With both books satirising the D&D side of fantasy – from a place of love – it’s no surprise this one has a lot of similarities with my first Og-Grim-Dog book. Many fantasy authors of a certain age recall the freedom of delving into a dungeon with a group of adventurers, happily looting and killing whatever inhabitants they found. Now we’re older and wiser, we tend to complicate simple pleasures. What would that life really be like? Surely, it would only be a matter of time before adventurers unionised and some organisation and bureaucracy grew around the whole process. Hence Pike has the Heroes Guild and I have the Bureau of Dungeoneering. And what about those hapless dungeon dwellers? Shouldn’t we spare a thought for them?
I had feared the books would be too similar. But while mine focuses on one character and is content to be silly about the whole thing, Orconomics is a full fantasy novel, with multiple points of view, backstory and original worldbuilding. It leans into the economics of the subject and by the end has delivered some pretty blistering social commentary.
First things first though, if you’re going to dare to enter this territory, it had better be funny. And this book delivers on the laughs. They’re not try hard; they’re not “look, I’m being hilarious, aren’t I?”; they’re genuinely giggle inducing – the goblin got me, more than once.
The main character is Gorm Ingerson – the classic tough, cynical dwarf. I thought this was a great decision. Because we look at much of the story through his eyes, the madness of the world and the people who inhabit it are made all too clear. He is supported by a great cast, especially his fellow adventurers. Some of these get their own POV sections and all have their own storylines. They are all twists on the stereotypes to some degree and I think the author got the balance between characters and plot/humour just right – it’s not easy juggling so many balls.
There is one sequel at the moment. It doesn’t surprise me to see such a big gap between titles – a lot of thought and care and love has gone into this novel and I highly recommend.