The Sword and the Satchel by Elizabeth Boyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
At first glance, this seems like your typical, derivative northern European hero fantasy. There’s a whole bundle of Norse folklore references along the way and you probably won’t be massively shocked at the ending, it’s true. There are Tolkien influences in here a mile wide and plenty of other stereotypical hero’s journey tropes too.
But what I think this book does really well, and this is the reason that it gets four stars rather than two or three from me, is humour. There’s a wry sense of amusement that runs throughout the story that tells you that, actually, Boyer is pretty well aware that she’s using the rusty old formula. Part of the fun of reading it is seeing that recognised and pushing it a little towards comedy. The dialogue, the general character and antics of one of the villains and the mid-book action show that this isn’t a book that spends too long pretending to be an epic and taking it too seriously. Plus, it has an excellent strong heroine and manages to resist the usual romantic cliches that these books normally insist on ending with.
Read this if: you’re getting a bit bored with terribly earnest barbarians and wizards who never crack a smile, or if you think more fantasy novels should be written by hobbits!
The Sword and the Satchel is available in the UK from Abe Books at prices starting from 63p!