Vault of Deeds
ISBN 971848630048 (Trade Hardcover)
84 pages $16 USD/10 GBP
Review by Kent Knopp-Schwyn
All those sinewy heroes of yore required scribes to jot down their heroic feats on scrolls of parchment, later to be hand lettered into beautiful tomes so mere mortals could read of their exploits with awe and wonder. In order to sit on the vaunted scribing footstool and watch the action and daring do of these mighty heroes, potential scriveners first had to attend training at H.E.R.O. (Hideous Evil Routinely Overcome) School to learn their craft. After graduation, scribes would be paired H.E.R.O. hero graduates who had also attending the school to learn how to fight, maim and defeat all evil with brawn and broadsword.
So, while the small brained and muscle bound few attend classes on how to fight, wench and attain hero status, the smaller of stature attend demanding courses under the tutelage of demeaning professors in order to learn to write in verbose, thrilling and action packed language to describe the mighty exploits of the hero barbarian. For the rest of their lives a hero and scribe are paired; one performing great deeds while the other sets down all the action for ultimate storage in the fabled vault of deeds found deep in the catacombs of H.E.R.O. School.
James Barclay then turns his world on its ear because, Evil has not been routinely overcome of late. In fact Evil seems to be winning all the battles lately and thus it falls on the scrawny shoulders of the lowly scribes to figure out what is going on and determine Evil can be stopped before all the heroes are dead. Can humble scribes defeat the hordes of evil? Will there be any heroes left, will a new world order arise with nothing will ever be the same again? The answers to these and other questions can only be found in The Vault of Deeds.
From the character names, to the action, to the word selection on the page, this novella is hilarious as it turns most every fantasy trope inside out while providing numerous laugh out loud moments. Punchy, ribald and hilarious, Vault of Deeds breezily whisks the reader into the world familiar as that of Conan, Kane or any other mightily thewed hero and is well worth the modest price of entry.