Quest for the Time Bird sells itself as being influenced by the likes of The Princess Bride. It toes the line of parody and serious work, uses absurdist humor and action sequences interchangeably, and features characters who are little more than archetypes of classic fantasy fiction.
But it lacks the charming connective tissue that holds The Princess Bride together as the cult classic film that it is today.
Like many other high fantasy stories, Quest for the Time Bird features multiple races, brave warriors, fair maidens, magical items, and centuries-old beef between gods.
The world is vast and the premise is interesting, and while the art can occasionally feel a bit jumbled and confusing to look at, it dies a fair job of partnering the story action with the visuals in a way that feels reflective of the story’s tone.
There’s a lot of care and thought placed into the creation and writing of the many different races, too. This book does not contain the standard fare of elves, orcs, dwarves, giants, and humans. Instead, we’re treated to a unique array of races, each with their own name and attributes.
Where things begin to fall apart is with the characters. The only likeable character I found within its 200-something pages was a a little creature named Furry, who tagged along frequently on the shoulder of another character’s back.
Otherwise, everyone else is either too stiff or too stupid to be appreciated.
Bragon is a washed-up knight whose previous glory days are long behind him. He’s brash and experienced, but ultimately hollow and single-layered as a character.
Pelisse is the main female character within a story that loves to exploit her for a wide number of outlandish reasons. In fact, so often are they exploited and used as plot devices and motivation, her breasts are practically their own characters.
Pelisse’s goods are on full display, in a gratuitous costume that doesn’t necessarily reflect the clothing one would choose in the land of Akbar’s climate, and they are often the cause of unwarranted and grossly exaggerated sexual desire on behalf of practically every man around her. At one point, she even exposes herself as a means of distracting suddenly-turned-on warriors from harming her companions.
What’s worse, she is frequently depicted as being oblivious to everything around her, creating a creepy fetishization of innocence.
There’s a great story hidden somewhere deep within Quest for the Time Bird, but this surface-level exploration is not it.
It’s already a tall order to heap on oneself the expectation that comes with claims of being influenced by The Princess Bride. But when you leave out the bits of charm and irony that made The Princess Bride so popular, you’re left with a collection of husks that are competent archetypes with nothing particularly interesting or profound to add to the existing amount of fantasy fiction.