A Fate Worse Than Dragons
DESCRIPTION: One of the universal laws of life is that money and rank trump romance... but, at least in the Twenty Kingdoms, True Love and heroism trump money and rank. So, when Princess Gloria and Sir Terry fall in love, all they have to do in order to secure a happily-ever-after is for Terry to earn her hand through heroism - say, by slaying a dragon. But things go wrong when rezoning puts the dragon he killed in the neighboring kingdom... and while that's being straightened out, Gloria's parents sign engagement contracts with the prosperous Westfield family, owners of the wildly popular (if controversial) sliced bread patent. But this is the Twenty Kingdoms: heroics can beat even contract law. The princess simply arranges to kidnap herself, and her knight in shining armor will ride to her rescue. At least, that was the plan. Another universal law of life is that even the best-laid plans invariably go haywire...
REVIEW: John Moore's fantasy parodies are lightweight, fast reads, taking fairy tale tropes and stereotypes and turning them on their ear. I'm not sure he covered much new ground here, though. The characters are fun for what they are, but retain enough cliche traits (particularly sexist traits) to be subtly irritating up to the end. The story moves decently, at least, with some nice plays on the genre and a few sudden turns. Moore's humor not only tweaks old-fashioned fantasy tropes, but gender roles, politics, sex, and even GMOs, as people ponder the long-term safety and lack of labeling on the new-fangled pre-sliced bread. As with all humor, it can be a little hit-and-miss, and some of the running jokes felt a bit stale by the end. For the most part, it was a fun read, short enough not to overstay its welcome, but it also felt a bit familiar from other Moore titles. It was this feeling of been-there-done-that that ultimately (barely) cost it a full fourth star, though I'd still recommend this if you're looking for a quick, humorous fairy tale send-up.
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