Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Six New Entries to the Invisible Library

Review: Heroics for Beginners by John Moore


The invisible library is "a collection of books that only appear in other books. Within the library's catalog you will find imaginary books, pseudobiblia, artifictions, fabled tomes, libris phantastica, and all manner of books unwritten, unread, unpublished, and unfound."

John Moore has given us not one, but six new entries with this novel, a romping spoof and a quick read. Robert Taylor's 
The Handbook of Practical Heroics, like his other work, is part of a medieval "...for Dummies" genre. (Other practical handbooks cover fly-fishing, gardening, antique refinishing, and—my favorite—dragon slaying, followed by burn and wound dressing.)

The heroics advice is brief, to-the-point and imminently practical, exactly the kind of invisible library fodder a medieval hero would want to check out!
When a wise old sage tells you not to let a magical talisman fall into the wrong hands, take him seriously. Do not laugh it off until the object is stolen and the Forces of Evil are unleashed. —HANDBOOK OF PRACTICAL HEROICS, Robert Taylor

Kevin Timberline, Prince of Rassendas, has a problem. Actually, he has several problems, including finding an acceptable nickname, so he doesn't wind up like his father, King Eric "Not Eric the Good, But the Other One." But he loves Princess Rebecca of Deserae, whose hand has been promised to Prince Logan, providing he retrieves the Ancient Artifact (model seven, and brand-new) stolen by Lord Voltmeter (He Who Must Be Named). 

Inspired by the handbook given to him by Princess Rebecca's father (who thought it was the fly-fishing guide), Kevin decides on a preemptive crusade to storm Lord Voltmeter's Fortress of Doom, and earn the princess' hand for himself.
...the sunshine fell upon a shelf stacked with circular black objects. Kevin moved in for a closer look, then picked one up. It was a coffee mug, cheap black ceramic with the words FORTRESS OF DOOM painted in large red letters. Underneath was the slogan ENSLAVE THE PLANET. And then he understood where he was... He was in the Fortress of Doom gift shop.

This book succeeds in spoofing a genre with light touches of laughter. There's an Evil Assistant whose costume is a running gag. There's a chain-mail bra that turns out to have been a Pretty Good Idea, even if the fur thong briefs were not. And there's an old seeress whose prophesy on Kevin's heroics is ominous—and too bad that he didn't get some tips on the stock market while he had the chance!

You'll like the way Moore has written a real sword-and-sorcery story within the parody, and how the humor actually makes sense in the context of the tale. It made me want to get another Moore novel, like maybe Slay and Rescue, which is a similar spoof of fairy tales. 

Alas, of all the Moore spoofs, only The Lightning Horse is currently available for Kindle.

Liner Notes:

  • Voltmeter's nickname is the only Harry Potter reference. 
  • The Handbook of Dragon Slaying was described as "co-written with Holly Lisle".
  • Arguably the most famous book in the invisible library is The Necronomicon