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Stuff of Legends by Ian Gibson

Stuff of Legends by Ian Gibson was a unique fantasy.  I’ve been attempting to determine how to classify it; possibly a cross between some of the topical Discworld novels by Pratchett and perhaps John Moore’s Heroics for Beginners.

In this fantasy world, dragons, barbarian hordes, and elves are real.  The epic tales told by wandering bards, however, have been orchestrated by the world’s version of Hollywood, Central Casting of Palace Hills.  Wardrobe, extras, props, and creatures all all requisitioned by Central Casting as needed to create the right adventure for one of its freelance heroes.

Jordan the Red, who stars in hundreds of such episodes has retired to a small out-of-the-way dairy village called Cheese, trying to live in obscurity until a young man uses a an elvish birthday present to wish himself part of a new Jordan the Red adventure.  The casting agent is thrilled to create a sort of Jordan: The Next Generation and hires”red-shirt” villains to put in his path.

Jordan, a reluctant participant, journeys along with the eager lad, a bard assigned to write everything down, and a nanny elf.  Soon, however, everything takes a turn for the worse when a second wish brings back every villain and henchman that Jordan ever defeated, including a dragon.

Obviously very tongue-in-cheek, the book is entertaining, but perhaps not the best novel ever written.  Clever one-liners and subtle references to the entertainment industry, fantasy novels, and campy television are sprinkled throughout its pages.

Dawn came without metaphor.  (p. 95)

Dawn came to Palace Hills in colors of pearl and crystal, another perfect day in the closest thing to paradise money could buy.  There were laws against bad weather within the city limits and because the city housed the largest body of wizards in the world, those laws were obeyed as rigidly as the laws of gravity.  Some cities never sleep; Palace Hills was a city worth sleeping in, for the pleasure of having it be the first thing you saw when you woke up.  It was a city for morning people.

Not surprisingly, it also had the best coffee in the world.  (p. 231)

Also not surprisingly, the book ends with a setup for a sequel.

3 out of 5 stars (for its sheer entertainment value)

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