I picked up Here Be Dragons for a few reasons: it’s a fellow SPFBO04 contestant; author David P. Macpherson is one of the few other contestants who submitted a humorous fantasy novel, and the judges said a lot of great things when they made it a semi-finalist. Plus, it’s got dragons!
Well, not really. Because, as the book explains early on, “heroes” have hunted the world’s dragons to near extinction, and the scaly critters’ last individual is guarded by a sect of monks. That last dragon is, in fact, inside an egg, but that’s not stopping a Farquaad-ish hero and his expansive retinue of thugs from trying to slay it. Saving the egg, and the world, falls by chance and scheme to Orus, a portly ex-hero who has married a damsel, raised a son, and found employment as a gardener-slash-handyman in a small castle. Hijinks ensue.
The plot of Here Be Dragons is a fun twist on the (ex)-hero’s journey across a servicable magical setting. Orus a fantastically mundane protagonist, the likable underdog you can’t help but root for. The villains and side characters are more cartoonish, but as a former animator, believe that I mean that in the best possible way. The characters and world they inhabit are often cleverly exaggerated in a way that put me in mind of Shrek or Disenchanted.
I did have a couple of quibbles. The plot meandered in a couple of places, and the author had a lot of jokes and commentary around a particular donkey that almost universally fell flat for me. But they’re exactly that: quibbles that did little to diminish my enjoyment of the book.
Overall, it was MacPherson’s writing and wit that kept bringing me back for more. Funny one-liners and clever observations fill most chapters to the brim, and I often caught myself grinning as I read. If you need a good chuckle and an uplifting tale, Macpherson’s debut novel is a great place to start.
- Plot: 6/10
- Characters: 8/10
- Setting: 5/10
- Writing: 9/10
- Personal Enjoyment: 8/10
Final Verdict: Here Be Dragons is an endearing comedy with a sharp with and a lot of heart. If you like fantasy humor, I highly recommend it. 4/5 Stars