***** - The Frugal Wizard's Handbook for Surviving Medieval England
THE FRUGAL WIZARD'S HANDBOOK FOR SURVIVING MEDIEVAL ENGLAND
Orion Publishing Group - Gollancz have very kindly asked me to participate in their blog tour for The Frugal Wizard's Handbook for Surviving Medieval England by Brandon Sanderson which came out last week! Brandon Sanderson is one of my favourite authors so I was very excited to read this book! I'll start by telling you all about the book and the author and then share my review!
A man awakes in a clearing in what appears to be medieval England with no memory of who he is, where he came from, or why he is there. Chased by a group from his own time, his sole hope for survival lies in regaining his missing memories, making allies among the locals, and perhaps even trusting in their superstitious boasts. His only help from the "real world" should have been a guidebook entitled The Frugal Wizard's Handbook for Surviving Medieval England, except his copy exploded during transit. The few fragments he managed to save provide clues to his situation, but can he figure them out in time to survive?
In Spring 2022, Brandon Sanderson launched a Kickstarter campaign to sell 4 books. The Kickstarter raised over $41 million and was the sites biggest and most successful campaign to date.
The Kickstarter had 185,000 backers, and those who participated in the campaign selected to receive premium hardcovers, e-books, audiobooks or swag boxes in multiple combinations.
The campaign was covered widely in major outlets including The Guardian, The Times, The New York Times, CNN and much more.
Dragonsteel (Brandon's company) will release the Kickstarter novels in January, April, July and October. The Gollancz hardcover editions will be published four months after each Kickstarter release.
Brandon Sanderson grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. He lives in Utah with his wife and children and teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University. He is the author of such bestsellers as the Mistborn trilogy and its sequels; the Stormlight Archive novels and other novels, including The Rithmatist, Steelheart and Skyward. He won a Hugo Award for The Emperor's Soul, a novella set in the world of his acclaimed first novel, Elantris. Additionally, he was chosen to complete Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time sequence.
For behind the scenes information on all of his books, visit Brandon's Website.
‘This is the odd man out of the group of secret projects I wrote in 2020 and 2021. It’s not in the Cosmere, it’s in first person, and it’s more science fiction than fantasy.’
It’s always fun to see an established author want to take a bit of a departure from the books they are inherently known for, and it seems like the (extremely long) title ‘The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England’, had been in Brandon Sanderson’s head for a long time before he got around to putting pen to paper.
This book seems to have split reviewers by the looks of it, with the humour and characters not really landing with some readers. I personally really enjoyed it, it’s refreshing and quite light and I think would be a nice introduction to Sanderson to those who might not have the time to invest in a new series.
This is very much a standalone novel, and it has its own inherent style with brilliant illustrations from Steve Argyll. I must admit to being very grateful that I was given a physical ARC from Gollancz, as I usually read on my Kindle only and I’m not sure it would have had the same impact. It did however, mean I had to try and remember how to read an actual book and search out for a bookmark – as I travel so much for work, I haven’t picked up a physical book in years! If you are able to, I’d highly recommend getting the hardcover as it is beautiful, with illustrated chapter headings, as well as full graphic pages of the Handbook itself.
Most of the world building is done through these snippets of Handbook pages, that are marketing materials for the Interdimensional Travel Company who set Wizards up with their very own dimension to conquer – think a real-life version of Age of Empires! These Handbook pages are also humorous throughout, with footnotes giving witty asides. They do feel a little repetitive in places but then that is realistic when it comes to marketing materials!
In his notes at the end Brandon Sanderson names this as a ‘white-room’ story, which he has never done in novel form but has always wanted to try. This is defined as the character waking up with no memory and having to discover who they are along with the reader. This was a great narrative mechanic here as you can slip in a bit of an unreliable narrator without losing trust of the main character. The man finds himself in this other dimension with no idea why he chose to come there and what he might be running away from in his world. The man is an odd character – he gives star reviews to everything he encounters, is good at being stealthy, has rudimentary knowledge of hand-to-hand combat and can draw very well. We go on the journey with him as a reader and although he elicits empathy, he can get a little annoying at times!
I don’t want to give too much away about the story – it’s humorous and heartfelt at times and there are some good twists. The characters are fun and interesting – the female ones in particular! It doesn’t really give much of a scope for a sequel, but I’d actually love to visit the original world that has nanite and upgrade technology and where people disappear to live in their own dimensions on a whim!
Overall, The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England is a fun story with brilliant illustrations – perfect for fans of Sanderson who don’t have the time to get invested in a whole new series. Thank you to Orion Publishing Group – Gollancz for a copy of the physical ARC in exchange for an honest review on their official blog tour.
LINKS TO BUY