Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Marcher Lord Press, Day Two: Hero, Second Class

Another book on offer from new publisher, Marcher Lord Press, is Hero, Second Class, and the title alone lets you know what's coming next: a fun, intelligent send-up of the fantasy genre. Anything that opens like this is not going to take itself seriously:

Dawn poked her rosy fingers across the sky.

And promptly tore two small holes in it.

Vertis the Sky God repaired the holes and scolded Dawn, sending her off to get a manicure.

There are Guilds for Heroes or Villains--thus the title of the book--and there are, of course, guild rules.

..."Sir Ogleby, is aught amiss?"

"No, your Majesty, it's probably nothing. After all, Sir Grant is more than competent." Reginald settled back in his chair and looked unhappy.

"'Tis a shame your Guild dictates noninvolvement in our mundane affairs unless Villains are involved," the King said....

The merchant Goldwater turned to Reginald, a quizzical expression on his pale face. "The Guild of Heroes won't let you protect the King?....

"What do you think the Palace Guard and the King's Own are for?" Reginald replied, leaning back uneasily. "If a Hero came by and did their job for them every time someone attacked the castle, what do you think that would do to their morale?"

Indeed. Not to mention the need to give the Minions something to do.

And the "war stories":

The Villain drew the dire claymore and brought it to bear on the Hero. "I received this wound during my slaughter of half the graduating class at the Hero Academy ten years ago."

"Ten years ago?" Reginald stared into the Villain's eyes, then laughed. "You lie. I can see it in your eyes. Besides, my previous apprentice graduated from the Academy ten years ago--there was no such incident!"

Sawface shrugged. "No, but it makes for a better story. Have at you!"

"The Hero leapt forward, landing a crushing blow on the Villain's shoulder-plate!" Reginald bellowed, leaping forward and landing a crushing blow on the Villain's shoulder-plate. "Are you getting this, lad?"

Cyrus started. "Getting what now?"

"My narration!"

Apparently, no self-respecting Hero conducts battle or other heroic deeds without a good running commentary, even if he must supply it himself.

For a more entertaining summary than I can give the book, read the interview with author Mitchell Bonds, and that will give you a definite flavor of the rest of the story.

To graduate from mere flavor to a heaping tablespoon full, click here to read the first chapter. Guaranteed to make you laugh out loud at least once--or at least make you giggle.

For those readers who like to check out the title page, there isn't one, but here's a sampling of the chapter titles, along with their attendant subtitles--entertaining in their own right, even if you haven't yet read the rest of the story:

Chapter 1 The Time Which Once Was Upon, In which the Reader first Meets the Protagonist, and he Passes a Test

Chapter 2 Of Villains and Vocabulary, In which the Apprentice Hero Learns some of the Many Failing of Heroes and Villains And also learns to Take Notes

Chapter 3 Five Years Later, In which Five Years have passed between This Chapter and Chapter Two, and the Villains begin to Plot

Chapter 5 Another Twist in the Tale, In which the Reader learns Geography, Cyrus Discusses Political Economics, and the Villains Set Their Plans in Motion

Chapter 8 Evil Takes No Naps, In which some Bad Things happen, and a Conflict is Resolved

and two of my favorite titles,

Chapter 9 Revenge Served Cold, In which the Party Encounters a Foe and soundly Kicks his Hindmost Part

Chapter 14 All Good Things Must Come to an End, In which there is a Lecture, Diabolical Plotting, and Unkindness to a Dragon

As with The Personifid Invasion, the cover art on Hero, Second Class is excellent. Check it out here.

I'm looking forward to more insanity from young Mr. Bonds.

Tomorrow: Summa Elvetica by Theodore Beale.

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Anonymous said...

Is that man with the flag that keeps cropping up the press emblem? I like the fact that I can now see all your recent posts when I log onto my blog!

Hero, Second Class, does sound fun, and if I may elaborate, Pratchett-ish(you know what a fan I am of Terry's!)

You are also right about the title of Personifid: it reminds me of titles like "Day Of the Triffids"--which was an awful story. I read quite a bit of it before I couldn't stand any more. Unfortunately. But the Personifid premise sounds interesting.

Steve said...


No, that's Zorro's mark. Well, the chapter titles are rather droll, and I will look into getting a copy of Hero, Second Class for whenever my reading load lightens a bit. Good review.

Keanan Brand said...

Jade - Yes, to the first question, and Yes to the notion that HSC does have the tang of a Pratchett work. I think you'd really enjoy it!

Steve - (laughing) I always did like Zorro, even in his cheesiest early Disney incarnation. As for HSC, there is intelligence and substance to the humor, and that makes it all the more entertaining and satisfying.