Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Book 7 of 2014: The Soddit by A.R.R.R. Roberts

The Soddit, Or Let’s Cash In Again is by Adam Roberts, writing as A.R.R.R. Roberts, it’s a book I’ve had in my collection for many years but didn’t actually get around to reading until I started working my way through some of Roberts’s other works once we got Star Warped.

As with his other books, it’s a parody of a well known story, in this case J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It was first published, as far as I’m aware, in 2003, presumably cashing in on the increase in Tolkien’s popularity following the Lord of the Rings films. It’s interesting to see how the story is tackled considering the fact that it was written before the film adaptation. Basically it follows the titular Soddit as he travels with a crew of dwarves (who slowly get picked off one by one) in search of a mountain with a very sleepy wizard.

It was a funny book, but somehow not quite as funny as Star Warped or The Sellamillion. I wonder whether this is partly because I was reading it in relation to the films and considering what bits might have been singled out for humour if it’d been written after the adaptations. At the time of reading it, in February, it wasn’t that long since I’d read the book, so it was quite familiar to me but it still didn’t pick up on all the things that I was expecting it to take the mickey out of. It would be interesting to see how a The Hobbit parody would be treated once all three films have come out.

A lot of the humour comes from the names of people and places. It’s an area which Roberts seems to excel in. I love the map at the front of the book which has lots of names which at first glance don’t appear to be particularly funny until you read them in conjunction with the other names around them. It’s clever and funny at the same time.

One of my favourite bits of the book was Bjorn, a man who frequently speaks in lyrics from Abba songs:

There, in a yard before the house, stood a towering broad-muscled blond man. He was holding a chicken by its legs and eyeing it. ‘Teasing me!’ he chided the bird. ‘There’s that look in your eye. But I can’t take a chance on a chick like you.’ He shook his head and put the bird back in the pen. ‘It’s something I couldn’t do,’ he added, to nobody in particular.

I also liked the dwarves and from the beginning I kind of guessed that they were going to be killed off one by one. In a way it kind of makes sense. You start off with an unmanageable number of characters and then gradually chop them down until you have an easy to handle number.

My husband struggled with this one, again it didn’t have the same sort of humour that he’d come to expect from Star Warped. Like him, I could’ve easily put it down a couple of times but didn’t because I hate to leave an unfinished book. As much as it had a good vein of humour, it wasn’t constant so there were often pages and pages where you were waiting for the next laugh.

I didn’t rate this one so highly but I will keep a look out for more of Roberts’s books because they are a good light-hearted read.

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