Audiobook Review: Disenchanted by Robert Kroese
Genre: Fantasy, Humor
Publisher: 47North (July 15, 2013)
Tiara’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
This is how Boric’s story begins:
By all accounts, Boric the Implacable was, while he was alive, an incomparable badass. By all accounts, he was an even bigger badass after he died.
For most people, death marks the end of one career, whether that career is baking bread, blowing glass, or–as in Boric’s case–hacking other people to pieces with a sword. But for Boric, death was just another bullet point on his already impressive ass-kicking resume.
Whether death improved Boric overall is a matter of some debate, but there’s little question that it enhanced him professionally. In addition to his already impressive catalog of badassery, death granted him invulnerability…
So, basically, this image represents everything about Boric the Implacable, and you’re not allowed to think otherwise. Ever. Because Boric is a badass with such a high degree of badassery in his blood that you’d lose this battle to his badassdom, and thus, be added to his list of badass achievements. Badass.
Boric was the king of a middling kingdom called Ytrisk before death happened to Ser Badass. After a “misunderstanding” with the nearby kingdom of Skaal coupled with Ytrisk’s willingness to prove their “not-shit-taking-ness,” Ytrisk went to war with Skaal and Boric meets with an unfortunate fate, but not before proving his supreme badassness.
Usually upon the death of a badass who has proven himself, there’s a new achievement unlocked.
Eternal badassdom includes getting to go to the Valhalla-esque realm of Avandoor. Boric is more than ready to take his place. A beautiful Eytrith on a great Wyndbahr (a great white winged bear) arrives to give him his final and ultimate achievement. Unfortunately for Boric, he can’t let go of his sword, Brakslaagt. It was designed by the elves, forged by the dwarves, and blessed by the Gnomes (but for all intent purposes, that last part doesn’t matter; Gnomes just like to bless things…) Neither Boric’s spirit or his now dead body will let go of his badass sword. After much debate about why this would be, the Eytrith offers a thought:
“It’s stuck!” he cried to the Eytrith. “I can’t get my hand off the sword!”
“Well, thou canst take it with thee,” announced the Eytrith. “Perhaps,” she added after a moment, “the sword is cursed?”
“Oh,” said Boric, remembering something that he had very nearly succeeded in forgetting over the past twenty years. “Oh, shit.”
The Eytrith tasks Boric with finding a way to end his curse, so that he can join the other badasses in Avandoor with a time limit of seven days and a “Good luck!” And oh, did I mention that being a walking corpse meant that Boric also was fighting time against becoming a wraith, and everybody hates wraiths. Thus begins Boric’s quest.
Kindle recommended this book to me because I’d recently read and enjoyed The Palace Job by Patrick Weekes. I knew this book started life as a serial and had seen things about it here and there. However, it never struck me as a book I wanted to read. To be honest, The Palace Job didn’t really lure me to it either. I liked the idea of it, but it wasn’t something that I felt that I immediately needed to read. I really started it to give Patrick Weekes another a chance since I didn’t hate The Masked Empire, but I didn’t love it either. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to read at the time, so I just went ahead with The Palace Job. However, since I did love The Palace Job, I was very open to reading this book if it Kindle thought I might enjoy it for the same reasons.
While the humor in this was similar to The Palace Job, even though I am a new Pratchett reader, it reminded me more of a being in line with Pratchett’s humor with a bit more crudeness. This book makes use of the humorous footnotes that Discworld uses, as well. However, it definitely can make its reader chortle in the same way The Palace Job does. The Palace Job‘s humor comes more from its big cast and their strange adventure while Disenchanted‘s humor comes mostly from Boric himself, who has to be one of the funniest male protagonists I’ve encountered in a while, and his strange quest. In fact, I joked he could’ve been part of Locke’s crew in The Palace Job just fine. In fact, he’d probably be the one that Locke (from The Palace Job) yelled at for being overzealous:
Boric as a protagonist isn’t humble at all. He’s a badass and he knows it. He’ll let you know it, too, along with a happy threat to run you through if you don’t believe it. However, he can respect others for their strengths, and it doesn’t have to just be warrior strength. He appreciates things like smarts and ingenuity in people. He thinks the elves are assholes (yeah, his actual words, and they kind of are), but he thinks they design some fantastic items. I feel like he’d hang out with with other badasses like Balinor Buckhannah and be superbros. Boric is also clever and very strategic, but there’s a certain level of denseness he also possess that makes some people just tell him, “Never mind.” Also, he does have a sense of honor and compassion, even if sometimes that ego gets in the way.
I liked Boric, even when he was being an asshole. Most of the characters in this book are assholes in their own way. Each race presented has their strengths and weaknesses and their own ideologies about each other. Instead of being annoying, it’s really quite funny because just as I mentioned Boric can appreciate aspects in many, the same goes for other races. Elves think humans are ridiculous, but they can appreciate how enterprising humans are. Most seem to be helpful toward one another despite what they dislike about one another, which may feel a little unrealistic for some.
Another thing I liked about this book was, just as with The Palace Job, it poked fun at many fantasy tropes without being pretentious or feeling the need to pound it into my head that he was making a funny there. I appreciate writers who don’t insult their readers’ intelligence, and I seem to start seeing more of that kind of thing. I don’t know if it’s just a need to overexplain or point out how brilliant and clever they are as writers, but I appreciate when writers just let the story go. (I will say I see this less in speculative fiction than some other genres.)
I know I’ve done a lot of comparison between this book and The Palace Job, but I want to talk about where it definitely differs. There’s a moral to the story here, presented in a funny way. I won’t ruin that for you because that’s one of the biggest parts of this book. The stuff I’ve mentioned is known, but this story went in ways that I didn’t expect and had many philosophical, meta moments, as well, without sacrificing the humor. In fact, much of what ends up happening is probably the opposite of how you’d expect a book about a badass to go.
Now, the story did tie up a little too neatly and perhaps some solutions were a little too ethically upstanding in that everything seemed to have this ethical, “EVERYTHING CAN BE GOOD!” reason, but Kroese was able to go back and show that while you certainly can come up with many solutions to all problems, there are still some ethical concerns that will come up. And again, while the ending was a little neater than I expected, I did like Kroese managed to make everything come together in the end. Some things that seem inconsequential aren’t by the end of the story.
This was a great book that had a little bit of Pratchett’s humor and even some Tolkien-esque adventure vibes (I know you can’t believe I’m saying that) combined with an idiosyncratic story. If you liked The Palace Job for its humor, you’ll probably enjoy this.
If I hadn’t been so encumbered with work and finished this when I wanted, maybe I would’ve found out in enough time about the Kickstarter that ended not too long ago for sequels for this book!
I COMPLETELY FORGOT TO TALK ABOUT THE NARRATION IN MY INITIAL REVIEW, AND THAT WAS THE BEST PART! I definitely recommend the audiobook. I had the Kindle version of the book for Whispersync, but I didn’t even use it other than to look at how names were spelled. This is my first time listening to a book by Phil Gigante and his narration was amazing. I’m finding that I enjoy LISTENING to comedic books more than reading them because of comedic timing, inflections on phrases and words, etc. Things like that can be easy to NOT get in an actual book. Narration of a funny book makes all the difference in how I perceive much of what’s written. So, I highly recommend listening to it!