Mightier than the Sword

Posted by : atcampbell | On : September 15, 2009

Mightier than the Sword by Tom Holt

Thirteen attended this discussion at the Milwood Library. Our topic, Mightier than the Sword, was an omnibus of two Tom Holt humorous fantasy novels: Who’s Afraid of Beowulf? and My Hero. The first book involves enchanted Norse heroes being awakened after a long sleep by archaeologists in the 20th century. The second book concerns a writer whose book takes on a life of its own. Eight of us had read Holt’s work before. Eight started this book, four finished the first novel, and two finished both novels.

Most of us liked this book. We enjoyed reading about normal people being confronted with surreal mythical characters and situations, and the matter-of-fact way they handled it.

Everyone commented that Holt’s humor was different from other humor writers we’d read before like Terry Pratchett and John Moore, and it took a while to get into the right mindset to enjoy Holt’s surreal brand of funny business.  One person said that Holt requires more of the reader then many other writers do. Another noted that this book had long sentences and could not be read quickly.

Two members of our group did not enjoy the book. One said it “did not do much” for him. Another felt that Holt kept the reader so distant from his characters that it was hard to like them.

Those of us who finished both novels in this volume generally preferred the second book, My Hero, which was written much later. These readers felt the story moved faster and was more focused. One person particularly enjoyed the scene involving a gunfight in Pride and Prejudice.

Near the end of the meeting, we discussed other humor writers we enjoyed. British writers mentioned were Jasper Fforde, Terry Pratchett, Robert Rankin, Martin Scott, and Ben Elton. The American writers named were Connie Willis, H. Beam Piper, Eric Frank Russell, Neal Stephenson, and Rudy Rucker.

After our discussion ended, many of us had dinner at Mangia Pizza.

—A. T. Campbell, III