May 1, 2008

Heroics for Beginners

By John Moore
2004 – Ace Books

I have kind of a loud laugh and I really like to laugh and I tend to laugh at just about anything (movies, tv commercials, stupid jokes, people falling down), but when I’m reading and I come across a funny part I am more reserved. I tend to smile and quietly chuckle. Every now and then, I come across a book that makes me laugh out loud quite heartily. It happened when I was reading the first Harry Potter book and it’s happened each time I read a Stephanie Plum novel. It happened again with this new book that I randomly picked up last summer.

It’s called Heroics for Beginners and it follows the story of Prince Kevin who is normally a laid back diplomatic type, but is forced into action when an Ancient Artifact (Model Seven) is stolen from a neighboring kingdom and the king promises his daughter’s hand to the hero who can bring back the artifact and defeat the Evil Overlord and stop him from completing his Diabolical Plan. Kevin’s problem is that he is in love with the Princess (they’ve actually been secretly dating for a year) and has no desire to see her married off to some other candidate.
This book is intensely tongue-in-cheek. It pokes fun at itself like a less raunchy Mel Brooks parody, but at the same time you’re rooting for Kevin and Princess Becky who secretly follows him trying to be his comic sidekick even though she can’t tell a joke to save her life. It’s full of minions, evil assistants, kidnapped scientists, a really menacing Diabolic Device, and an Evil Overlord who started as an Evil Schoolteacher (he gave pop quizzes, and no partial credit for math problems).

I actually liked this book so much that I had an intense desire to read portions of it out loud, and I hate when people do that. Nevertheless, here’s one of the parts that I loved. Kevin and Becky have been captured and they are in the torture chamber of the Fortress of Doom being interrogated by the Evil Overlord, Voltmeter:

“I don’t know anything.”
Voltmeter made a motion with his hand. Stan [the chief minion] brought over a small wooden desk and set it in front of Kevin. He set an inkwell down on it and put a pen in Kevin’s hand.
“You will spare yourself and your friend a lot of pain if you cooperate.”
“If I talk, will you release my companion?”
“Kevin!” said Becky. “Don’t do it!”
“I’ll release you both,” said Voltmeter.
“Yeah, well ok then.”

[Voltmeter] produced a blue examination booklet from under his cloak and laid it down in front of Kevin. “You have ten minutes to write down everything you know.”
Kevin raised his hand. “Does spelling count?”
“Certainly. You may open your booklet…now.”

See what I mean. Hi-LAR-ious!

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