Adventures in Bookland: The Good, the Bad and the Smug by Tom Holt

The Good, the Bad and the Smug was not as funny as I’d hoped and expected it would be. Tom Holt is a prolific author whom I’ve never got round to reading before, but I wanted something light and funny and I have a weakness for inverted fantasy tropes and the like, so I thought I would try him out. But it didn’t quite work for me. Writing humour is, admittedly, the most difficult and subjective of skills: what will have one person laughing uncontrollably may barely raise a chuckle from someone else, so it’s quite possible that other readers will disagree. But personally I think if one of the main characters is a goblin king then he ought to be a little more, well, evil than the one here – especially for a novel that bills itself as being ‘beyond good and evil’. That’s the book’s other failing: its attempt at philosophical profundity via jokes falls as flat as the most of the jokes. Philosophy, being both ridiculous and profound, should raise great belly laughs, not the odd wry smile. So, for me, not enough good jokes and too much cod philosophising.



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