Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle, Christopher Healy

The Hero's Guide to Storming the CastleFrederic wasn't always helpless. Sure, he'd spent most of his life having his servants cut the crusts off his toast, and he once fainted after merely thinking he had a splinter in his finger (it was really a biscotti crumb). But then he joined the League of Princes and managed to hold his own against bandits, giants, trolls, and witches. 

"Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don't you? They're the Princes Charming who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses - Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose - to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms.  But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening - even if no one will ever know it was they who did it.  Christopher Healy, author of the acclaimed The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, takes us back to the hilariously fractured fairy-tale world he created for another tale of medieval mischief. Magical gemstones, bladejaw eels, a mysterious Gray Phantom, and two maniacal warlords bent on world domination - it's all in a day's work for the League of Princes."

The sequel to The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kindom isn't quite as good, but it's still entertaining. It's been a year since the events of the first book, and the adventures start happening very quickly when Liam is kidnapped on the orders of Briar Rose, who wants to force him to marry her. The League of Princes has been separated for a while, but now they come back together to try and rescue Liam and foil Briar Rose's other plots

MG books no longer have the same charm that they had for me a year or even half a year ago. They feel simplistic and forced sometimes. I still managed to enjoy this fantasy novel, but that was probably the main reason why I liked it less. 

My two favorite characters in this book are definitely Liam and Ella; they're the most amazing. However, Duncan and Frederic are the most funny. Liam and Ella are the most normal of the characters; they have their insecurities also, but they for the most part don't do any strange things. Duncan likes to name animals randomly, Frederic can't stand to get dirty, and Gustav has anger management issues. And Briar Rose is just evil. However, in The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle, Briar's character is developed a bit more. She's still not a nice princess, but one sees different sides of her. She's not as bad as some of the other characters, that's for sure. 

This book wasn't quite as funny as the first one, but it definitely was amusing. I loved how throughout the book, Gustav would accidentally make puns and not realize it. Also, at one point there were clams in the book, which got me laughing. <inside joke alert> The League of Princes make for an eccentric team, and it's really funny to read about them. 

The criticism I had of this one was that the middle section was somewhat slow, where they were all planning how to storm the castle. Nothing much happened, and the book did really drag. Part II: Uncovering the Plot was just way too long. I did think the mystery was interesting.

The other criticism I have of this series is that it just doesn't seem realistic. The setting is a realm of fantasy kingdoms, yet many of them use modern language and modern expressions. Everyone still rides on horses though. I think the world-building could be a lot better; there are a whole bunch of kingdoms that aren't even talked about, which presumably have their own stories. Maybe later books will explore that; not sure how many there are projected to be. 

I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much, but it was still funny. 
477 pages. 

Rating: 3.5 stars. 

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