‘The Warden Threat’ is a light-hearted parody of epic fantasy. Though the genre is noted as science fiction, the science fiction was suggested rather than explicit. It’s a fun read with a darker underlying theme of political and religious manipulation.
Our hero is Prince Donald, third son of the king of Westgrove and quintessential archetypal fool. He’s sweet, naive and idealistic, and longs to be the hero in a story. He’s left the palace to wander the country in search of adventure and to get to know the ordinary people. Luckily his guide is a worldly wise character who is able to moderate the Prince’s impulses. When it comes to his notice that an ancient and massive magical stone warrior known as the Warden of Mystic Defiance in the neighbouring kingdom is going to be woken and used in a war against Westgrove, Donald sees it as his chance to prove his mettle and be the one to save the kingdom.
Nothing turns out as he planned. Everything is much more complex and difficult than he imagined, and it soon becomes apparent that in real life, the hero is not always predestined to save the day.
However, true to the fool archetype, his amusing bungles make it clear to him that he knows nothing, and that knowledge makes him open to the truth. Because he wanders with ordinary people, he sees things that the King in his throne room cannot. Donald discovers that something is brewing and it’s not what the King thinks it is. Will he listen to Donald though?
Donald is a delightful character who grows as the book progresses, and his two companions are equally as endearing in their own way. I love the way his guide nurture’s Donald’s development, knowing when to step in and when to back off. He is the archetypal father to Donald’s fool. The generous, always hungry and not very smart sidekick is reminiscent of the zanni characters from the Commedia del arte.
This is a well written book with a point beneath the humour. Greed is a great motivator, religion can become a method of indoctrination, rumour and mistrust can create wars, and fear and ignorance are a lethal combination.
This book looks deceptively simple, but there is a lot more to it than first meets the eye. It’s a skilfully executed work by a talented author with a unique voice. I recommend it to all who enjoy parody of either the fantasy or political kind. Perfect for cynics.