|The Reluctant King|
L. Sprague deCamp
Date: 01 September, 1996 — $6.99 — Book
In the kingdom of Xylar, the king reigns for five years and at the end, he is beheaded. The one who catches his head as it is flung from the scaffold is the next king— a fate that Jorian unwittingly managed by catching the head on a visit to the kingdom and its capitol. Naturally, Jorian does not want to die, and after a last-minute escape, is on a grand adventure with the wizard Karadur, who has required a task of him in exchange for his help.
The task is simply to steal a box of documents out from under the nose of a snake-princess— after, of course, escaping the Xylarians, fighting off a murderous wizard, dealing with demons and xenophobes, treading conflicting politics and pirates and ex-headsmen all the way. Jorian manages his tasks with a storyteller's flair; in fact, stories of his home kingdom feature prominently throught the books of this omnibus edition.
This is a simple old-fashioned adventure tale, though deCamp does throw in a few twists just for fun. It's not quite a popcorn book— fun but no real value— but goes in the category of a well-done action movie. It's well crafted, but who looks past the pretty pictures? This is just fun.