In the first of a projected trilogy, a cozy village in an epic fantasy world manages to stand nearly every heroic trope on its head.
When the bard Edvard is captured by the Dragonking, he bargains for his life by promising to collect the overlooked tales of common folk. And so he spends a year among the good people—and dwarves, faeries, centaurs and gnomes—of Eventide, meddling in the villagers' lives and dreams, endeavoring to re-cast their everyday dramas into suitably high-flown form. But the bombastic Edvard is merely the catalyst for a series of comically subversive tales: a dwarf with a romantic streak, a gossip fairy who longs for humanity, a dashing but reluctant highwayman, a priest-of-all-trades, a haunted retreat for weary ghosts, and one spectacular, cataclysmic pie fight. All are linked by the quest of the apprentice accountant Jarod Klum to win the heart of Caprice Morgan, one of the three beautiful sisters tending the town's (unfortunately broken) wishing well. Conceived as an online subscription serial, the narrative shows its origins in the episodic, meandering plot and frequent in-jokes for fans of sword and sorcery. The humor ranges from the farcical to the gently satirical, but it is never mean-spirited; the lampooning is always kindly, and characters' petty foibles and not-so-dark secrets are always brought to unexpected but satisfying conclusions.
Amiable and charming, but the earnest moral that the most valiant deeds and valuable treasures can be found in mundane domesticity is unlikely to resonate with readers looking for more adventurous fare.