Darruk hates the fact that people perceive him as the “e-word”. Evil is not a label Darruk takes lightly and he even refuses to speak the word out loud. He is convinced all of the kidnapping, the murdering, and sending his hordes on suicidal missions was all done in the name of the “Greater Good”. He knows that there’s a catastrophe on the horizon and all life on the planet will cease to be when the world is split in half in an event known as the Doomclap. Darruk sees himself as a misunderstood hero, and absolutely, definitely, NOT evil.
Darruk is also a fuckup, he keeps dying over and over and over. Most of the time it’s his wife’s would-be-lover that’s run him through with a spear. He’s a “dread wizard” and he has phylacteries that keep bringing him back time and again. He’s stuck in a loveless arranged marriage he can’t get out of because he’s bound by an Oathstone. Overall, his life is kind of pathetic. His only real friend is his kobold broodmother named Princess. She’s like an overgrown talking cat – she asked for a glass of red wine for the sole purpose of knocking it off the table. Things just never seem to go his way, so why not try a new approach? What if he could be a hero? What if he could gain fame and fortune and build his followers that way so they know he’s someone to be worshipped and loved instead of feared.
This was a cleverly written fast-paced and entertaining read. Everything with comedy is highly subjective so your mileage may vary, but I found myself genuinely smiling through most of the book. (I find things like characters named Axe Hole funny) The dialogue was witty, there were ridiculous circumstances, and there was an overall warm feel to this book despite it being about a lich. I especially appreciated the prose, I flew threw the book in a matter of hours. The book is divided into parts and I felt like Part 2 was a bit slower than the others creating a mild lull in the center of the book. That’s not to say there were “slogs”, I wasn’t struggling to finish Part 2, I just wasn’t as invested as I was with other parts.
If you don’t like Darruk you’re going to have a hard time. This is a single POV book all from the point of view of a villainous wizard. Many times in comedy character development takes a back seat to the plotline, however, I wouldn’t say that’s the case here. Darruk is well developed, and personally, I really dug his character. We get some background on him, he had a distinct personality type, and his motivations were clear. He may not be the most complex character around with huge arcs, but he wasn’t flat or 2 dimensional to me. That said, the side characters could have used some more fleshing out. The world-building in this felt very old school with wizards in towers kinda deal. There were peasants with pitchforks, castles, kings, and mysterious magic like scrying with the blood of sacrificial animals.
TLDR: Evil undead lich-wizard wants to save the world and has no morals to hold him back. Except he’s a fuckup and can’t get it right. Set in a medieval-type world with mysterious magic, kobolds, kings, wizards in high towers, serpent-people, prophecies, barbarian warriors, carnivorous horses, and venomous mushrooms. Satire, puns, witty dialogue and adorable animal companion.
- Plot: 11/15
- Characters: 12.75/15
- World Building: 12/15
- Writing: 13.5/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 12/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 8.5/10
Final Score: 80.75/100 or a solid 4 stars 😀