A Tankard and Heroes Novel
Publisher: Sol Publishing
Characters: Kieron, Mitchell, Kane, Declan, Malyn, Tom
Genre: High Fantasy, Series
A medieval fantasy with a party of adventurers all ready to make a name for themselves and earn some gold.
Tankards and Heroes is set in the city of Kortufan, where spies, assassins, mercenaries, arms dealers, rebels, smugglers, and informants do dirty deals dirt cheap.
The Poxy Dragon is a rough bar outside the worst part of the medieval Silk Road. It takes serious courage just to walk into the place, not only from its reputation but because of the rough clientele, questionable food, awful beer, and abysmal hygiene. Lots of taverns in Kortufan are home to ruffians and illegal dealings, but the Poxy Dragon is the proving ground for heroes – with a cemetery out back for the ones who don’t make the cut.
Lady Leota, the resident demigoddess at the Poxy Dragon, sends would-be heroes to different realms on quests. Once committed, there is no turning back, and if they want their reward, every party member must return through the portal – dead or alive.
I enjoyed the set up for this story, and its world. It’s a neat idea having a tavern and heroes going on quests as a continuing thread throughout this new series. Although this story is about one particular quest and its heroes, the story also takes breaks from the main action to show life within the tavern, and the character who populate it. The Poxy Dragon is a wonderful name for a tavern, and having the quest start and end there bookends the action very nicely.
The characterisation is fabulous. I was quickly drawn into the story which is told from the perspective of the very different characters. I liked that each character does take a turn in POV, as it gave insight and backstory for them and in the way they perceived the others. I enjoyed reading Tom’s perception of the questing heroes too. I loved the family vibe between Kieron, Mitchell, and their friends, and the description of them as a mismatched pack, and family by choice. The banter and conversations felt like family. I’ve always been a fan of flawed heroes, so this story and these characters appealed to me on several levels.
The world felt very real and was wonderfully detailed with a rich history, and easy to visualise. I liked that having abilities came with a price, like Maylyn tiring after healing someone, and others suffering from headaches. I also liked that they were all from different backgrounds, genders and sexualities with a shifter, half-elf, mage, healer, medium, and a human in the mix. Often in fantasy stories the human is at a disadvantage because of having no magic, so I loved that this flipped that so that in some of the scenarios they came up against, Kieron had the advantage because he was human. I also liked the point the story makes that those born into wealth and power doesn’t always have the freedom to be who they want to be.
I thought the quest itself was very clever with some of the things they encountered on the way, how they had to work out getting around and through the traps, and that a part of the quest is designed for each of them and their fears and skillset. I particularly liked the bridge, and Lady Brewer’s Tavern.
I’d recommend this story to readers who enjoy quest stories with flawed heroes, fabulous world building, and a story with plenty of twists and turn. 5 out of 5 stars.