Expecting Someone Taller (1987)

EST

Fantasy novel about an every-man who happens to kill a mighty giant right out of Wagner’s ring cycle, inherits his ring (that allows him to control the world) and his invisibility/shape-changing cap. From thereon, he’s followed by various creatures from old myths, most famously Odin who wants nothing more than to get his hands on both ring and magic cap.

It’s a slight book, but a lot of fun, due to the absurdities of a typical norm getting thrown into the ridiculous world of might and magic and how he tries to do right thing, measuring up to his own expectations about what someone with such a power should do.

It does get a bit annoying halfway into the plot, as the main POV falls head over heels for one of the Valkyrie’s without the author managing to bring across why he would at all. It’s a narrative crutch the story shouldn’t have needed, and only gets resolved with another crutch right before the book finishes.

Still, I read it over ten years ago and still remembered how much fun I had with it, then recently reread it and realized that for all its faults, it’s still really enjoyable. Holt is a sharp observer of human nature who can pin down and then make fun of typical human weaknesses and inanities with an irreverent and mocking tone, yet without ever coming across as mean or cynical. All this is done through the various larger-than-life yet all-too-human characters that take center-stage, which makes it even more funnier.

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