“There is no only when it comes to goodness and joy. The smallest amount is as large as the universe, and one boy saved from a pit is a precious work beyond that of any king’s treasury.”
The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England by Brandon Sanderson
ILLUSTRATOR: Steve Argyle
SERIES: Secret Projects #2 / Standalone Book
LENGTH: 400 pages
GENRES: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fiction
PUBLISHER: Dragonsteel Books
RELEASE DATE: 11 April 2023
A man awakens in a clearing in what appears to be medieval England with no memory of who he is, where he came from, or why he is there. Chased by a group from his own time, his sole hope for survival lies in regaining his missing memories, making allies among the locals, and perhaps even trusting in their superstitious boasts. His only help from the “real world” should have been a guidebook entitled The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England, except his copy exploded during transit. The few fragments he managed to save provide clues to his situation, but can he figure them out in time to survive?
Note from Brandon:
Sometimes an idea just won’t let go of you for years. The initial seed of this novel was the title that eventually turned into The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England. At first there was no story go to with that title, but I wrote it down and kept coming back to it, wondering what that book could possibly be about. Something else I thought about off and on for years was the classic concept of a man waking up in another time and another place, with no idea how he got there. It was when those two ideas came together, and I placed a book with that title into that man’s hands, that this novel was born. I hope you’ll have as much fun with it as I did!
“So where did the first god come from?” I asked Ealstan.
“Licked from a rock by a cow,” Ealstan said with a perfectly straight face.
“It was a very special cow.”
So, real talk – I’ve never actually read a Brando Sando book before. His books combined with his series are just too long. (Except for Steelheart, but I wasn’t able to get into that one at the time I tried to read it.) I just don’t feel comfortable committing to that, especially after my failed attempt to read A Song of Ice and Fire (I gave up a third of the way through A Clash of Kings.)
But then I heard about this book last week, and it was a standalone and it sounded fun. So, I decided to pick it up and give it a shot.
As far as first Sanderson books go, I give this one four stars. (I know I already said that above, but it’s a joke cuz the book has a bunch of star ratings in it.)
Speaking of the novel, let’s get into it.
I patted the tree I’d been hiding behind. “Thanks for the cover,” I whispered. “You’re a good tree. Tall, thick—and most importantly—wooden. Four and a half stars. Would hide behind you again. Half a point off for lack of refreshments.”
Our main character wakes up in a place he doesn’t recognize, and soon discovers that he has amnesia. And so begins his quest to figure out who he is, as well as what’s going on.
The MC, who introduces himself as Runian to the denizens of the medieval world he’s found himself in, is pretty entertaining to follow. I really liked his voice and how he rated different stuff about his adventure an allotment of stars. It’s an amusing little quirk of his. I also enjoyed his dynamic with the cast of characters that he teams up with.
These characters include Sefawynn, a skop – one who can speak the Wyrd. She’s smart and feisty, but she’s not a girlboss or a Mary Sue, which I very much appreciated. Her romance with Runian was also cute, even if I would’ve liked a little more development.
I also really liked Ealston. He’s loyal and brave, and he’s willing to give his life for his friends and loved ones. He also has his entertaining moments as well. Like when it’s revealed that he named his axe.
“Fine then. I’ll tell Ealstan how great bows are,” I said, “and how axes are mundane and lack finesse.”
“Here, now,” he said from the other side of my horse. “Don’t involve me in this. Heresy is one thing, but insulting Rowena is something else.”
“Wait,” Sefawynn said. “You named your axe?”
“Um, yes,” Ealstan said, looking away.
Thokk was the best character though, hands down. I just like spicy old women who don’t take crap from anyone, okay? She was hilarious, and I loved how she kept following everyone around. She was a total gem.
“So…” Thokk whispered. “Why are we sneaking about again?”
“Again, elder,” Ealstan said. “This is dangerous. Perhaps you should—”
“Why should I care if it’s dangerous?” Thokk said. “Do you know how old I am? I probably only have a few months left. Not much to risk here! So what are we doing?”
Though the characterization was obviously the star of The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook, the story was pretty good too. A man trying to find his identity in an epic fantasy world? Awesome. Where can I read it?
The chapters from the “Frugal Wizard’s Handbook™” were also hilarious. Probably my favorite part of the book. This one in particular is my personal favorite:
The art was also really good. I loved how cute The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook™ stuff was. The artwork really adds to the novel, and it definitely wouldn’t have been the same without it.
So yeah, I thought that this novel was really fun. It was a change of pace from some of the SFF that I usually read, which I liked. And yes, Sanderson actually technically wrote an isekai/portal fantasy.
I don’t really know who to recommend this book to. I guess Brando Sando fans will probably enjoy it to some degree, but I also think those who like their humorous fantasy books will like it too.
Anyway, thank you so much for reading, and have an excellent day/night!
See ya ~Mar