Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Audio Book Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5 Stars)
Total Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5/5 stars)
Sometimes the tales we love aren’t quite what they seem, and sometimes the heroes is actually a little bit of a cuss-hole. That’s the case with 14-year-old Nigel, digger of latrines, shoveler of poop, and single greatest threat to Esteria…due to his ability to just mess things up all the time. Yet when he and his best friend Lance are tasked with finding a magical (or possibly mythical) relic, they are sent on a voyage that might be impossible. Can they, with the help of a gork named Eldrack, find this relic…and stop the return of the pernicious Lord Smoron? Or will they make more of a mess of the impending situation?
In an epic voyage that makes fun of classics such as The Lord of the Rings, we adventure with Nigel through Esteria, discovering how magic can both be convenient and quite annoying. Nigel is an arrogant young man, as are many 14-year-old boys, focused on girls and having a bit of fun. This is the crux of his problem though: he doesn’t think, and ends up creating a his own problems. Compared to many other stories where the hero is influenced by outside elements, such as Frodo being put on a quest in The Lord of the Rings, it is a breath of fresh air to read a story so influenced by a character’s mistakes. Each piece of the stories comes together like a puzzle, and slowly the reader will begin to see how one choice Nigel makes impacts everything through the narrative. In a way, Nigel is in control of his own destiny, especially as magic begins to reemerge in a blanket of chaos.
Yet Nigel’s arrogance serves as his downfall to the reader as well. Since he tells the story, often we are stuck listening to his distorted view. He’s annoying, although he holds to his convictions. Overall, this is a testament to the author able to write a 14-year-old boy so accurately. I was convinced through the entire story that a 14-year-old was telling me it. Yet, being a 14-year-old also takes away from some of the other characters. As a first person narrative, we see Nigel’s perspective on his friends. Lance is well developed, holding onto the gallivant knight persona throughout the story, but Eldrack, the one woman in their party, suffers from it. She is displayed as being tough and angry most of the time, with no nuance to her character. Most of the time, Nigel is self reflective. How can he help his friends? How can he stop this? The rest of the party is along for the ride, providing some help along the way, cracking jokes, but not much else. In addition, my feelings are uncertain about Lance’s story line. On one hand, I am happy to see a gay main character…but, the fact that it is based in discrimination as well being served as a slight joke, makes me uncomfortable. I think readers will have to decide how this makes them feel overall.
With all that being said, this is a fun read! Nigel and his friends are ridiculous, and the entire world they live in is hysterical. Instead of magical rings gifted to all, you have magical panties, magic cuff-links, and magical amulets. Their legendary hero is a half-ling named Elbo, the dragons smell like poo, and giant slugs are one Nigel’s main foes. I think everyone will have a roaring good time listening to this. Because that’s the point: it’s fun!
Yet, as a side note, even though this book is classified as middle-grade, I would not recommend it to anyone under the age of twelve. Some parts of it, especially in the military academy, are dark. There is mention of war, death, and torture that might make some children uncomfortable. While none of it is graphic, it definitely isn’t going to be a story for the younger children.
Still, if you want a fun, silly novel, check out The Dragon Squisher. You’ll be smiling all the way through.
What’s it about?
“Before I can begin my tale, you need to know about the king’s panties.”
So begins the epic adventure of 14-year-old Nigel, digger of latrines, shoveler of poop, and the single greatest threat to all the humans, elves, and halflings of Esteria.
Nigel needs to escape from military school. Who can blame him? After all, the king just declared war on the gorks, and he’s pretty sure his latrine-digging skills aren’t going to be much good on the front lines.
Problem is, Nigel’s escape efforts have a way of backfiring, taking him further from home, and destroying, well, pretty much everything that gets in his way. By the time he and his arch-frenemy are banished from the kingdom and sent on an impossible quest for a (probably bogus) magical artifact, the humans of Esteria find themselves longing for the good old days when they were merely being annihilated by Lord Smoron.
Book one of the Nigel Chronicles, The Dragon Squisher tell the story of how Nigel, his too-perfect comrade Lance Hightower, and Eldrack, a female gork prisoner with a well-earned grudge against humans, usher in a new era of chaos and magic.