A youthful, ambitious, and talent-free apprentice wizard embarks on a dangerous mission in this novel.
Apprentice Murland Kadabra shovels manure and performs menial services at a magical school called Abra Tower. Despite his complete inability to work any sorcery at all (or even grow wizard leaf), Murland is shocked to the core when he is chosen to be one of the Champions of the Dragon. The five Champions are called upon by prophecy to assemble when the fearsome dragon Drak’Noir (with a mile-wide wingspan) returns to Bad Mountain—and Murland is not the only one surprised that he has been selected by Abra Tower’s “Most High Wizard,” Kazimir. Princess Caressa, who secretly harbors forbidden love for Murland, also has no idea why a complete washout would be chosen for the life-changing quest. What neither Murland nor Caressa—nor the apprentice’s traveling companions, overweight ogress Willow, pig-keeping Gibrig the dwarf (who suffers from “humanism”), chivalrous Sir Eldrick (who struggles with alcoholism), and Elven Prince Brannon—suspects is that the prophecy is not of five heroes who will destroy Drak’Noir but rather five victims who will sate her hunger when she devours them alive. The escapades of Murland’s fellowship take the group across the land to encounter Dingleberry the sprite, ferocious masked baby Zuul, Egbert and Margi the Cyclopes, flocks of harpies, and other perils and curiosities. Their journey takes them not just into the teeth of adventure, but also forces them to learn and grow. Ploof’s (Exodus, 2016, etc.) book is short and fast-paced, flicking from one character’s point of view to another “like a real epic,” but it never becomes confusing. The characters are fairly standard and sympathetic enough to keep the reader’s attention, and the dialogue is reasonably well-constructed. As is often the case with genre comedy, the humor is only fitfully effective and relies a little on crudeness (the sprite’s name) and stale hipness (wizard leaf is exactly what one thinks it is: Murland smokes some and levitates—“Look how high he is!”), with only mixed results. Still, the story is fun and the first in a trilogy.
An amusing comic fantasy tale featuring a band of unlikely champions.