A not-quite-direct sequal to Kill the Farm Boy, No Country for Old Gnomes give us new characters and locales to love and laugh at, and keeps all the humor and trope-bending of the first book.
In this new novel we’re introduced to a cast somehow even stranger and more varied than the last. Two gnomes who don’t fit in, but thrive on a very un-gnome-like adventure; A banished gryphon; a straight-and-narrow halfling; a klepto ovitaur; a peace loving dwarf with a very violent cudgel; these are the backbone of the story. The group is forced together and takes up the task of restoring law and order to their corner of Pell, which is currently full of firebombing halflings and refugee gnomes. The surprise hero of Kill the Farm Boy returns as well, continuing to somehow be better at being a person than most actual people, despite having been a goat for most of his life.
As before, the authors seem to delight in turning tropes upside down. In this installment they’ve refined that method. Fantasy has often been used as a mirror for our real-world issues. The authors have here melded that into their trope subverting humor, and managed to be both funny and pointed. The development of the characters was satisfying, if sometimes sappy, and very realistic. There weren’t any major role reversals, but most everyone ended the store more whole than they started.
Once again Dawson and Hearne have put out a satisfying read that doesn’t suffer from how light it is. You won’t find heavy plots, grim-dark grittiness, or biting commentary here. But if you want humor, a fast pace, light political plots, and a dash of heartwarming sincerity, this is a good buy. If you liked the first one you’ll enjoy this for sure. Personally, I hope there will be more in this series.