Everyone loves dinner with a show. Well, as long as the food is good and the show is entertaining. So, well, maybe, in the real world, we don’t love that many ‘dinners with a show’. However, there are still the good ones. Excellent literary meals mixed in with an extra dose of entertainment above and beyond the main course. For tonight’s entree, we have high fantasy with a dose of satiric humor that is called Orconomics. So, does this fantasy satire make for an excellent literary delight that made me laugh or did I ditch the tab and throw tomatoes at the comedian? Read on, my friend, read on!
But before you do, let us remind ourselves of the solemn Starving Review vows:
- I attempt to rate every book from the perspective of a fan of the genre.
- I attempt to make every review as spoiler-free as possible.
It is time to quibble about this no more. Orconomics is an incredible treat. I started reading this while quite ill, expecting to only be able to get a few chapters down before needing to rest. I instead ate HALF THE BOOK in one sitting, not even noticing that I was horribly ill, then devoured the rest the next evening. It’s flavorful, it’s funny, it’s serious, it’s sad, it’s uplifting … all of this transpires between the same two covers. It is GLORIOUS.
But why? Why is it so good?
There are, of course, many reasons. Let’s start with the big one though and one that can trip up many stories with comedic elements in them: Mr. Pike refuses to let the comedy by a crutch. You could remove every satirical reference and deaden the humor, but be left with a good high fantasy story. The tone would darken tremendously, but it would be solid and well-plotted. Above all things, Orconomics is an excellent fantasy tale that has humor woven into the plot and the world. It never relies on it to be good.
The world building is done well and mixed seamlessly into the story. At no point does the story itself bog down for the back story, yet at no point did I feel like I didn’t know what I *needed* to know, something that can be hard to manage in a fantasy world, even one with obvious Tolkien inspiration. The characterization is fantastic. Even characters that seem very archetypical turn out to be fully realized by the book’s end and every major character and even some minor ones run character arcs, while still having threads open for the rest of the series.
Oh, about that world-building again, I mentioned the Tolkien inspiration and I don’t think that does Mr. Pike full justice. Yes, there are inspirations, but most modern fantasy has that. Outside of that, Mr. Pike’s Arth has a lot of rather unique flavors that made each morsel that much more delicious.
Right, let’s save some time. Plot? Great. Pacing? Speed up and slowed down in all the right places. Emotional content? I laughed, I cheered, I cried. No fooling, I literally did all those things over the course of this book. Humor? I already said I laughed, what more do you want?
Summation time! Orconomics is an excellent start of a series I now am drooling to read more of. It’s high fantasy mixed with humorous and biting satire of modern economics (it works, just go with it!) that never loses track of all the things that make a good literary meal ‘good’. It both deconstructs and reconstructs the fantasy hero in one fell swoop and talks straight to your heart the whole time. Bravo, Mr. Pike, bravo! Oh, and I’m ready for the second course, whenever that gets done, okay?
FINAL VERDICT: ***** (High fantasy cuisine of the rarest sort! It will make you laugh, cheer, and cry!)