Book: Heroics for Beginners
Author: John Moore
Published: 2004 (Penguin)
Prince Kevin’s really more of a diplomat (some would say “coward,” but he’d give them a really dirty stare) than a warrior, so when he learns that his love Princess Rebecca has to marry the first guy who rescues her dad’s Infernal Artifact from the evil overlord who stole it for a hefty dose of science-as-magic mcguffin, he leans heavily on a practical guide to becoming a hero.
Becky already loves him and they go to half-hearted sitcom trope lengths to hide their lusty high school-sweethearts-level relationship, so all Kevin really has to worry about is getting zapped by He Who Must Be Named, Lord Voltmeter (ten bucks if you CAN’T name that allusion), beating another flashier hunkier dude to the chase, and getting tied up/seduced by Voltmeter’s evil assistant. Oh and finding his way out of the evil fortress, which is harder than it seems and more helpful to his battle than it sounds.
The writing is funny, using a big dose of wise-assery to make sure the story never takes itself seriously but still managing to wring suspense out of it. There’s nothing too radically subversive—it stays on the “hey, aren’t these conventions a little ridiculous but don’t you love them anyway?” side of teasing—but it’s propulsive and convincing and a great way to ease into fantasy through the gift shop.
Bookshelf! Except somebody else’s because I need something to take with me to a holiday party thrown by an RPG-er.