Thursday, July 22, 2010

Standard Hero Behavior, by John David Anderson

I randomly picked this book up in the library and read a chapter before we had to go home. Just from that chapter alone, I knew it was a good story. It's a medieval tale about a teenager named Mason who is the bard (story-teller/ poet/song writer) of Darlington, a town that used to have lots of brave heroes, but now only has one, Duke Darlinger, who always returns from his adventures suspiciously unscathed and puts heavy "protection taxes" on the people.

Eventually, when a couple of Orcs come to town, Mason discovers that the Duke is actually a big wimp and not the hero that everybody thinks he is. So Mason and his best friend Cowel set off in search of heroes who will help fend of the evil army of orcs and goblins about to overrun their town in just a few days. Along the way, they make interesting friends, have very close shaves, learn about what really happened to Mason's father, and discover what being a hero really entails.

I liked the humor in this story, as well as the world-building and what I thought were quite fully rounded characters. The ending was somewhat anti-climactic, because it skipped the big battle scene altogether (Mason and Cowel weren't around for it, after all), but it ended pretty nicely. Wrapped everything up very neatly. I don't see any sequels coming out of this any time soon, which is fine and dandy with me.

There are a few places where the characters curse mildly, which was pretty funny. However, I think it would have been more entertaining if the author had been more creative with his profanity instead of simply letting the characters say cr** and sh** to express their anger/annoyance. But besides that, it was all in all an enjoyable reading experience for me. Pick it up and see what you think.

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