There are 3 kinds of Drew Hayes books: a) the novels that as complete books are 600+ pages long, have short chapters, and are fairly episodic (ie Super Powereds), b) the novels that are structured more like novels with chapter longer than 1-2 pages and not epic in length (Spells, Swords, & Stealth), and c) the novels that are average in length (under 300 pages) and set up like a series of short stories (Fred the Vampire Accountant). While some of the distinctions come from some titles being originally web-novels while others are traditionally published, one of the more interesting things that I’ve found is that no matter the length and general structure, they are all equally readable. It might take a week to finish a Super Powereds novel, about two hours to finish a Fred novel, and an evening to finish something like Going Rogue (Spells, Swords, & Stealth 3), but no matter which you choose, you’ll end up with something fun, a little snarky, and most definitely messing with pop culture traditions while still participating in said traditions. At least if you’re me.
So this is actually a review of Going Rogue but I’m also starting to notice some narrative trends. Installment 3 of the Spells, Swords, & Stealth series is definitely getting into the core mystery of the series a lot more: the nature of the Bridge artifact and who might be behind Broken Bridge Publishing and the games modules that are causing the real world and the game world to intersect more and more directly. There’s also a pattern of characterization developing: Book 1 introduces the premise and key players (pun kinda intended), Book 2 highlights Grumph’s progress as mage, and Book 3 highlight’s Eric’s gaining some formal rogue training. Gabrielle and Timuscor each go through a phase of professional/personal growth in every novel (so far), while Thistle seems to get more information about his predecessor as paladin of Grumble and what that might end up meaning for himself and his party. Books 2 and 3 also each introduce a new elf who is a travelling untrustworthy character who has their own kind of honor which demands they stick with the team and help out for a while. What’s unique to Going Rogue is the amount of increasing awareness of the mysterious artifacts and connections in the real world gamer sections. At this point, I’m still wondering what’s going to happen, which means that as parodically derivative as the story is, it’s still not always predictable. I appreciate this. The additional of Jamie made things more uncertain, even with the few hints given when her perspective is present. When 2 characters, one from book 2 and one new to book 3, get together, at first it was a little WTF is going on here. After finishing and going back over some things, I now wonder about one of these characters, but we’ll have to wait and see.
As of right now, I still have Corpies on my TBR shelf, and I’ll be finishing Fred 4 this evening. Then I will be stuck having to wait until whichever novel is currently closest to being done comes out, and I have no idea what or when that will be. While this situation sucks a bit (sorry, Fred), I think it will be a test of the re-readability of everything else. My guess is that most everything will be pretty re-readable, except possibly for Super Powereds since that series depends more on suspense than the others do. We’ll have to see.