Imagine an epic fantasy-adventure book meets reality TV (but replace cameramen and TVs with bards and ballads) and you end up with Ian Gibson’s Stuff of Legends. While it was a cute, funny story that I enjoyed while reading it; yet, there was nothing really amazing or memorable about Stuff of Legends.
When an annoyingly eager young man by the name of Eliott, his Elvish guardian, and a bard-for-hire magically drop into the life of former hero Jordan the Red, the aged warrior wants nothing to do with them. He’s had enough of battling the world. But Eliott wants an adventure with the legendary, sword-swinging soldier of fortune-and this hero is about to be forced out of retirement.
In this world, bards follow heroes around recording their adventures. However, they embellish every tale; as in, if a hero fought off 20 goblins, the bard would tell everyone that he fought 200 and saved a fair maiden. The exaggerations weren’t the only parallels to reality TV, there were also producers and managers, focused solely on getting the most money from their hero’s story. Because there weren’t any actual TVs back then, bards would have to buy each individual hero’s story from the producer in order to tell it and make his own living.
Jordan The Red was, once upon a time, a great hero. Yet now, he’s a jaded, bitter, old man who wants nothing more than to spend the rest of his days fishing and avoiding everyone associated with the hero business. I did like Jordan, but it was more like I’m-sorry-he’s-stuck-with-the-idiot-kid empathy rather than any real fondness for his character. He wasn’t poorly developed, but it was impossible for me to connect with him on a deep level. As for Eliott, he is a rich, spoiled boy, with a naive view of his world, and wants nothing more than to fulfill his dream of going on an adventure with Jordan. I think his personality was played up for Stuff of Legends, because without him there would be no plot. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to punch him in the face a time or two.
The plot was fairly fast-paced, infused with lots of humor and action. Even though the bards always exaggerated the fights in their stories, there were some great fight scenes. Jordan and Eliott bickered pretty much the entire time, even as they were forced to work together. Occasionally, the plot would jump over to producers trying to sink their claws into the resurrection of Jordan The Red, and while engaging, it was ultimately just fluff.
Like I said in my introduction, Stuff of Legends was enjoyable while I read it, but there was nothing memorable or amazing about it. I liked the characters and the plot enough to finish Stuff of Legends. I would only really recommend it to anyone who wants to read something fluffy because there are so many other, better, satirical fantasy books out there (just about anything by Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams).