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Expecting Someone Taller

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,072 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
Malcolm Fisher inherits a magic ring from a dying badger and becomes the much-disputed Ruler of the World. Everyone wants the ring--despite the fearsome curse upon it. And Malcolm is about to learn that some are born to greatness, and some are, well, badgered into it.
Paperback, 231 pages
Published September 1st 1990 by Ace (first published 1987)
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsGood Omens by Terry PratchettLamb by Christopher MooreThe Princess Bride by William GoldmanMe Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
Best Humorous Books
407th out of 3,205 books — 6,291 voters
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The Fantasy Books That Will Make You Laugh
68th out of 247 books — 235 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Emma Sea
Oct 19, 2014 Emma Sea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nostalgia rating. I think this was the book of 1988, for me.
Heidi Wiechert
Apr 02, 2016 Heidi Wiechert rated it liked it
Full disclosure: I know The Lord of the Rings better than the mythological stories behind the Ring Cycle. Holt provides a very short synopsis of the myths for folks like me and I was grateful for it. Otherwise, I would have not understood what on earth was going on.

Holt is an English fantasy-humorist and, like Pratchett's many offerings, I enjoy books like this but I never have laugh out loud moments. I don't know if the humor is lost-in-translation or what my deal is. I expect that those who ar
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Gerry
Oct 19, 2011 Gerry rated it really liked it
My first exposure to the literary genius teetering on madness that is the mind of Tom Holt. I got this from the library way back around the late '80s, not knowing quite what to expect and was more than pleasantly surprised by it.

It tells of Malcolm Fisher; just an ordinary guy trying to get home one night when he drives over a badger. So far, so ordinary. But the badger turns out to be nothing more than a Norse giant in disguise and before he realises what is happening, Malcolm becomes embroiled
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Steve Mitchell
Jul 31, 2011 Steve Mitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Expecting Someone Taller is based around Wagner’s Ring Cycle; the first thing to realise is that it is a story based upon real events and genuine characters. The hero - Malcolm Fisher - finds that he has inherited the mantel of Siegfried, that is the shape-shifting and teleporting Tarnhelm plus the riches-inducing (but ultimately cursed) Nibelung’s Ring after he runs over a badger. Can a man known affectionately by his family as ‘Only Malcolm’ come to terms with his new found position as the rul ...more
Chuck
Aug 30, 2008 Chuck rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-series
Badgers are not always what they appear to be. If you tried reading Lord of the Rings and felt guilty because you couldn't get through it, read this hilarious retelling of the real Ring Cycle , the one Wagner made so famous a long, long time before Tolkein ever picked up pen and paper.
James Titterton
'Expecting Someone Taller' is a book with a great premise that it never really lives up to.

Malcolm Fisher, a pathetic young Englishman, accidentally kills the last holder of the Ring of the Nieblungs and finds himself unwillingly responsible for the well being of the entire world. A variety of supernatural beings then descend on him to try and claim the Ring for themselves.

Placing the ridiculous characters from Wagner's Ring Cycle in the sleepy English countryside should be a riotously surreal
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Edwina Harvey
Sep 13, 2015 Edwina Harvey rated it liked it
Our unlikely hero, Malcolm Fisher, runs over a badger, discovers he's inherited the Ring of the Tarnhelm, and the magical powers that come with being the rightful Ruler of the World, and suddenly has a whole lot of hitherto unnoticed Norse Gods and legends to contend with.

This book is written as "a comic variation of Wagner's Ring Cycle" (according to Kirkus Review) which is where I felt I let the book down, rather than the other way around as I only have a cursory knowledge of The Ring Cycle, a
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Nathan Dehoff
Mar 03, 2015 Nathan Dehoff rated it really liked it
Holt has written many books of weird fantasy, science fiction, and satire; but his main thing is bringing a fictional world into the modern one. This was actually his first comic fantasy, based on Wagner's Ring Cycle. When a kindly but timid man named Malcolm Fisher accidentally hits a badger with his car, he's surprised to find that the animal is actually the giant Ingolf in disguise, and he is now the owner of the magical Tarnhelm and the Ring of the Nibelungs. This officially makes him master ...more
Sid
Jun 11, 2016 Sid rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
It was ok.

The rating was descriptive enough.

In truth, I loved the way it started. As I have read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman first, it had that sort of a protagonist, which I did not mind a bit. I enjoy a good bildungsroman. The issue here is that…it fails to deliver.

The premise is spectacular, the beginning is promising, the side characters interesting. It’s the main hero that fails to deliver in so many ways. The setup is perfect for many awkward or interesting, even stereotypical moments that
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Scott
Mar 13, 2016 Scott rated it it was amazing
Maybe the funniest novel I've ever read.
Douglas
Oct 18, 2015 Douglas rated it really liked it
An easily digestible, oddly shaped book-- with enough clever lines and interesting moments to overcome the motivation or plot problems. The plot is so hollow that it actually becomes rather brave, really. And there's this moment where Flosshilde literally closes a door that just killed me.

At first I thought this book was stealing well worn tropes... Odin as a grumpy old man in a trench coat? Come on! But Tom Holt wrote this before American Gods, before Sandman, before Good Omens, and before most
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Antonis
Aug 19, 2012 Antonis rated it it was ok
This book was a miss with me. Why? Here are the reasons I personally disliked the book and felt it was rather a waste of my time.
- Plot or rather the lack of it. In all honesty, I still don't get what this book is all about or why one is expected to read it. There's is no real plot here, nothing to make the reader feel anticipation and want to keep turning the pages. I took forever to read this one and the main reason is this.
- Characters. Other than the main guy, all the other characters are ju
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Simon Mcleish
Apr 20, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in April 1999.

The first of Holt's comic fantasy novels, Expecting Someone Taller is based around the ideas of Wagner's Ring operas. The main character, Malcolm Fisher, is basically a failure, someone that has spent his whole life being compared unfavourably with his elder sister. Then, one night, he accidentally runs over a badger on a country road in Devon; going to see if he can do anything, he is rather surprised to hear the badger speak. It turns out to b
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Lydia
Nov 23, 2013 Lydia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the legendary Ring of the Niberlings becomes the possesion of a mild-mannered, rather forgetable, not very driven, almost middle-aged Englishman, the pantheon knows something must be done to stop the inevitable madness. When the world starts going through an unparalleled time of peace and prosperity, Woten and the rest know their worst fears are being realized and decide to stop at nothing to fix this horror.

Humorously sarcastic view of "If the meek did inherit the earth"; reminded me stro

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Michael Donoghue
Jul 09, 2014 Michael Donoghue rated it liked it
I actually found a copy of this book at The Book Thing in Baltimore. The only way to get it now is in one of his Omnibuses. I loved the first third of the book. Made me actually laugh out loud in real life a couple of times. The three star rating is only because the remainder of the book was adequate. This was his first novel (I think) so a lot was soul searching and development on his part. But it is still really good and a very quick read.
Luke Talbot
Mar 01, 2014 Luke Talbot rated it really liked it
This is funny, not just because Holt is a funny guy, but also because it does that classic cheesy trick of delivering the book title as a line in the book (a bit like in the movie, 'Hot Tub Time Machine').

Once the 'expecting someone taller' gag is out of the way, this is classic Holt. Not quite as fantastical as Pratchett, not quite a obscenely funny as Sharpe, but just nice and comfortable there in the middle.
Jodi
Jan 18, 2016 Jodi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved every minute

Malcolm is an ordinary fellow. Scratch that. Malcolm is sublimely mediocre...just ask his mother. That he should wind up Supreme Ruler of the World has to be the Mount Everest of all clerical errors. This is sublimely written nonsense from start to finish. Can't wait to read more from this author.
Kathleen
Feb 22, 2014 Kathleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
"You had me at 'talking badger' ".
Really, fantastical storytelling interwoven with visits by two ravens of the Heckle and Jeckle ilk, the Valkyries and lots of British humour makes me want to look for more of Tom Holt's books.
Jasmiina F
Mar 11, 2014 Jasmiina F rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Not nearly as funny as I thought this would be and I was surprisingly annoyed with Malcolm most of the time. I feel like there was something lacking with the characters and sometimes things happened a bit too easily.
Judy
Feb 11, 2016 Judy rated it it was amazing
Ring Cycle Redux

Malcom Fisher is an Anglo-Saxon nebish who runs over a badger driving home from the job he hates. Somehow the badger is really an Ice Giant, and there is a ring and Rhine Maidens and hilarity ensue. Anything else would be Spoilers! sweetie.
Sabrina
Apr 10, 2016 Sabrina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this. Very entertaining story. A little weak at times. A lot of the plot seemed to turn on the protagonist just all of a sudden "understanding" something. I liked it anyway.
John
Dec 15, 2012 John rated it liked it
Tom Holt is an English author and graduate of Oxford.
I found him by good fortune while inspecting the dusty portions of a used book store, and have been a fan ever since.
Though he has written "serious" literature, I am only familiar with his works that parody mythic or historic tales. Holt writes his humour with spot on timing and lays the laughs out on many levels.
His stuff is treasure, a bit of Tom Robbins & Vonnegut with a nod to Havard's Lampoon.
Very few books can make me laugh out loud,
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Roderick Ellem
Nov 29, 2014 Roderick Ellem rated it it was amazing
Funny book based on the Norse mythologies and Wagner Operas. Well worth a read!
Natasha (Diarist) Holme
Jul 02, 2016 Natasha (Diarist) Holme rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Loser, Malcolm Fisher, runs over a badger and becomes ruler of the world as a consequence. Good fun at first, but rather long. Too much nonsense for me.
Bryant Waldkirch
Pleasant and slightly adventurous fantasy.
Chhavi
Oct 02, 2015 Chhavi rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2015, funny-humor
Wagner's ring cycle was never this funny.
Karen
Jun 19, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
Fans of Douglas Adams should check this one out.
Scott Johnson
Apr 07, 2014 Scott Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like a British Tom Robbins, in all the right ways.
Max de Freitas
Feb 24, 2014 Max de Freitas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was not expecting anybody taller or any shape whatsoever but I am very glad I stumbled on Tom Holt books. This one, my first, was hilarious.
Emma
Feb 13, 2009 Emma rated it really liked it
It's another British satire, but how could I not love a book that made that one time I read the libretto of the Ring Cycle NOT a totally useless waste of time? (I only read that one so I could understand what was going on in those Rackham illustrations. I was a weird kid. And a weird college student.)

Anyway, it's funny, and it falls a little outside of the more formulaic Tom Holt novels. The other Holt readers I know like his office novels better, but this one remains my favorite. And not just
...more
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Tom Holt (Thomas Charles Louis Holt; born September 13, 1961) is a British novelist.
He was born in London, the son of novelist Hazel Holt, and was educated at Westminster School, Wadham College, Oxford, and The College of Law, London.
Holt's works include mythopoeic novels which parody or take as their theme various aspects of mythology, history or literature and develop them in new and often humor
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“Niceness, he realised, was not enough, and Love was only part of the rest. You had to have laughter, too. Laughter would make everything come out right in the end, or if it didn’t nobody would notice.” 2 likes
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