Rogneby, Tom. Tales of the Minivandians (E-book, 2015)
Imagine you are stuck in traffic with a couple of kids in a car. And they are bored. And you are too. How do you make things more interesting? You can sing songs. You can play the license plate game (unless traffic is parked). Or you can tell the story of the day medieval style. And thus we get the first half of Tales of the Minivandians, the sagas of Lord DaddyBear of the Minivandians, his brave wife (and combat mage and healer) and their three children. It’s a great, fun romp for adults and for kids under 12 or so. (And I wish all safety briefings were like that given to DaddyBear as he boarded the great sky dragon to fly home). The second half of the book is a straight fantasy with some bits that are probably a little scary and grim for the under 12 set.
I greatly enjoyed the humor of seeing everyday suburban or semi-rural life through the lens of the great former barbarian wanderer Daddybear. The family copes with clogged drains, the quest for a new mighty hunting hound, prom, visits to the school of Paedrig the Serpent Banisher (and the consequences of breaking the rules at said institution. I want that spell!) and other events of the day.
The second half focuses on how DaddyBear came to earn his place among the brave warriors known as Minivandians, and of the eldest children’s first trials of adulthood.
The first part of the book is linked by the story of a traveling bard who overwinters with a young lord and his lady, and who tells the stories to teach and entertain young and old. The second half is closer to a straight novel, with fewer bardic interludes. The links make sense, and I could easily see reading them aloud as part of bedtime reading, then picking up again the next evening.
It’s a fun read, well done with tongue firmly planted in cheek (the first half). The second half has the same tone and is equally well done, but is different in flavor – a touch darker, still with humor but also some serious and mildly scary moments.
This would be fun to read to the 5-12 year old kids, although they may laugh in different places than adults do. They would need to know at least a little about knights and medieval stuff, but that gives you an excuse to trot out the King Arthur stories, so hey, why not? The author does a very good job keeping the heroic saga tone through everything, and I enjoyed the stories. The foreshadowing in the last section is well done, especially the cavalry.
I got to meet the author at LibertyCon – he’s a really nice guy and I now have a Minivandian button on my backpack.
Notice: I purchased this book for my own use. I received no compensation or commercial consideration from the author or publisher for this review.