SPFBO Review: Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike

25326486Time to read some finalists in this year’s SPFBO! Getting a head start. Truth be told, this one has been on my TBR for a while – and in my audible library for just as long!

Brimming with swords, sorcery, and wit, Orconomics: A Satire introduces Arth, a world much like our own but with more magic and fewer vowels. For the licensed wizards and warriors of Arth, slaying and looting the forces of evil is just a job. The Heroes’ Guild has turned adventuring into a career, selling the rights to monsters’ hoards of treasure as investment opportunities. Corporations spend immense sums sponsoring heroes to undertake quests, betting they’ll reap the profits in plunder funds when the loot is divvied up.

Questing was all business for famous Dwarven berserker Gorm Ingerson, until a botched expedition wiped out his party, disgraced his name, and reduced him to a thieving vagabond. Twenty years later, a chance encounter sees Gorm forcibly recruited by a priest of a mad goddess to undertake a quest that has a reputation for getting heroes killed. But there’s more to Gorm’s new job than an insane prophecy; powerful corporations and governments have shown an unusual interest in the job. Gorm might be able to turn a bad deal into a golden opportunity and win back the fame and fortune he lost so long ago.

“Marketing is its own kind of magic, is it not?” said Zurthraka. “An illusion that men pay to be fooled by.”

Well, this book was certainly a really fun listen!

This is the story of Gorm Ingerson, who is a dwarven berserker who has had a bit of bad luck in the past that has lead to him basically becoming a thief. However, he’s been recruited to go on a quest that is almost certain death! Hooray!!! Luckily he’s part of a party of adventurers who are all very experienced in the field of adventuring. This is a country where the number one gross domestic product is professional heroics. Heros for hire, arming them, armoring them, et cetera.

There was definitely some influence here from some of my favorite fantasy books, or I suppose, some of the first fantasy I ever read. The first that I noticed was a passing reference to a small statuette that summons an ethereal Puma, bringing to mind one Drizzt Do’urden, drow warrior, generally good dude, and holder of one statuette that summons one giant ethereal panther named Guenhwyvar (and I remember how to spell it off the top of my head, hooray!). The quest our heroes go on is to find some elven marbles/stones, there’s a few references to Lord of the Rings and other such things. I dig it! I love passing references, or just even little nods to some of my favorite things in fantasy books. I’m silly that way.

This was a very well written book, and the prose and plot line flowed very, very well. There were twists and turns that left me flabbergasted because I never saw them coming. There were several times that I giggled out loud, and I love books that can do that.

The narrator, Doug Tisdale Jr. was absolutely amazing at telling this story. He has a very good tone for comedic fantasy. His voice for Grom was believable and not over-the-top, but my favorite was his voice of Gorm’s goblin squire, Gleebek. I think that I liked this book even more than I would have had I not listened to it.

Where Kristen’s brain goes when, near the beginning, a sprite following Gorm around suddenly yells HEY! LISTEN!

All told, this was one of the best audiobooks that I read all year! With the combination of the author’s wonderful comedy, and the narrator’s ability to time and deliver it properly, this was a fantastic listen, and I recommend it to anyone who likes a good chuckle in their fantasy. I give this one an easy-peasy 8.5/10 (5/5 stars!).


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