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Halfhearted Hunter (False Icons #3) by Rick Gualtieri and R.E. Carr Book Review

Write on: Sat, 31 Jul 2021 by  in Charles' Reviews Read 300


HALF-HEARTED HUNTER is the third installment of the False Icons series that is, itself, a spin off of the Tome of Bill franchise. It is a bit hard to get into onto its own and a lot of the in-jokes will fall flat if you're not a die-hard Rick Gualtieri fan but I find the series to be even more entertaining than the original one. The premise is, simply put, Jessie Flores is the Chosen One and thoroughly screws it up to an almost titanic level. It might be literally titanic as she ends up working for Uranus halfway through. I feel the series has benefited from the aid of R.E. Carr and this helps provide a feminine perspective that some of his other books lack.

This book opens up with Jessie returning from the dead after things thoroughly went South during the first book. Part of what makes this story entertaining is that Jesse has really blundered her destiny and actually missed the apocalyptic confrontation between good and evil. You know, the one that was at the climax of the Bill books. However, she's gotten a second chance at life with her sorta-love interest Wyatt and comes back five years later to discover that her friend Gary has become King of the Wizards plus many other changes.

The best part of this book is definitely Jessie adjusting to losing so much of her past life. The Gary she left behind is no more and it's amusingly awkward to see her deal with the fact he's her equivalent of Uncle Ben or Gwen Stacy while no time at all has seemingly passed for herself. Her friends have mourned her and moved on so it's interesting to see how they react to her sudden and sometimes inconvenient resurrection.

There's also the authors' trademark ridiculousness with the fact that Jesse wields the minotaur battle-ax known as Moolnir and is now saddled with a baby minotaur ("minitaur") that thinks it's her mommy. It's such a ridiculous and humorous scenario that it is difficult to put into words. To contrast to the more traditional urban fantasy Tome of Bill, the False Icons series leans heavily on Greek Mythology with the gods of Olympus playing a big role in the story versus the relatively agnostic Bill stories. Well, more Roman mythology but you know what I'm saying.

I won't spoil the plot but Jessie's inability to abide by her oaths and the ridiculousness of the oaths in the first place continues to vex her. She's got numerous trials left to fulfill and the gods keep trying to apply more to her plate for the flimsiest of reasons. The fact she doesn't remember the past five years causes her to also frequently fall into further traps. You'll find yourself as confused as poor Jessie by the end of it.

I will say that it actually got a bit too wild there for me and I would have liked the authors to tone it down a bit in terms of craziness. I was more interested in, say, Jessie meeting with her father and telling him that she's alive than I was in resolving the bizarre switched heart story. I also wanted to hear more about how Jessie felt regarding Gary's transformation from zero to hero over the past five years too.

Still, I absolutely enjoyed this book and will continue reading it. Jessie remains a tremendously fun protagonist and her commitment to being a traditional hero makes her absolutely the worst person in the world to serve the Greek Gods. The action is good, Jessie's plans hilarious (like how to distract the Son of Zeus), and characters entertaining. I'd like to see her get one over the gods, though, because they're all jerks.

Available here

C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.