Reviews for Standard Hero Behavior

Booklist Reviews 2007 October #2
*Starred Review* Unlike his father, who left long ago with the rest of the town's heroes, 15-year-old Mason Quayle is an unsuccessful, unhappy bard, who longs to be a hero himself. By chance he discovers that the town's sole protector, Duke Dirk Darlinger, is a sham, and the town will be routed by orcs and other monsters if broke Darlinger doesn't come up with some cash. Mason, with his sidekick Cowel, is enlisted to brave the Blackcloud Mountains and come back with some heroes to save the day. This clever send-up of the standard hero tale features plenty of scary creatures, along with a cross-dressing giant, a beautiful witch, the young daughter of a pair of former heroes, a narcoleptic knight, and a handbook of standard hero behavior called Quayles' Guide to Adventures for the Unadventurous. Mason is thoroughly believable as a somewhat unwilling adventurer, who not only stumbles along until he accomplishes his quest but also finds out something important about his father and himself. Using imaginative details, witty language with a scattering of modern idiom, and lots of allusions, Anderson manages the difficult task of constructing a satisfying story while poking large fun at all genre traditions. Fantasy fans are ensured a good laugh. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Spring
Best friends Mason and Cowel are shocked when they're charged with saving their village from monsters. Armed with a guide to Standard Hero Behavior, the unlikely duo sets out to recruit "real" heroes, managing, predictably, to save the village themselves en route. This first novel drags, but it's packed with creative characters, bizarre adventures, and zinging jokes. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2007 October #1
A light tone overlays serious undercurrents in this leisurely but entertaining fantasy. When his town's hero turns out to be a fraud who had been buying off the thuggish local Orcs with tax money, struggling young bard Mason sets out with foil/sidekick Cowel to recruit some new heroes--and maybe find out what became of his father, who had left years earlier with the last batch. Against the odds, he's ultimately successful in both aims. If the heroes he finds aren't quite the steely eyed champions of song and story (one is the thoroughly adolescent daughter of two ex-heroes, for instance, and another a narcoleptic swordsman who fights best when he's asleep), he does come away with the insight that "most of us aren't really heroes, per se, / We're just everyday people having heroic days." He also learns that his father may not have lived a hero, but he did die as one. Tucking in comic bits ("Is Your Hero a Dud or a Stud? Take this Easy Quiz and Find Out") and inept but promising verse, Anderson dishes up a debut that's in the same vein as Gerald Morris's Arthurian tales, though less polished. (Fantasy. 11-13) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2008 January

Gr 6-10-- Mason and Cowel live in Highsmith, a town that used to be filled with heroes who chased dragons and battled ogres. But then all but one of them, including Mason's father, packed up and left--gone on a mysterious errand, from which no one returned. The remaining hero is wealthy and smug Dirk Darlinger, who runs Highsmith and keeps laying new taxes on the empty wallets of its people. Sincere Mason labors to become a bard, but Darlinger has his own bard and there are no other heroes for him to chronicle. Wise-guy Cowel sells plumes that nobody needs for helmets that no one wears. They know they're no heroes. But when a mob of orcs and goblins sweeps into town, defeats Darlinger, and threatens to tear the place apart, the teens must sneak away on a quest to find all those vanished heroes. Anderson's first novel is witty, but far too talky; there's very little action, especially in the first few chapters. Its mock-medieval setting is fantasy-generic, and its language includes modern street slang that is jarring. The tale is ultimately satisfying, but it's unclear how many young readers will stick with it until the end.--Walter Minkel, New York Public Library

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