When Marcher Lord Press opened for business in October, 2008, I was excited. One publisher finally decided Christian Speculative Fiction was a viable market.
One of MLP’s first releases was "Hero, Second Class," by Mitchell Bonds.
The back-cover copy of this 600-page tome says:
Have at You!
Cyrus Solburg is a young man who dreams of becoming a Hero in a fantasy world in which Heroes owe monthly dues and Villains are allowed only one eclipse per fiscal quarter.
Cyrus becomes the apprentice to Sir Reginald Ogleby, also known as the Crimson Slash, a towering swordsman with a titanic sword and a penchant for self-narrating his own battles. It’s up to Reginald to train Cyrus in the essentials of Heroism so that one day, at the conclusion of his first Quest, Cyrus may become a Hero, Second Class.
More is afoot than the routine of training in the arts of Heroic Derring-Do, however. A bona fide Arch-Villain is on the loose. And this Villain is particularly interested in Cyrus, not least because of how Cyrus seems to have magic coming to him in spite of himself, resulting in tremendous disruption of the magical planes.
Entering into the fray come a wise-cracking Dragon, a petulant gargoyle, the Heroes’ Guild, the Army of Darkness(TM), and a horde of cursed invisible Centaurs. Cyrus will have to call on his friends, a beautiful young cat girl, and all the power of the Capital Letters and Arbitrary Numbers if he is to live to become a full-fledged Hero.
"Hero, Second Class" can be best described as a satirical fantasy with many, and more serious, spiritual elements.
What is a Christian fantasy satire anyway?
The Christian portion comes in when the main characters debate whether a Creator exists, and if so, why does he allow bad things to happen. Neither the author nor the characters answer this question. What’s important is that they ask and seek the answer with an open mind.
The fantasy is obvious. The book swims in memorable and colorful characters (with names such as Crimson Slash, Blue Shock and Purple Paladin for the Heroes), unpredictable magic, and a world most fantasy readers will discover as both familiar and strange.
Mitchell Bonds adroitly satires the fantasy elements, the world we currently live in — especially when it comes to dealing with bureaucracy — and the existing rules of traditional publishing by violating said rules at multiple turns.
One would think these intrusions would jar the reader, but Mitchell made it work. I laughed myself silly more than once.
If you enjoy an action-packed story with memorable characters, and a book willing to make fun of itself, you need to read "Hero, Second Class."
Next up: Lost, Says I. I’m lost on the Internet . . .