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Heroics for Beginners

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  1,033 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
Prince Kevin Timberline must retrieve Ancient Artifact Model Seven from the clutches of the evil Lord Voltmeter--He Who Must Be Named--before said evil Lord unleashes his Diabolical Plan.
Luckily, Kevin wields a secret weapon that will cause the forces of Darkness to tremble: "The Handbook of Practical Heroics."
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 31st 2004 by Ace (first published 2004)
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Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice DavidsonDead Until Dark by Charlaine HarrisDead to the World by Charlaine HarrisNobody Loves a Bigfoot Like a Bigfoot Babe by Simon OkillFirst Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
Humorous Paranormal Books
372nd out of 1,190 books — 1,816 voters
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Parodies in Fantasy and Science Fiction
6th out of 69 books — 20 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,904)
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Sep 02, 2015 Gavin rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Prince Kevin Timberline, of Rassendas, is one of four Princes' who are vying for the hand of the beautiful Princess Rebecca, of Deserae. Before the King and counsellors of Deserae can make any final judgement on the worthiness of the suitors word arrives that the evil Overlord, Lord Voltmeter, has stolen the magical Ancient Artifact Number 7 and plans to use it to power his Diabolical Device. The Princes' are tasked with stopping Lord Voltmeter and returning Ancient Artifact Number 7. The man wh ...more
Nov 16, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, humor
As advertised, Heroics for Beginners pokes fun at the fantasy genre, and it does so fairly well. The humor sometimes feels contrived, but most of the time it carries the story along and you're chuckling with or at the characters.

But for every two laughs, you'll groan. I can't decide if John Moore is taking this parody thing way too seriously or if the parody angle was just a cover-up for his true agenda: bodice-ripping and softcore porn. These scenes never get explicit, and I can understand why
Ray King
Oct 25, 2014 Ray King rated it it was amazing
I picked this up at a library book sale a while back. I had never heard of John Moore, but the description on the back seemed fun so I gave it a chance. It was a very humorous approach to fantasy-adventure novels as it pokes fun at many of the situational and character cliches you'd be likely to see in a more serious novel. Lord Voltmeter "he who must be named" an obvious reference to Voldemort embodies the stereotypical bad guy qualities, down to the maniacal laugh (which is required of all evi ...more
Oct 20, 2009 Zell rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Heroics for Beginners had to be funny. It wasn't.

All of this book is based on a quite rigid kind of humour. Of course, there were really good moments (I, as a classical philologist had a nice surprise in one of these), but the most part of book wasn't laughable. I think the author wanted to mix typical elements of fantasy books. You know- princess, ancient, evil artefact, Diabolical Plan... All of these were here, but jokes weren't so good. Just putting a lot of weird and schematic elements does
Book #50 for 2015

This is another book that you have to be in just the right mood to enjoy. And that mood must be silly. The humor is sort of in the same vein as Shrek or Airplane! or Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but not presented with the same flair. Think more Scary Movie 3 than Galaxy Quest, caliber-wise. Some of the jokes were a little too dependent on references to fleeting pop culture figures, and some of them got old pretty quickly, but sometimes Moore was able to recognize that and dr
Pat Cummings
Mar 30, 2016 Pat Cummings rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
The invisible library is "a collection of books that only appear in other books. Within the library's catalog you will find imaginary books, pseudobiblia, artifictions, fabled tomes, libris phantastica, and all manner of books unwritten, unread, unpublished, and unfound."

John Moore has given us not one, but six new entries with this novel, a romping spoof and a quick read. Robert Taylor's Handbook of Practical Heroics, like his other work, is part of a medieval "...for Dummies" genre. (Other pra
Dec 25, 2015 Heather rated it really liked it
Really fun and funny!!
Jul 24, 2008 Luann rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, adult
I thought I would like this book, but I didn't. I started to really dislike the hero as the book progressed. Unfortunately, I had purchased a copy of the book. I donated it to my public library the day after finishing it. Also unfortunately, I purchased a copy of The Unhandsome Prince at the same time. Not sure that I'm going to read it before donating it to the library.
Gary Holt
Jun 12, 2015 Gary Holt rated it really liked it
Funny--yes, definitely. Great concept, and like a good spoof, this is a book that will make it hard to take seriously any book about evil overlords ever again. But it's a bit more than funny. Like Moore's other books, I found myself really liking the characters, which in my experience is not typical for these spoofs. This book was more about the silliness than, say, Moore's "The Unhandsome Prince" (which certainly did have plenty of silliness too, but not *quite* so much); but nevertheless the c ...more
Apr 08, 2012 Doris rated it really liked it
Prince Kevin Timberline suffers from that fatal disease known to all teenagers - his parents. Unfortunately for him, his father isn't just a king - he is known as Eric the Cool. Therefore, Kevin has to not only be the typical Knight Errant, but do it in such a way as to create his own style and thus a monicker that will last and be greeted with enthusiasm and not derision.

This book, written tongue in cheek, as the above line makes obvious, has our young Prince trying to win fair maiden - or is
Jun 18, 2009 Christiana rated it liked it
This book is a spoof of heroic fantasy that jokes with all the conventions of the genre, such as Evil Overlords, Comic Sidekicks, and Spunky Princesses. If Diana Wynne Jones's faux guidebook The Tough Guide to Fantasyland were a novel, it would look like this. Prince Kevin is an enjoyable character with some unexpected qualities (he's not classically heroic, but he's an excellent people-person) and his father is quite funny.

I was surprised to find that despite the slimness of the volume and the
Jan 06, 2013 Nighteye rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: if you like funny Fantasybooks that takes apart the gene and drives it's clishés to it's edge
Shelves: favorites
This one was so funny! I just couldn't stop laughing, it takes apart the whole "Sword- and Sorcery"-part of Fantasy and the most fantasy readers will recognize herself into the story and it's funny parts.

Heroics for Beginners bakes in and use all the most obvious clichés and drive them to their absolute edges to a really funny and entertaining story, what about an Evil fortress with opening hours from 9pm to 4am, with guided tours and a own souvenirshop to an hero guided by a book called just "H
Feb 16, 2016 Sibil rated it liked it
3.5 stars

I think that the author is a genius, maybe not genius-genius like Pratchett, but a genius nonetheless. This book it's not a masterpiece, but it's funny, sometimes it's sassy, and it's brilliant. I like it and it's really a good reading when you are in need of something undemanding.
I really liked it!
Shantnu Tiwari
Mar 21, 2013 Shantnu Tiwari rated it it was amazing
There are very few books I laughed out loud at. This is one of those!

The 1st scene sets the tone for the whole book. A barbarian wants to break into the evil villain's castle, but finds the castle is only open 9-4. But there is an air vent open till 10pm! And you only have to deposit two coins to enter. So the barbarian pays the fees, and enters the castle. He is captured of course.

The whole book is full of such genre smart jokes. The evil lord steals an Ancient artifact, built by the ancient a
Sep 15, 2014 Marcela rated it it was amazing
Neskutečně zábavná kniha, která skutečně pobaví od začátku až do konce. Z klišé klasických fantasy knih (nebo i knih všeobecně) udělá ještě větší klišé, ale to celé dělá s nadhledem a neskutečným humorem.
Sep 28, 2014 Beth rated it it was ok
The thing about resting your parady on referential humor is you need self awareness to pull it off. It also helps if you don't use the oldest misogynist jokes in the book. If you *must* make misognist jokes at least get some new ones. There are a couple of chuckles to be had here I suppose, but as a whole it feels rather tired. It pokes basic fun at genre tropes and fails to subvert anything.
Nov 29, 2013 Munderpool rated it it was amazing
I bought this one based on recommendations here, and was not disappointed. The book is slapstick humor making light of the swords and sorcery genre, but in a witty and entertaining way, often employing modern practices in a medieval context for laughs (ex: It is offhandedly remarked, that every castle is built so that in order to exit, you must pass through the gift shop!). This story could easily be made into a Syfy Channel mini-series, and would get more intentional laughs than the stuff they ...more
Aug 26, 2007 tea rated it really liked it
I'm not quite sure how to put this, but think of every stereotypes a reader can find in fairytale novels, as well as other kinds of novels (e.g. princess, evil overlord, beautiful assistant, heroic quest, winning princess' hand in marriage, etc etc) and it can be found in this novel. The characters know they are playing into the stereotype, and aims to fit in it. Other stereotypes (crawling through the ventilation system, sneaking in undercover wearing a fake mustache, etc etc) are also made fun ...more
Scott Norris
Apr 13, 2016 Scott Norris rated it really liked it
Entertaining and quick read, crossing basic fantasy with modern worldviews.
Sarah Davis
Feb 13, 2016 Sarah Davis rated it liked it
a humorous fantasy, a kind of silly book, but enjoyable to read.
Sandra Strange
Not recommended. This novel would be prime reading
for our fantasy/romance updated fairytale readers. The plot is cute, following the adventures of a canny prince competing with better looking, more courageous princes for the hand of the fair princess. However, the author felt he just had to stick in many crude sexual references, not obscene, just crude. They’re mostly snide kinds of remarks, not full blown sex scenes, but they don’t fit with the matter of fact tone of the rest of the novel and
Jul 22, 2014 Amanda rated it it was ok
There was just enough funny here to make me want to finish the book, but more and more eye-rolling as the chapters progressed. About halfway through I skipped to the end.

Read maybe the first few chapters if you come across this book at the library, but don't bother with the rest.
Jan 21, 2008 Marie rated it liked it
Unexpectedly fun! Rather reminicient of Pratchett in its full-on satire. There is a Fortress of Doom (open Mon-Fri 9AM - 4:00PM), and Evil Overlord Vortmeter, aka He-Who-Must-Be-Named, who diligently practices his Evil Laugh (Mwahahaha!), has a Diabolical Plan, and has stolen the Ancient Artifact (the brand new model 7, the latest thing in Ancient Artifacts.) Of course there is a Hero (named Kevin Timberline), who unwittingly saves the day. It wasn't anything absolutely spectacular, but I had fu ...more
Michael Hall
Feb 15, 2012 Michael Hall rated it it was ok
Take all of the common fantasy/adventure tropes and poke fun at them. That's what Moore did with this book. It was good for a few chuckles but the excessive stereotyping did wear thin after a while -- at least it was short! If you're looking for a light and quick read with a bit of (juvenile) humor in a fairy-tale setting then you might like this. I did find the excerpts from the "Handbook of Practical Heroics" that preceded each chapter to be witty and nicely sarcastic about the genre in genera ...more
Samuel Proulx
Jan 06, 2015 Samuel Proulx rated it did not like it
Shelves: humor, fantasy
This book tries so, so hard to be funny. Unfortunately, it fails. This is probably because the author is unable to detect the fine difference between funny[return]and silly. The difference is hard to explain. The problem this book has is that all the jokes it tries to make are old and overused. Everyone has seen[return]how silly the things the author pokes fun at are, and has already laughed about them. Now they're just silly; all the fun has been removed by other and[return]better authors.
Oct 07, 2008 Fatbaldguy60 rated it liked it
Overall, an enjoyable, quick read. It did seem lightweight to me, and that may have been the intention. So much of the material was standard fairy-tale, altered slightly, that it felt like it did not have much original substance. Not to say it was not well, written. It was, and I did enjoy it. I don't think I will pick up the next in the series, though. Just not enough in it to get me that far.
Jan 21, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Mildly funny spoof, though it let itself down a bit by being rather sexist and predictable. Still, not bad for a light read.
Jun 25, 2008 Jeff rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This was actually a pretty funny book, and a quick read. If you were a fan of some of the comedic fantasy series from the 1980s and 1990s, you would enjoy this (even though this book was published in 2004, it has that same tone and sense of humor of those older comedic novels). Full review: http://fantasybookreviewer.blogspot.c...
Mar 28, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of the fantasy genre
Shelves: fantasy, comedy
I learned from this book the value of life, love, honor and the American way.

Well, no, but it was really really funny. I was snorting, and I don't often do that if I'm not making fun of others. This book makes fun of everything, keeps the plot moving and even produces acceptable characters, within the realm of fantasy, of course.

It's a really quick, enjoyable read.
Jun 02, 2014 Aaron rated it liked it
Shelves: humor, fantasy
This book is a high fantasy comedy story, basically spoofing the conventions of the high fantasy genre. It won't make any sense if you aren't familiar with said genre conventions, but if like me you are aware of them, then you will probably enjoy this book. The story is pretty short and it doesn't have any real substance to it, but it is good for a laugh.
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John Moore is an engineer who lives and works in Houston, TX. His stories have appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Tomorrow, New Destinies, Aboriginal SF, Writers of the Future, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, and other magazines and anthologies. He is the author of six novels in the fantasy and science fiction genre, with the newest, The Lightning Horse , just released from YD Press.

In 2014
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