Updated: Mar 20
I’ve been thinking of ways I can support other authors recently. With queries being sent out and working on edits on my current projects, I thought I could do reviews for authors I know and interact with regularly. So, for my first review I thought I would share my thoughts on Zack Brooks novella: HOW NOT TO BE A ROGUE.
How Not to Be A Rogue takes place in the City of Amaford and right out the gate you are introduced to Grumps and Jim. One of the things I first like about these two Mc’s was the feel of their relationship as friends. Brooks does a really good job in building up their history and how they rely on each other within the first few pages of the book. Grumps is sort of the muscle, while Jim is the smart mouthed cynic.
Regardless of their rough and tumble nature toward each other you can still see that they rely on each other. Think is as you read How Not to Be A Rogue, you also see the depth of who they are. That these MC's are fighting tooth and nail to make the best of their lives.
Your tour of Amaford paints a sharp picture of the life they lead and as a world builder. It reminds me a lot of the conditions commonly found in the poor districts across Europe during the Middle Ages. Brooks even goes into detail about how it’s not just mud they are walking on in the streets.
It wasn’t an uncommon thing in those times for people to fill buckets with their own excrement and dump it out the windows onto the street. Indoor plumbing wasn’t a thing after all. The descriptions of the buildings, the shoddy materials holding them up and state of decay, add even more sympathy for the MC’s.
By chapter three this alone tugged at my heart after Grumps relays his frustrations about their lives. He talks about dreaming for better things, about what having money would be like. The exchange between Jim and Grumps is just powerful. It really brings a lot of questions about who they would be if circumstances were different.
I honestly cried a little, because I feel anyone who had spent their whole life working toward trying to achieve anything can relate to these two. We as people look to provide for our families and eek out the best life we can. I think Zack’s book really touches on some of these everyday struggles, especially in the exchange in chapter three.
Brooks also dome some unexpected things as you continue reading. I wasn’t sure at first until I finished How Not to Be A Rogue, but after having time to think it over and talking with Zack a little, I am very intrigued. Sorry no spoilers.
What I can say is how interesting it was to watch how Both Grumps and Jim have survived from day to day. The narration from Jim’s POV adds a particular flair that shares his own personal outlook. Each day is fraught with looking over your shoulder and making sure you don’t piss the wrong person off. In Jim’s case, however, he seems to excel at doing just the opposite. That is also part of the charm in his character.
Grumps is more cautious and while you get a good feel for his temper early on, he comes off to me as a guy who just wants to find his way into a better life. He’s simply making the most of what he can do. Again, I think that is something that anyone can relate to.
Overall, I struggle to relay the emotions this book brings out of me. On a personal note I can relate to the characters in a deeply way. Life is hard and full of unexpected turns. We’re all fighting to make the best of it and it’s the connections we make that help us through it. If I can say anything, that’s what this book reminds me of.
I would highly recommend reading Zack Brooks book: HOW NOT TO BE A ROGUE. You can find it on Amazon here: https://t.co/O3sRvg0Vxq (If it doesn’t work directly you can copy and paste it to your browser, apologies). I also had a chance to ask Zack about his future plans for the books:
(MB) What are your plans for the novellas?
(ZB) Well, the novellas are going to act as character introductions. Which, once finished will transition into a more traditional novel series including all the characters from the HNTB novellas
(MB) What was your inspiration for How Not to Be A Rogue?
(ZB) My main inspiration came from a character I played in a D&D campaign, Jimmy. I had so much fun with him that I knew I wanted to write a story about him. I had been reading a lot of John Hartness's stuff, which are usually novellas and short stories and thought it would be a good place to start. The series was originally planned to just be a series of adventures of Jimmy screwing up and being a terrible rogue. But it manifested into a lot more.
(MB) Are the other How Not to Be novella's related?
(ZB) They will all eventually tie together completely. But you see small interactions between the MC's in each of the novellas. They might not always be direct, but it'll be there.
(MB) What are your plans for them?
(ZB) Plans are to transition into a more traditional novel series following the first three characters introduced in the HNTB trilogy. I have plans for expanding past the city of Amaford, but also introducing new characters, providing background novellas/novels from other characters that come up within the stories. But, there's still a lot that I haven't discovered about the world yet.
(MB) Is there anything about the world you've created you feel like sharing?
(ZB) It's a lot bigger than just the city of Amaford, but I just haven't uncovered it yet. A history, many races and mythology. It's all locked in there just waiting to be found haha.