Orconomics brings together humour, engaging character, and thoughtful consideration together to make excellent fantasy.
What to expect
The book starts on a lighthearted tone, almost a parody of classic role-playing games and their logical conclusion, by considering how would fantasy economies work with a plethora of adventurer parties running around and looting everything. Don’t be mistaken, as the subtitle says this is satire and not a parody — Pratchett, rather than Piers Anthony.
A band of washed out and shady ex-heroes are forced together to accompany the Seventh Hero (a scribe, with the fighting skills reminiscent of the monk out of Journey to the West – i.e. none). The quest takes them to retrieve stolen marble statues (the elves have lost their marbles) in the hopes of resurrecting their careers. We get to tour an interesting world, with an underlying current of a GFC-style collapse of professional heroism.
What I liked
Pike does an amazing job of balancing the three aspects of fantasy. The character are extremely engaging, each with a unique voice and personality. If you normally prefer character-driven stories, this is one for you. The world-building is thoughtful and thought-provoking, rich and deep to support the “what if” of speculative fiction of the best fantasy. The plot, while seemingly straightforward, does have enough twists and turns (especially towards the end) to keep things going.
And, of course, the humour ranges from clever puns to downright hilarious. Some jokes did have me laughing out loud and scaring the pets.
What to be aware of
This is isn’t a purely lighthearted, humorous fantasy. There are dark undertones and social criticism, as in Pratchett’s works. I enjoy thought-provoking humour, and while this is a quick read it’s not simple or fluffy.
Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys fantasy, especially those who grew up on role-playing games. I’m off to read the sequel, but you should get your copy now.