Monday, June 30, 2014

The Fury Clock, by Christopher Bunn

The Fury Clock, by Christopher Bunn

...Yeah, I'm not sure what I was expecting when I started this one, but I'm fairly certain it wasn't this.

The flap copy:
Malix Shandy, the best-looking scoundrel in the kingdom, sets off on a hopeless quest to find the dreaded Fury Clock. If he doesn’t find it in seven days, he’ll suffer a fate worse than death. Teamed up with an enormous ogre and a psychotic dwarf, Shandy starts to think maybe death would be restful after a week in such company. But he doesn't have time to die, not with all the necromancers, vampires, and dragons out to get him.

Brimming with romance, monsters, magic, and deceptive wenches, The Fury Clock is a humorous and rollicking adventure in the tradition of Terry Pratchett and Terry Brooks.

I made the mistake of not seeing the book's full title before I read it, and that probably threw me for the beginning.  What's the full title? The Fury Clock (The Infinite Wheel of Endless Chronicles Book 1).  I think someone might -- just might, mind you -- be making fun of Robert Jordan.  Just a little.

Bunn's style for this book feels like a little of column A, a little of column B, and a pinch of What The Hell Is This?  The vast majority of the book *does* feel like Terry Pratchett writing The Princess Bride, and in the middle, we wander into the Xanth books of Piers Anthony .... sometimes, not in a good way, but, overall, the book works.

I'll unpack that statement for those who aren't complete and total nerds.  We've got our hero, Malix, described as a "man in black" (at least he wasn't a dread pirate) on trial for treason, set free to do the work of a shadowy figure who runs the country from behind the scenes (at least the malevolent shadow was not a tyrant who asked him about angels, a la Pratchett's Going Postal).

Along the way, instead of footnotes, we get little treatises on various and sundry subjects, much like Prachett's novels, or perhaps the The Hitchhiker's Guide. As one of the major scenes in the books take place in the Tavern at the center of the Earth instead of the restaurant at the other end of the galaxy, you can see why it might come to mind.

There are some conversations, like with Anthony, that drag on, and makes you wonder "Where is this going?"  However, unlike Anthony, never, not once, is a page or chapter merely a buildup to one bad pun. For that alone, Bunn should be given tons of awards and dollars.

The casual use of soul gems and describing a princess as "a peach" makes me think "Hmm, a gamer wrote this," but I could be reading into things.

After the 20% mark, the book tends to wander a bit (see: Piers Anthony, cited above). Our hero picks up some companions for some odd reasons, but they do make the journey interesting. By 30%, we're solidly back on track and full speed ahead. So if you get stuck around that point, and can get past it, you're golden.

Did I like the book? Sure. It was fun.  The ease of casual lines like dwarves hankering for a good GLT (goat lettuce and tomato) and platform shoes.  The hippie Charon was fun. There was a dragon that should have been voiced by Stephen Fry. And how can one forget the outlaws with bylaws .... oh, sorry, they were "redistributionists," can't forget that.

However, if you're looking for deep character studies, richly drawn characters with their own personal biography, or Lord of the Rings, then do not approach. This is pure entertainment, and somewhat deranged entertainment at that -- this is a compliment, coming from me.  If you're looking for a rock-solid, fun ride that's Piers Anthony without the terrible, terrible puns, or an American Terry Pratchett, then The Fury Clock is for you.

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