Books by Tom Holt

WHEN IT'S A JAR by Tom Holt
Released: Dec. 17, 2013

"Shapeless, demented and frequently hilarious."
Another British-accented comic fantasy, a sequel to Doughnut (2013), whose entire plot revolves around the ancient riddle, the answer to which is the book's title. Read full book review >
Released: June 18, 2010

"Tons of wonderful confetti, but the flashbulbs don't pop."
Riotous science-fiction social commentary, from the author of May Contain Traces of Magic (2009, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2009

"Funny and intriguingly complex—a difficult juggling act that Holt carries off with aplomb."
More humor with a British accent—from the prolific Holt, a sequel to The Portable Door (2004) and fourth in a series set in the same science-fantasy universe. Read full book review >
YE GODS! by Tom Holt
Released: April 16, 1993

What if the Olympian gods still existed and had merely been forced to go off and live in the sun? Or Jupiter, needing some high-powered help in his great comeback bid, had sired a new Hero upon an English suburban housewife? What if Betamax videos had captured the market? Well, young Jason Derry soon grows tired of slaying fabulous monsters and retrieving golden fleeces at the behest of his divine father, so when an eagle who can turn into a girl takes him for a chat with Prometheus the Titan, presently somewhat tied up in the Caucasus, Jason listens. Long ago, you see, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind. He also stole The Joke. Gods, it seems, are a grim, serious bunch, and the only thing that stops them from totally dominating humanity is- -laughter. Soon, Jason is helping Prometheus, but Jupiter isn't worried; like all Heroes, Jason has a tragic flaw—he's a good boy and always does what his mother tells him. Still, even Jason eventually figures it out: If you're a Hero, the easiest way to get what you want is to beat up anyone who tries to stop you. And what does happen on Betamax worlds, anyway? The gods reign supreme, of course—and nobody laughs. Ever. Not quite in the Terry Pratchett league, though it's wacky enough and, in places, genuinely funny. Holt would travel better if he toned down his rather strident Englishisms (``jammy,'' ``duff up,'' ``knackered,'' etc.). Still: amusing stuff, especially for Anglophiles, and a vast improvement over the one-joke Flying Dutch (1992). Read full book review >
Released: March 9, 1992

Another British-accented comedy-fantasy inspired by Wagner (Expecting Someone Taller, 1988, based on the Ring Cycle), here centering on the Flying Dutchman legend. Wagner, of course, got it all wrong: Julius Vanderdecker, a.k.a. the Flying Dutchman, accidentally drank an immortality elixir back in the 16th century, along with the entire crew of his ship—only to discover that he and his men smelled so awful that they were forced to return to sea. Since then, only for one month every seven years has the stench subsided enough for Vanderdecker to take shore leave. Now, however, thanks to an insurance policy that Vanderdecker took out before he became immortal, the stability of the entire global economic system depends on his continuing survival—so discovers accountant Jane Doland; luckily, Jane has a very poor sense of smell. Meanwhile, Professor Montalban, the elixir's inventor, has spent the last four centuries directing the planet's economic and scientific progress in a single-minded effort to find a cure for the stench—a cure that finally arrives in the form of an exploding nuclear reactor. The Flying Dutchman's problem is tedium, and it shows: mechanical plotting, predictable doings, and humor too obvious and trite to raise even a glimmer of a smile. Read full book review >
Released: June 20, 1991

In a sequel to Goatsong, the continuing history of Golden Age Athens from the point of view of a comic playwright who survives the Great Peloponnesian War—a free-floating romp that makes a hash out of classical Greece. Holt, who's made a career with this sort of thing (Expecting Someone Taller is a comic variation on Wagner's Ring Cycle; Who's Afraid of Beowulf? deals with Norse sagas) scores again. Eupolis, in his early 20s, is married to Phaedra, beautiful and faithless, and is in rivalry (for his woman as well as for the comic crown) with Aristophanes. Here, Athens is about to go to war with Sicily, but the preparations for the voyage are ominous—among other things, vandals destroy street statues—and the campaign is a comedy of errors. The Athenians are slaughtered, but Eupolis muddles through. Along the way, he converses with ghosts and also with the god Dionysus, who tells him to protect Aristophanes. Eupolis and Aristophanes then stumble through enemy territory in a slapstick variation of a Laurel and Hardy routine—reciting fabricated Euripides and doing stand-up comedy. When they finally hitch a ride home on a cargo ship, Eupolis is tried for treason- -accused of having had a hand in the prewar vandalism. Under sentence of death, he defends himself eloquently after a talk with Socrates, among others. His acid speech in his own defense attacks the fickle masses and the new oligarchy, and he's found guilty by one vote. He proceeds to write a play that wins the Festival and makes him a hero, though Phaedra, with whom he's had an armed truce, takes sick and dies. The prose is sprightly, the satire loose-jointed and entertaining (but at times also pointed), and the history skewed enough to give the whole thing a juicy, authentic feel. Holt has obviously found his niche. Read full book review >