Review: Tarquin the Honest: The Hand of Glodd

Reviewed by Mollie Chater

In Tarquin the Honest, his first novel for adults, award-winning YA author Gareth Ward has delivered a quick-witted, fantastical tale packed with magic, action, and a cast of memorable characters.

Set in the fantasy world of the popular tabletop role-playing game, Dungeons and Dragons, Gareth Ward introduces his character and new novel Tarquin the Honest: The Hand of Glodd.  It pays to have a plan when venturing into the world of danger, or you could simply sharpen your axe, swish your rapier, pull an ace out of your sleeve and pray your way through treacherous terrains and the ominous unknown just like Tarquin and his band of miscreants.

But do not be fooled by his name - narcissism is his game and Tarquin the Honest is anything but. Cowardly, conceited and confident in his abilities, Tarquin the star elf and masterful wizard spends the whole journey making sure we know that he’s the main character. Off with the charlatan we go, Tarquin’s thin line between reckless bravery and self-centred safety swing in the balance as he and his friends travel to begin his mysterious, possibly deadly, quest to find the golden gauntlet.

Accompanying Tarquin is his faithfully ruthless sidekick, Lunar. This quick-witted dwarf assassin would do anything for a sandwich and armed with her rapier named Mr Crowly, she is the deadliest dwarf you ever will meet. Their band also includes Uustin, a half-orc barbarian. You’ll mostly find him swinging his giant axe followed by the thump of some unfortunate fool's head.  Teaming up with them is fire ddriag Akra, with fiery personality, sharp tongue and an even sharper blade she has her own agenda and plays by no one's rules but her own. Tucked safely within Tarquin’s fashionable but gaudy wizard’s hat you shall find Clatter Bones.  Ready to serve when he is needed, Clatter bones is loyal to the, well, bone.

Their journey of frights, fear and falsehoods leads them through towns of gold and grain, caves with nobbs and ancient tombs, over valleys, through graveyards and into the cursed Sorrow Wood forest. Every turn the band of misfits make, could be their last, as they are chased by murderous tree spirits, necromancers, zombies and goblins.

There is never a dull moment for the group. From the very first moment we are thrust into the fight alongside Tarquin as he hides behind a table and lets everyone swing for him. Constantly trying to prove himself, he wields self-delusion and deceit as his strongest weapons. Can he redeem his egotistical ways? Will he save his friends and become the hero he truly believes he is? To uncover this mystery, you’ll just have to dive into the pages yourself.

 As a fantasy action sprinkled with heavy comedy, Tarquin the Honest: The Hand of Glodd is a good laugh and sarcastic to boot. You’ll find yourself unable to put the book down. Immersed in its pages, I found myself wandering alongside Tarquin and his crew, rolling my eyes at their questionable jokes and gripping the edge of my seat waiting to see what trouble finds them next. Every moment is wrought with twists and turns, it's no wonder the gang manages to get lost in the lands.

A seasoned wizard himself, the Great Wardini, aka author Gareth Ward, has come back with a delightful new novel. The Traitor and the Thief and The Rise of the Remarkables, are some of Ward’s impressive works, both with sequels. So, we may not have heard the end of Tarquin the Honest and his trickery just yet.

Reviewed by Mollie Chater