Wednesday, May 11, 2005

[Book Review] Flying Dutch by Tom Holt

One of my officemates was raving about Tom Holt so I thought of picking up a copy of his book at the local bookstore since it was on sale. I mean it’s not everyday that you get good comedy SF&F. Aside from Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, no one else really stands out. The back cover blurbs were interesting. The question was, would the actual text be as enjoyable as well?

Well, Tom Holt is a British writer, so his comedy is also British. Admittedly, the first few pages were boring for me. Maybe it’s because it’s the set-up. We get a glimpse of who the main characters are and what their history is. It’s not a pretty history though. And while there are attempts at being funny, they just don’t cut it out for me. At least initially. After the first 50 pages though, things start to heat up and we catch a glimpse of what the story is really about and enter the main conflict.

Flying Dutch can get quite funny. Not as funny, or as sophisticated as Pratchett’s later novels (but thankfully not as boring as his first few Discworld novels) in my opinion, but somewhere along the lines of Douglas Adams. Of course Holt’s setting is modern times, albeit with mystical forces abound. Of course one thing Holt does right though is his cosmology. The setting is like a modern-day Discworld, with consistent and recurring characters throughout the book. It’s not apparent in Flying Dutch, but it’s evident as you read more of his books.

The premise of this book is that the Flying Dutchman, along with his crewmates, has found immortality. Unfortunately, it also has a side-effect of making them stink, repulsing anyone that comes their way. The crew sets out to find a cure, while being chased by someone from the bank because the Flying Dutchman bought life insurance back in the day.

It was an okay book. Not exactly something that entices me to purchase the next book, but a satisfactory read nonetheless. Was it funny? It had its moments. Perhaps not as funny as the best, but it’s not something as simplistic as, say, Piers Anthony. It also helps if you have an appetite for Brit humor. Of course this book is thankfully recommendable since the setting is modern times so there’s really not much to fret about readers getting confused with this and that.

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