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Professional heroes kill and loot deadly monsters every day, but Gorm Ingerson's latest quest will be anything but business as usual.

Making a Killing in Professional Heroics

The adventuring industry drives the economy of Arth, a world much like our own but with more magic and fewer vowels. Monsters’ hoards are claimed, bought by corporate interests, and sold off to plunder funds long before the beasts are slain. Once the contracts and paperwork are settled, the Heroes’ Guild issues a quest to kill the monster and bring back its treasure for disbursement to shareholders.

Life in The Shadows

Of course, while professional heroics has been a great boon for Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and all the other peoples of light, it's a terrible arrangement for the Shadowkin. Orcs, Goblins, Kobolds, and their ilk must apply for to become Noncombatant Paper Carriers (or NPCs) to avoid being killed and looted by guild heroes. Even after getting their papers, NPCs are treated as second class citizens, driven into the margins of society.

An Insane Quest

Gorm Ingerson, a Dwarven ex-hero with a checkered past, has no idea what he's getting himself into when he stands up for an undocumented Goblin. His act of kindness starts a series of events that ends with Gorm recruited by a prophet of the mad goddess Al'Matra to fulfill a prophecy so crazy that even the Al'Matran temple doesn't believe it.

Money, Magic, and Mayhem

But there’s more to Gorm’s new job than an insane prophecy: powerful corporations and governments, usually indifferent to the affairs of the derelict Al’Matran temple, have shown an unusual interest in the quest. If his party of eccentric misfits can stop fighting each other long enough to recover the Elven Marbles, Gorm might be able to turn a bad deal into a golden opportunity and win back the fame and fortune he lost so long ago.

340 pages, Paperback

First published September 30, 2014

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About the author

J. Zachary Pike

10 books693 followers
J. Zachary Pike was once a basement-dwelling fantasy gamer, but over time he metamorphosed into a basement-dwelling fantasy writer. By day Zack is a web professional and creative-for-hire, but at night he returns to his lair to create books, films, and illustrations that meld fantasy elements with offbeat humor. A New Englander by birth and by temperament, Zack writes strangely funny fiction on the seacoast of New Hampshire.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 863 reviews
Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 72 books51k followers
January 18, 2023
Orconomics won the 4th Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off with the highest score of any of the 1,200 books entered over 4 years!

So that's the strongest of recommendations from ten excellent blogs.

Check out the top ten finalists:

& now I've read it myself.

I'm going to have to open with an admission: I am not a great fan of comedic fantasy. There, I've said it. My wife has 50 or so of the Disc World books, and even though I can see that Terry Pratchett was a genius, a top class wordsmith and a funny as fuck … I've still only read about ten of them, and whilst none of them was a chore to read … I also didn't ADORE them. So, clearly satire in fantasy has to be of the highest order to entertain me, and even world class efforts only reach the 4* mark.

J. Zachary Pike is an excellent writer with some great turns of phrase and continually funny lines. I enjoyed Orconomics as much as I enjoyed Kings of the Wyld and The Color of Magic. Which is to say "a lot" but not quite as much as I love an excellent non-satire fantasy. The comedy, while I appreciate it, gets in the way of emotional attachment for me, and that's the problem. I read fantasy for the emotion of it. I want to hate the enemy, I want to be scared that the main characters will come to harm, I want to be on the edge of my seat, worried, triumphant, wholly invested. And satire, whilst clever and amusing, prevents me forging that bond.

Orconomics has much in common with Kings of the Wyld - both are sharply written, imaginative, and witty. Both take a piece of real world mechanism and apply it to the business of parties of heroes slaughtering lots of monsters in a D&D style, where the D&D vibe sets the range of monsters and magic (both spells and magic items), and the character classes too. This one has heroes who take the role of thief, fighter, mage, paladin etc.

In Kings of the Wyld the real world mechanism employed/parodied was rock bands and their agent, gigs etc. Here it's the financial world, with the business of adventuring being subject to the complex investment dynamics of the stock market, with shares, financial backers, insurance etc.

Our main (almost only) point of view character is a 10th level dwarven berserker named Gorm, and we follow him and his hastily assembled party of heroes on a convoluted but highly enjoyable adventure. They start of at odds with each other and learn to work together as they go, adversaries become friends as they survive all manner of dangers together.

The various races (orcs, elves, gnomes etc) stand in as rough parallels for social and racial strata in the real world and a simple (but good) message about not oppressing "others" is delivered.

The tale twists and turns and gradually much of the complexity is resolved leaving new and grander villains to be taken down in book 2.

The last section is really exciting and actually did start to engage me emotionally. I can see why the book is so well loved and did so well in the SPFBO contest. I enjoyed it a lot, and that is as a reader who admits to not getting on with comedy/satire in fantasy. So if I liked it that much then it's a safe bet that if you're partial to Terry Pratchett, Nicholas Eames and the like then you're going to LOVE it.

The SPFBO contest exists to shine light on hidden gems in the Self Publishing sea (I kinda mixed my metaphors there) and this book with 2000+ ratings isn't exactly hidden, but it's certainly a gem. Go read it!

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Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
234 reviews3,062 followers
September 15, 2022
Check out my YouTube channel where I show my instant reactions upon finishing reading fantasy books.

An incredible satire on capitalism that is also one of the funniest books I have ever read in any genre.

I'm a sucker for a genuinely funny fantasy story, and when I bring this up in my reviews over time I consistently hear from people that I have to read Orconomics. So going into this I had high expectations, and was extremely pleased to find out that not only were my expectations matched, but they were even surpassed. This is an incredible fantasy book that felt extremely reminiscent of a Terry Pratchett book both in it's ability to make me laugh, and it's ability to satire a specific thing - in this case capitalism. And while this may be a controversial take, I found this book to be better than almost every Pratchett book - and I say this as someone who absolutely loves Pratchett.

Story: 4/5

The story itself is a play on a classic tale of a group of adventurers who are given a fetch quest. It almost feels like it is a book that ties together many short stories, each of which are amazing not just on their own, but when tied into the whole.

The world has essentially turned "heroes" into the #1 commodity, where corporations sell the rights to monster's treasure as investments and spending huge sums of money sponsoring quests and betting that they will get income for their investors. The story is constantly attacking the profit-based society with very clear connections to our current financial climate in America.

While I appreciated the low-stakes main quest that the main characters undergo, the last part of the book dragged a bit as the story was essentially over, but the book kept going for a good 50 pages longer than it needed to.

World Building: 4/5

The world here is extremely fun and well built, but that's not what this story is about. It's a classic Dungeons and Dragons style world that doesn't go into a ton of depth developing a unique set of characters or locations. But the story is trying to copy previous works by playing with the set formula and setting it against this impressively fresh backdrop it has set about corporate greed.

Fantasy Elements: 5/5

There is nothing unique about the fantasy elements in this book, but it's perfectly done for what this book is trying to do. It is constantly making you rethink what you know about common stereotypes in other fantasy books in hilarious fashion.

Characters: 5/5

The characters in this book are absolutely wonderful. They all represent classic roles that you would find in fantasy books, but they are all deeper than you would assume as the book goes along. The low-stakes nature of the plot allows things to slow down and make this very much a character driven book. Each of the characters grow and mature throughout the story, and by the end of it you are left just itching to read more.

Writing Style: 5/5

This is really where the book shines the most, as the authors ability to write not just a poignant satire but also making it legitimately hilarious is spectacularly done. I'm not being dramatic, but there was a section of this book where the Orcs are first encountered that made me laugh harder than I have ever laughed in a book.

Enjoyment: 5/5

I haven't enjoyed my entire time reading a book as I did here in quite a long time. I would encourage anyone who is a fan of Terry Pratchett to pick this book up immediately, you will not be disappointed.

Profile Image for Adam.
374 reviews164 followers
May 23, 2023
On the surface, Zachary Pike’s Orconomics follows a group of unlikely heroes, pulled together by a questionable prophet, to fulfill some such destiny to eventually save the land. Sound familiar? Well, it’s not that important, because this is not an on-the-surface book. It is a scathing satire that attacks the tenets of capitalism and a profit-based society at large, as seen through the lens of a classic fantasy story. It is self-aware, tongue-in-cheek, hilarious, and poignant. It is also depressing due to its unfortunate similarities with our current financial and political climates. In short, Pike has crafted a refreshingly original novel that has a lot to say, and does a damn fine job doing it.

In this story, the word “hero” goes no further than your job description. Professional heroics is a finance-driven business, and not a romantic morality play on ‘doing the right thing.’ In this world, everyone wants a piece of the pie: shares of loot are sold to investors in advance, agents and guilds vie to increase their cuts, and adventurers are treated as commodities. Some people, such as the Shadowkin -- classic fantasy monsters like dragons, goblins, and orcs – are targeted simply because they’re seen as pests, or keepers of a valuable treasure. Yet many of the Shadowkin are harmless, and just want a chance to survive on the fringes of civil society. But why should we pay any mind to the plight of these lower-class citizens if they are swept aside in the name of profit? Won’t the investment firm executives utilize their unregulated power to continue to influence the market to their liking? Is this all starting to sound a bit familiar?

“Is there a good way to be bankrupt?” said Jynn.
“Morally,” suggested Heraldin.

This is book sets its sights on a multitude of targets. It is full of incisive dialogue that mocks pop-culture monologues. It takes on sweatshops, the “magic” of marketing (“an illusion that men pay to be fooled by,”) and a literal Wall street. There’s a smart yet sadly topical bit about healing potion addiction that serves as stand-in for the opioid crisis. A tongue-in-cheek scene at an enchanted weapons store serves as a clever allegory on the lax laws of gun ownership. Even religion isn’t safe from being scrutinized through the lens of capitalism. Countless nuggets of economic wisdom are sprinkled throughout the book, but it never feels like they’re being shoehorned in. Rather, these insights call attention towards the theme of the decline of capitalism, presenting evidence of how money is more important than people’s lives or well-being. So many of society’s problems can be traced back to greed and consumerism, and not even a land of dwarves and necromancers are safe.

Good thing this book is more than funny enough to counterbalance the bleakness of its message. There are stones from the Sons of Ogh Magerd (ohmygerd!) and even a nod to a long-running Arrested Development gag involving a green-skinned version of “Annyong.” Pike weaves between puns and poignancy so much ease that it’s hard to believe this is the work of a debut author. It has a comforting prose and characters full of personality. Perhaps we could have spent a bit more time getting to know some of the cast a bit better, but it appears that the sequel will address those concerns. By all accounts, Orconomics is a resounding success, and one of the most interesting and original takes on fantasy I've encountered. I look forward to seeing what else this author has in store in the books ahead.

9.2 / 10
Profile Image for Lukasz.
1,310 reviews210 followers
December 11, 2018
Some reviewers compare Orconomics to Pratchett novels. A bold statement if you ask me. As a fan of satires, I needed to experience and verify it myself. And I liked it. 

It’s funny and uplifting but also serious and sad in some places, as every good satire should be.

On the world of Arth, adventuring is the industry that drives the economy. Groups of battle-hardened warriors hunt and kill Monsters and Shadowkin (Orcs, Goblins, Kobolds) and claim their hoards. These loots are bought and sold by corporate interests to plunder funds long before the hero’s guild attacks. You’ll easily see similarities to Goldman Sachs in Goldson Baggs operations.

The story follows Gorm Ingerson - a fallen dwarven hero whose hero’s license has been revoked. His clan disowned him, and he lives as a rogue. One of funds forcibly recruits Gorm to undertake an impossible quest with a team of similar fallen heroes. If he succeeds, he may win back the fame and fortune he lost so long ago. 

His new team includes colourful and fun cast of characters – a goblin squire (who brings a lot of comic relief), clumsy and naïve prophet of a mad goddess, an elf warrior addicted to alcohol and drugs (healing potions in the book), two mages who are at each other's throats, a thief who claims to be a bard (even though he can’t really sing) and a warrior seeking his own death. They start the quest to find Elven Marbles. As we follow the story, the plot gets a little more complicated and nuanced. 

I always appreciate a well-plotted and solid high fantasy tale with humour woven into the plot and the world. The world building mixed seamlessly into the story impressed me. The characterisation doesn’t disappoint - even characters that seem very archetypical get significant development by the book’s end. The pacing is just right. It speeds up and slows down in all the right places. 

The humour made me laugh. Obviously, no author should be compared to Sir Terry Pratchett - simply because no one stands a chance. In no way is this book on par with Pratchett’s novels. It is, though, a superb fantasy satire. 

Thanks to mostly uplifting tone, Orconomics works as a well-deserved rest from dark books in which characters you love die, become evil or destroyed. On the other hand, it’s not all sunshine and roses. After finishing the book I’m impressed by Pike’s skilful blend of humour and tragedy. I mourn one of characters. Every good satire needs to contain a level of tragedy and Orconomics delivers both.

The ending of the book set ups for the sequel I will definitely read once I sort out my reading schedule.

Disclaimer : I'm one Fantasy Book Critic SPFBO judges, but this review doesn't reflect our collective rating or opinion. It's just my opinion.
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,009 reviews1,327 followers
October 29, 2022
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“Not all who wander are lost; some are on quests.”

I almost read all of the SPFBO competition winners except for one and this is my third favorite out of those. I can see why it won the 2018 SPFBO! Despite the book having +5000 ratings and an average rating of 4.33, I still think it is an underappreciated read and more fantasy readers should be reading it.

The thing that kept me from reading this for a long time is that it kind of sound dull with the title giving the impression it will be dry and the satire genre which doesn’t work for everyone but I was wrong because this is not what I expected at all. The closest thing that comes to mind when I think of this books is Nicholas Eames The Band series because it is indeed a fantasy quest book with a weird combination of characters that just work perfectly well together.

Gorm was a great protagonist and the other 6 heroes or secondary characters were all great, three dimensional and funny in their own ways. The way they are introduced is smooth without info dumping the readers. There are all kind of characters in this books like Goblins, Orcs, witches, mages, elves and dwarves. Just think about it and it is there. I loved the fact the way the community was separated into Lightkin and Shadowkin which was merely a social construct to benefit some people. Sounds like real life, huh?

I first thought this was going to be very political and dry specially with a name like Orconomics (Don’t get me wrong I love economics) but the humor was nailed and the writing in general is easy to follow. The politics is there but it doesn’t shadow the rest of the story, there was a focus on capitalism, shareholders and money but in a very entertaining way. You have to think of this more like an epic fantasy quest with magic and swords rather than politics and satire.

Summary: I really enjoyed Orconomics with its funny writing, awesome characters and tight plot. I think it deserves to be an SPFBO winner and more readers should give it a chance. I will be certainly continuing it but closer to book three release!
Profile Image for Dyrk Ashton.
Author 12 books646 followers
October 23, 2018
My second SPFBO review! As a guest judge this year, and one of six, my task is to read and review five of Booknest's batch of thirty books (no ratings), and forward my pick of the lot as a semifinalist. This week I've read and am reviewing J. Zachary Pike's Orconomics: A Satire. I'm just going to come out and say it, without reservation, shame, or regret - I loved this book.

Orconomics is, for me, one of those rare reads that doesn't come along very often. Genuine, consistent, extremely well written, as well as fun and funny as hell. I loved this book as much as I did Nicholas Eames Kings of the Wyld, one of my very favorites of the last five years. It's every bit as well written and briskly paced, heartfelt, humorous, and authentic, and just as satisfying. I also bring up Kings because that book popped into my head a number of times while reading Orconomics. What Eames did with bands in Kings, and with much the same tone, Pike does for the economic machinations behind the hero's journey. Don't get me wrong, this is no Kings rip-off and is a very different book, but I'm pretty sure if you love one, you'll love the other.

Don't let your lingering fear from those micro and macro-economics courses in school turn you away, either. This is not an economics text. Think more along the lines of the mysterious "Bank" that lurks beneath the surface of Joe Abercrombie's The First Law series - only more overtly involved, with guilds and political shenanigans to boot - as a comedy. There's more than comedy and economics here, though. Much more. Orconomics has all the action, adventure, danger-fraught journeys and harrowing battles the best epic fantasy has to offer as well.

I couldn't help but think while reading, this book answers the question, "What might Middle-earth be like a few decades after the good guys won?" The gleeful nod to The Lord of the Rings is apparent throughout, as is the wink and nod to all things RPG. Other works that came to my mind were William Goldman's The Princess Bride and the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett.

Pike scribes with an assured and steady hand. He knows exactly what he wants to do with this story, where it's going to go, how it's going to get there, and he does it. I haven't looked up how many books Pike has written, but to my eyes this is the work of a seasoned, professional author with a great sense for characterization, plot and timing, and the wherewithal with prose to make them work. Pike has created a skillful mix of epic fantasy and modern language with a narrative that flows clear and strong, all through the fluid third person omniscient point of view of several characters, the thoughts and journey of Gorm the Dwarf (and Berserker) being the central focus.

I only have so much time to read in the evenings, but Orconomics kept me up well past my bedtime on more than a few occasions. It takes a lot to do that to me - like edge-of-your-seat as well as laugh-out-loud moments galore. And Orconomics has them. The next book in the saga, Son of a Liche, is out now, and is already near the top of my TBR. This is an exceptional work, and if you haven't read it yet, well, then, read it now.
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews827 followers
October 6, 2021
“Not all who wander are lost; some are on quests.”

The Big Short, a movie that perhaps captures best the dirty underbelly of Wall Street and exposes (no prisoners are available to be ransomed, I’m afraid) everything that is perverted and immoral and evil about the modern economy, features a scene in which the legendary investor Michael Burry reads The Scions of Shannara, which is one of his favourite novels. I think he should be reading Orconomics instead.

This satirical take on D&D-style adventuring (and possibly saving the world in the process) features a quest (1pc, freshly rigged), a band of misfits (7 pc, each flawed) and an intrigue that is easy to begin with but then gains depths as we read along. Basically, imagine all the possible RPG tropes melded together in a caricature way and then set on a head-spinning journey that is narrated with a scathing wit.

At its centre, an old, grouchy dwarf, one Gorm Ingerson, makes a decision that changed history. It was one of those pebble-in-the-shoe decisions of gargantuan proportions (and oh how beautifully introduced it was) that are so small at the moment of taking, we tend not to notice them at all. Nevertheless, this choice herds Gorm into a corner between a probable death and a contractually obligated death, and this is when the fun begins.

There are nefarious plans, shady dealings, profits to be made, strategic friendships and alliances of convenience, world-class mendacity with a dash of genuine heroics. And then it all falls apart.

The lightness of narrative is balanced with the darker undertows of the world created by Mr Pike. The story is presented here with lightness, albeit not without a tang of bitterness. You will laugh when reading, but I expect you will also be laughing through tears at some point.

Nothing of this sort would be possible without great worldbuilding, an appealing plot that is well-executed sweet and spicy reveals that render this plot at least unconventional if not unpredictable in some regard. Orconomics has it all.

My only complaint concerns the cast: an RPG comedy necessitates subtle characterisation. In Orconomics, most of the protagonists are about as subtle as an atomic bomb and are characterised via their flaws exaggerated for the purposes of the satire. Only some, and only very late in the book, grow into somewhat multi-dimensional figures. Perhaps it is the inevitable fallout of the main design (satire will satire after all); perhaps there is room for Mr Pike to grow as a writer.

I will surely be interested in verifying if this is the case.

Also in the series:

2. Son of the Liche RTC
3. Dragonfired (what do you mean it is not done, yet?!)
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,551 reviews2,937 followers
January 15, 2019
* This is a finalist for the 2018 #SPFBO so I read it as a judge of the competition *

This story is definitely a bit of a shocker for me as it got a perfect score from the blog who submitted it to be a finalist. That means I had high expectations going into this one, and I don't think I was disappointed. It's not my usual cup of tea as it's fantasy satire/comedy all in one. It plays a lot with fantasy motifs and pokes fun at traditional fantasy stories. There's a lot to enjoy in this read and I definitely had fun with it, but I also think that comedy is super hard to get spot on, and this was a very good attempt.

This story follows an ex-hero called Gorm who is disgraced and no longer allowed to be part of the Hero Guild after he ran from a quest. He's a kindly character who, although disgraced, has a good heart and he appears in the story when he frees a Goblin from a Hero who is pursuing him. He has a lot of regrets about being a Hero, and how things ended, and he thinks that just trudging through life is the way to go.
Tib'rin is the aforementioned saved Goblin who is spared by Gorm. He is a right little character with a whole lot of spark and he follows Gorm until Gorm has no choice at all but to take him under his wing as a Squire.
Kaitha is an elf who gets recruited into the band of Heroes which Gorm is forced to join. She is an ex-Elven Princess and she has a secret addiction to healing potions which she is constantly trying to overcome. She's a character who I think grew throughout the story, and I think we get to know here better than some of the others.
Niln is a High Scribe for the Al'Matra (the highest Elven god also known as All Mother) and he believes he is the prophesied Seventh Hero. Along with a group of followers he aims to fulfil his quest and follow the All Mother's instructions as he perceives them...unfortunately he's not really a hero yet!
Later on we meet a couple of other characters who become major parts of the Hero band. We have Jynn, a Councillor of the Noctomancer order of mages who is constantly bickering with the Apprentice of the Solamancer mages also on the team, Laruna. They are quite a pair with some nasty history and having them together is bound to cause problems.

What I found interesting about this book is that it really deals in real-life ideas like economy, business, guilds, stocks and more. We see some characters who are the "big bosses" of a large company and they have an ongoing plan to keep their pockets overflowing. They are money-oriented, and they know how to control the big business of Heroes.
We also have NPCs in the world, non-playable-characters. This is a play on most video games and it's a fun quirk that I think was used very well in the story. Although we have the big adventure quest on the go, we also have a lot of added elements that make the story fleshed out and fun and the NPCs who are retired "foes" who can no longer be killed in the name of quests and who have papers to prove their status were a cool part of this.

Overall, I think my only quibble is the fact that this is not the kind of story that makes it easy to get to know that characters. Because of the humour throughout we have a lighter connection with the characters and it's harder to really "get to know" them. Personally I like to get more of a connection than I did from this, but other than that I think it was so much fun and very unique. 4*s from me which is a solid 8/10 for #SPFBO.
Profile Image for C.T. Phipps.
Author 73 books585 followers
June 27, 2017
ORCONOMICS is a story about how horrifying your typical Dungeons and Dragons or World of Warcraft economy would look like if it was taken at face value. Basically, the idea that there's an entire class of people who exist for the purpose of exterminating numerous other classes of people in order to take their stuff. This is the central build-up of the story that you're supposed to miss what this sounds like until the final moment of the story when, oh no, this is actually like all the other horrific purges of ethnic minorities which have occurred across history.

As someone who has seen the subject tackled before by Terry Pratchett, Andrjez Sapkowski, and debated the question over whether adventurers breaking into the homes of monsters to loot their stuff is ethnic cleansing--the twist of Orconomics isn't actually all that twisty. The question of "are orcs people too?" is one that has been brought up at many tables across the decades. Really, in 1E Dungeons and Dragons, the fact half-orcs were player characters made you ask the question whether you were expected to murder your fathers and whether we were to determine if "all" of them were the products of hate crimes.

This seems like a rather big subject to tackle for something with a 19th century looking orc on the front of a dollar bill but the subtext is something that builds throughout the story. I'm kind of disappointed the story is told through the lens of a dwarven warrior named Gorm versus an orc themselves. Then again, that would probably spoil the point of the story too much, which is that you really shouldn't break into dungeons in order to slaughter everyone and take their stuff on the basis of them being greenskins.

In this case, the story is about disgraced dwarvish berserker Gorm Ingerson. Gorm is not in a good place at the beginning of the story when he rescues a goblin, quite by accident, from being massacred for experience points. In this universe, the adventurers guilds tracks how much you murder and for what in order to determine what your level as a warrior is. There's also a joke about NPCS standing for something like, "Non Problematic Creatures" or something similar and they're basically the humanoids who have decided not to be monsters in hopes of assimilating. The fact this causes problems for those who live off murdering them for loot is always in the background.

In a very real way, the main plot doesn't matter for ninety percent of the book. Gorm gets recruited by the adventurers guilds and some other interested buyers in order to begin an epic quest for a holy order that turns not to be so epic. The ragtag band of misfits learn about one another, bond, and gradually toughen up to complete their story. It's stuff we've seen many times before but it's only by going through the motions of that subject do we get a look behind the nastiness of the world they live in. Gorm THINKS he aware of the way of things but he's wrong and it's interesting to see how a thoroughly cynical character can underestimate just how depraved killing for gold can get.

The regular cast of characters aren't all that interesting even if they are perfectly servicible. They're just a regular group of adventurers who are hoping to kill some monsters, get some money, and settle their debt with the adventurers' guilds. The fact they aren't aware of just how deep they're into something awful is part of the story. Also, the fact they warm to the NPCs around them marks them as profoundly ignorant but possessed of views that will soon be viewed as dangerous.

This may sound like weighty reading for a book that's primarily humor but I actually think the subject is more interesting because of it. Do I recommend this book? Yes. I do think it would have been better to give a better conclusion, though. The book doesn't so much end as sort of stop and I think giving some sort of closure to readers at the end would have made it stronger. As such, I had to deduct a couple of points. I also think some of the training montage in the middle dragged and the ending should have been at their group's vow.

Just saying.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for The Nerd Book Review.
153 reviews70 followers
December 16, 2018
Link to the author interview
The Nerd Book Review

Alright this one was a 4* book for me for about 85% of the book. It was entertaining as hell and funny as any satire should be but that last 15% was what took it to a 5* for me. The earnestness and heart that the book showed at the end really made this book stand out from a typical satire. I will write a much more thorough review tomorrow once I’ve had some more time to think about it but I can see why this book has had so much success already for a self published novel and while I haven’t read the rest of the books in its group I’d be shocked if this wasn’t a semifinalist at least in SPFBO.
Profile Image for Alec Hutson.
Author 18 books560 followers
February 3, 2019
This is a terrific book, an indie gem. I found myself thinking of Kings of the Wyld as I read Orconomics , and after finishing I'm not sure which I enjoyed more, which is extremely high praise as Kings was one of my favorite reads of recent years. I immediately bought the next book, and I suspect that Mr. Pike is going to become one of my new favorite authors. Seriously, if you liked Kings of the Wyld you should really read this book.
Profile Image for Samir.
111 reviews174 followers
December 27, 2020
In the year that has brought many miseries, this absolute gem has brought me many smiles and made the world more bearable.
Profile Image for Ints.
735 reviews72 followers
January 15, 2020
Pie šīs grāmatas tiku Ziemassvētkos, paldies Andrim! Man, lasot fantāzijas grāmatas, gandrīz vienmēr nākas aizdomāties par iespējamo makroekonomikas vidi, kurā visi rūķi un elfi darbojas. Kur briesmoņi ņem visas tās bagātības, kāpēc pēkšņi kaut kāda ala meža vidū ir pilna ar zeltu? Vai veiksmīgs iekarojums rada tādu pašu efektu kā Spānijai Dienvidamerikas iekarošana? Fantāzijas grāmatas šajā aspektā ir dažādas, bet lielākoties nevienam tas nerūp.

Burvestības, attapība un zobens ir tas, kas definē Arth -pasauli, kura ir līdzīga mūsējai, tikai maģijas ir tā pavairāk. Šajā pasaulē licencētam varonim monstru nogalināšana ir darbs. Varoņu ģilde piedzīvojumu meklēšanu ir pārvērtusi par karjeru, kurā neiztikt bez sponsoriem un investoriem. Rūķu berserkeram Gormam Ingersonam, varoņu laiki ir pagājuši un nu viņš vada dienas klaiņojot un aplaupot citus varoņus. Taču pēkšņi viņam tiek piedāvāta iespēja atkal kļūt par īstu varoni, nodzēst visas apsūdzības un atgriezties varoņu ģildē.

Šī nudien ir laba satīra par fantāzijas žanru. Galvenais varoņu motivators ir zelts un slava. Domas par labāku pasauli tiek izsistas no galvas jau pirmajos varoņa līmeņos. Peļņa ir tā, kas tur uz kājām varoņu industriju. Tu nevari mesties virsū pirmajam ceļā sastaptajam monstram. Iespējams, ka Varoņu ģilde uz viņa nogalināšanu jau ir pārdevusi tiesības, kādai investīciju kompānijai, kura jau noalgojusi varoņus, izlaidusi vērtspapīrus uz monstra laupījumu. Ja tādu monstru nogalēsi, būs lielas problēmas ar ģildi, investoriem un valsts pārvaldi. Tāpēc varonis ar zobenu nevicināsies, ja viņam kabatā nebūs līgums ar kvesta devēju.

Kādu laiku šāda stratēģija nodrošināja labu ekonomikas uzplaukumu, bet tad daļa no ļaunās puses tēliem reģistrējās kā NPC, laupījums kļuva aizvien nabadzīgāks un drīz būs pienācis brīdis, kad nekāda vērtspapīru pārpakošana vairs nespēs izglābt investīciju kompānijas no bankrota. Karalis ir norūpējies.

Groma stāsts ir stāsts par varoni, kurš, lai ar’ deklarē, ka vairs netic labajam un redz cauri sistēmai, tomēr ir spiests piedalīties kvestā, kas ļaus viņam atgriezties Varoņu ģildes paspārnē. Viņš nav vienīgais tāds dzīves pabērns. Viņa varoņu komandā ir gan bards ar attieksmes problēmām, pārītis magu, kas necieš viens otru, elfu princese, kurai ir atkarība no dzīvības eleksīriem un Glībeks- goblins, kuru Gorms pieņēmis par savu skvairu. Visus viņus vada cilvēks, kurš iedomājas, ka ir trakās dievietes pareģotais septītais varonis. Liktos, kas gan varētu likt izmainīties 10 līmeņa bersekeram, bet autors atrod veidu, kā to izdarīt!

Grāmata izlasījās vienā rāvienā, piedzīvojumi labi iederējās autora izvēlētajā stāstījuma veidā, nedaudz iesmiet par standarta varoņa ceļu, bet tai pat laikā nepadarīt to par atklātu ņirgāšanos, par žanru kopumā. Ko vērts vien bija iepazīties ar orku mārketinga pamatiem. Koboldu investīciju kompāniju finanšu atskaitēm, kvesta devēju ikdienas problēmām.

Lieku 10 no 10 ballēm, ja esi aizdomājies par ekonomisko pamatojumu fantāzijas pasaulēs notiekošajam, tad neko labāku par šo grāmatu neatradīsi. Ja patīk nedaudz pasmieties par fantāzijas pasauļu klišejām un tai pat laikā saņemt aizraujošu stāstu, tad iesaku izlasīt šo grāmatu.
Profile Image for Rob Hayes.
Author 35 books1,364 followers
July 28, 2021
I won't lie. Orconomics had a tall task with me. I'm not generally a fan of comedy in my books. Humour, yes. Comedy, no. I'm also not generally a fan of books that borrow most of their worldbuilding from D&D and Warcraft. BUT... I really enjoyed Orconomics.

It's a fairly short book about washed up heroes coming out of (enforced) retirement to try and redeem themselves on an impossible quest. Along the way is plenty of comedy, some damning nods to capitalism, and a surprising amount of character development.

The nods to D&D and WoW are many and frequent. At times they grated on me, but mostly they didn't outstay their welcome so got a wistful smile and then moved on. But there ARE a lot of little nods.

All the characters have arcs, some more prominent than others and none more so than our main character, Gorm. Honestly, the dwarf is a gem of a character and his attitude was what carried most of the book for me.

So there we go. A tall mountain to climb, but Orconomics climbed it well. 4 out of 5 and I'll be picking up the sequel at some point.

Oh, and the narration was fantastic and definitely added to the book. The delivery was spot on!
Profile Image for David Firmage.
216 reviews42 followers
February 13, 2023
Out of all the spfbo winners I really thought this would be my favourite. I just found it dreadfully dull.
Profile Image for David Zampa.
86 reviews44 followers
May 24, 2019
[EDIT: Winner of the SPFBO4!]

I enjoyed the heck out of this book. It checks all the boxes for a good satire, in that it maintains its smart comedy throughout the book, yet does eventually manage to dig a little deeper and be meaningful beyond its numerous double entendres. It particularly shines with its characters. I fell in love the the MC, Gorm Ingerson, immediately. He's the perfect level of gruff, pragmatic dwarf with a heart of gold. The rest of the party are each varying degrees of lovable to an extent that I can't wait to spend more time with them.

It's worth noting that this book is professionally polished, perfectly paced, and beautifully plotted throughout, despite one or two forgivable predictable moments. It deserves a publishing deal and mass distribution. It may not be for everyone, but that's mostly because of what it is, not how it's written. It's satire through and through, and the thing about straight comedy that's always the rub is whether it can develop heart enough to deepen the story, yet also maintain its humor throughout to the end. On this metric, Orconomics gets a 10 for characters, a 10 for plot, but the only thing that keeps it from being perfect is that the world remains strictly a joke to the end. The spells and cities and social structures never stop breaking the fourth wall in that they never become more than a mixed spoof between a RPG videogame and a satirical parody of current events. This isn't bad for what it is, it's FUNNY, and I still loved it, but it's the one area where the book still has room to grow to make something excellent into something truly extraordinary. This, I think, is particularly difficult for a satirical fantasy, because unlike a satire in another genre/category, fantasy fans typically have many life experiences of the tropes and common elements of their beloved genre being freely, hurtfully mocked. This book never does so hurtfully, but the tongue-in-cheek mockery of many tropes can be a bit distracting to fantasy fans for this reason if the story never takes those world elements and deepens them to a level that they become real to the reader. Another minor gripe I had was that none of the antagonists were really resolved. Of all the numerous villains, they never actually kill any of them, even the minor baddies--they all end up alive and thriving. I do expect that to resolve in the next book, though. These things to me were simply the sliver at the edge of perfect, the 5% remainder of a 95% approval.
Profile Image for L.L. MacRae.
Author 7 books344 followers
July 12, 2022
Absolutely fantastic book!! I heard this was satire and wasn't sure if the humour would land with me, but it made me snort laugh several times and even well up at others. An excellently-written book that reminds me of both Legends & Lattes and Aching God - there's a strong flavour of a DnD campaign (but with incredibly mismatched "heroes") in a "typical" fantasy world.

But not *quite* as you know it.

I can absolutely see how this won SPFBO4!

"Professional heroes" contribute to the economy, which, much like in our own world, is largely driven by capitalism, pleasing shareholders, and a great deal of corruption. This economy is driven by adventuring, looting, hoards, and stockbroking.

Despite the light-hearted nature of the overall story and the way it's written, Orconomics does tackle some much darker content. Those addicted to healing potions (and self-harming) is a particular standout.

The characters - even the side ones - are all very well-realised, with excellent personalities, desires, and conflicts. I never thought I'd care so much for a goblin until now. The book shines a light on those who "always lose" (goblins, orcs, ogres etc.), and whether "good/evil" is actually as clear cut as the "lightkin" would have you think.

You also have the tropes of old heroes coming back for one last job (although this is entirely forced), trying to do the right thing, and definitely found family.

I listened to the audiobook, which was also brilliantly narrated!

Highly recommend for something a bit different, for humour that lands, and satire of not just tabletop RPGs, but our world at large.
Profile Image for Andrews WizardlyReads.
184 reviews321 followers
May 27, 2022
I have DNF this book twice and finally went and got the audio book to push through. I stand by the first 50% is nothing mind blowing.


I am considering doing a video review on the channel

Profile Image for Michelle F.
232 reviews68 followers
January 9, 2021
“ 'I prefer to quit when I'm ahead,' Heraldin explained.
'You've a funny definition of ahead,' said Gorm.
'I prefer to define words in ways that suit me,' said Heraldin.”

Having recently run (for the first time) a short-lived campaign for curious friends who had never played a table-top RPG before, I spent a lot of time thinking about crafting a world and an adventure from scratch, though I ultimately opted for Starter Kit. At some point in my imaginings, though, my mind turned to thoughts of the genre-standard Heroes Guild. I mean, it's a great starting point for all sorts of shenanigans, and it handily makes plausible any number of characters banding together for a common goal. Skilled adventurers for hire: What kind of world makes that sort of thing commonplace? What might that look like in a real-world setting, or with real-world ideologies running the show? Orconomics tackles exactly these questions, and so much more!

Nonstop wit and commentary balance masterfully with an adventurous quest through a magical land. This was so much fun to experience.

The book unfolds, on its topmost layer, like a fairly standard RPG might – if the players all had great comic appreciation and are okay with irreverence. There are eight (8!) main characters, each of a standard archetype: the stout battle-hardened, gold loving dwarf; the ageless nimble Elvin Ranger who forgets she has some medical skills; the Casanova bard with a shady background etc etc, and they evolve as most questing player-generated characters do – stubbornly holding onto their 'isms' while being shaped by their interactions and growing with every random encounter. I fell in love with most of them.

And there are layers... This is a quest story most certainly, and also a mocking but loving homage to the tropes of Quest Fantasy. Beyond the spoofery lies blatant satire, with a quieter underlying commentary on 'good' and 'right.' Beyond the challenges of the quest itself, greed, Corporation and subjugation emerge as the world's biggest foes.

The intellectual obstacles run deeper than they appear:
“ 'People always say that we must stand up for what is right'
'They're not talking to you!' barked Gorm. 'They're talking to people who don't believe in stupid things!'”

It's all uproarious and deftly done. The first in what looks to be a trilogy, there is some wrap-up in this first volume, but readers will most certainly want to continue straight on to the second installment.

[for my own self: hunt down a physical copy of this. The audio is really well done, but you've got a head like a ping-pong ball, and distractions kept you from appreciating this as much as you could have.]
Profile Image for Mark.
486 reviews84 followers
March 28, 2019
Really enjoyed this one, good interesting characters, nicely written humour with a fantastic storyline and great plot line which adds another version of the classic RPGs quests and the jokes which happen when in a session of a RPG.

Great fun to read.
Profile Image for Jon Adams.
294 reviews57 followers
October 26, 2018
Humorous, emotional, and action-packed. I immediately bought the next book.
Profile Image for Rusty.
182 reviews11 followers
December 26, 2018
Orconomics is the first book I have read by J. Zachary Pike, and it has been highly anticipated since I got a copy in August. Then, once it was elevated to a finalist in this year’s SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off) contest, I decided it was time to read it. Other than comments from other readers about how good this book is (only the second perfect 10 in the four years of the SPFBO contest), I knew it was a fantasy satire. Some of my more enjoyable reads of this year have been in the broader category of humor fantasy (Here Be Dragons/Macpherson, Sir Thomas the Hesitant/Perrin, Reaper Man/Pratchett, and Klondaeg the Monster Hunter/Thomas), and I had a hunch that this would be right up my alley. I was not disappointed.

This book is pitched as: “Brimming with swords, sorcery, and wit, Orconomics: A Satire introduces Arth, a world much like our own but with more magic and fewer vowels. For the licensed wizards and warriors of Arth, slaying and looting the forces of evil is just a job. The Heroes' Guild has turned adventuring into a career, selling the rights to monsters’ hoards of treasure as investment opportunities. Corporations spend immense sums sponsoring heroes to undertake quests, betting they’ll reap the profits in plunder funds when the loot is divvied up.

Questing was all business for famous Dwarven berserker Gorm Ingerson, until a botched expedition wiped out his party, disgraced his name, and reduced him to a thieving vagabond. Twenty years later, a chance encounter sees Gorm forcibly recruited by a priest of a mad goddess to undertake a quest that has a reputation for getting heroes killed. But there’s more to Gorm’s new job than an insane prophecy; powerful corporations and governments have shown an unusual interest in the job. Gorm might be able to turn a bad deal into a golden opportunity and win back the fame and fortune he lost so long ago.

Promising fun, fantasy, and financial calamity, Orconomics: A Satire is the first book in The Dark Profit Saga, an economically epic trilogy."

It is very clear that the book is meant as a satire, and it has all the trappings that are common in that style. There are places where jokes seem a little forced, or there is too much explanation (often to prove how ridiculous something is), but these are easily forgiven since they are handled so well, often causing me to stop and consider the deeper implications. The over-the-top aspects of the satire are permissible because it isn’t ALL that the book has going for it.

As I quickly discovered, this book also hits one of my other favorite tropes: unlikely heroes/misfits. I love stories of the little guy being the hero (Frodo), the down-and-out pulling their life back together (Inigo Montoya), and stories that display redemption where someone is restored to their former state. This book is chock-full of misfits and outcasts, each likeable in their own way. Each of the characters grows and matures as the book progresses (another thing I love to see in books).

As someone who values quality character development, this book shines. Each member of their company is distinct and has their own voice. They display strengths and weaknesses, and have much to overcome. There is connection between each of them, and between them and the reader. There is genuine grief over the more tragic bits, and a sense of pride when they are successful. Above all that, I love how they all look to Gorm as the leader, not just because he has the most experience, but because he is the one who most consistently walks the moral high ground. He nearly single-handedly puts an end to a years-long conflict between the upper and lower classes because of his fair treatment of all. And then, with a major reveal near the end, there is a sense that it doesn’t just occur in a vacuum, but it has a major impact on everyone.

As the first book of a series, I am very eager to continue on and see where it goes from here. I highly recommend this book, especially for those who like “smart” fantasy, especially satire. But don’t be fooled, this book has heart and will be impossible to forget. 4.55 / 5 stars. Well done Zack, and thanks for sending a copy to me.
Profile Image for Merrill Chapman.
Author 7 books7 followers
February 8, 2015
Economics typically gets short shrift in Sci-Fi and fantasy. It doesn't really matter the genre. The fact is that when spaceships go out a' faring, or knights out a' questing, no one ever brings anyone with a degree in accounting to keep track of expenditures. The exceptions are few and far between (to enjoy one of the best in manga, I recommend Spice and Wolf). I first wrote about the problem years ago in In Search of Stupidity: Over 20 Years of High-Tech Marketing Disasters:

...as Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Bones, Scottie, and their innumerable successors went gallivanting through the galaxy, they seemed to have no visible means of financial support. No one in the Star
Trek universe wearing green eye shades ever appeared to worry about the propensity of the various casts to blow up what you’d think were undoubtedly very expensive spaceships, given their capabilities of violating the laws of physics, transporting the crew to numerous planets inhabited by women who spent most of their time wearing lingerie, and dodging ray-gun fire from angry races of aliens who kept screaming “kaplok!” (and who also seemed to have no monetary worries).

The problem looms just as large in fantasy. Take, for instance the Lord of the Rings. Now, I know you've probably read the official version of what took place in Middle Earth at the end of the Third Age, but I have recently, at great effort and peril on my part, obtained a partial copy of The Silmarillon: The Rejected Chapters. It's only a partial manuscript, and the relevant sections are written in the dread tongue of Mordor. Translating it has been a bear what with all the declensions and the fact that these people just had no concept of the apostrophe, but I have done my best. The narrative below describes a key meeting between Sauron and an individual who served as Mordor's primary bean counter. Roughly translated, his court title is CME or Chief Mithril Extractor. I believe the text below provides crucial insights into the real story behind TLOR and the fall of Sauron.

CME: Oh Cataclysmic Cat's Eye of Catastrophe, Dread Lord Sauron, I come to you with doom-laden news!

Sauron: What is it? Has Golem stuffed up his toilet again?

CME: No, Dread Lord Sauron, Oh Perilous Practitioner of Pissant Pestilence. Though that last episode was truly horrendous. The plumbing Orcs sent to rectify the situation have not yet recovered. No, Oh Master of Massive Mayhem, the tidings are far more fell. The invasion of Gondor must be postponed!

Sauron: Postponed? Don't be ridiculous. I've been planning this invasion for years. The Orcs are armed and thirsting to plunder and kill any elf they can catch. The Ringwraiths are writhing in anticipation of drinking Gondorean blood. The Balrogs are bored from too much sitting around and are starting to whip each other. It's getting kinky in their section of the Dark Tower. They need to deploy right now and work the ya yas out. We march tonight!

CME: Alas Lord Sauron, Oh Sublime Sultan of Supreme Sadism, we cannot.

Sauron: Why not? And this had better be good.

CME: Because Oh Grime Gargoyle of Gruesomeness, I have just come from an inspection of thy Dread Armies and have uncovered great woes. The Orc's armor is fourth rate and our production of MEMREs (I have translated this as "Middle Earth Meals Ready to Eat." Ed. note.) lags greatly behind quota. In their current shape, I rank the fighting prowess of the Uruk Hai just below that of Disney fairies. The entire horde couldn't stand up to a squadron of Hobbits armed with butter knives.

But this is just the start of the grim news. The Black Steeds of the Ringwraiths have disappeared and our chief cavalry arm is crippled. While no one has confessed, a domestic Orc emptying a chamber pot reported hearing strange whinnying sounds coming from the Balrog quarters the other night. I myself heard the Witch King threaten to "Uv thangor shakburz nash burzum" (I have translated this as "unload a can of whup ass." Ed. note.) unless those ponies are returned immediately. Despair and disorder fill the ranks, Oh Enduring Emblem of Eternal Evil.

Sauron: Egv gor fukardum upzorum!? (I have translated this as "What is the cause of this SNAFU?" Ed. note.)

CME: Lord Sauron, Oh Tremendous Thane of Truly Titanic Terror, we have suffered a supply chain breakdown.

Sauron: Huh?

CME: A supply chain breakdown. You see, the peasants plant and harvest the food, which they in turn provide to the Orcs, who in turn do most of the mining and weapons production around here. If not enough food is produced, the Orcs' manufacturing production drops off and quality goes to hell, so to speak. Also, remember that an army marches on its stomach. The peasants are also responsible for providing fresh meat to the Balrogs, who aren't big on veggies. Oh, and the peasants also provide the hay that the Ringwraiths' horses eat, thought that doesn't seem to be a problem at the exact moment.

Sauron: This issue is easily solved. Torture the peasants to produce more food!

CME: Ummmm, well, you see Oh Demonic Deity of Destruction, we can't do that. We have no more peasants.

Sauron: What happened to the peasants?

CME: The Orcs at them.

Sauron: Nagth lat ronk shitztorum!" (I have translated this as "Uh oh." Ed. note.)

At this point, the writing on manuscript becomes disordered and the readability of the parchment drops because of a series of blotches that have a suspicious resemblance to blood stains.

But, not to worry. Into this gaping literary void fearlessly tramps Orconomics, Part I of the Dark Profit Series by J. Zachary Pike.

Rest of post up at: http://www.rule-set.com/ricks-blog/me...
Profile Image for Nicole (TheBookWormDrinketh) .
224 reviews35 followers
March 13, 2018
A story of the Economics of Heroes. A Fantastical take on Modern Society showing a side of Fantasy that you probably haven’t thought of! Sure, those of us who have played D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) know that we adventure to acquire loot to sell and buy better gear, etc… But, how many people really have their hands in that pie?? What take of that loot is actually ours to spend? In a Fantasy World where Heroes are sponsored by Corporations, and the Heroes Guild has made being a Hero into a career, there don’t seem to be any real heroes left.. just a bottom line. But, what if that’s not all there is to it? What if there could be real heroes still out there?
This book was so unexpected! When I saw Satire, I feel that I was expecting more of a spoof. It’s definitely a subtle commentary on modern society and the things we, as geeks, don’t think about the workings of in all of these magical lands that we read about. I loved the stark reality of it spelled out for us! This book was amusing at times with veiled (or not so veiled) references, can you figure this one out??

“Gorm looked up at a tiny winged figure glowing with such intense blue light that it seemed to be standing in a sphere. “Blood and ashes,” he swore. “A search sprite”

“All they are is a bit of knowledge with a mouth,” Gorm told Gleebek as they walked. “They only exist to tell ye obvious things, so they don’t shut up till they wear off. Could be days.”

“Hey! Listen!” shrieked the sprite.

Anyone who played a certain beloved adventure game should recognize it!! Lol!

I loved all of the references to the typical Fantasy tropes!

“��No, no,” said Gorm. “I ain’t splitting the party. She’s making a joke, lad”

“So splitting the party is bad, then?” said Niln.

“You never split the party,” said Laruna.

“It’s right in the Heroes’ Guild Handbook,” said Jynn.

“Someone always wanders off to grab something shiny or test a lever or something, and the next thing you know they’re coming back with some horrible monster following them,” said Kaitha.

“Usually when you’re in the middle of a massive fight with something else,” said Gorm.

“If they come back at all,” said Heraldin.”

But, it was serious as well. The characters were all very well written and relatable… weird thing to say about Fantasy characters. But, they were quite the down to earth misfit group of Fantasy characters, so everyone will definitely understand the feelings and growth within the motley band!

Gleebek, the friendly Goblin/Squire

Heraldin, the would-be womanizing Bard/”acquisition specialist”

Jynn and Laruna the opposing Noctomancer and Solamancer

Kaitha, the Elixir addicted Ranger who used to be something

Gaist, mysteriously never speaks and was the first volunteer for the Quest

And Niln, the “Seventh Hero” who recruits them all “I’d say you have a destiny, and choices are the steps you take to reach it.”

Gorm was the best character! I believe he was described best by party, Kaitha, “Beneath his curmudgeonly facade was, well, yes, a genuine curmudgeon who clearly cared for her.” He can be abrasive, uncaring, and rude… but he’s the Mother Hen you never knew you always wanted! He’s a Dwarf with a big heart and someone you want fighting on your side.

This book really gets you thinking about the World beyond the Fantasy. It brings it to a real place and has you questioning what makes someone a “Hero”.

I can’t wait to continue my journey with the party. If you want to learn about Dwarven Reproduction, God’s Middle Management, and Elixir Addiction (who doesn’t?!) I really recommend this book!!
Profile Image for Nimrod Daniel.
143 reviews258 followers
June 2, 2021
Although Orconomics is the 4th spfbo winner, for me this reading choice was a quite gamble. I liked its premise - a comedy based upon the classic RPGs and the economic perspective so I was into giving it a chance.

I'm probably in minority, but I didn't find this book so appealing as much as others did, and thought more than once about switching to something else. Don't get me wrong It's definitely not a bad book but also not a good one.
The first half is so so and later it gets slightly better, but still...I didn't feel compelled to continue reading.
Having said that, there's a clever twist around 85% through and from that point things got more interesting.

The MC, Gorm , is a quite well-portrayed character with some witty and snarky comments, but the rest of his party felt quite flat. Actually, I think that Gorm is (almost) the only funny character in the whole book. Kaitha, who's an ex-elven princess, is a bit more interesting character than the rest of the party, but not by much.
If one wants to write a comedy about an RPG party then a good characterization is a must, but unfortunately Orconomics fails in that part.... Maybe a smaller group of 4 or 5 characters would have allowed the author to focus more on the developing his characters rather than writing about 7 characters which doesn't get enough spotlight in order to shine is a 360 pages book.
Other than the "heroes", the goblin is a really cute and funny addition, especially if you go for the audiobook. The troll, who gets a little spotlight, is another nice addition to the book though his role is very small.

The plot is mediocre at best, maybe except for the last 15% that brought a clever twist, but it was too little too late....The pacing was quite good all the way.

All in all, this book definitely deserves to get some recognition for its "refreshing spirit" that combines a comedy about the "Classic Quest" and an economic perspective in regard to those quests. But unfortunately it somewhat fails in delivering.
Like I said earlier It's definitely not a bad book, but also not a good one, it's just "ok".

Profile Image for Dixie Conley.
Author 1 book9 followers
October 11, 2014
I thought I'd like this book when I saw the cover and read the title. Now that I've read it, I know I was wrong -- I LOVE this book.

This is a saga about professional heroing. That's right. The hero business has gone pro. You can even buy and sell hoard futures -- the chance that a given hoard will produce great loot. There's heroing contracts. And guilds. And accountants. And so many other fun little details. But the most important of those are the NPCs -- the former enemies of light who have gotten themselves papers and are now employed by the light and no longer attackable. It calls into question just what is a villain and what is a hero.

The story centers around a group of unwilling adventures variously "convinced", by blackmail, bribery or any other means necessary to take a quest for an unlucky goddess. They're a motley bunch -- the experienced members are drunks and cowards and the inexperienced members are just as likely to get them all killed as to get themselves killed. Somehow they blunder their way to success, only to discover that this is only the beginning of the true heroing.

A marvelous adventure and fun besides.
Profile Image for Beth Tabler.
Author 6 books160 followers
September 2, 2020
J. Zachary Pikes Orconomics on the surface, looks like your typical fantasy story. Not bad, but nothing to write home about. The thing is five pages into the book; you know that you are entirely wrong. There is nothing standard about this exciting, hilarious story told from the multiple points of view of the "heroes." But at its heart, Orconomics is a scathing and effective satire. It is capitalism and the dangers of, set in a magical world.

I did not see that coming.

The Plot
The plot of the story, as mentioned before, is about a group of reluctant heroes. They are gathered together to go on a quest looking for treasure and finding lost relics. There are quite a few different political and economic plays by various groups around this quest. Things are not what they seem. At times the plot was a bit hard to follow, but as the story reaches its conclusions, everything becomes clear.

The Satire
The questing party, professional heroes down on their luck, are being supported by a local religious community and a cadre of investors who invest in quests in exchange for a portion of the loot. This usually comes from non papered characters or shadowkin that are seen as fodder and regularly killed and hunted to increase hero rankings. Their only mistake is that they are a nuisance to humans and possibly have pillagable loot. The higher ranking the hero is, the better the quests. It sounds like a very familiar scenario, that of Hollywood movies. Movies get made with a well-known actor; interested parties then fund the film in exchange for a portion of the generated revenue. The actor and their following is a commoditized asset that rises and falls based on the actor's successes and failures. Orconomics is more cutthroat in the successes and failures, literally, but the economic system is the same.

This book's satire takes on some pretty hard-hitting ideas. Firstly, we have the whole questing system. It treats the heroes as commodities bought and sold, as I said earlier—a very Hollywood idea. Orconomics also touches on the toll of drug addiction, specifically opioid or pain killer addiction, which is rampant in cities across the world. One of the main characters, who once was a huge and well-known adventurer, had too many injuries requiring healing potions. Eventually, the healing potions become what she lived for, and addiction occurred. She then became a shell of her former self, always looking for a reason to get high. The author addresses this in a scene talking about people out on the street, cutting themselves so that they need to use a healing potion.

Pike also touches on class system dynamics; market commoditized objects such as magic swords, religious zealotry, and the business of making money from it, and lax laws for weapon ownership. A stand-in for lax laws around gun ownership. You will read this thinking that Pike is brilliant as hell, and be a little sad that our world is so near in line with the one in Orconomics.

Firstly, the main character is a dwarf named Gorm Ingerson. Much of the story is told from his perspective. He is a tenth level hero, who, twenty years ago, "supposedly" made the mistake of running to save himself when most of his party perished. He was left shammed while another party member who stayed to fight became one of the land's best-known heroes. The rest of the hero party is full of misfits. They all have a reason to be there and are hoping for another shot. This leads to a sense of urgency in the questing; they all need to succeed in this quest.

Because each party member has a distinct voice written well by Pike, the dynamics of interpersonal relationships between the questers and character development truly come through. We are told very early what each of the characters are facing and working with. One is a drug addict who is addicted to healing potions and alcohol. Gorm, as I mentioned earlier, is fighting his past. Another is a very skilled mage that is not useful in a fight. At the same time, the other mage is an excellent brawler but has no finely honed skills. Another is a shadowkin just trying to survive. The shadowkin's, a goblin, and his relationship with Gorm are the book's best parts. Best and certainly funniest. I laughed for a good two minutes after reading how Gorm found out how to say the goblin's name. Finally, we have one who rarely speaks, and another running from a mobster—all work to play off each other and develop as characters.

The Conclusion
Man, this is a great book. And, five minutes into reading it, I understood all the love for it. It was the SPFBO4 winner, and now I can see why. The relationships, the story, and the allegory to everyday economics are so cleverly done that they might go under people's radar. I didn't figure out half of them until I sat down to write this review. It all started to come together, and I realized how creative Pike is. The book was funny, and heartfelt which, in the face of some pretty hard plot ideas, is important and kept the tone light. Had he not done that, this book might be too depressing to read. But, as it stands, it is a perfect balance. I am a fan of this book, obviously, and will be jumping into the next book, Son of a Liche, as soon as possible.

It is a worth it read, so check it out.

Profile Image for John.
80 reviews5 followers
November 26, 2014
I think that one of the most rewarding parts of sifting through self published books is that despite the number of wretched books, and the even greater number of simply mediocre books, you'll occasionally find a gem sparkling through. It's for these moments that I write this blog. These are the books that need someone to stand up and shout, nay demand, they receive wider attention. I only wonder how many more books there are out there that I'm missing. If only there was more time to read. Then again, I don't think there could ever be enough.
Enough with the opining, let's get on to the review; it is what you came here for is it not? Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike is the gem I was referring to in my preamble. Like most of my recent reviews I was contacted by Pike to review Orconomics, though I received no compensation and it has no affect on my review. I get daily, and sometimes more frequent, requests for reviews, so I have to narrow down the books somehow. Orconomics instantly grabbed with it's amazing cover and, of course, the name. I'm currently working my way through Capitol in the Twenty-first Century so any sort of lighter treatment of the subject snatched at my attention. The saying goes don't judge a book by its cover; but it can tell you a lot about the amount of effort the author put into the publication. With this strong of a cover, and a catchy title to boot, I had no choice but to read Orconomics.
The book starts off in the middle of your standard World of Warcraft quest, an unnamed warrior has cleared out a band of goblins from a barn and now proceeds to the farmer in order to claim his reward. Setting the tone for the book, the farmer starts to haggle with the warrior over the cost of deed, and if it was indeed completed. As if to emphasize his point, one last goblin suddenly breaks cover and runs off to find cover. After a minute of debate to determine if merely driving off the goblins counts as defeating them (turns out it does not) the warrior gives chase. Luckily for the goblin the chase ends with him waking up a rather hungover and irritated dwarf, named Gorm. While not really taking pity on the goblin, Gorm is irritated by the warrior, makes some snide remarks, and before you know it a fight has broken out and ended. The warrior ends up on the ground. After looting the warrior, as is only proper, Gorm starts out on his way, only now shadowed by the goblin.
From here the adventure really starts and the fun begins. Don't let the opening chapter fool you though; there's more to Orconomics than simple hack and slash. I'm not going to go into the details, I'll leave you to find those out for yourself, but in Orconomics Pike examines several interesting ramifications of the adventuring world. There were many times that I laughed out loud while reading it, and more than one moment that made me really sit and think. The cast of characters that Pike assembles is fantastic, from a halfing portfolio manager (securitization of potential returns on quest loot is the new big thing) to a famous elvan ranger who's addicted to health potions. The plot is also well done, with enough twists and turns to keep everyone satisfied, but not so complex that it detracts from the lighthearted feel of the book.
Anyone who enjoys fantasy, MMOs or role playing should carve out the time to read Orconomics; it's well worth the effort. You can get Orconomics here .
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