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.
Orconomics is, as the title says, a satire. It takes questing to its logical conclusion, with entire economies and stock markets depending upon heroes and their loot. There’s plunder funds, contracts, professionally certified thugs, big corporations. Basically, heroics has gone corporate.
And our protagonists are a ragtag™ bunch of washed up ex-heroes on a seemingly simple fetch quest. What follows is equal parts cliched and fun. Cliched because we have pretty much the standard issue fantasy world with bearded dwarves and graceful elves and dark woods, fun because most of the book is spent poking fun at these cliches.
But that much I expected from the description itself. What I didn’t expect was how much involved I had gotten in the actual plot and the characters, and the emotions I felt when things turned “serious” towards the end. And that’s what really impressed me about the book – Orconomics works not only as a funny satire of the fantasy quest, but also works as a pretty good novel on its own, something that’s rare in such books.
Of course, it’s a fine line to walk between making fun of cliches and becoming cliched yourself, and one area where the book fell into the trap are the characters. Though written well enough, none of them have any real depth, and feel rather generic. Sure it makes sense to have a typical warrior/rogue/mage party for a satire book, but I would have liked for the characters to develop a bit more and break out of their stereotypes by the end, which didn’t really happen.
One more thing I didn’t like is that the economics part of the book is mostly left underdeveloped. It introduces interesting concepts, like a stock market based not on companies but on quests, but mostly ignores them in favor of a typical adventure plot. Hopefully the author will explore these ideas more fully in future novels.
All in all, despite some flaws, this was a fun little book, and I’d recommend it for someone looking for something fun and off the beaten track.