Tag Archives: humor

The Dungeoneers (The Dungeoneers #1)

Title: The Dungeoneers

Author: Jeffery Russell

Series: The Dungeoneers #1

Durham has a quiet life as a city guard, until a case of mistaken identity assigns him to a group of dwarves who are professional dungeon-crawlers. Their hunt for a necromantic artifact leads them deep into an ancient ruin, and the centuries-old secrets hiding within could destroy them all . . .

This was fun. It’s at once both a bit of a spoof on typical fantasy and gaming conventions, and a more serious look at what would happen if dungeons were tackled by a team of professionals instead of a typical random group of adventurers.

I particularly liked the chickens.

The dwarves are clever in more than just the usual ways, too. When Durham reveals he’s an orphan, the collective horror is hilarious. Because being an orphan means he’s obviously set up for some trope about his ancestry or potential to trigger, and that’s the kind of thing that turns a job into an “adventure.”

The ending was also hilarious. Between all the shenanigans that mess up what’s supposed to be the grand finale, and especially the final fate for the villain, the comedy portion was strong.

Overall this is a good read. The personalities of the crew, the traps in the dungeon, and the inadvertent adventure that sneaks up on them was fun. I rate this book Recommended.

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The Color of Magic (Discworld #1)

Title: The Color of Magic

Author: Terry Pratchett

Series: Discworld #1

Rincewind was a washed-out wizard—someone who never graduated, can’t really use magic, and has nothing more than a facility with languages to his name. Then he meets Twoflower, a foreign man who claims to be a tourist. A man who flashes absurd amounts of money around like it was nothing. Sensing opportunity, Rincewind volunteers to translate for him and show him around, but little does he know what “tourist” actually means . . .

I decided to revisit this after many years. Rincewind has never been one of my favorite Discworld sub-series, but that’s in comparison to the other Discworld books. On its own, this is a funny look at a hapless wizard stuck escorting an unintentionally dangerous man through every imaginable peril. It only takes about five minutes after they meet for Rincewind to realize there’s a problem: when Twoflower expresses interest in seeing a real live bar fight.

Twoflower has this rock-solid belief that he’s only an observer, and can therefore “participate” in events that Rincewind then has to figure out how to keep him alive through.

In terms of the Discworld books in general, this is where it all begins. And that shows, sometimes in ways you can’t really blame this book for (because this WAS the first) but that feel odd now that I’ve read pretty much all the rest of them. The Patrician feels a bit off from his later characterization (though since they never give a name it’s possible this isn’t even the same one). Death is another character that changed a bit in later books; he’s more human here, and at one point seems to be killing a few things out of frustration rather than because it’s their time. As I said, that’s really not something to knock this book down about, but it does feel off since I’m more familiar with the later books.

Overall this is a good read, especially if you like humorous fantasy. I rate this book Recommended.

Everyone Else is a Returnee

Title: Everyone Else is a Returnee

Author: Toika/Toy Car

Chapters: 348 + 4 extra (Complete)

Location: https://kobatochan.com/korean-novels/everyone-else-is-a-returnee/

Yu IlHan has always been left out because no one notices him. And when God moves all of humanity off to other worlds to prepare for the coming Cataclysm on Earth, Yu IlHan remains the sole person left behind. But the endless years of being alone transforms him into someone able to break all common sense when everyone else returns . . .

This is a hilarious twist on the usual formula. Instead of one person getting sent from Earth to another world, all of humanity is sent to other worlds, and the story follows the one poor guy who didn’t get the intergalactic tourism experience.

So Yu IlHan tries to teach himself what he’ll need to know when mana shows up and monsters start spawning on Earth. With the help of a sole angel who visits every few days to keep him from going insane, he learns combat techniques, blacksmithing, dissection, etc. My personal favorite is how he eventually ends up on a quest to read all the books in the world, because it gives him something new to do.

This is a litRPG, so levels, skills, and stats provide a framework for how the world works. Of course, Yu IlHan is so busy proving he can do the impossible from pretty much the get-go that it’s not like these numbers represent much other than how much experience he can get.

I’m not fond of the predictable way the story set up Heaven as basically just another group of high-level beings who banded together under one leader, which has the expected outcome. The author does make a point that he’s not specifically trying to dump on religion, just use some angel names, but just the structure telegraphs the ending from miles away. So I had more fun with the book before about the last quarter, because that’s when the innovation is strongest and the threats are still credible.

I also hated YuNa. She was funny when it was her aggressive pursuit bouncing off Yu IlHan’s stone heart. It was less funny when this turned into sexual assault. And the harem ending was depressing because the whole story has been about Yu IlHan sticking closer to Liera than anyone else, and suddenly he’s okay with multiple wives because he thinks he shouldn’t limit himself.

So it’s a bit of a mixed bag for me. I love seeing the bizarre and completely overpowered things Yu IlHan creates. I love his pessimism, which prompts him to over-prepare for every possible scenario and then some. (Like how he designed his house to be usable in space. Because he was sure THAT was somehow a likely possibility.)

It’s the kind of mentality that results in this:

“Yes. It’s a great idiom meaning that I should not act until I am convinced that I can defeat the last boss, the true last boss that comes after that, the hidden dungeon that comes after the true last boss, and the hidden last boss that comes out at the end of the hidden dungeon, and the true-true last boss that can only be met when I install a super expensive downloadable content later, even after I have the strongest equipment and maxed out all my levels.”

So overall this is kind of a mixed bag. There is plenty to enjoy, but also some things that really annoy me. Still, it made me laugh a lot. I rate this book Recommended.

Autumn King (Of Cats and Dragons #5)

Title: Autumn King

Authors: Carol E. Leever and Camilla Ochlan

Series: Of Cats and Dragons #5

Omen and his companions have finally reached the Faerie lands in search of Khylar. But these are realms with numerous dangers for mortals, and when he finally discovers Khylar he finds the truth of their journey has been shrouded in more layers than he expected.

Although this in some senses concludes the adventure that’s been building from Summer’s Fall through Hollow Season, it’s not like everything manages the neat ending Omen was expecting when he set out. I like the layers to the story. Even before now, Omen has had hints this isn’t as simple as it appeared. And once he learns, the right answer is nebulous too.

The characters are fantastic. From the weird and wonderful dwellers of the Autumn Lands (Puppy!) to the comfortable banter between Omen, Templar, and the rest of the party, there was always something new to appreciate. The hints about Devestation’s past are especially intriguing. Or watching Nikki come into his own. The cast has been slowly but steadily expanding and everybody’s got such interesting histories and futures (as hinted by a certain someone early on).

And this wouldn’t be a proper sequel without gut-busting humor. The last chapter is particularly good, but there are moments throughout. Whether it’s Tyrin’s adventures down a mousehole or Dev’s internal commentary on events or the zingers Lilyth inadvertantly sets herself up for, even the most serious bits can’t stay totally dark.

And Templar, among others, learns the perils inherent in saving the world.

Templar shifted uncomfortably in his seat, his eyes downcast. He twisted one of the rings on his left hand. “He told me that if I was now in the world saving business, he had a number of jobs for me to do, things to fix, people to save, towns to liberate. And then he handed me a list — a long list.” He scowled at Omen. “They’re like chores, Omen. Lots of chores! It’s horrifying.”

Overall this is another excellent chapter in what will hopefully be a long-running series. I rate this book Highly Recommended.

Stop, Friendly Fire!

Title: Stop, Friendly Fire!
Author: Toy Car/Toika
Translator: Boko
Chapters: 1 – 6.3 (Vol 1 complete, story ongoing)

Location: https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/stop-friendly-fire

Lee Shin Woo has been given a second chance at life by a god who is desperate to stop the undead curse ravaging her world. But his request for an immortal body and infinite growth potential has backfired. Now he’s a skeleton, dropped in the middle of a dangerous world, with the goal of wiping out the undead Empire . . .

This is another hilarious book. The fact that Lee Shin Woo has become a special type of undead allows him to blend in somewhat with the forces he’s out to destroy—although even the stupidest ones can prove deadly if they suspect him. But it gives him the option to switch up his tactics as the situation demands. Some of the funnier fights involve him working with other skeletons to fight the Treasure Eater monsters. He’s encouraging all the skeletons to help him, while at the same time ensuring their numbers stay low enough for him to wipe them all out.

His habit of nicknaming the various types of monsters is also a lot of fun. All of the ordinary skeletons are Paul, and he counts the number of Pauls he’s killed. And this goes on in a similar manner for the other types of enemies he’s dealing with. (Hearing him curse out “Steve” the Treasure Eater kept me laughing.)

Lee Shin Woo does have a grudge against this god, too—his two great fears were becoming bald and impotent, and now he’s stuck with both.

The story is a litRPG, so skills, stats, and levels are an important part of the worldbuilding. I like the absurdity of the leveling system—he’s floored that monsters a single level higher than him are so strong, until he finds out how the mechanics of a “level” actually work. The karma system is also interesting. People’s actions build up karma, and when combined with levels it can act like a job or class change. The bit about spending money at a shop being another form of karma exchange also fits into that.

So far it’s been a good blend of adventure, absurdity, and worldbuilding. Lee Shin Woo seems to be heading for the Trickster karma, which should bring plenty more amusing fights. And given the title of the book he’s bound to have trouble with the other summoned heroes once they actually meet him. I rate this book Recommended.

Trash of the Count’s Family

Title: Trash of the Count’s Family

Translator: miraclerifle

Chapters: 28 (ongoing)

Location: https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/trash-of-the-counts-family

One day a young man fell asleep reading a series of books, and woke up as one of the characters. Unfortunately, the identity he was given was that of the wastrel son of a Count, and his destiny is to be beaten up by the main character in the first book and then never be heard from again. Cale hates pain, and decides to use his knowledge of the events to come to position himself in a better spot . . .

This is hilarious. Cale is unabashedly self-centered (although maybe not as much as he wants to credit for himself), and very much interested in staying completely out of the events described in the books he’d been reading. Unfortunately, there’s only so much he can do to stop the plot from rolling along—but he’s determined to influence what he can, where he needs to, in order to live his dream of being a couch potato unaffected by the catastrophes to come.

Naturally, Choi Han would be doing the battling. Why would Cale even try to fight when such a strong person was next to him? Cale thought paper-cuts hurt a lot, so he didn’t want to even think about getting cut by a sword.

But his little machinations are already having bigger ripple effects. Take the dragon. Cale’s main goal is to stop it from rampaging, as well as get a little revenge on the noble who’s torturing it. And everything goes more-or-less as planned, except for one major thing: the dragon isn’t interested in following Cale’s version of the script.

It’s likely Cale’s attempts to keep himself out of the spotlight will only put him into it. And he might start having problems holding on to his bad reputation now that he’s proving he’s far more competent than anyone gives him credit for.

It feels kind of short right now because of the low chapter count, but this is already a very promising series, and one I’m looking forward to immensely. The updates should be pretty frequent for now, which will help. Highly Recommended.

Forgery of the Phoenix (Fantasy & Forensics #5)

Title: Forgery of the Phoenix

Author: Michael Angel

Series: Fantasy & Forensics #5

Dayna hasn’t had an easy life since being summoned to Andeluvia, but now things are getting out of hand. The Spring Tournament is coming up, which means burly, boneheaded knights are competing for the right to represent her—and they’re not good at taking “No” for an answer. King Fitzwilliam has assigned her to a knightly order burdened with enough debt to buy a small kingdom. And a phoenix has shown up in the throne room, asking for Dayna’s help particularly to save their species from extinction. Then there’s a new wrinkle in LA regarding her worsening relationship with Bob McClatchy . . .

I love how each one of these books has been picking up a different mythological creature and giving them a lot of depth. Their cultures, physiology, mode of speech, and worldview. Their possible motives for crime. This time around we get phoenixes (who are also criminally underrepresented in fantasy). I love that Dayna keeps tripping over the fact that she’s assuming intelligent beings means thinks like a human. To a phoenix, time, life, and death have much different implications. And I love that to the phoenixes, all other life is basically just sparks.

I also really like the book’s focus on refusing to accept narrow options, and looking for that third choice when an either-or situation pops up. To me this especially comes into play when Dayna finally gets more answers about the ancient war between the Light and the Dark. Which is a variant on “history was written by the winners” as the original sides certainly didn’t label themselves good and evil. And now it makes perfect sense why the sides were basically drawn up at a species level.

Although the title kind of gives away that there is a forgery in play, I think it still works as a mystery because Dayna has to figure out why it matters. The phoenixes certainly only have one concern: themselves. Which is a change for Dayna, because the obvious crimes are being shrugged off by the creatures who should have the most invested in the outcome.

Overall this continues to barrel through things at a spectacular clip, deftly balancing mystery, epic fantasy, and plenty of humor. I rate this book Highly Recommended.