Title: Fool’s Gold
Author: Jon Hollins
Series: Dragon Lords #1
A brand new adventure fantasy: imagine Guardians of the Galaxy planning a heist on Smaug’s gold, for fans looking for something with a modern twist and some humor.
Guardians of the Galaxy meets The Hobbit in this rollicking fantasy adventure.
It’s not easy to live in a world ruled by dragons. The taxes are high and their control is complete. But for one group of bold misfits, it’s time to band together and steal back some of that wealth.
No one said they were smart.
Source: ARC from Orbit Books via NetGalley
Wow, this was fun. It’s big and epic, has dragons and war, warriors and wide-eyed farm boys, magic, monsters and so much sarcasm. I loved that sarcasm, it was brilliant, and perfectly compliments the characters, the world and just everything that made this a thoroughly enjoyable read.
The plot is pretty simple at heart – a young farmer is pushed past breaking point because of the crushing taxes imposed on him by the cruel dragon overlords, life takes a turn for the worse, he meets up with some dodgy mercenaries and everything gets out of hand. There’s also a crazy old drunkard and a some-what reformed mage, and somehow it all ends in a plan to rob a dragon. But that’s just the start. This book is part epic, part heist-caper and all excellent fun as events snowball into an unstoppable and almost inevitable avalanche that’s part farce, part brilliance.
If you like your fantasy to be ethereal and deep and dark and gritty, you will not get that here. These characters are bold, larger than life, swear extensively, and are full of flaws – with occasional good points thrown in. Will is our slightly naive farmer, who has so much to learn about both himself and the world; Lette is the mercenary toying with growing herself a conscience; Balur is her best friend and long time partner in violence, not to mention an eight-foot lizard man; Quirk is the academic who is definitely out of her element and struggling about that magic of hers she doesn’t want to use; and rounding out this bunch of misfits is Firkin, an old family friend of Will’s and the local village drunk, who seems to have a curious and unsettling agenda all his own.
I loved these characters. They’re well-rounded, have plenty of hidden depths and are all distinctive in their own ways. I also adored the fact that Lette is powerful and determined and completely female, while Will has moments of damsel-in-distress, but never feels lessened by Lette’s strength. Balur is amazing, I loved that lizardman, Firkin is curious, and although I didn’t always like Quirk that much, she definitely has her own valuable points to add to everything.
The world is traditional fantasy fare, but with its own depth and history. The gods fit in perfectly with everything else, and the dragons are clearly the enemy, mostly through arrogance, greed and indifference. There is a lot of violence, much of which ends up as a punchline, but the death toll is also discussed in more serious terms – even if it then all ends with another, “oops, killed him” moment.
Basically if you love traditional high fantasy, but are a bit tired of grimdark story lines, give this a go. The humour is a big draw, but it also has a gripping, cleverly intricate plot, well-developed characters, including powerful women, and a world that is both familiar and decently built. I’m a little surprised by how much I enjoyed it, and how quickly I raced through it considering its length, but I’m delighted that I’ve discovered this world, author and series. I can’t wait to see where it all heads next; I’ve no doubt it’ll be another memorable journey.
Fool’s Gold is Out Now!
Visit Jon Hollins for more details.