105 Ways to Give a Book

Over the Fence with Standard Hero Behavior

Chasing Ray suggested that we break up this dreary, not-quite-springtime month by highlighting a book that we loved. I mean, LOVED — all caps. She gives the image of leaning “over the fence” to tell your neighbor about that fantastic book you just read. I saw it as a chance to share a book that didn’t seem to get the big blogger buzz, for whatever reason. I looked through my notes for titles I’d never blogged about, and there it was — Standard Hero Behavior, by John David Anderson.
“Now, you agreed you wanted the standard iambic format with rhyming couplets, correct?” Mason pointed to the top line. “With the refrain we discussed, that’s going to run you about twelve pence.”

“Is that with the coupon?”

“Yes, that’s with the coupon.”
Mason is a public bard writing about the barely heroic encounters of the townspeople. A real bard rides along with true heroes writing memorable tales of triumph. But all the heroes have left town since the duke took over all the hero jobs. But it turns out that the duke isn’t nearly the man he proclaimed himself to be, as Mason finds out and shares with his friend Cowell, a failed plume salesman.
“So let me get this straight. You and I have been sent on a mission by the duke’s butler to find enough heroes to repel an imminent marauding horde under the banner of an orc named Bennie who feels he is owed money since uncovering a deal between Darlinger and some other orc who is now dead.”

Mason gave him a shrug, “I still can’t quite believe it, either.”

“That’s just stupid.”

“I saw them. I’m telling you the truth.”

“And Darlinger’s really the wuss that we always wished he’d turn out to be?”

“Right. And now we are the ones who have to find real heroes.”

“What do we know about heroes?”

“Well, you stick feathers in their helmets and I make up stories about them.”

“And that’s supposed to make us qualified?”

“No, but we’re the only ones who know about it, and we’re supposed to keep it that way.”
They go off in search of heroes to save the town from terror and ultimate destruction, finding in the midst of their journey a sleeping swordsman, a wanna-be witch, a hiding hero, and a buried past (sorry, couldn’t find alliteration for that one.)

Standard Hero Behavior is one funny and completely enjoyable book. The author gets off some amusing lines, but never forgets to tell an engaging story. It’s not all about the laughs. At the core, the book is about rising to a challenge, stepping outside a comfort zone, and facing the unknown. The premise is great, the adventure is exciting, and the characters are wonderfully flawed. I particularly loved the anachronistic stuff thrown in along the way. While I can recommend this title to anyone, it would be perfect to read to a class of older elementary kids because it’s funny enough to keep them listening, but includes themes of challenges, expectations, and self-discovery to be explored.

You can check out more suggestions with Chasing Ray. Of course, you can also share your favorite unsung book over the fence — which in this case, means in the comments.

5 comments:

tanita davis said...

*Sigh* I really love this book. And the author is so very nice, as well. I do hope to see more from him!

Kelly Fineman said...

Must. Get. This. Book.

You had me at "iambic."

Sara said...

Well, you had me at "failed plume salesman." Hee.

Saints and Spinners said...

I want this book! Thanks for letting us know about it. I haven't been wowed by anything as of late (i.e. the past 4 days), but I have slowly been reeled in by Jenny Davidson's The Explosionist. At first I thought that the alternative history angle was going to be overemphasized too much, but as other elements of the story have emerged (contact from the afterlife, science-fiction dystopia), I've found myself sucked in by the story.

Suzanne Casamento said...

Sounds like a great book. I'd never heard of it. Thanks for leaning over the fence!