Mark Lawrence's Reviews > Orconomics

Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike
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Read 2 times. Last read June 16, 2019 to July 25, 2019.

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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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
December 10, 2018 – Shelved
June 16, 2019 – Started Reading
June 21, 2019 –
page 60
"Enjoying it so far. Pike's a good writer. The humour reminds me of Kings of the Wyld, as does the projection of modern institutions onto fantasy tropes - bands/rock stars in KotW's case, and financial speculation in this case."
July 24, 2019 –
page 260
67.18% "Lots of funny lines. Pike is a very good writer."
July 25, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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RedJorgAncrath You know, I'm not sure how to feel about this. Orconomics is clearly fashioned like Kings of the Wyld, but not nearly as funny. Or emotional, or intense. But it's suitable for younger audiences.

When I look at the placing of Aching God I shake my head, but also realize I'm one person in one demographic.

After saying all that, I'd like to point out that my team didn't win, but I was absolutely emotionally involved, and loved the whole process.. SPFBO is bringing authors and readers together. It's such a great thing because ... well, because I really want yell about it!

message 2: by Stephen (new) - added it

Stephen Richter I bought a few of the finalists because the Price was Right.

Chip To RedJorgAncrath: I see why you compare this to Kings of the Wyld, as I thought the same - only I thought Orconomics (silly name aside) superbly well done in almost all respects, whereas I thought the “rock band” concept underpinning Kings of the Wyld was a very strained one that was ultimately unrealistic and unbelievable to me. I also found Orconomics much more amusing, and engagingly emotional, and intense - basically, loved it, and immediately going to the sequel, whereas Kings of the Wyld was a DNF and it’s sequel The Bloody Rose accordingly a hard pass.

Chip PS Mark, thanks for your “review” / comment, which was what made me check it out (for $1.99 ventured) - and very glad I did.

message 5: by RedJorgAncrath (last edited May 25, 2019 09:36PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

RedJorgAncrath Glad you liked it Chip! We're all different, obviously. But by no means do I expect for you or anyone else to like everything I like. I'm actually happy for the success of Orconomics. I really wanted to like it, and I think I'm starting to understand the meaning of the word "disappointed" I see in so many reviews.

In this instance, for me, "disappointed" probably most suggests that there is vast enjoyment in something that I've consumed, yet didn't get the same enjoyment from it. It definitely doesn't mean I'm questioning your enjoyment of it.

Btw, you didn't come across as defensive or hostile at all in your post. I just wanted to make it clear that I appreciate your enjoyment of the book!

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