The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw by Christopher Healy

Pirates! Pirates! PIRATES!!

OK, now that I’ve got your attention, the new League of Princes book by Christopher Healy, third in the series, does indeed have pirates. It also has all my favorite characters: Liam the Bold, Gustav the Great, Frederic the Fussy, and Duncan the Village Idiot (my names, and I love Duncan the best). The women in the story—Snow, Ella, Lila, and Rapunzel–escape from prison, form their own league (The Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters, or ffff!), and do a lot better than the guys at defeating Evil. There are also a a couple of new female characters who may be my favorites so far: Jerica the Pirate(!) and Val Jeanval, who assaulted a dozen royal soldiers with a stale, stolen baguette.

I must have a somewhat juvenile sense of humor because I really like these ridiculous fractured fairy tales from Christopher Healy, Chronicler of Heroic Shenanigans. These heroes correct each other’s grammar! They argue over who goes first, the guy or the girl when it comes to rescuing or taking out the villain! They are quite easily distracted by definitions of words and questions of grooming and sartorial style. They are persistent and brave, usually in the wrong direction, at the wrong time, and without a good plan. They find a genie and make stupid, useless wishes! They are wanted for murder in thirteen kingdoms! They use lots of exclamation marks!

I like the humor in these books because it’s silly, wordish, and slapstick without descending to gross-out, crude, or nasty. The characters do a lot of misunderstanding each other’s words with farcical results that are just a step or two above Amelia Bedelia. They stumble all over themselves and each other while attempting to be heroes and heroines. They stop to have useless and entertaining discussions about the plural of “mongoose” and about how people fit those tiny model ships into bottles. Read the first two books first: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom and The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle. Then, make your way carefully and speedily to The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw, where you will find:

Outlaws! In-laws! Mongeese! (or mongooses?) A fake Royal Foot Massagers Society! ffff! A Djinn from the realm of Baribunda! The legendary Jade Djinn Gem! Jelly, jelly dragonfruit and ginger sandwiches! Captain Euphustus Baileywimple! Sketchy bartenders, salty-tongued sailors, and grime-coated anglers! Pin-striped soldiers! and Pirates! Pirates! PIRATES!! (since it is Talk Like a Pirate Day—Ahoy, matey!)

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This book is also nominated for a Cybil Award, but the views expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect or determine the judging panel’s opinions.

1 thought on “The Hero’s Guide to Being an Outlaw by Christopher Healy

  1. I love reading Christopher Healy’s Hero’s Guide’s, they always make me laugh and the characters are such fun. Hadn’t heard that this one has pirates yet, but so looking forward to reading it.

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