Sure, you think you know the story of the fearsome red dragon, Dragonia. How it terrorized the village of Skendrick until a brave band of heroes answered the noble villagers’ call for aid. How nothing could stop those courageous souls from facing down the dragon. How they emerged victorious and laden with treasure.
But, even in a world filled with epic adventures and tales of derring-do, where dragons, goblins, and unlicensed prestidigitators run amok, legendary heroes don’t always know what they’re doing. Sometimes they’re clueless. Sometimes beleaguered townsfolk are more hapless than helpless. And orcs? They’re not always assholes, and sometimes they don’t actually want to eat your children. Heloise the Bard, Erithea’s most renowned storyteller (at least, to hear her tell it), is here to set the record straight.
See, it turns out adventuring isn’t easy, and true heroism is as rare as an articulate villager. Having spent decades propagating this particular myth (which, incidentally, she wrote), she’s finally able to tell the real story-for which she just so happened to have a front-row seat.
Welcome to Erithea. I hope you brought a change of undergarments-things are going to get messy.
Rumscrabble Tooltinker, (half dwarf half halfling), Nadinta Ghettinwood (an elven woman), Borgunder Gunderbor (rock giant) and Whiska Tailiesin, (a Ratarian wizard) are the unusual group of companions who take centre stage in this novel when they decide to take on the task of ridding Skendrick of its red dragon nuisance. This occurs after they are persuaded to take on the dangerous quest by Heloise the Bard, who they meet in a pub. The tale is narrated by the self-obsessed, half-elven Heloise who spares no opportunity to emphasize her own beauty, assets and talents.
The tale is highly entertaining and caused me to laugh out loud on many occasions. Gibson has a wonderful way with humour and his digressions about shish kabobs and the Emperor’s ‘Newt’ Clothes are hilarious, as are the frequent throwaway comments:
They say that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but I find that “they” say a lot of things, and I kind of think “they” are smug, know-it-all assholes.
The tale is told in two ways simultaneously – first Heloise recounts her “official” polished, bardic version of events and then we learn from her the more realistic, haphazard and often hilarious version of what actually transpired complete with all its colourful language:
“What in the name of flaming cockroach anuses was that?!” yelled Whiska, leaping to her feet. “Flaming cockroach anuses?” I silently mouthed to Rummy, who shrugged.
The motley band of brave adventurers take on a multitude of creatures including orcs, bog men and a Minotaur on their way to the mountain on which the dragon lives. They answer riddles, display careless stupidity and occasional cleverness but never lose sight of their quest. Borg the stone giant was my favourite character. His slow wit and talent for dressmaking were incomparable. Heloise became a little too much for me after a while with her incessant insistence on how wonderful she was. Nadi and Rummy were both likeable heroes, and Whiska was gross in a rattish kind of way.
If you like Dad jokes, poop jokes, riddles, snarky creatures and a whole boat load of irreverence then this light-hearted tale of mismatched adventurers might just be what you are looking for!
Equally if you are a fan of DnD type adventures you will love this book. The popular tropes are all here – found family, unlikely heroes, a quest to kill a dragon – add to those a self-obsessed unreliable narrator who is also a talented spin doctor and you have the basis for this story’s plot in a nutshell.
This book was just what I needed to help combat the January blues.
About the Author
Sean Gibson, “author” and slackonteur, is not a professional mini biography writer (if he were, this would be much more compelling). Instead, he’s a business professional by day, hangs out with his amazing wife, son, and daughter by night, and writes somewhere in between. He holds a BA in English Literature from Ohio Wesleyan University and an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, though rumors persist that he also attended mime school (he is silent on the subject). Sean is a fan of sports teams from Detroit, a distressingly large number of bands that rose to prominence in the 1980s, and writing in the third person. He currently resides in Northern Virginia, and, given how much he hates moving, and given that his house has an awesome library, is likely to remain there for some time.
Sean is the author of several stories starring Heloise the Bard, including The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True (which Publishers Weekly drunkenly gave a starred review), “You Just Can’t Hide from Chriskahzaa,” and The Chronicle of Heloise & Grimple. He also wrote the Victorian-set fantasy thriller The Camelot Shadow and its prequel short, “The Strange Task Before Me.” He has written extensively for Kirkus Reviews, and his book reviews have also appeared in Esquire.
You can follow him on Twitter at @Gibknight, but is that really how you want to spend your precious years of life?