Audiobook Review: The Good, The Bad and The Smug by Tom Holt

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Good The Bad and the SmugThe Good, The Bad and the Smug by Tom Holt

Genre: Fantasy, Humor

Series: Book 4 of YouSpace

Publisher: Hachette Audio, Orbit (7/28/15)

Author Information: Website

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Narrator: Ray Sawyer | Length: 12 hrs 59 min

As a fantasy reader, not ever having read K. J. Parker has always been one of my private shames. But hey, now that we know he’s Tom Holt, does this count? Given how the books he writes under the two different names are apparently so completely different, I’m guessing probably not, huh? Oh well, can’t blame a girl for trying, right?

I do admit though, that was one impetus that led me to try this book. Not knowing what I was in for, and not even being aware that The Good, the Bad and the Smug is actually the fourth novel in a series, I actually ended up pleasantly surprised and very impressed. Taking place in Holt’s YouSpace universe, this book can indeed be read as a stand-alone, and not being familiar with the previous books did not impede my personal enjoyment in any way.

Working on the principle of multiple universes, this particular tale lands us in a fantasy world completely with elves, dwarves, and even goblins – a rare treat. Horrible, evil things they are though, those goblins, but their king Mordak is hoping to revitalize things with a rebranding. Of course, the first order of business is to make sure the media is in your pocket, which means buying up all the newspapers that say bad things about you. Efluviel is an elf journalist who promptly loses her job thanks to Mordak’s shenanigans, but when she is subsequently offered a position as the goblin king’s new assistant, how could she say no? Everyone’s gotta eat, after all.

Meanwhile, deep in the dark forest lives a little man, offering all the human princes of the land his services to spin straw into gold in exchange for their first born children. As gold floods the market and the price of straw skyrockets, this sudden economic turmoil is just yet another thorn in King Mordak’s side. Humans are on the up and up, and that simply won’t do at all. Time to figure out what’s going on.

Tom Holt’s style has been compared to Christopher Moore and Terry Pratchett, and indeed it seems he’s known for his satirical takes on various fictional themes, often in humorous and over-the-top ways. This most definitely describes The Good, The Bad and the Smug which admittedly is not my usual type of read, but I had a great time with it regardless. Humor is so subjective, and I almost always approach books like this with no small amount of skepticism and trepidation. One might even say I expect to be disappointed. The fact that this book defied my cynicism and ended up endearing itself to me is a pretty big deal. In truth, it’s probably more ridiculous than I would prefer, but I did laugh a lot. That’s something. That’s huge.

Audiobook comments: The audiobook for The Good, The Bad, and the Smug was truly excellent, giving me no cause to regret my decision to listen to this instead of reading the print. It also prompted me to look up narrator Ray Sawyer to see what other books he has read, but I was only able to find the three other audio installments in the YouSpace series. His voice really is the ideal match for a story like this though, especially since so many of the jokes are best delivered in a deadpan manner, which Sawyer nails down perfectly in his performance. If I were to go back and pick up the previous books, audio would probably be my choice of format, just to hear him read again. He made Mordak the goblin king even more hilarious, and his timing and accents are dead-on.

I confess, however, that I am not good at all with describing humor, so ultimately this is probably something you would have to try for yourself to see if it works for you. For me personally, this turned out to be quite a funny and refreshingly clever book. The plot is silly, but it’s not without substance. The writing is also sharp, with just the right amount of cheek. Satire is tricky, but Tom Holt’s style seemed to strike the right note with me.

4 stars

14 Comments on “Audiobook Review: The Good, The Bad and The Smug by Tom Holt”

  1. I’m always impressed by multiple universes, mainly when it’s well done. I didn’t know about this one or the author (I think so) but it looks really good. Maybe not on audio for me but I would like to try.


  2. I typically love multiple universes too, but . . . I’m not a huge fan of books that are humor (rather than plot or character) driven. *shrugs awkwardly* BUT. I’m glad YOU liked it 😉 Great review, Mogsy!


  3. From the one K.J. Parker novel I’ve read, Tom Holt sounds nothing like him, BUT Tom Holt does sounds like an author I want to read. The Goblin King is worried about his PR on YouSpace? XD Actually, the economic turmoil does remind me of The Folding Knife, just without it straw turning into gold thing.

    When I do get to reading this series, I’ll probably start with book 1. They may work as stand-alone, but book 1 is called Doughnut, and, well – I love donuts 😛


    • I only just heard of Doughnut the other day, when I found out this was actually book four of a series, lol. So I went and looked up the other books. And absolutely, if I had known I would have started with book 1 as well, I try not to jump in mid series if I can help it. I really should have read the book before this one as well, since apparently it takes place in the same world.

      And I know your love for donuts! How do you eat them and keep looking so great!? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t heard of Doughnut either before I picked up this book! But I saw a review for it the other day as well, and yeah looks like he’s getting plenty of buzz!


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  5. Pingback: Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: Stacking the Shelves and Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

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