Jak Barley, Private Inquisitor and the Case of the Dark Lords Conspiracy by Dan Ehl

Jak Barley, Private Inquisitor and the Case of the Dark Lords Conspiracy by Dan Ehl
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (197 Pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Private inquisitor Jak Barley is ready for some down time after battling Ghennison Viper Mages, being attacked by piss dragons, and fighting off priests of Dorga the Fished Headed God of Death. That is why Jak was not a bit amused to have a scruffy mage insist that he is to be one of a group of questers decreed in an ancient prophecy that must cross the icy Alf Mountains to foil the return of the Old Gods. To do so meant using a map all too heavily dotted with “Here Be…” warnings that read like an “Idiot’s Guide to Monsters.”

And why are Westian Lizard Wizards targeting young red-headed maidens and who is behind the numerous and bizarre attacks upon Jak? Once gain Jak finds himself saying, “I hate adventures.”

Jak Barley gets caught up once again in a dangerous quest, in order to fulfill an ancient prophesy and save the world from certain destruction. When a pair of Djork Ship Rats from Aghjem’s Litter ask to join the quest, Jak finds it most peculiar. His friend and fellow quester, Lorenzo sighs and says, “Tell me what isn’t peculiar about heading through the frozen north mountains based upon gibberish verses dealing with crazed wizards, a stone with purported powers, and ancient deities bent on world destruction? What’s a couple rats thrown in that makes it any crazier?” And so the group heads on their way, with one hair-raising adventure after another.

Jak is a very likeable protagonist. He isn’t always brave, but he is loyal and true. He really doesn’t like adventures, and he gets tired of being told that “If quests were meant to be easy they would be called vacations.”

There is plenty of humor in this story, as well as some very bizarre hexes and spells. My favorite of these is when Jak is hexed so that he is upside-down. The description of this malady is very well done as the reader sees things from Jak’s perspective as well as from the normal world’s, if there is such a thing in this delightful book.

There are many interesting characters along the way, and the hideous monsters are as unique as they are terrifying. Jak has plenty of reason not to like adventures of this sort. The quest seems impossible, especially once it is learned that “a small throng of Blackwatch Goblins are in possession of the gem of Hinay and Book of Necrothaumaturgy and will reach the icy Hall of the Dark Lords within a month.” Nevertheless, Jak and his fellow questers stay on the trail, no matter what the dangers.

Fantasy lovers are sure to enjoy traveling with Jak as he attempts to fulfill the prophecy, stop the Dark Lords, and save the world.

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