Here Be Dragons by David MacPherson

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I received this as a request a while ago, but it’s since been entered into SPFBO and it got a semi-final nod from Fantasy Book Critic! I was super stoked to read this since HiuGregg really enjoyed it and I knew it was a comedy going in (my favorite subgenre <3)

This is a very light hearted book with a lot of humor in it right from the beginning. Orus was a traveling adventurer, he recently graduated from Cromalot School where he was educated on how to be a hero. His first rescue mission was a success, he rescued a damsel in distress from the evil sorcerer who captured her and all seemed well. Except… the damsel is a virgin, and it’s commonplace for her to get captured and taken away by one villain or the other, and she has to sit and wait to be rescued time and again. She’s tired of it, and sees an option to make her less appealing to the villains – if she simply lost her virginity all will be well! Right, guys? And look, here’s a studly hero who just rescued her – may as well!

They end up with a kid, and the timeline jumps 20 years when Orus is now fat, old, and working as a gardener for the king. It’s not exactly what he wanted to be doing, but it has a better steady income when compared to traveling adventurer, life is what it is. He doesn’t regret his life, he has a bunch of happy memories with his wife and son, and he loves them both dearly. (I really, really love a well established healthy marriage in fantasy, I don’t hit them all that often.) But, he does have regrets that he didn’t get to have the life he was expecting to have and dreams of a day where he can go be a hero.

That “One day” arrives when Orus is asked by an old retired adventurer to take a coin from their village over to another village and deliver it to a person who “will know who he is”. It’s a mysterious adventure, and of course, Orus thinks that this is his big chance to have a memory, a quest, all to himself for once. He tells his wife he’ll be back in a week, hoping it was true, knowing it could be much longer if this does turn into a real adventure.

And it does! When he arrives at the tavern where he’s supposed to be meeting this unknown person, he thinks it would be a good idea to hide his real identity and make himself sound like a hero of legend. He spins a lot of tall tales using stories he used to read to his son before bed, the people in the tavern buy it and he’s considered a famous and rich adventurer by all who listened. This backfired when a monk asks for Orus’s help, it’s help involving a dragon problem, but not a typical dragon problem. The monk doesn’t want Orus to slay the dragon, rather he wants him to help save the dragon. If the last dragon in the world dies, magic dies with it. So, Orus finds himself off to Worm-Mount to go and save the dragon, and thus the world.

The writing in this was intentionally whimsical and funny, very light hearted and up beat through most of the book. It’s a nice shift from some of the darker things I’ve read recently, and I enjoy going back and forth between darker and lighter reads. It’s very easy to like the main character and hope for the best for him which is a plus for me. Not all of the jokes landed for me, but I did find myself smiling through the book with a strong sense of the warm and fuzzies. It didn’t lack heart or depth of plot either, which are two essential things needed to make a comedy work well. There were, however, some awkward passages, some run on sentences, and things I had to re-read a few times to understand due to how it was phrased.

Up to the first 20% you’re being introduced to the world, it’s characters, and getting the basics of the plot down before the real story begins. So, it starts off kind of slower and picks up around a quarter of the way through. This is a bit longer than many of the comedies I read, coming in at 400+ pages this book took the time to explore character development and have a well-conceived plot.

The world building was whimsical and fun, very old school fantasy with wizards, trolls, dwarves, elves etc. People who like traditional fantasy tropes and satire of those fantasy tropes could really get a kick out of this one. The magic is mysterious, definitely not a hard magic system kind of book with things like Pairing Paper allowing messages to be transmitted over distances, and small suns/rain clouds circling around wizard’s hats.

Overall I liked this one, I will definitely read another by David MacPherson as I’m always looking for a book that makes me smile.

Audience:

  • Comic fantasy
  • older MC’s
  • traditional fantasy races
  • dragons
  • going on a quest
  • mysterious magic

Ratings:

  • Plot: 12/15
  • Characters: 12.5/15
  • World Building: 12/15
  • Writing: 10/15
  • Pacing: 11/15
  • Originality: 12.5/15
  • Personal Enjoyment: 8/10

Final Score: 78/100 – 4 stars recommended!

 

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