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Posted October 28, 2010
Imagine for a minute an alternative universe where Terry Pratchett and Monty Python could produce a love child. Now imagine that child had inherited both parents' skill at seeing a situation and sizing it up for satiric treatment but neither parents' talent for executing that satire. If you can hold that idea in your mind, you'll have a pretty good idea of how Tales From Gundarland reads. I have a crusty, old memory of an English teacher telling me to use writing to show, not tell. You probably have a similar one. Where Monty Python and Pratchett would show, Quense would tell.
Tales From Gundarland is a selection of two novellas and six short stories, most of them satires, set in a rather generic fantasy world of elves, dwarves, humans, and something called yuks (a modified ogre). The stories range from retellings of Shakespeare's greatest hits staring dwarfs and elves, to a Zorro/Lone Ranger (or Zarro and the Lone Stranger as they are known in Gundarland) crossover.
Bits of the stories are genuinely laugh out loud funny. There are moments where you see great insight into human nature. But on the whole the stories are competent and plain rather than exceptional reading. The use of language is solid but not brilliant. The occasional clunky line is offset by the occasional very well done image. The characters are likable but generic. Several of them are rather easily confused with each other because most of the main characters are somewhat young, unsure of themselves and their place in the world, adventurers looking to find their fortune and place.
Quense did come up with some unique details for setting his elves, dwarfs, and humans apart. His guild system requires adventurers to learn useful trades as well as how to bash in heads, so we run into a Warrior/Cooks looking to advance onto the Hero/Chef level. Likewise, the leader of his anti-pirate group is a caftan wearing dwarf looking to go legit by getting into women's bespoke fashion. Things like that are really cool, but we don't get much out of it because these things are mostly just mentioned as part of the background. Green leaves on the trees, babbling brook, Warrior/Cook armed with his trusty frying pan and razor sharp spatula ready to go off and save the princess. Tell me more about the guilds, tell me more about how he trained, write a novel about it, because there's a seed of a great story there, but... But it's just background.
Quense is good with voice. His characters speak differently from each other, which is a nice touch. The yuks speak in a sort of dumbed down mafiaesque English. The other main characters use different tone and vocabulary in a way that matches with their stations well. Unfortunately, voice is often the only easy way to distinguish one main character from the next.
Though I was kicked out of the feminist club a long, long time ago, I did notice his female characters, save one, are one dimensional, shallow, and annoying. Annoying in the sense of people you don't want to spend any time with, not badly written. Basically the reason there are women in this book is to be objects of love or lust. And, while I normally couldn't care less about the gender of the various characters I'm reading about, the fact that almost every woman in the entire book was a twit was grating.
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Posted March 27, 2011
Tales From Gunderland is a marvelous book, and I quickly felt at home there. Its characters reminded me of relatives, and I laughed often, and well. You NEED your own copy for those days the sun won't shine and you need some artificial warmth around you. Quense is an unforgettable writer!!
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Posted September 1, 2010
The idea of this book was unique and creative. The book starts up with the introduction to "Gunderland". Planet Gunder was created accidentally by an omniscient god who sneezed after snorting his favourite recreational powder. The "effects" of the sneezing is what created their universe, Scientists called it "The Big Achoo". I haven't read anything like this before, it was refreshing to read takes on classic stories with a fun twist to them. My favourites were "Gunderland", "Romeo & Juliet" and "The Queens Hero", the others I could have done without. Overall I thought the book was creative and different but I just didn't care much for the other stories. "Chasing Dreams" part 1 was entertaining, Zorro has always been a favourite tale of mine and I loved Hank Quenses' twist on it, but when it came to part two it was a struggle to finish, the language of the yuks was irritating and distracting to me, and the story just wasn't capturing my attention. It was slowing me down and it was preventing me from wanting to pick the book up again. There was nothing particularly wrong with the remaining stories, they just weren't my taste. I am glad I read this book because I did find most of it funny and entertaining. It is a great book to read in between book's or on the beach.
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Posted December 26, 2010
This delightful collection of six short stories and two novellas is set in the mythical realm of Gundarland on a planet named Gundar, which, according to Quense, was named after "the omniscient god who accidentally created the universe with an explosive sneeze caused by snorting a larger-than-average dose of His favorite recreational powder." As you can gather, this work is only for older kids and their insightful parents.
Gunderland itself is populated by such diverse races as "dwarfs, humans, elves, half-pints, yuks and a few lesser races.[that].live cheek-by-jowl in many cases and get along with no more than the usual interracial hostility". And, don't worry, you definitely don't have to be a geek to enjoy their adventures, despite two of the pieces in Tales from Gundarland being satires of two of the Great Bard's (i.e. Shakespeare's) most popular works: "Romeo & Juliet" and "Merchant of Venison" (a send-up of The Merchant of Venice). A few of the tales are under ten pages, while the others vary substantially in length. All of them, however, are side-splittingly funny, and, if you enjoy the writings of Terry Pratchett, you should enjoy these too. Quense's irreverent take on the world of fantasy is most amusing, I find, when he describes the relationships between fellow characters and between man and beast. Mind you, the characterization of the yuks is also a key source of humor, and reminded me somewhat of the trolls in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Their poor grasp on the English language is most evident in the verbal spats between the yuk brothers, Rolf and Ralf. Quense promises to return to these two characters in other stories, as he likes them too much to ignore them.
In "Chasing Dreams", a hilarious spoof on The Mask of Zorro, and a number of other westerns, the showdown at Okidoky Corral is accompanied by cheer-leading molls, who raise some dust linking arms and performing multiple high leg kicks. In fact, one might say that the women tend to be a feisty bunch throughout the tales, including one princess who refuses to be rescued from a tower by a Warrior-Cook, for fear that she will never be able to show her face at court again if she is saved by anyone other than a nobleman ("Boggerts Blue"). The pages teem with loads of swashbuckling adventure, both on land and sea, with heroes and villains aplenty-just don't expect them to be archetypal!
Quense acknowledges the help that he received from an international group of critics known as the Critters, who helped him to shape the stories. Another group of writers who also provided input into the stories was drawn from as far away and as diverse locations as the Canary Islands, Greece, Britain and Ireland. Tales from Gundarland is an enjoyable read, and thoroughly recommended as light relief from the more serious stuff.
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Posted September 23, 2010
Tales From Gundarland - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
'The planet was named Gundar after the omniscient god who accidentally created the universe with an explosive sneeze caused by snorting a larger-than-average dose of his favorite recreational powder. The nodules of spittle flew through space and eventually solidified into suns, planets, comets and other celestial bodies. Gundarland is the largest land mass on the planet. Populated by diverse races such as dwarfs, humans, elves, half-pints, yuks and a few lesser races, these disparate races live cheek-by-jowl in many cases and get along with no more than the usual interracial hostility.
By ancient tradition, many warriors took a double major when they studied the arts of war. The double major came in handy during the occasional outbreaks of peace. Thus, in the early days, knight-accountants, warrior-chefs and soldier-lawyers roamed the countryside seeking combat and/or clients. The population of the planet has always been intrigued by magic. As a consequence, wizards were held in high regard, even the incompetent ones. Wizard schools even offered double majors as well as the combat schools.
Author Hank Quense has taken characters that we all recognize, put them into character form while having them live on the planet of Gundar. For instance we have Romeo and Juliet. Romeo Montague is a dwarf silver miner. Juliet Capulet is an elf. They met at a ballet class and fell madly in love with each other. But. Juliet's brothers hate the Montague family and forbid their marriage. Will they end up like Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet? You will find yourself laughing out loud as you find out.
Next we have Zarro, black mask and all. Zarro is a dwarf who rides a donkey named Belinda. Belinda was won by Zarro's father in a card game and she hated to be ridden but loved to sleep. In fact, the only way to mount Belinda was to cover her head with a blanket, which would put her into a snoring sleep immediately, mount, remove the blanket and prepare yourself for a bit of bucking.
The Long Stranger, another mask wearer, and his sidekick Pinto are out to save the country from the likes of Rolf and Ralf. Rolf and Ralf have taken on the task of relieving those traveling along the Trade Road of their rings, coins, jewelry and any other valuables they might find to pilfer.
These are just a few of the characters Author Hank Quense has brought to life in Tales From Gundarland. As I read each character's story I couldn't help but laugh. I also couldn't help but picture Shrek as a character in most of the stories. This book would be perfect for a full series of new Shrek movies.
Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com Stir, Laugh, Repeat
Posted July 17, 2010
Gundarland, a land populated with elves, dwarves, humans and other intriguing races, is both like and unlike the world we live on. The characters must tackle and overcome many of the situations we find ourselves in everyday. The difference, of course, is how they overcome them. Some do it with cooking utensils, some with a mask and some do it with cunning and an unpredictable wand.
"Tales from Gundarland" is an action packed, comical roller coaster. This wonderfully developed land with its inhabitants is a refreshing get away from the world we live in. All of the multiple characters are both believable and unique which is a testament to the author's talent.
Each of the eight short stories deliver a fresh, humorous spin on some of the classic tales such as Romeo and Juliet and Zorro; while poking fun at political greed and social aspects of life. Action and adventure keeps the pace moving at a steady pace; when combined with the humorous aspects the stories take on a vivid presence in the readers mind. The common denominator that holds them all together is Gundarland.
Which of the eight will be your favorite?
From the first word, Hank Quense's passion for crafting gripping tales and quick wit takes center stage. Instantly, you are immersed in the land of Gundarland next to the multiple individuals that inhabit the planet. With each passing page, it is virtually impossible not to become part of the humor and adventure within "Tales From Gundarland."
"Tales From Gundarland" delivers nonstop action and laughs with an intriguing pinch of romance. The unique stories, strong characters and multiple plots carry from story to story and page to page. This book is a must have for those seeking action, adventure and comedy bundled in short, deliberate stories.
Gundarland is sure to become one of your favorite places to visit after reading "Tales From Gundarland."
If you would like to learn more about this very entertaining and talented author please visit his SITE - http://hankquense.com/
Title: Tales From Gundarland
Author: Hank Quense
Genre: Short Story Collection
Reviewed By: Brian Knight
Official Premium Promotional Services Rating: 4-Star