No Country for Old Gnomes, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, is continuing the Tales of Pell from the first book, Kill the Farmboy. In this book, we follow another group of not-exactly adventurers, this time on a quest to save the Skyr and the gnomes that are being blown up.
1—A New Set of Heroes
It takes a while to gather our heroes and set up the story, but between the puns, the umlauts, and the firebombs, it’s never dull. We begin with Onni and Offi, twin gnome brothers who couldn’t be more different, as their home comes under attack by smelly halflings. We shortly thereafter meet Kirsi, a young gnome woman who’s spent her life hiding the fact that she’s a bristle witch who can only curse people—not very gnomeric. They start out just wanting to get to a refugee shelter alive.
We also meet Agape, an ovitaur—half human, half sheep—who has spent her life on the run, protecting a little metal man. And the halfling and hunter Faucon, and his associate Gerd the exiled gryphon. Gerd loves egges and—like all gryphons—has a penchant for odd spelling and the aforementioned umlauts. The meeting between Agape, Faucon, and Gerd is both less pleasant and more polite than expected.
Lastly, there’s Baggi, a cheerful healer and dwarf who is on his meadspringa—a quest to purge himself of violence. If he fails, he’ll never be able to return to his mountain home. But rather than just some random bit of violence, Baggi wants his time in the world to mean something, hence taking up with our other heroes in their quest.
Though—as mentioned—it takes a while for our heroes to meet, the plot is kicked off right away by a trio of witches, two of whom just want their sports team to win but the last of which witch is seeking a war. The drubs—an illegal group of halflings who like to firebomb gnomes as much as they like their food—have been attacking the gnomes of the Skyr. Our heroes don’t yet know it, but there’s a bigger plot afoot too, one that will effect all of Pell.
3—All in Good Fun
There’s an abundance of fairytales references, and more fantasy tropes getting skewered. In particular, I enjoyed Kirsi’s meeting with the witch in the woods, who convinces her to walk into her oven to fix it. And Offi’s cardigan embroidered with bats. There’s the random bard who sort of comes to their rescue. And of course, we get to check in with the gang from the last book, too.
No Country for Old Gnomes was so much fun. I can’t recommend it enough. If you haven’t read the first book, you can jump right in with this one. I did tear up a little at the end. I can’t wait for the next book, The Princess Beard.