5 out of 5 stars
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It begins with a warrior, Thoral Mighty Fist, drinking ale in a tavern… and don’t all good fantasy tales start there? Then a fish walks in, and the real charm of J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison’s Fish Wielder along with it.
The story pokes fun at a lot of fantasy tropes as the main character himself goes on a perilous quest where he must battle nefarious assassins, cults, and an immortal sorcerer amongst many other threats, all while falling for an elf princess and digging deep into his own haunted backstory. Throughout the journey, we get to learn more about why Thoral, the mighty barbarian, an exceptionally handsome warrior, undefeatable in combat, wielder of a mighty magical sword (with a ridiculous name), seems sad and depressed.
Of late I’ve been reading a lot of George R.R. Martin (although not enough, if you know what I mean). Whether because of that or in spite of it, I found this novel to be a breath of fresh air. Although notable, most of the jokes are directed at the Lord of the Rings series, not a Song of Ice and Fire, it is still refreshing to read fantasy that is not occupied with being too dark or too serious. Even some of the surprisingly dark parts of the novel are done with an ample amount of humour. The whole book is a welcome change to the genre. Even the language used throughout the novel is fun and refreshing. Situations which seem perfectly set up for word stereotypes offered surprises with humorous results. Example: ‘Thoral sliced through Nalweegie’s chains as if they were made of licorice’.
The term Laugh out loud gets thrown around a lot these days, but there were more than a couple of moments in which I legit stopped to fully appreciate a cleaver joke, especially when it came to the hero’s trusty stead, Warlord Horse (just rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it). There were times the horse’s reactions were intermingled with the dialogue that were simply priceless. Keep in mind, the novel isn’t just a series of jokes and puns about fantasy worlds. There is a strong narrative throughout, complete with more than its fair share of twists and turns, and those sought-after surprise revelations. More than enough to draw a reader in above and beyond the copious quantities of humour.
I would highly recommend this book to any lover of fantasy fiction. It’s a well-paced, short read (fantasy novels aren’t usually found around the 250-page mark), which shows the potential for more adventures and tales in its future. For fans of the genre, I give it a five out of five-star rating. However, if you do not have a sense of humour, especially as it pertains to the Lord of the Rings, I don’t think you would much appreciate this book. Here is a quick example that will act as a litmus test for whether or not you might like the book, The Dark lord in Fish wielder is named Mauron. If you appreciate that corny jab, you’ll love the book.
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