Scoundrels With Hearts of Gold

I just finished Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan. He self-published his series as e-books and they did well enough that Orbit books picked it up to reprint in three omnibus volumes. This just doesn't happen very often so I was intrigued. Generally speaking I will turn my little nose up at anything self published. There's a lot of junk out there and some of the stuff I've read in the past... What has been seen cannot be unseen and I've become jaded enough to insist that an editor has been between me and that slush pile of badly written horrors. Sullivan is one of those occasional exceptions to the rule. 

This isn't high brow literary fantasy by any stretch of the imagination. The two main characters are introduced with a scene that's truly hilarious if you read lots of epic fantasy. Let's not talk about how late I stayed up finishing the book one night that I was home alone and didn't have that external voice of reason telling me it was past time to turn off the light and go to sleep. (Just 100 odd pages left... OK, closer to 200. Won't take me more that an hour... or two....) The author takes all the grand old tropes and cliches and goes to town with them. The heroes are scoundrels with hearts of gold. The villains all but twirl their mustaches and laugh manically. If there had been a chandelier in this book I'm certain somebody would have swung from it. So yes, the book was flawed. I've certainly read better books and I can see why editors passed it by initially. But it's just so darn much *fun* that I found myself forgiving every flaw.

It reminded me of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. You know it's not going to be 'good' but when Captain Jack Sparrow first staggers onto the screen you can't quite help but smile.