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More like "Castle Awesome"

By G.S. Williams, author of No Man An Island

Oct 23, 2010: I once had a version of this review that started out long and rambling to make the point that the story used to have a nine part Prologue, which is just silly. I was being facetious, trying to write a humorous review, because the story itself is hilarious comedy.

Unfortunately for my (possibly un)funny review, the writer changed the prologue to chapter one, and now I have no complaints about this story. It’s a well-written and clever tale. In the Dark Lands of the "evil" Lord Cthonique everyone has a sense of humour. The "bad" guys aren’t so bad—they just have a job to do, same as everyone else. And like everyone else in our postmodern, sarcastic society, they have funny observations to make, absurd points of view, and a life to live beyond just "being evil."

The characters strike me as believable and coherent, even in a plainly humourous story. The tone of the piece is kind of like "what if Monty Python was put in charge of the Star Wars Empire" or "if How I Met your Mother’s gang worked for the Wicked Witch of the West." The dialogue makes me laugh, the outlook of characters suits the overall atmosphere, and I stopped caring that they’re supposed to be monsters and goblins and ogres after about five minutes—it was way more fun to picture a movie where Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell and Neil Patrick Harris are playing monsters, goblins and ogres and making wisecracks about the way their lives have turned out.

It’s rare that I come across a story where I find something engaging and creative and innovative. Most of the time when a story takes the "bad guy’s" side, it tries to make them a misunderstood, sympathetc anti-hero. Or shows how it was just a difference in point of view. Well, this story doesn’t do that—the bad guys could care less that they’re evil—"evil" is just a part they play for their day job, they still have to talk sweet to their wives on the phone, and they still have to deal with surly teenagers.

To be a five-star story I usually have to look at the whole book, from start to finish. I like to breakdown the symbolic meaning, the emotional nuances, the over-arching themes . . .  I like to know a story backwards and forwards. I make exceptions when an incomplete story writes something so well it effects the fibre of my being as a reader, a writer and a person. This story isn’t quite there yet—it’s rare that comedy will get five stars from me—but if it keeps up with the tone it has, and stays as entertaining as it is, it might just happen before we’re through.

Definitely worth reading, and I’ll keep coming back for more until I make up my mind about that last star.

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