy handed on the references, but I’ve also read the second book and I know things get toned down later. I don’t mind the references in the chapter titles, I just would prefer less of it in the text.
A common criticism of comedy is that the characters don’t stick or are totally flat, and although I would have liked a bit more from the characters, I didn’t feel like they were flat.
I had a good time with this despite it having some flaws, however, I would advise against the audiobook. I don’t say that often, but the narrator had very, very awkward pauses in the middle of sentences. It sounded. like. iwaslistening. to. Shatner. narratetheentirebook. It really killed a lot of the comedy elements since so much if relies on timing and it got to the point where it was hard to follow. I re-read the book before writing the review lol. I have also listened to the second book’s audiobook since it wasn’t the same person, and that one is far better – as is the book itself 🙂 Happy to say that I liked the second one more than the first.
- Comedy fantasy
- Fantasy tropes/satire
- lots and lots of fantasy elements
- trolls, wizards, witches, dwarves, elves, goblins
- old school magic
- easy reads
- Plot 11/15
- Characters: 10/15
- World Building: 11.5/15
- Writing: 11/15
- Pacing: 12/15
- Originality: 12.5/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 7.5/10
Final Score: 75.5/100 = 3.77/5