Popsugar Reading Challenge category: A book your friend recommended
The Taskmaster, by Katherine Vick
The Taskmaster is the wonderfully over-the-top finale to Katherine Vick's 4-part Plot Bandits series. I reviewed the third book, The Narrative, here. It's a fantasy with a premise similar to John Scalzi's Redshirts: the minor characters stage a rebellion. Fodder is sick of being a disposable bit player; he wants to be the hero. Flirt wants to ditch being a barmaid and be a warrior instead. Shoulders is just sick of getting beheaded every time there's a Quest. Princess Pleasance is happy with her time in the spotlight, but she doesn't want to marry the guy the Narrative has picked out for her. And then there's the misnamed Prince Dullard, who just wants to be fair to everyone.
The misadventures that started in The Disposable come to a hilarious climax in this one, as our heroes mess up the Narrative's noble quest in increasingly ridiculous ways. The quest ends with an unexpected twist, and Fodder must confront the Taskmaster who's been in charge of the Narrative all along, who only communicates through written instructions. The Taskmaster turns out to be nothing like what Fodder (or the reader) expected.
After that, the denouement goes on for an unusually long time, but the details are entertaining. The right couple winds up together, Fodder becomes a hero in a very different way than he'd expected, and "happily ever after" gets a whole new meaning.
I definitely recommend this series, a hilarious but loving sendup of fantasy tropes. It needs to be read in order, so start with The Disposable.