RogerBW's Blog

Tavern Rats, Matt Youngmark 03 November 2023

2022 comic fantasy. Frinzil the sorcery student suddenly has to pay for several years of tuition. Obviously the way to do this is to go adventuring.

This is very clearly RPG-derived fantasy. The chapters are called things like "Attack of Opportunity" and "Saving Throw", people evidently have something like character classes, and there's a gallimaufry of sapient races and monsters even in the small area where the book takes place.

Lizardfolk had ruled the Conquered Lands during the Fourteenth Age, and although there was a common misconception that they were related to tortoise mages, the two were completely different species. Lizardfolk didn't have protective shells, for starters, or deep connections with an ancient, primordial evil that should never have intersected with the fabric of our reality. So those were two important differences right there.

Not at all my usual sort of thing. But I enjoyed Youngmark's piece in Swords, Sorcery, & Self-Rescuing Damsels so I thought I'd give this a try. And it's very rough in places, but it has a sense of fun that carried me through. (It helps that it's not trying to be imitation Terry Pratchett or Tom Holt.)

There's a found-family (each with their own problems). There are perils and arrests and escapes. There's precious little progress on the actual quest that's the nominal objective, so don't go in expecting that and you won't be frustrated; this book is much more about the moment to moment survival and small triumphs.

"Well, how do people usually escape from gladiatorial arenas?" Sprig asked. "To be clear, this isn't that thing where I already know the answer and I'm trying to get you to say it out loud. I'm genuinely asking."

I enjoyed it at least enough to look for the sequel.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

See also:
Swords, Sorcery, & Self-Rescuing Damsels, Lee French and Sarah Craft

  1. Posted by John P at 09:15pm on 03 November 2023

    I recently read "Kings of the Wyld" by Nicholas Eames and "Legends & Lattes" by Travis Baldree which are both RPG derived fantasy too. And I thoroughly enjoyed them!

    "Kings of the Wyld" is a bunch of retired adventurers getting back together for one last quest. But it's all framed as though adventurers were like bands today. So, yes, they are getting the band back together for a gig.

    "Legends & Lattes" is an Orc warrior who decides she wants to retire and open a coffee shop. Very readable.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 10:19pm on 03 November 2023

    Legends & Lattes was previously reviewed on this blog. I'll second your recommendation there, and I gather the sequel (Bookshops & Bonedust) is due out some time this month.

  3. Posted by John P at 12:21am on 04 November 2023

    So you did. I hadn't noticed that. :-)

    From the blurb, "Bookshops & Bonedust" actually sounds like a prequel rather than a sequel. But it probably doesn't matter.

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