for a lot of tongue-in-cheek play on fantasy tropes, for a lot of amusing romcom antics, for a little bit of tongue-in-mouth goodness, for a simple story well done
Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.
As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.
With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong…until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.
The plot of this story is pretty straightforward. Early on, there’s a clear path of what events are going to happen once the plan is in place. There wasn’t much surprise to it, but that really didn’t bother me. I just reveled in knowing what good was yet to come, and then enjoying the heck out of it at every scene. ^.^
The surprises that were in the story were smaller details that made scenes better. Unique creatures arriving on scene — not always announced — were exciting moments. Knowing what the destination would be, but not knowing precisely when each turn would happen or what it would look like: I loved that. The author mentions in the acknowledgements that they wrote it mostly during a National Novel Writing Month endeavor, and that heritage is maintained in the straightforward path of the story. (Also, author: Rob isn’t the only one reading the acknowledgments! Can I get a shoutout in the next book? 😁)
The whole book is a bit silly, and I found that so endearing. If you’re familiar with the standard roles of a fantasy exploration party (warrior, mage, rogue, etc) then these will positively delight you. They alternately epitomize their roles, and then turn them on their heads. The playful contrast in each of them was so fun to explore as we get to learn a little more about each of them. The characters are all still a little simple because I feel like this story just rushes by, but they do get some personality spotlights for each of them.
Ultimately, if you want a sort of nerdy-based romcom, this is absolutely the way to go. And if you don’t, you just don’t realize that’s exactly what you want, and read this anyway. ^.^