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Is a fantasy novel by a person called Amy Stout, published in 1996, of which you probably have never heard. But that's okay, because this novel deserves to be obscure as it is so truly awful.

I've actually owned this ever since I found it on an honesty box-powered stall at a Magic: the Gathering tournament in 2002. I paid 30p for it. It's just lain around ever since because I could never be arsed to actually read it in full. This is due, as I explained, to it being totally dire.

Executive Summary

Blah blah blah EVIL ELF WITCH blah blah blah TROLL ARMY blah blah blah RAGTAG BUNCH OF MISFITS blah blah blah.

A bit more detail, if you wouldn't mind, please?

I had actually forgotten about this book until I was mooching around TV Tropes one evening and found it on their "So bad, it's horrible" list. I think it was nestled in between The Blah Story and Lesbian Land 2250. I thought to myself, hold on, I have that book, I think it deserves a writeup. After all, if it's so bad it's horrible, much amusement can result from reading other literary coprolites, no?

Well... no. The reason it is so bad it's horrible is that it's quite possibly one of the dullest things ever committed to paper. The protagonists are Walther Shortdwarf (ka-snarf), who's, well, don't tell me, he's a short dwarf named Walther, isn't he? Jilian, a mercenary (allegedly - we never see her doing any mercenaring) who goes on this little jaunt to recover her pet dragon (what. fucking what), and some other person who I can't remember and don't care about. There's also loads of other viewpoint characters, none of whom are actually people but are names that say words. The author flickers between them hyperactively and with no explanation as to how they got where they are from where they were before. This leads to significant narrative whiplash. For instance, one moment you can read about a bloke called Willem being interrogated by elves, then it suddenly flickers back to Jilian boarding a boat. Oh gods. I don't mind multiple viewpoint characters, but each episode is so short it feels like it was a book written for ADHD sufferers.

Then there's the prose. Ugh. Wooden beyond belief. And the plot. Dull. Trite. Ugh.

I never got to the end of it, mainly because I just didn't care. I had no interest in who any of these people were, what they wanted, what their tales were, because, as I have said, they were just names that said words. I skipped to the ending and it was the literary equivalent of one of those old school video games that flashes up a box of text headed "A winner is you!" at the end before dumping you back to the DOS prompt. (Westwood's classic dungeon-crawler Eye of the Beholder is one particularly offensive example here.) By then I had long ceased to care.

You may be wondering, how did this get published? Moreover, how did Margaret Weis (who is actually a good writer) endorse it? Well, for once, I know the answer. You see, Amy Stout is an editor in chief in some fantasy/science fiction publising firm and has edited a lot of Margaret Weis's stuff. Naturally, when she, as a high up in her own publisher's, says "jump," the printing staff say "how high." Yep. This makes a hell of a lot of sense.

Actually, I'll stop there. This novel is so dull I can't even get all enraged about its shiteness. How fail is that.

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