#SPFBO Orconomics (The Dark Profit Saga #1) by J. Zachary Pike

OrconomicsOrconomics is my final review for this year’s SPFBO competition and it seems purely by chance I’ve saved what turned out to be my best for last.  Upfront and the TL:DR version is 9.5 out of 10 for this book.  A very enjoyable read that surpassed my expectations.

To be totally frank, when I started Orconomics I really didn’t think it was going to work out for me at all.  Satires can be hit and miss after all, particularly if you’re not quite in the right sort of mood when you pick the book up, and I would say that I was in the wrong sort of mood when I started this so it certainly had its work cut out.  And yet, here I am about to sing its praises.  In short this is a book that takes a sharp look at conflict – who benefits from war and how to make a business out of it whilst at the same time taking a good look at prejudice and the deliberate ‘turning of a blind eye’ to things that are blatantly and grossly unfair.  Okay, I’ve probably made that sound quite serious when in actual fact this is a highly entertaining story that takes your typical swords and sorcery quest and gives it a different spin.

I’m not going to say too much about the plot to be honest but instead speak about the world, the characters and my overall feelings.

Orconomics brings to us the world of Arth.  This is a world where being a hero doesn’t involve spontaneously rushing into the fray to do what is right but taking on actual jobs as a professional.  The Heroes’ Guild is responsible for all aspects of hero work, awarding work, classifying heros, etc.  Basically this is a world with ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and very little grey in between.  Shadowkin are ‘bad’ – so think of orcs, trolls, dragons, etc – they’re all bad.  On the opposite side we have the ‘good’ – the heroes and elves, halflings, humans, etc.  The heroes are responsible for eliminating Shadowkin – however, this is usually based on how much profit can be made from the endeavour and in fact the whole economy of the city revolves around these money making quests with people bidding on the amount of profit to be made in a sort of mock up version of the stock market.  So, being a hero has very little to do with saving or rescuing and all to do with money making, in fact the heroes themselves are little more than a commodity.  Now, this doesn’t allow any in between for those trolls or ogres who might just be trying to get on with life does it – basically, if you’re Shadowkin, and you have a stash of cash – you’re doomed.  Smaug would have been a prime target with his horde.  Now, if that sounds a little convoluted lets just say that’s my fault and not the books.  I would say this is a very easy book to understand and the reason I know this is because I understood it!  I wanted to raise this more to point out that questing has become first and foremost a money making business.

So, with that in mind we have our characters.

Gorm is a disgraced dwarf.  Formerly a member of the Heroes’ Guild with a fearsome reputation as a berserker he was cast out after running away from a battle and years later is little more than a thief trying to stay alive.  As the story begins Gorm saves the life of a Goblin, mistakenly known at Gleebek for the first part of the story but whose actual name is Tib’rin – one of the many ways in which language can be a barrier  – Gorm is basically a good person, he takes Tib’rin on as his squire ensuring that he has the correct papers that allow him to work and from therein the two become involved in an impossible quest with a bunch of similarly disgraced heroes – all of them keen to use the opportunity to redeem themselves.

The rest of the crew include a she-elf ranger with an addiction problem.  A bard who is really a reformed thief who can’t hold a tune, a former warrior, now weapons master who seems to have a deathwish, two mages who have a hate/hate relationship and the leader of the expedition, Niles, a scribe and prophesied Seventh Hero (although he himself came up with the prophecy so it doesn’t hold too much weight!).  I don’t think I’ve missed anyone off the list although there is a secret addition to the group later on in the book. You’ll just have to read it to find out more.  My lips are sealed.  So, if you include the secret member and the Goblin squire – nine members, almost like the Fellowship.

In fact there are lots of references throughout the book which I really enjoyed picking up although I’m sure I missed plenty along the way – for example Bolbi Baggs (Bilbo?) one half of the money making finance endeavour Goldson and Baggs (Goldman Sachs). Anyway, I won’t inundate you with more of these references as they’re best discovered whilst reading – although I probably skipped over many as I raced through the pages.

In terms of criticisms – and probably the only reason why this isn’t a perfect score – is that the beginning took a little time to get things moving to a point where I really wanted the quest to just start and, on top of that, the characters felt a little flat at first – thankfully I became attached to them as the story really kicked in which did make certain elements at the end a little bitter sweet – but there again lies the path of spoilers so my lips are twice sealed.

Small issues aside this was a very entertaining read.  It won me over quite easily after my initial reservations and feels like a really unique way of looking at topical issues in a fantasy setting.  The other thing that occurred to me is that this would probably be suitable for YA readers – I’d maybe have to go back and check but I don’t recall there being any profanity or sex and the battle scenes are not visceral or bloody – somebody chuck me a bone here and tell me if I’m wrong or not??   I will definitely read more from this series, particularly as this book is such a perfect set up for what promises to be an excellent second instalment.

I rate this 9.5 out of 10 for the purposes of the SPFBO competition and 4.5 out of 5 for Goodreads.

My thanks to the author for providing a copy for review.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

9 Responses to “#SPFBO Orconomics (The Dark Profit Saga #1) by J. Zachary Pike”

  1. Paul's Picks

    This has been on my radar for awhile and seeing your review makes me want to get to it fast, really fast!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It started out a little slowly for me and I was almost on the verge of thinking it wouldn’t work out – so it did have it’s work cut out – but then I was suddenly in the zone and hooked.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Tammy

    I love how high you scored this, it sounds like something I would love.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really enjoyed it – few reservations to begin with but they were soon overcome.
      Lynn 😀

  3. May : My Month in Review | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Orconomics by J Zachary Pike […]

  4. waytoofantasy

    Great review! Such a surprise for me that this one won, I wouldn’t have believed it at the start of things, but glad so many people loved it.

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