Reviewed by Eric Wilson
Hero Second Class by Mitchell Bonds
"Mixing the best elements of 'The Princess Bride' and Monty Python, the story is entertaining, fast-paced, and delivered with a wry grin throughout."
Hi, my name is Eric. I'm a read-a-holic. And yes, my latest little vial of yum-yum juice happened to bear the label: "Hero, Second Class." In my years as a fiction lover, I've adored the rare discoveries of something fresh and distinctly different, something fun and well done. Mitchell Bonds' 600 page tome qualifies on all counts. Not only does it read quickly, it puts a smile on your face and makes you chuckle.
Our Hero, Reginald, faces off with an Arch-Villain early in the story --don't skip the prologue, don't do it!--then later finds himself the mentor to a new recruit named Cyrus. This young trainee becomes increasingly aware of his own abilities, while also awakening to his feelings for Kris, a speaking cat-like creature. As the Hero, his trainee, the purr-machine, and a few others head off on separate Quests, they find themselves drawn back toward a cataclysmic clash with Voshtyr Demonkind and his acolytes.
The story, on the surface, sounds somewhat routine, but that's where Bonds refuses to be pigeonholed. He pokes fun at the genre, at the staples of storytelling, and even at the English language. With a Hero who narrates his own battles, a beautiful cat with a knack for puns, and the author's brief interruptions (and one particularly funny and wise removal from the scene), "Hero, Second Class" refuses to take itself too seriously. Even in the midst of a prophetic poem, the Hero questions his own propensity for rhyme!
Mixing the best elements of "The Princess Bride" and Monty Python, the story is entertaining, fast-paced, and delivered with a wry grin throughout. That isn't to say there aren't monsters, or sword fights, or gruesome decapitations. Oh, yes, there are plenty of the genre standbys. My only complaint is that the map and glossary are woefully inadequate at capturing the breadth of the characters and their domains.
With this being book one in the Hero Complex, I can't wait to see what Bonds does with new and old Heroes, new brides, dastardly Villains, and hints of greater things. In its debut year, Marcher Lord Press has proven itself to be a dependable producer of speculative fiction, with more good titles to come.
Eric Wilson is the author of twelve novels that explore Earth's tension between heaven and hell, the latest of which is One Step Away, a twist on the story of Job. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two daughters. Visit him online at his website.