My brother introduced me to one of the best/worst sites I have ever encountered. Royal Road is a site for people to post their fiction for others to read, rate, review, etc. I now have an official love/hate relationship because I am reading about 5 “ongoing” works and I want it all right now.
But per my normal policy, I am sticking to reviewing a completed work. I ran across this one among the highly rated, complete works and gave it a try. It has it’s rough points and there were several things which I am confident had the entire manuscript been submitted to an editor, they would have caught/prevented/helped with.
I went and bought it on Amazon after reading the beginning because I was enjoying the premise. I’m really glad I did because the audiobook narrator does a great job capturing the tone. The reason I enjoyed it is a simple concept of “leaning into the premise.” The premise that the primary character may either be heroes or… not in a land of “good” and “evil” lines of deliniation is fun. For someone who plays RPG’s, this is a trope which is very funny.
I can say this book is NOT “young adult,” or at least it is not one I would necessarily suggest for someone under 16 or so. There isn’t anything graphic, but the language and sexual attitudes are not one I would recommend for a younger audience. The sex scenes themselves are “fade to black” type things, but the attitudes and discussions among characters tend towards frank and open.
The plot didn’t have a lot of twists and turns, but there were a few times I found myself going, “oooooh, that was the unexpected option.” which I suppose is the same thing. It’s not “omg, I could never have guessed” and more along the lines of “hmm, that option is about 1/10 – OH, so you took it. Good for you!”
The characters are flawed, like really flawed and imperfect and ridiculous. There isn’t any shiny beacon of perfection or truly dastardly evil-for-no-reason. Vainqueur both is and is not the protagonist, but is certainly entertaining throughout.
Especially in this age of self-publication explosion, this is work which is pulp fiction at it’s best. The characters take it seriously, but the writer does not.