More intrigue than I would have expected from this book

King Pinch - David Zeb Cook, Walter Velez

Well, it has been over twenty years since I read my last Forgotten Realms novel, but after reviewing the ones that I have already read (and I generally cannot bring myself to read them a second time, which is why I have given them a rating and written a commentary) and going over other people's thoughts on these novels, I decided that I might grab a couple off of Ebay and see if what people have said (bad writing, bland characters, etc) is true. So, while digging through the numerous books that have been published since I pretty much stopped reading everything that was released, I stumbled across this one. So, why is it that I decided that I would read this one? Well, it had a cool title. Okay, they do say that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but nobody ever said anything about judging it by its title.

Okay, as for this book, it was enjoyable but I would hardly call it a work of literature (are any of the books that come out of the Wizards of the Coast printing machine such?) and I simply am not able to compare the author with Dostoyevsky, but it was still an enjoyable read (and the writing wasn't that bad, and the characters were not hugely shallow, though there was only one character of importance in the novel and that was Pinch). So, after having made my way through two Dostoyevsky bricks it certainly was a change to try something that I had not touched since I was a lot younger, though I must admit that Terry Pratchett writes a much more enjoyable and much more engaging fantasy story (though he does tend to be a lot more satirical than the writers at Wizards of the Coast, but then I have yet to come across a novel that has any humour in it whatsoever).

The story is about a thief named, you guessed it, Pinch, and he and his colleagues have just pulled off a daring heist by stealing an amulet from a temple of one of the many gods of the Forgotten Realms (being Lathandar, the Morning Lord, who is the god of, yes that's right, the morning). While drinking to their success in a local drinking establishment (the Piss Pot, which surprised me because I did not realise that these Forgotten Realms novels could be crude) he is approached by an old acquaintance, who also happens to be the Lord Chamberlain of a distant country that, as it turns out, Pinch happens to have come from, and more interestingly, where he was the ward of the king. So, after being blackmailed, he is taken back to this home (with his companions in tow) to assist in the quest that he has been encouraged to complete.

Now, I probably wouldn't suggest that this comes across as an adventure that the author and his mates played (simply because the entire focus is on Pinch, and his companions spend the bulk of the book under house arrest, which would have been really boring for the other players), but the story certainly did have its fair share of intrigue – to a point. I say that because about two thirds of the way through the book the intrigue ended up falling flat on its face, and the story turned out to be incredibly predictable (as you may work out by the title). Okay, it was predictable in the sense that the heroes kill the bad guy and save the day, but the book does happen to be more predictable than even the standard Hollywood ending.

Another thing that I probably should mention is that the problem with these books is that there is a lot of assumed knowledge, meaning that if you come to the story knowing absolutely zip about the Forgotten Realms you may find yourself a little lost (though I cannot say for sure because I am very familiar with the setting). However, it was nice to see that there were some instances that suggested the author did have some understanding of the way things worked in the medieval world (such as commissions being purchased) though I guess one would not be looking for too much realism in a high fantasy setting.