Vault of Deeds by James Barclay

The Vault of Deeds, the place where all tales and stories of heroes are recorded. Their great battles, their formidable blades, their heroic speech. The heroes of Goedterre have vanquished all evil since the dark ages, not one falling to an enemies blade. But now something is amiss, heroes are falling and evil is rising.
vault-of-deedsGrincheux is a senior scribe, one of the best, who has recorded the deeds of his hero in the heat of battle many a time. When the evil Orgaskcz Orgascz slays his hero Vittore, their book in the Vault of Deeds is forever closed. He joins the other scribes without a hero and awaits a new one to be assigned to him. But the heroes are young and inexperienced and with Goedterre’s legendary heroes nothing but a memory can they stand up against the evil?

I’ll get this off my chest straight away, no need to beat around the bush: I loved Vault of Deeds. I love the characters, the setting, the humour. There was only one thing about this novella that I didn’t like: it was too short. But that’s the point of a novella, so my complaints aren’t really justified. To me, the whole idea just pokes fun at the genre of big battles, big heroes and big villains. Great stuff.

One of the strongest points of the novella is the use of language. The heroes use grand speeches before taking care of the bad guys, while the scribes first record a draft of what they are witnessing before completing the full, grand tale in a completely over the top fashion. Even the H.E.R.O. (Hideous Evil Routinely Overcome) academy teaches the hero utterance class, after all, heroes must know how to talk during battle while thrashing their enemies. Out of all the different styles used in this novel (all of which is used at one time or another as a means to bring humour to the story) I enjoyed elven formal tongue the most, it certainly got the biggest laugh from me.

If you have a spare few hours and want to enjoy a really good, light humoured book that doesn’t take itself too seriously at all then you could do a lot worse than Vault of Deeds. This is a novella that kept a smile on my face from start to finish and comes highly, and heartily, recommended.

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