Bad Prince Charlie

Posted by : atcampbell | On : December 19, 2006

Bad Prince Charlie by John Moore

Nine people attended this meeting at A. T.’s house. Our topic was Bad Prince Charlie, the latest romantic comedy fantasy by Houston-based FACT member John Moore. The story involves the prince of a small impoverished country deliberately trying to do a bad job of ruling, so that his country is absorbed by a wealthier empire. His plan is complicated by his father’s ghost, noble ladies, a wizard, and a priestess. All of us had read Moore before, and all had finished the book.

This was a fun book to read. We found the story compulsively readable, and two of us had finished the book in one sitting. Prince Charlie’s clueless romantic pursuits of strong-willed and beautiful women were charming. The techies in our group appreciated Moore’s unusual “humor for engineers”, which involves much more math and science than usual for a fantasy. Clever footnotes are used to parody other humorous fantasy authors including Terry Pratchett and Jasper Fforde. One member pointed out that the story is essentially a comedy version of one of Shakespeare’s classic tragedies.

Since we have discussed Moore’s last three books, some of us offered comments on the development of his writing. We feel that his narrative voice is clear and noticeably different from other comic fantasy writers like Asprin and Pratchett. We would like to see him play with the conventions of the genre more. We also hope to see deeper characterizations, so that more of the humor grows out character. One of the joys of our group has been to see the evolution of new writers, and we’re looking forward to seeing John’s growth.

This enjoyable book was a great choice to close out the year. After the meeting, we had a nice dinner at Brick Oven Pizza.

— A. T. Campbell, III