Hot damn, that was a kick in the eyeballs that I needed. Blahblah, too much YA fantasy sucks, blahblah, but at least there is an occasional bit of treasure to be found. This one I found pretty much by chance, but I’ll spread the love to my peeps who are also languishing for decent stuff to kick their eyeballs in a good way.
This story reminds me most of Patricia C. Wrede’s genre-savvy The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, except more steampunk and with more duderific verbiage.
This feels like cheating, but I’m just gonna quote some because I can’t do this prose justice:
En route to the lobothian village, Wicket examined his friend. “What’s with the all-green getup as of late? You’re like a walking stick of celery with a cape.”
“I theorized that, if I can craft one specific look to perfection, it would become my ‘thing.’ People will see me coming and instantly say, ‘Hey, that’s Ye Dude from Yonder Forest!’”
“Lovely,” Wicket sighed.
“Thereto, I’ve heard maidens mention that I’m ‘ruggedly handsome,’ but doesn’t that just mean I’m not cute enough? I don’t know, if that green doesn’t draw ’em in, my mondo, sacred, secret stud dude sunglasses are sure to make women swoon.”
“Whatever. I’ve lived with you for years, and I don’t think I’ll ever understand human behavior.”
I dunno about the longevity of the slang, but that’s the kind of silly I find hilarious.
The book starts off a little slow and unpolished, but it picks up within the first few chapters. I’m not sure if this is a weakness or a strength that the story is actually more complicated than those first chapters lead you to believe. The impression I got was that this was a single-volume-contained, gather-the-items quest story, but nope, Myers has more for us in store. It was a pleasant surprise, but there’s a strong chance he’d lose readers who like fast-paced intros and exposition.
Anyway, plot. Galendor is doing his street-musician thing when Princess Jessica arrives in town to make a tearful announcement that she will marry the man who can entertain her father the king and cheer him up. I like that Galendor is savvy enough to guess that this must be one dyna-whoppin’-mojo funk to make the princess offer that.
And then the musician-magician (mu-gician) Lord Bill appears from the ether to give Galendor the quest to find four other out-of-the-box musicians like him to make a kingdom-saving band. Sir Wicket, Galendor’s anthropomorphic dog-friend, comes with into the Yonder Forest to begin their quest, where they have adventure and meet new friends and I think that’s all I’ll tease.
One thing that interests me is that Galendor and Co. often have to work low-level jobs for their dinners. It’s not something you often see in YA fiction, certainly not to this extent. I like the tinge of realism it brings, especially as it contributes to Galendor’s emotional break into hopelessness. And it makes me feel better about being an hourly-rate wage-slave, especially after my good-looking career plan was cut off at the ankles and I’ll have to start over in a less-promising direction.
The thing that hit me hardest is when Galendor does get discouraged and despairs, because I have soooo been there and I’m pretty sure my antidepressants are the major thing keeping me from going back after my setback. Also, it helps that I’m not losing a fiancé again, but yay antidepressants!
And then Myers’s influences from anime are most obvious when he ends the book right as a hooded and cloaked female figure enters. Really, Myers, of all the little Japanese tidbits you put in there like a bathhouse and a hitotsume-kozou, you had to do that one, too?
But there is a second and third book in progress, though I don’t remember when he said the second one was due to be released. Anyway, I think this author is worth throwing money at, so go buy a physical or e-copy on Barnes & Noble and Amazon, though Amazon is being a blatant dickhead at this moment and I’m not sure I want to support them just now.