Quests and Quandaries
Author: Alda Yuan Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Self-Published
Blurb: The Floating Isles were created millions of years ago when a beetle the size of a continent churned up mud from the seabed for a perch. And things have only gotten weirder since. This is a tongue in cheek account of a princess forced to go on a quest, very much against her will. With the proverbial band of sidekicks at her side, Rahni leaves the familiar comforts of home for the mysterious Eigen States, a place where, of course, nothing is as it seems. Or else it wouldn’t be much of a quest. Rahni is determined not to let the laws of the land dictate anything, least of all how seriously she has to take the whole matter. Her dearest wish is to get through the quest with as few near scrapes and mortal enemies as possible. If she has to go on a quest, she wants it to be bland, with no nonsense about holding the fate of the world in her hands. Naturally, nothing goes quite as she plans. But what else is new?
Trigger Warnings: Sexism, violence
**Special thanks to the author for a copy in exchange for an honest review**
- The tradition. I really love a good adventure story, with the traditional quest and the band of heroes going to save the day. Is it overdone? Some can argue that point, but I just can’t help but love that plot structure. I loved it even more that it was twisted, in the sense that Rahni wasn’t a chosen one, destined to go on this quest, but instead, it was a sort of right-of-passage that everyone in her family has to overcome, at some point. I liked that uniqueness of it.
- The subversion. I also liked that there are a lot of traditional fantasy tropes presented here (good versus evil, the damsel in distress, the hero, the quest, the chosen one), but many of them are twisted on their heads and called out for being misogynistic, for example. It was a fun way to incorporate traditional tropes without feeling overdone.
- The lack of subtlety. It’s weird for this book, as what I enjoyed about it also pairs with something that I didn’t like it about it. While I really enjoyed the subversion of traditional tropes, it was very obvious about it–to the point that the characters themselves would call it out, almost breaking the fourth wall. Some readers might not mind this, but I would have preferred a little more subtlety in how this was presented.
- The almost-slapstick humor. Again, I think other readers might enjoy this more than me, but the humor, which was a heavy element, felt almost slapstick, at times, which is usually hit-or-miss for me. Unfortunately, in this instance, while I did find it funny sometimes, most often, I wasn’t enjoying it as much.
I thought Quest and Quandaries (which, I can’t get over the alliteration in the title, which carries out over the series; I love it) was a fine read, but it wasn’t something I fell in love with completely. I really enjoyed the idea, but the execution was lacking for me. As such, I rated this book 2.5 gems out of 5, rounding up to 3 stars on Goodreads. It’s a series I think many who enjoy this kind of humor will enjoy, but for me, I will not be continuing the series.