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I bought this book fully anticipating that it would be packed with the carefully crafted sardonic wit that typifies the author’s twitter feed.
What I didn’t expect was exactly how much it makes you think. This book is full cleverly posited philosophical arguments that can cause you to re-examine yourself and your morality if you allow them to… and you should allow them to.
Although classified as a parody (and it does that well, with obvious inspiration from some of the giants of the fantasy genre – Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga springs to mind, as do influences from Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and their ilk), a proper reading of this brings so much more food for thought.
Written from both the perspective of the eponymous Dark Lord, and the meddlesome Chosen One sent to destroy them, there is a breadth of language used that both amuses and probes into the reader’s understanding of the basis of good and evil and, indeed, makes some very convincing arguments regarding human morality and assumptions.
It could be seen as a parable for modern times, a comment on the current political climate, and an acknowledgement that there are those who think that people are easily classified with a soundbite, and fall for mass rhetoric and bile. It is all of these, but equally it asks the question as to what happens if you let yourself and your world view be defined by others’ opinions.
If you like fantasy, if you like parody, if you like to be questioned occasionally, and to be made to really consider yourself and your role in humanity, then give this book a go. It’ll make you smile, it’ll make you nod in agreement, and it will make you reflect, and sometimes, you can’t ask for much more out of a book than that.
What did I expect from a book which sub-heads itself as A Dark Lord’s Diary and A Memoir and Manifesto for Villains and Monsters?
The book/journal to be written entirely from the point of view of a loquacious but dastardly super villain A plot choc full of the thoughts and actions of an extreme machiavellian character, whose evil deeds and plans would provide vicarious thrills while horrifying the more gentle reader Evil to triumph over good in the most crushing way An interesting, suspense-filled journey towards a climactic battle
What did I get from There and Never Ever Back Again - A Dark Lord’s Diary?
Two points of view: the eponymous Dark Lord and the current Chosen One (current - because the White Wizard burns through them like matches). Each keeps a journal interwoven to create the saga’s progress An elucidating discourse filled with thought-provoking nuggets of wisdom on the injustice of human attitudes/emotions relating to anything defined as different. Ancient creatures who’ve been maligned, mistreated and banished from the sunlight, unsurprisingly ally themselves with a being who offers the opportunity to reclaim what they have lost Philosophy-themed discussions pertaining to standards of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ which call into question the perception of either concept, inviting a re-examination of one’s morality. The final /climactic battle towards which the White Wizard is pushing may be strewn with futility (not uncommon in the nature of battles). Races may be preparing to fight to death or extinction over a principle, while victory over the central villain could be perceived as a change of driver, rather than destination.
While the Chosen One shows signs of developing an affinity with their sworn enemy, symbiotically the reader questions the consequences of allowing their own worldview to be defined by others. I fully appreciated the thought-provoking nature of this book.
There and Never Ever Back Again is a fantasy book, written with humour and a sardonic wit that kept me so entertained that, once I’d finished, I wanted to start again! For this genre I tend to watch films more often than read, so it’s a pleasant surprise to have so much to take away from its discourse. Structured around the hero’s journey, the author gives amusing nods to renowned writers (I recognised Tolkien, other reviewers mention Pratchett, Jordan and Gaiman) which adds to the satirical nature of the book. In one final twist, the main characters aren’t restricted by traditional binary moulds.
I’ll definitely read this again and recommend it to friends.
Building up on a base that enmeshes sci-fi and fantasy this book instigates your thoughts and challenges your morals at every step. This is what makes this book stand out. It is not your regular fantasy! It is thought provoking, introspective and engages readers at a philosophical level. I’m officially a fan of his writing and the trademark wit. The writing is engaging and it is needless to say that the narrative is immensely entertaining.
There is always a Dark Lord, a White Wizard and a Chosen One in between. And after we established this fact, this book deviates from the usual tropes of high fantasy and offers up a sarcastically humorous read, as the fabric of existence is explained to us through the pondering of a a Dark Lord, penning down their thoughts in a journal. The nature of Orcs, Elves, Unicorns, Dwarves and most importantly humans is offered up in short entries and every now and then we get challenged to rethink our morale in the eternal fight between "Good" and "Evil". And if there is a tiny input of the Choosen One in between, we'll just take that in stride as well.
If you want to be amazed by the perfect balance of sarcastic quips and still easily understandable sentence structure, which the awesome penmanship of Jeff Mach offers us here, then this book is a must for your fantasy collection! As a second language English speaker, I found enjoying myself greatly. Let this read take you into the depths of fantasy and fiction and lead you down a path that's unexpected in this genre, but offers you up so many philosophical goodies on the way that you can only embrace it.
What a delightful little romp into the dark side! Here we have a loquacious super villain pontificating their own existence while besmirching the good names of elves and unicorns. There's a lot to love here - a playfulness of language, a sense of well timed whimsy, and at times glimmers of wise insight you wouldn't really expect. It's a bit light on plot but it was too funny to care that much. I mean parables from the dark side? Yes, please. I have already recommended it to other twisted minds.
There are many things to love about fantasy. But perhaps one of the greatest, that thing most unique to fantasy, is that it is the genre that puts us most directly in contact with our primal architypes. There is good and evil. There are dragons and goblins and trolls and elves. Many aspects of our own selves are empowered, personified, and turned into conscious beings so that we may, in a sense, examine them. And then there is magic, our personification of human will itself, with internal rules that measure out what we believe to be our fundimental limitations as thinking beings.
Odd, then, that so little fantasy is actually reflective. We have the hero's journey, sure, and we have the fireworks, and big battles between Dark and Light. But little room is given for deep human motivations to go along with the primal landscape. Our Good reasons are usually simplistic, and the reasoning for villians is... difficult truly to comprehend, except to put it in a box labelled "this here is eevillll!" and have them do rediculously barbaric things to gain "power" or something.
Well, here we have something else. This book provides reflection in droves. And it will give you a whole different take on the forces of Darkness and the forces of Light. One that actually makes some kind of sense. One that doesn't require all of the Dark forces to be stone cold psychopaths, bent only on murder and poor dental hygiene.
Sure, its written in a mostly light and comedic tone, but this is seriously thoughtful stuff. And if perhaps it makes us reconsider how we, who think of ourselves as the Good, create our own monsters...
You know the players. • A White Wizard, wise and caring. • A Dark Lord, power mad and self-absorbed. • A Chosen One, the only hope.
But what if the Wizard is making it up as he goes along? And cares for himself most of all?
The Lord is only interested in having one kingdom; and has some regard for the troops that will fight to protect that kingdom?
And the Chosen is not the Only, merely the Latest?
Welcome to Jeff Mach’s debut novel, There and Never, Ever Back Again: Diary of a Dark Lord. An old tale spun a new way.
With a looming invasion by the forces of Good, the Dark Lord fills the Chosen One in on the perpetual sarcasm of Elves, that Orcs are not so much ugly as asymmetrical, and that, perhaps, not all who dwell in the Darkness are there of their own volition.
There are no illusions of being a misunderstood ‘Hero’. The Dark Lord has worked and bled to claim that title of ‘Villain’. For the world needs villains, even if most won’t realize it.
Intercut are entries from the Chosen One’s own diary, who is learning there is much grey between Good and Evil. And how little a person is worth compared to the symbol others make of them.
If you like your fantasy neat and tidy, then I wish you a good day. But if you want to think a bit, see the view from the other side of the fence, and just maybe find the words you’ve been wishing someone would say…
“There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN: A Dark Lord's Diary: (A Memoir and Manifesto For Villains and Monsters)” is a rare treat that artfully fuses intellectual discourse with wit into a brilliant achievement of satire. Author Jeff Mach’s gift to the reader is a blurring of the lines between fiction and commentary, fantasy and critique; and, of course, the false dichotomy of Good and Evil.
Through the musings of the Dark Lord’s wry observations and ruminations, Mach takes on the logical fallacies all too common in popular fiction and the mental follies, hypocrisies, irrationalities, oversimplifications, and futilities so infectious of the minds of mortals; the mental gymnastics that we, as individuals, institutions, and collectives, strain to pull off instead of turning our scopes around and questioning our worldview. As countenance to the Dark Lord, the fabled White Wizard and Chosen One serve to illuminate what the ways our heroes and fictional species interact with hypothetical realms and characters implies about our own species and realm.
You don’t have to be a fan of or even familiar with the fantasy genre to get swept up in this epic narrative. Ever pragmatic, apt for modern times, non-partisan, enlightening, fun, and articulate, these well-crafted sentences and captivating content ensure you never feel preached to or scolded; rather, you are along for the ride, willing and captivated.
You’ll love this “Dark Lord’s Diary” for how it simultaneously entertains, engages, and invites you to nod, smile, laugh, and reflect. You’ll want to read it again (and gobble everything else Author Jeff Mach writes) to absorb the abundance of quotable lines and layers of parody and good-natured ribbing at humanity’s expense.