This will be the first official Weatherwax Report SPFBO finalist review! Here’s how it’s going to work for our finalists – the judge who liked it the most will be writing the bulk review. The other three judges will then write a paragraph or two highlighting things they liked that weren’t mentioned in the bulk review, where we differ on opinions, and any issues they had with the book. Our four scores will be averaged together at the end of the review for a final score!
Well, this book was certainly a really fun listen!
This is the story of Gorm Ingerson, who is a dwarven berserker who has had a bit of bad luck in the past that has lead to him basically becoming a thief. However, he’s been recruited to go on a quest that is almost certain death! Hooray!!! Luckily he’s part of a party of adventurers who are all very experienced in the field of adventuring. This is a country where the number one gross domestic product is professional heroics. Heroes for hire, arming them, armoring them, et cetera.
There was definitely some influence here from some of my favorite fantasy books, or I suppose, some of the first fantasy I ever read. The first that I noticed was a passing reference to a small statuette that summons an ethereal Puma, bringing to mind one Drizzt Do’urden, drow warrior, generally good dude, and holder of one statuette that summons one giant ethereal panther named Guenhwyvar (and I remember how to spell it off the top of my head, hooray!). The quest our heroes go on is to find some elven marbles/stones, there’s a few references to Lord of the Rings and other such things. I dig it! I love passing references, or just even little nods to some of my favorite things in fantasy books. I’m silly that way.
This was a very well written book, and the prose and plot line flowed very, very well. There were twists and turns that left me flabbergasted because I never saw them coming. There were several times that I giggled out loud, and I love books that can do that.
The narrator, Doug Tisdale Jr. was absolutely amazing at telling this story. He has a very good tone for comedic fantasy. His voice for Gorm was believable and not over-the-top, but my favorite was his voice of Gorm’s goblin squire, Gleebek. I think that I liked this book even more than I would have had I not listened to it.
All told, this was one of the best audiobooks that I read all year! With the combination of the author’s wonderful comedy, and the narrator’s ability to time and deliver it properly, this was a fantastic listen, and I recommend it to anyone who likes a good chuckle in their fantasy. I give this one an easy-peasy 8.5/10 (5/5 stars!).
I enjoyed myself while reading the first half of the book, however, I wasn’t totally behind the characters until about 50% in, where I felt the side characters started to develop and come up to the level of the main character. I always enjoy seeing common day issues we deal with in real life being brought into fantasy, so the addiction themes with one of the characters went over well with me. I liked Gorm from the start, and I became more and more attached to both him and Gleebek (an adorable goblin) as the story went on. By the end of the book, there were several moments that kicked me right in the feels. Emotional moments that go beyond humor are so important for me when reading comedy – it’s easier to laugh along with the characters if I care about them. The reason why I didn’t give this an 8.5 or higher (my five star range) was due to the first half of the book and how I wasn’t totally connected with it yet. I have however read the next in the series and 5 starred that one – I’m anxiously awaiting for whatever he writes next.
For the most part, the comedic elements in Orconomics left me with an “ah, I see what you did there” feeling. The heroics-based economy parallels the housing market collapse of 2008, with investors pouring money into “plunderfunds” and selling shares of the estimated loot a hero will bring back. Many elements of classic fantasy adventures are present, and quite a few have a twist to them.
Like Esme, I wasn’t sold on this book at first. The opening scenes lean into the economic comedy angle with brute force, and each new character that joined the adventuring party felt two dimensional. But as the book progressed, the humor became more nuanced and tied to the characters, and the side characters developed depth and complexity as their flaws came to light. For instance, the elf warrior has a crippling addiction to health potions and her body’s immortality far surpasses her ability to retain memories. She literally cannot remember the famous warrior she used to be, and her arc was what finally sucked me into the story emotionally.
I also listened to the audiobook, and Doug Tisdale Jr. did a fantastic job narrating the story. My only slight complaint is that when voicing characters that speak another language, the audiobook decided to layer the English narration on top of mumbled gibberish.
All in all, I think fans of Nicholas Eames’ Kings of the Wyld will find much to love in this book. It has both humor and heart, offering a fresh take on the classic fantasy adventure story. I gave this a 7.7/10, or a solid four stars.
Orconomics is a scathing look at a capitalistic economy within a fantasy setting. Basically, it’s an MMO style world in which professional adventurers (players) drive the world’s economy. It definitely has its own brand of wit, and it’s cleverly written… but I didn’t love it. As someone who played a lot of EQ and WoW in my day, a lot of the jokes were already pretty familiar, even a little tired. Like Coffee pointed out, there’s a feeling of “I see what you did there”, which isn’t a type of humor that I find it easy to connect with. And if you don’t connect with the humor it’s a tricky read – the characters receive the bulk of their development after the 50% mark, and the pacing picks up there too. Generally I’ll put a book down if I’m still not feeling it after the first third.
However, outside of this I did find it to be well written, and from an interesting perspective. J. Zachary Pike is clearly a talented author, and he’s written a good novel that I happen to be incompatible with. For this reason, I’m giving 7/10.
JUDGES AVERAGE SCORES
FINAL SCORE: 7.8/10 or 8/10 for SPFBO