4 out of 4 stars
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Fish Wielder by J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison is an epic fantasy story about Thoral, the Fist (not fish) Wielder, and his partner, Brad, the talking koi fish. Thoral is a legendary fighter and adventurer in the land of Grome. He takes on numerous beasts and enemies, including barfarts and two-headed wolves, during his quests as he seeks to aid the elves led by the elf king Elfrod. Eventually, Thoral and Brad face the forces of the evil Glurpgrond, maker of the Bracelet of Evil and the Pudding of Power, who seeks to conquer the land with the help of the Dark Lord, Mauron.
If these names and quests sound familiar, they are meant to be. In this book, Hardison parodies famous fantasy stories and tropes. I particularly enjoyed the many Lord of the Rings callbacks, including the author's name, the Fellowship of the Pudding, and the elf princess known as the Evening Snack. The tone was light, and the humor continued throughout with many tongue-in-cheek moments. For example, Thoral's pastimes are listed as drinking, fighting, brooding, and wandering around in forests looking at trees. In addition, Brad cheers him up early on and convinces him to set out on a quest by telling him that he might die a hero's death on this one. Last, once Thoral notes that he is Thoral, there is no arguing with him. There are so many examples of comedic genius, and these are only a few that appear early on.
One other part that I found genius was the ending. The author ends the story in such an appropriate style for a high fantasy story. We should expect nothing less from an author using the moniker "J.R.R.R.." Some readers might be disappointed, but it fits the tongue-in-cheek high fantasy parody.
I loved the book, but there were a few minor problems I had with it. First of all, the book was too long. It dragged at times, despite the comedy. Also, the plot seemed to be meandering. Thoral goes on many short quests, which leaves the reader a little adrift about the main action. It comes together in the end, but it took a long time for the payoff. Then again, that might have been the author's intention, as many high fantasy novels do this as well.
Overall, I had very few problems with the book. It appears to be exceptionally well-edited as well, so this adds to its appeal. As a humorous take on high fantasy, I give Fish Wielder by J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison 4 out of 4 stars. I highly recommend this book for fantasy fans who would enjoy seeing the genre gloriously parodied. There are some violent fights in the text, so anyone who doesn't want these should stay away. Also, I would not recommend it for young children for the same reason. If you are looking for some light-hearted fantasy fun, please check out this book.
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