The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook, by Brandon Sanderson (audio)

Full title: The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England

Our narrator wakes up in a field, not knowing who or where he is. Very quickly, he discovers that he’s from another dimension and has traveled to some version of medieval England. Beyond that, he has to gather scraps of information, mostly from a burned and scattered handbook that seems to be largely made up of promotional material. In trying to gather up the pages of said handbook, our unnamed protagonist ends up on a quest to find not just his identity, but the core of his true self.

The Frugal Wizard is Sanderson’s second Secret Project release of 2023. It’s the only non-Cosmere book of the four Secret Projects, and it was WAY out of my comfort zone. I’ll be honest – a lot of Sanderson fans have rated this one poorly, or abandoned after only a short amount of time. It’s very different, and reminiscent of his early YA/middle grade writing. There’s a lot of overly-jocular humor, repetitive jokes attached to characters, and general silliness, especially in the early parts of the novel. Things grow more balanced over time as the narrator learns more about his personal history and the world he’s currently inhabiting.

This is not the kind of book I would normally read, and if it weren’t for Sanderson being the author, I would not have read it. That said, I ended up enjoying the book by the end, not as much as most Cosmere books, but honestly more than the Western era of the Mistborn books. It surprises me a little how dismissive a lot of Sanderfans are about the tone of the book, which as I said comes across as jocular and silly, given that they all seem to love the last Secret Project, Tress of the Emerald Sea, which is narrated by Wit (a jocular and silly narrator!). To me, the two stories are pretty much on par, with the only real advantage in Tress being that it gives us more scope regarding the Cosmere.

Of the four Secret Projects, the first two were the two I least looked forward to. Both the third and especially the fourth are more traditional in tone, and had more interesting storylines, magic systems, and writing styles in the previews that were released in 2022. I expect that I’ll really love both of those books, so I’m happy to have the two I was least likely to enjoy come first. And I’m happy to have enjoyed them both, even if I didn’t love them. Especially this one, because I wasn’t sure, after the preview, that I would even read through the full book! I’m glad I didn’t quit. I think some Sanderfans gave up too soon.

Performance: Surprisingly, Michael Kramer and Kate Reading read this book. They’re generally the narrators for many of the Cosmere series, but I didn’t expect them to also read this non-Cosmere book. But hey, I’ll never complain about the duo. They do a fantastic job!


About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
This entry was posted in 2023, Adult, Prose and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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