Book Review: Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike
I've seen this book floating around a couple of places over the last few years and always thought the cover was super awesome, but it wasn't until I decided to enter the SPFBO competition this year that I really paid it any extra attention. This was the winning entry in 2018, and after looking at the description a little closer, I decided this was exactly the kind of fun, lighthearted read I needed in the midst of the soul-crushing fiasco that is the year 2020.
I was totally right. This was absolutely the book I needed. It made me laugh more times than I can remember (I'll list some of my favorite quotes below for your entertainment) and took me on an adventure with characters I came to love more than I initially expected. When we first meet our so-called heroes, it's a little hard to keep track of them all. We're introduced to them all at once, and it took me a while to really sort out who was who and to see each of them as anything more than just a name and whatever role they had in the party. But as the story went on, I started to care about them more and more, and Pike does an excellent job of distinguishing them from one another and giving each one their own goals, motivations, and distinct personalities. By the end of the book, I loved all of them so much that I immediately started reading the second book, not wanting to leave any of these characters behind.
The writing is really clean and easy to read, but also so, so clever. I loved all the little jokes and references to fantasy RPGs, and I was so impressed by the way all of those elements came together to fit the plot by the end. All the little quirky things that kind of seem to be just silly window dressing at first end up coming together in a spectacularly satisfying way that makes this not only a clever, witty satire, but also a heartfelt tale of adventure and found family and valliant deeds and imperfect heroes just trying to do the right thing. I'm so excited to see what awaits Gorm and the rest of the heroes in the next book. Whatever it is, I'm sure there will be plenty of much-appreciated laughs along the way.
And now, a few of my favorite lines from the book, in case you needed any more convincing to go pick it up right now.
Johan was the kind of physical specimen that inspires sculptors, clad in the kind of cutting-edge gear that inspires bankruptcy.
"This sculpture will apparently summon a celestial war cat from the metaphysical planes," Scroot read from a card.
"What can you make the cat do?" asked the party's warrior, a burly man in a horned helm.
"Let me see..." said Scroot, checking a scrawled note in the margin. "Ah, nothing. It is, after all, a cat."
He stood a head shorter than Gorm and wore a thick, crimson coat below a hound's face that looked like it had been banged into a doorjamb even before Gorm had banged it into a doorjamb.
He mentally added the captain to his List of People Who Had Made the Wrong List.
But yon Elf made it clear that she was Not Interested. And in so doing, they awoke Gorm, Son of Inger.... And Gorm did correct Heraldin Strummons, and tell him to Behave Professionally.... With much emphasis.
(Honestly, all of Niln's scriptures are wonderfully entertaining.)
I will be adding this book to my Recommended Indie Reads page on my website, and I don't just put any book up there. Only my favorites. So, you know, you should probably go pick up a copy. Just saying...