The Dark Lord’s Handbook – by Paul Dale
One of the things I like most about the whole e-reader and e-book revolution is the fact that it has made self-publishing a lot easier. I’ve read some great self published books – and it’s almost chilling to think that the vast majority of these authors would have had no outlet in the old world of paper and ink. What a waste!
Anyway, here’s a good example of a very enjoyable self published novel, by Paul Dale.
The Dark Lord’s Handbook is Paul Dale’s first novel, and it’s a humorous parody of the fantasy genre. It’s basically the battle for good and evil, complete with dragons, wizards and orcs, done in a style which is not dissimilar to Terry Pratchett. It also has echoes of Mogworld by Yahtzee Croshaw, if you’re familiar with that one.
Given that the author is British, it’s probably unsurprising to learn that the sense of humo(u)r is also fairly British. It’s a bit like Austin Powers – but with dragons, orcs and wizards. If you enjoy humorous fantasy, with or without an extra u, then you’ll probably like this.
Like many books in the fantasy genre, the basic premise is that the battle between good and evil is never ending.
There is always an epic, and often seemingly unequal, struggle. Vast tracts of land are laid waste, armies march to battle, dragons soar through the air whilst wizards, mages and warlocks let fly with funky firebolts, and then – just at the end – when it seems that there is absolutely nothing that can prevent the triumph of evil … something prevents the triumph of evil.
That has to be more than a little frustrating for the guys playing for Team Evil surely. In an effort to break the somewhat predictable cycle, Evil decides to jot down a few pointers, things to watch out for on your way to world domination so to speak – and that’s how “The Dark Lord’s Handbook” comes into being.
After being lost for hundreds of years, it eventually finds it way into the hands of Morden. Morden always knew he was different – and now he’s got himself a bit of a roadmap for world domination, the triumph of evil, a night of endless darkness etc.
Here’s the publisher’s blurb:
To become a Dark Lord is no easy thing. The simple ambition to hold dominion over the world and bend all to your Will sounds straightforward but it’s not. There are armies to raise, fortresses to build, heroes to defeat, battles to be fought, hours of endless soliloquy in front of the mirror – it’s a never ending job.
After many spectacular failures, Evil decided to lend more than inspiration to these would be tyrants. He wrote an easy to follow Dark Lord’s Handbook. And yet the next Dark Lord that came along screwed up like all the others.It had been hundreds of years, and the Handbook was lost in the annals of time, along with all that was mythic and exciting in the world.
Then one day a randy dragon had a chance encounter. Nine months later a Dark Lord was born.In time, the Handbook found its way to this new contender, Morden.
To become a Dark Lord is no easy thing. Morden had better be a quick study.
It’s the author’s first book and has that nice, first book freshness about it. There’s no back catalog to refer to and come into line with, which allows a certain freedom of expression. The ending does seem just a little bit rushed, but not enough to spoil your enjoyment.
It is, in summary, an enjoyable romp. If you like comic fantasy, Terry Pratchett etc., then you should really give this a try.
Paul Dale has now followed up with a sequel; “The Dark Lord’s Handbook: Conquest“, which I also enjoyed a great deal. It continues Morden’s progress to world domination, somewhat predictably, and charts his success, somewhat less predictably. Be careful what you wish for Morden.