A teenage peasant living in a medieval fantasy kingdom seeks his fortune as a soldier. He has left his father’s farm convinced that he is both incredibly intelligent (which clearly he is not) and that he will be an asset to any army (also not). In fact, the guards at the castle gate laugh at him. He is determined and incredibly lucky, though, and he finds a way inside the castle grounds, is hired as a messenger, has some adventures, finds a few friends, and gets a pair of magical socks. That’s the short summary of the stories told here.
This may not be the most original premise for a story, but bear with me for a moment because redeeming qualities abound. The main one is that this collection of fantasy adventures is FUN, and I’m a sucker for fun stories that do not dive overboard into the absurd. These don’t. As with all fantasy, a good deal of disbelief-suspension is required, but the stories in this book never become too silly, and they certainly make no pretense of being ‘serious’ fantasy (an oxymoronic term for sure). Myric the Magnificent does not provide the clever word play or insightful satire of a writer like Terry Pratchett, but it is enjoyable light fantasy.
This book is not a traditional novel and doesn’t follow contemporary ‘rules’ for the plot, which I also appreciate when done well. It is told as a series of episodes from a first person point of view, that of the protagonist, Myrick. At times it seems as if they might be part of a frame story in which Myrick is reflecting on his past adventures to some appreciative audience. It’s not, though, unless the invisible frame is the reader.
Myrick starts off in the first episode as something of a jerk. He’s an egotistical, impulsive, delusional liar. But he slowly grows out of it, and although he will never be in the running for any kingdom’s ‘Top Thinker’ award, he does become more thoughtful, and he learns a bit about friendship and responsibility by the end.
Great literature, this is not, but since the narrator is supposed to be a fifteen-year-old peasant, much can be forgiven with regard to prose (although the use of the word ‘alright’ might have some literary critics cringing and dragging out their red pencils). The editing is good, the characters make sense (given the fantasy setting), the magic system, culture, and politics are not explored in any great detail, but they hang together well enough for the sake of the story.
My only real negative comment is that the first story in the collection, which introduces the reader to Myrick, lacks an explanation for why the young man has such an exaggerated opinion of his own abilities or why he was so desperate to leave his father’s farm. That lack of clear motivation delayed my acceptance of the character at first, but I eventually got over it and enjoyed the rest of the stories.
I can recommend this one to readers of light fantasy.