Book Reviews

The Not-So-Frugal Witch’s non-spoiler review of The Frugal Wizard’s Medieval England Survival Manual

Greetings, thrifty and not-so-frugal witches and wizards! In times of financial uncertainty, you may be asking yourself, “Is The Frugal Wizard’s Survival Manual in Medieval England worth investing in?” Well, the answer to that question is actually pretty easy to determine! It depends on many factors, which means it’s time to ask yourself, “Do you like pretty pictures?” “Do you like the satires of Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams?” “Do you like speculative fiction, especially science fiction and alternate history?” And of course, “Do you like talking about bananas?”

You’re probably thinking by now, “Well, isn’t this the comments section where you’re supposed to tell us what the book is about? And… talking bananas? What’s this?!”

Well, you see, dear Frugal readers, this book is pretty hard to summarize without giving away a ton of plot points and interesting twists! You see, it’s about a guy who shows up in medieval England, or near medieval England, without any memory.

“Oh,” you’re thinking. “The old chestnut?”

I know what you’re thinking. I can see you rolling your eyes. What, does the term “omniscient narrator” mean nothing to you?

So here’s the thing: the story revolves around our protagonist discovering his own past while fleeing suspicious characters from his time, with nothing to help him except fragments of a silly manual. Giving away anything else about the story would spoil the fun of discovering the answers with him.

Maybe I can tell you some more things…

As shown on the cover, the wizard in question has a very nice pointed hat.

And what looks like a laser gun. Super futuristic. Very beautiful.

And the artwork inside is really, really cool. Especially the talking banana artwork.

There’s something else I can tell you, something I’ve actually been telling you in a very sneaky, subtle way…

That’s right. You guessed it. If you like this style of writing, chances are you’ll enjoy this story.

Now, having said that, I’m afraid I do have some criticisms and quibbles to raise. Some parts of the book do read a lot like the aforementioned Adams and Pratchett, especially the “manual” narration, which is very interesting. But most read more like traditional sci-fi adventures. There’s still plenty of fun to be had in the main story, and the narrator’s character voice is great, but I found most of the time the narration was more interesting than the main storyline. This leads to my main criticism.

All in all, this isn’t one of my favorites of Mr. Sanderson’s work. In fact, on a Sanderson level, I rate it pretty low, just above Snapshot. As a history student, I found the alternate history aspects of the narrative a little… distasteful. I appreciate what Sanderson is doing, but it just doesn’t feel right to me. The book also doesn’t have a tie-in with Cosmere because it’s a standalone novel. If you don’t want to spend ten years sifting through lore on the Coppermind wiki to find all the Easter eggs and tie-ins between the books, then this might be faster. Together with The Thrifty Wizard’s Handbook, you can simply sit back, sip your beverage of choice hot or cold, read the book cover to cover, put it down with a sigh of contentment, and know you’re done. It doesn’t leave any pressing questions or any further expectations for this particular book/world. Sometimes it’s very satisfying to have a whole story inside a book’s cover. It’s worth noting that while this doesn’t rank highly in my personal evaluation of Brandon Sanderson’s work, it still far exceeds many of the books and stories I’ve read.

But if you’re looking for something closer to Sanderson’s usual style, with a very complex magic system and multiple intricate camera angles, then this probably isn’t for you. Or whiskey. Or a banana smoothie.

Look. Bring it back to the bananas. It all comes back to bananas.

So, let’s discuss – I look forward to hearing your thoughts on The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook! Is the sci-fi indie format right for you? Is Brandon Sanderson actually a talking banana in disguise? Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *