*I received a free copy of this book via Voracious Readers Only and with thanks to the author. I then promptly went and bought my own copy, with my own money. My review is, as ever, impartial!*
Blurb: To be an adventurer.
One of the elite class of brave souls who travel Eldaria and fight the blight of monsters wherever they are found. Picture rippling muscles, clad in magical armor, perhaps artfully splattered with the viscera of foes smote in twain. Or- ooh- alternatively, a severely tasteful robe, dusted – equally artfully – with the ashes of enemies immolated with eldritch fyre. Now picture these paragons of heroism sitting astride their muscled warhorses, surrounded by the cheering, garland-throwing peasants of a hamlet they have saved from the blight.
Now throw that image out, because this isn’t that story.
Instead, picture a group of adventurers who are not skilled, have slain nothing, don’t own any armor worth burnishing and would probably misspell ‘eldritch’ if given a chance. While the saying holds true that ‘everybody has to start at zero’ it might also be posited this misfit band of eager wannabes are starting somewhere in the negative. Bards are not going to be composing any epic ballads about their exploits anytime soon, unless it’s in the form of a cautionary tale.
But despite all these setbacks, they are destined to save the world, right?
No. But they might anyway.
Sheer bloody genius!
I am a fan of immersive RPGs like the Elder Scrolls series and an even bigger fan of fantasy books that don’t take themselves too seriously (Terry Pratchett, Robert Asprin, Tom Holt). Heroically Challenged is EXACTLY what I have been looking for in a lit-RPG!
Erik is desperate to be an adventurer and fight the blighted monsters that roam the lands. The only problem is, he is a farmer. And he doesn’t have any fighting skills. Or armour. Or a weapon. That’s more than one problem – all big.
Luckily he manages to gather a gang of assorted hero-wannabes: a rogue, a mage, a healer and a bard. Unluckily, they are all as crap at their respective ‘job’ as he is!
Still, it’s amazing how far (into trouble) you can get with just perseverance and determination, and any good gamer knows that you have to start out at 0 and grind, grind, grind those levels.
I loved everything about this book, from the plot and characters, to the frequent references to things like red healing potions, recharging mana, and the uselessness of scrolls. Particularly clever is how the author has drawn scenarios like swallowing an acid-breath potion in battle, or that critical moment when all the monsters hit an invisible wall and turn to fight, and has brought them into ‘reality’ to brilliant effect.
The story ends on a literal cliffhanger, à la The Italian Job, and had there been a twelve book series already available of Last-Chosen Ones books, I would have purchased the whole lot immediately and settled down, with a supply of snacks and pop, for a long
gaming reading session! Sadly, we are at the mercy of the author there, but read this one in the meantime and I will keep an eye out for Book 2 and let you know!
Everything he knew about adventurers could have been based on fantasy. Erik frowned. Pure fantasy was entertaining but something you had to eventually put aside for the reality of the world. Unless you found a profession where fantasy paid your bills, but you’d have to be really lucky—
– P.T. McCordic, Heroically Challenged
Heroically Challenged is available on Amazon right now!