4 out of 4 stars
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I can honestly say that I have never read a book quite like Fish Wielder by J.R.R.R. (Jim) Hardison before. It is a very unique take on the fantasy genre to say the least. I would even say that it might have to have its own classification made up for it and be labeled a farctasy instead of fantasy. It combines the ludicrous working in conjunction with the expected action and adventure one would anticipate to find in such a story. It is most assuredly a different take on the genre, but still comes out as quite the entertaining one.
This book follows the exploits of Thoral Mighty Fist as he makes his way through the world of Grome. He definitely stands out from the crowd. He is a mighty barbarian warrior who literally stands a head taller than most other humans who dwell in Grome. He also dresses like a pirate. And has a weird foreign accent. And carries a magic sword in his belt next to a plethora of leather and velvet pouches with various interesting items inside. Oh, and he also has a traveling companion. Who rides in one of the pouches. And is a fish. Named Brad. Who talks. And breathes air. See, Thoral is not your typical guy.
We get to find out a lot about Thoral as we follow him and Brad as they encounter and battle the Bad Religion and the Dark Brotherhood while questing through the land. Thoral seems to find himself nearly getting killed at an alarming rate at times throughout the story. Yet, with his enormously strong fists and uncanny relationship with luck, he makes it through to the middle portion of the book where he finds himself going on the ultimate quest to find the lost Pudding of Power. Thoral and his friends (a legitimate fellowship no less) will have to face overwhelming danger in this quest, including coming face to face with the dreaded Heartless One. Even Thoral might not survive this time.
The overall tenor of the book is what I would describe as adventurous tongue-in-cheek. There is a lot of action and a variety of battles, but there is quite a bit of farce running throughout the whole of the story as well. Mr. Hardison does a really nice job of making that odd balance work throughout the majority of the book. It really surprised me in this as farce can often become tiresome and somewhat unfunny in my experience. Still, in this instance, my attention and enjoyment lasted all the way through the end of the story. It was certainly a job well done by the author.
I really liked the fact that though the author was going for the silly a lot of the time, he did not skimp on the quality of his writing to do so. He still made the book into a very entertaining fantasy tale when all was said and done. Combining the action and comedy was done just about as good as Mr. Hardison could have with the plot and characters that he created. Besides, how can you go wrong with the Fellowship of the Pudding?
I rate this book a 4 out of 4 stars. I think that it is a book that lovers of farce or fantasy will likely enjoy. Even if you take your fantasy super seriously, I believe that this tale is one that you will find will not disappoint you at all. I heartily recommend you give it a try.
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