Once upon a time a princess slept in a magical tower cloaked in thorns and roses, waiting for true love's kiss. Or so her father told her. Instead, she woke up on her own, cut off all that pesky long hair, and used it to escape. But she kept the beard, because it made a great disguise.
This is not a story about finding Prince Charming—it's a story about finding yourself. On a pirate ship. Where you belong.
But these are no ordinary pirate misfits aboard The Puffy Peach, serving under Filthy Lucre, the one-eyed parrot pirate captain. First there's Vic, a swole and misogynistic centaur on a mission to expunge himself of the magic that causes him to conjure tea and dainty cupcakes when confronted. Then there's Tempest, who's determined to become the first dryad lawyer—preferably before she takes her ultimate form as a man-eating tree. They're joined by Alobartolus, an awkward and unelfly elf who longs to meet his hero, the Sn'archivist who is said to take diction directly from the gods of Pell. Throw in some mystery meat and a dastardly capitalist plot, and you've got one Pell of an adventure on the high seas!
In this new adventure set in the magical land of Pell, Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne lovingly skewer the tropes of fairy tales and fantasy, and create a new kind of fantasy: generous, gently humorous, and inclusive. There might also be otters.
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Atop an Ivory Tower Crammed Perilously Close with Foine Books
Call me Itchmael.
But do not call me late to brunch.
For I am the mouthpiece of the god Pellanus, and it is a tiring job, and I am an old elf in possession of dodgy knees and a distaste for mimosas. I was once a carefree elfling sprig, enjoying the heady pleasures of the Morningwood, but then I received the Call. It was as if the double-headed god spoke directly to me with both mouths.
“Itchie,” the god boomed, a male and female tone merging.
“Yes, hello?” I said, because that is called conversation.
“You are to be the next Sn’archivist,” the god continued.
And then there was a long and awkward pause, and I suppose Pellanus felt as confused about the whole thing as I did, because every time I tried to speak, so did they.
“I really think—”
“Itchmael, shut up.”
And thus I did shut up, because Pellanus is a capricious god, and spontaneous combustion is real.
“Itchmael, you are to go to the Siren Sn’archipelago. There you will find a tower, and within, you will find a very dead skeleton.”
“Aren’t all skeletons dead?”
The god paused. “Sure. If you say so. You see, the last Sn’archivist is but a ghost, and you will replace her.”
“As a ghost?”
“No, Itchmael. As the next Sn’archivist.”
I took a moment to consider it.
“Forgive me, O Pellanus, but that does not sound like a good job offer,” said I.
“It is not an offer!” the god boomed, both voices ripe with fury. “It is a holy order! This is the Call. Not like a regular call, but the Call, with a capital C!”
“Ah,” I said again, because I was quite determined to become a door-to-door sales elf. “Are the benefits good?”
“Er, yes?” the god said. “Super good.”
And with that, I told King Glosstangle of my sacred duty, was roundly laughed out of the Morningwood, and found the fastest ship to the Siren Sn’archipelago. There, just as Pellanus promised, I found a tower. Within that tower, I found a corpse, which was very dead, as Pellanus had also promised. I also found a fleet of helpful monks dedicated to my care; the benefits were indeed good. The first thing I did was to ask the monks to remove the skeleton as well as the ruined rug beneath it. The next thing I did was to request a new rug, plus a citrus salad, a journal, and a quill.
For Pellanus had just begun to speak to me, and I had much to record.
Now I have a purpose.
And that purpose is driven by schedule.
Oh? Yes? What?
Pellanus has just informed me that proper Fantasy books are always written in third person past tense, and so I will switch. Are you ready? Because, you see, I will no longer speak as I, Itchmael, but will begin telling a different story about other people, mostly. Still, when you see the Sn’archivist, that’s me. I mean him. I mean, I am him.
The Sn’archivist, a most wise and clever fellow, lived according to the schedule given him by the even wiser and cleverer god, Pellanus.
The schedule was simple but sacrosanct. The schedule, at this point, was as much of a biological imperative for the Sn’archivist as eating, sleeping, or visiting the boom-boom room. And after waking, and blatting a sonorous blort on the tower boghorn, and quaffing three cups of kuffee and a rasher of boar bacon, it was time for him to write, without fail—and generally without variation.
For uncounted years he had written tirelessly about the same subject. A vital subject, to be sure, for it was the secret source of joy throughout Pell, but he’d begun to wonder in recent months about whether he was accomplishing anything, since he’d filled floors of bookshelves with volumes on the subject but no one ever came to read them. What was the point of possessing such knowledge if it was never shared? He often read aloud to his shining gnomeric construct, Reginald the Affirmation Gecko, but that didn’t count. Reginald never retained anything he heard. He only spouted one of his many thousands of affirmations whenever the Sn’archivist required a response and, when lacking the proper affirmation, congratulated the Sn’archivist on continuing to exist. Your wit is a shining beacon of hope in a dark world! the gecko might say, or simply, Wow! Nice elbows, pal!
The location of his tower might have had something to do with the poor distribution of his work, the Sn’archivist mused. Perched on the eastern precipice of an island in the Sn’archipelago, his home was hardly convenient to the populace of Pell, and he was not entirely sure they knew of his existence. He was supplied and fortified by the Sn’archdruid and a handful of monkish Sn’acolytes who looked after gardens of produce and herds of livestock, but they never asked to read his tomes. They sat around their campfire at night and listened to the Sn’archdruid tell them stories and sing them bawdy ballads about the early, earthier days, when Pellanus had been but a young and gawky god, but whenever the Sn’archivist tried to join them and sing songs of his knowledge, they fell silent and looked at their shoes and soon made excuses to go back to their holy hovels.
Ah, well. No matter. He’d always known that following the Call would isolate him socially as well as geographically. He had his work and his gecko, and that would have to be enough. The Sn’archivist had just finished another volume yesterday and shelved it lovingly on the tenth-floor anteroom. This morning he would start a new book, putting quill to paper and letting the knowledge of years and the enlightenment of Pellanus pour out of him. But after his first cup of kuffee he didn’t feel like frying up the usual rasher of boar bacon. Instead, he wanted something different. He wanted . . . oatmeal! With fresh fruit! Fiber, by Pellanus! And vitamins! He rummaged in his pantry, searching for the oats, already feeling that something extraordinary was about to happen. He was about to deviate from the schedule. Indeed, he already had! Whether this would prove to be the beginning of something remarkably fine or remarkably tragic he did not know, but the prospect of variety was like a siren’s call, irresistible and alluring.
Soon enough he sat before a bowl of oats topped with raspberries, blueberries, slivered almonds, and brown sugar. And when he sampled his first spoonful—oh, what splendid magnificence! An explosion of taste with a muted subtext of circulatory health benefits!
“Reginald,” he declared, “this oatmeal is delicious.”
The gold-and-silver affirmation gecko blinked and cocked his head, tiny gears turning audibly in his skull as he considered a reply. “Think of how happy you’re making your colon right now!” Reginald said. “You’re just a super dude!”
The Sn’archivist grunted happily and continued eating. And then, halfway through his breakfast, after his second cup of kuffee but before his third, a voice spoke into either ear, except it was two voices: A woman’s in his left ear and a man’s on his right. Identical tones and inflections, but octaves apart.
“Today, you will write a different book,” the voice intoned, and the Sn’archivist froze, not wanting to miss a single word. It was the voice of the great two-faced god Pellanus, gracing him with divine inspiration, as it once had so long ago, when he’d received the Call. He was to write a single book on a new subject, display it in a place of honor, and then point it out to whoever next came to call on him in the tower.
And then the double voice told him the subject of the new book.
The Sn’archivist dropped his spoon, oatmeal forgotten, and gulped down his last cup of kuffee. He rushed downstairs to the third floor, where his writing desk was, and ran his thin fingers over the stack of blank books waiting in a crate beside it. He pulled them all out and inspected them, wishing to choose the most flawless specimen for what was to be a truly special work. Several had small tears on the corners of the pages. Others had tiny scuffs on the cover. But eventually he picked one that seemed closest to perfection, with crisp ivory sheets and a rich ruby cover, and he placed it reverently on his desk.
Today was different because today he would write something different. Something important! The oatmeal had been a herald of the divine! He was a conduit for powers far beyond those of most mortals! He dabbed his quill in the inkpot, paused briefly over the paper to savor the moment, and then he scratched out two words, pregnant with meaning, on the first page:
Yes. That was it! That was it exactly. He didn’t know exactly what it was, only that those two words were most definitely, exactly, it. He could feel that he had written something vital. Something crucial. Words with the power to save lives.
But he rather hoped no one asked him to explain how.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A laugh out loud story of Pell. If you've not read any of Kevin Hearne and Delilah Dawson's books, I truly feel sorry for you. They write fairy tales that your mother never told you...or even heard of! An entertaining trip aboard an unusual pirate ship that will lead you to question every tale you heard before!
Another "foine" story in this series by Kevin Hearne and Delilah Dawson! This story follows an interesting group of characters, a dryad, a gnome, an elf and a centaur, among others. They all end up on a pirate ship, with a parrot as the pirate captain. All are on some sort of personal journey but also end up on a group quest as well. I really enjoyed this story! Many times I was smiling and laughing out loud! So happy I had the opportunity to read this and I look forward to future collaborations by these authors!
The Princess Beard By Kevin Hearne Daliah Dawson A satirical ride through myth and literature as a princess tries to find her way after a curse. The characters are cliche mythology figures from dryads to centaurs.. the creatures face an odyssey quest with satirical twist with hints for popular fiction from Harry Potter to Divergent.. its humor is outrageous and the twists unexpected.. Highly recommended for young adults.
The Princess Beard is the third novel in the Tales of Pell series, which is a joint project by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne. Together these two authors have created a truly inane and amazing world. The Tales of Pell is a world full of fairy tales flipped on their heads, with dozens of stereotypes warped into the funniest ways imaginable. They stretch plots to their extremes, and have oh so much fun along the way. There once was a princess who fell to sleep thanks to a magical rose that cursed her. It was her second curse, which resulted in some interesting side effects. Now that she's awake, she's determined to change her destiny. And maybe save some otters along the way. This novel is full of unique and brilliant characters, all quirky, silly, and utterly lovable. Morgan is the princess who woke up from a cursed slumber...and she wasn't too thrilled about the massive amount of hair and nails she grew during that time. Though she's cool with keeping the beard. And with becoming a pirate. Vic is a centaur with a specific gift. He can summon tea and biscuits on a whim. But he doesn't want that power – he wants to be all swoll and tough. And ideally, have everyone know exactly how manly and macho he is. Tempest is a dryad, and now that she and her sisters have been newly freed, she has big plans for her life. That is, she's got plans on how to spend the part of her life before she turns into a giant and blood hungry tree. That part is already set in stone for her, and the rest of her kind for that matter. Albartalus, aka Al, is the world's worst elf. He doesn't look or act like any other elf out there. Unless you count his talent for taking advantage of rubes. But he wants better for his life. He wants something new and better. “Everyone loved dryads and drynads when they lived as slightly leafy humans, looking beautiful and healing folks of any ailment, but no one wanted to tolerate them when they were living the part of their life cycle that required them to be bloodthirsty trees.” The Princess Beard was an amazing followup in the Tales of Pell series. It was so much fun – lighthearted, chaotic, and just a tiny bit crazy. Just the way I like it. I adore what Dawson and Hearne have created together here. And it has left me hoping to see more author collaborations in the future. The sass and satire were strong in the third novel in the series, as it continued to warp and twist stereotypes and expectations left and right. And it was glorious. Some of this I had been expecting; fun twists on the classic fairy tales. I still loved those moments. But then there were some surprising twists and moments. Such as the voyage and seas they were on – a surprise which I will not ruin by talking about in too much detail. The other surprise? Taking a massively popular novel series and just having a blast warping it all over the place. It was absolutely hilarious. As always, I loved the chaos in this tale. I also loved some of the undercurrents and messages. It's hard not to adore what these two authors are doing here. And it's hard not to keep hoping for more. Though even I have to admit that if the series ended here, they did so on the perfect spot. So I couldn't complain – except to say that I miss it.
**Disclaimer: I was given an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review** I love Delilah Dawson and her writing, but not this book. The humor is too in-your-face and immature potty jokes. I restarted it twice thinking I just needed a fresh perspective, but it’s just not for me.
You wake up out of a long sleep and realize you've grown a beard and hair that's been used as a climbing rope. Also remembering you're to marry someone you don't want to, so you do the only sensible thing, run away. Disguised by her beard, Morgan takes off early on and joins forces with a pirate and her adventures start. Personal growth of all the characters occurs while they face many perils and learn to work together as a team. Not quite as silly as the previous books, but still in the same vein with a good planned out adventure and story telling. I enjoyed this one the most. Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for a fun read.
Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne again bring their trademark ribald humor and touching moments to a cast of larger-than-life personalities. This is a story with inclusivity and heart baked into every centaur-conjured teacake. I recommend this third Tale of Pell to anyone who loves an action-filled adventure story and is willing to leap headfirst into a side order of wordplay and puns ranging from great to groan-worthy. You don't have to read the other two books to enjoy this one; a few characters from earlier pop back up, but they're mostly cameos or references. If you read and enjoyed those books, though, you'll love this one too!
This is a hilarious and fun read, full of quirky characters and with an entertaining plot. It's definitely better than the previous novel and I loved every moment I was reading it. It made me laugh and I found it well written and hilarious. I think it would be great if Delilah Lawson and Kevin Hearne would write other novels together. They did a great job and I strongly recommend this book. I received this ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.
The Princess Beard is another fantastic installment of Delilah Dawson and Kevin Hearn's Tales of Pell series. Following the madcap adventures of Lady Harkovrita, who after awakening from a magical sleep sporting a headache and a beard, decides that she has been given the opportunity to escape from a dreadful marriage and runs away from her castle. Along the way, she learns how to become a pirate, makes many interesting friends, and embarks on wacky adventures full of pun-filled goodness. It's wild, it's wacky, and it's absolute wonderful. Highly enjoyable and incredibly funny, The Princess Beard is a great addition to the series. Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this title. All opinions are my own.
You know what I hate about this book? The fact that this is the third one in the series and I never got around to reading the first two! I saw them on Netgalley, and never picked them up and I could just kick myself. I LOVED this book! I can’t do justice to the description so please read the synopsis … What a joy this book was. Irreverent, silly and hilarious. I found myself literally laughing out loud. I would read lines out to my 11 year old daughter and she giggled like a fiend. We both really enjoyed it and now thanks to this book we call the box holding my cats litter box the “boom boom room”. One of the things I love about this book is that while it is so funny it is also inclusive. See comedy isn’t dead just because we expect more from comedians than the old tired way of punching down on people who are marginalized. You won’t be sorry if you get a copy of this book, I had a ton of fun reading it. It sped by and kept my interest the entire time. Now I just need to buy the first two in the series! Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley
Thank you to NetGalley and DelRey for providing me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed the previous books in this series (Kill the Farm Boy and No Country for Old Gnomes). I knew what I was getting myself into here and knew it would be some much needed levity after reading some heavy non-fiction, fantasy and science fiction titles. The Princess Beard follows the title character, a dryad, a centaur swoleboy, and an un-elfly elf on a piratical journey to buried treasure and to find themselves. This is similar to how the previous books start, but the similarities stop there. If a bearded princess isn't funny enough, this book has something everyone: talking parrot pirate captain, elf butts, a swoleboy centaur with un-swole tea magic, otter balls, humans being assholes, dwarf glutes, and on and on. The book will keep you laughing (and reading) through to the end of the acknowledgements. The book is somewhat self contained from the previous installments with only a few crossover characters and references.
The Princess Beard is a puntastic laugh out loud gigglesnort of a good time read. This adventure of self-discovery is not without the occasional mishap but what doesn’t kill you … This tale is filled with epic wordplay and the occasional shout out to various adventurers past, present and future. I heartily recommend.