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The Banned Underground:

The Amulet of Kings

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by Will Macmillan Jones

 

 

The Banned Underground is a pretty funny piece of writing.  I laughed out loud on more than one occasion, and I had to wonder about the author’s clearly warped sense of humor and just how many puns, jokes, and obscure references he has up his sleeve.

The story follows (sort-of) two teenagers shipped up to the aunt’s house while their mother recovers in the hospital.  But this is not your normal aunt.  She is a witch (“good” or “bad,” I am still not completely sure), and the teenagers arrive just as Ned, a dark lord starts his quest for world domination.  Things get progressively more and more strange as the cast of characters includes dwarves, musical bog trolls, fire trolls, a malevolent refrigerator, Tuatha,  Edrens (sort of elvish people), mages, Bodgandor (sort of evil spear holders), and a flatulent goat. 

The dwarves lost the Amulet of Kings, a device which gives them power to keep out invaders and take out the garbage.  When Ned finds it in an old guitar case, he keeps it for himself instead of turning it over to his boss, the Grey Mage. The bulk of the tale follows the teenagers and other characters as they fight their way around the dwarves’ mansion and at the Aunt Dot’s home as the Bodgnador invade.

The story, to be honest, is almost an afterthought.  It merely serves as a vehicle for the author’s immense collection of all forms of humor.  Some puns can be seen coming from a mile away.  Others sneak up on the reader, smacking him (or her) between the eyes before he knows what hit him.   At about 3.2 laughs per Kindlized page, that is a lot of laughs.

There are going to be numerous comparisons to Terry Pratchett by readers of this book, and the comparison is not quite appropriate.  While Pratchett tells a story with a degree of plot and character development, Jones merely used his story as a set-up line.  Pratchett’s jokes are more subtle and take longer to develop while Jones fires his out like machine-gun fire.  Oh, there were a few very subtle jokes of which I am sure many will miss, but most of his are as subtle as a pie-in-the-face.  Whereas Pratchett is more of a Bill Cosby, Jones is Carrot Top.

I should point out that while I love my Kindle, this book might be better in the physical form.   There are numerous footnotes which are quite funny, but reading them well after the text they reference takes quite a bit away from their impact.  In a physical book form, the reader could just glance down immediately and read them in context.

If you are expecting Joyce or Faulkner, forget it.  But if you want a good laugh or two (or a thousand), then this book is well worth reading.

 

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