The Banned Underground is a band. A rock band. Not terribly famous. Not original. Well, their music isn’t. Mainly they do covers of old rock tunes and play gigs at pubs and such. But few bands, even in this fantasy version of present day England, consist of four dwarfs, a green bog troll, and a bass playing dragon.
In this edition of their continuing quest for good-paying gigs, their scaly, fire-breathing bass player has gone missing, and a slinky, mysterious, scooter-riding woman in black leather fills in. She’s pretty hot, and her bass playing isn’t bad either, but she has ulterior motives.
Mayhem ensues involving a Dark Lord accountant, a record executive, some Kali-worshipping thugs, and associated minions. Oh, and a roadie who says nothing but ‘Der,’ although his meaning is clear to those who know him well. He reminds me a bit of the librarian in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, who only says ‘Ook.’ And, of course, there are some superficial parallels to Pratchett’s book Soul Music in that it is a fantasy story staring a rock band.
I grinned all the way through this short novel. It has a good deal of clever word play, some terrible puns (which ones aren’t?), slapstick humor, and generally likeable comic characters. There is also some fiery dragon romance. I also liked the bits of author (and even publisher) intrusion into the story narrative. Most guidance on fiction writing warns not to do this, but it can work in humor, and here it does.
This isn’t great literature. It’s not cultural satire. There is no single main character, and the plot is not exactly spellbinding (although there are some magical spells), but as a comic farce, this is quite entertaining. I recommend it as a quick, light read for all fans of comic fantasy.
Disclosure: I received a pre-publication promotional copy of the eBook edition from the author.