Jack Bloodfist: Fixer by James Jakins

Rating 6.5/10
A story that mixes modern-life with fantasy tropes yet doesn't take itself too seriously.

Jack Bloodfist: Fixer has made it to the final stages of the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off and I read it as part of Fantasy Book Review's contribution to the contest. 

Jakins' entry is an urban fantasy novel that's set mainly within the city of Summervale. Jack is a suit-wearing and likable half-orc and half-goblin. He is a fixer which is a professional who looks after any problems or issues the orc or goblin communities may face including tenancy disputes, crime issues and arranging funerals. Up until twenty years ago, these races resided in the 'old world' which was a typical fantasy setting but following a confrontation they escaped for pastures new. The environment depicted throughout this narrative where they now find themselves reminded me of an alternative New York City but one in which orcs, goblins, elves, werewolves, and even gnomes frequent, albeit operating slightly below the surface of human existence. All seems to be going fine with Jack perfectly administering the lives of his family and cousins until a mysterious knight they last crossed twenty years ago turns up with a vendetta and personal objectives to murder all orcs. And he's got the power of a formidable but irate God on his side.

Urban fantasy isn't a genre I find myself reading or enjoying too often. I wasn't expecting to like Jakins' novel however following completion I can confirm it was an exciting read and pretty action packed. It was even cartoonish at certain points, with good humour and Jack himself often provided the reader with a bit of first-person perspective banter. The novel presents moments featuring epic past battles and extremely powerful legendary warriors intertwined with often random pop culture references such as the Power Rangers and Ian McKellan. This was an interesting mix and I think Jack Bloodfist: Fixer worked for me because it didn't take itself too seriously. 

For quite a short narrative there was a good range of pretty well developed and standout characters including an alcoholic female orc, an elf-cop, and a legendary wizard. The world-building isn't too complex or genre defining but it's pleasant enough and nicely crafted my internal imagery of all events and happenings. It's decently written yet could have used some tighter editing with regards to certain lexical choices and also I noticed a handful of errors with missing speech marks or when they were entered in the wrong place. The pacing of this book is probably it's greatest asset and was a highlight to me. The final thirty percent is "balls to the wall" action set-piece after action set-piece. Magic influenced duels, awesome showdowns, large-scale brawls and a bit of gore. I can't see the violence as upsetting anyone even though there are a fair few heads and limbs lopped off here and there. Whether or not it was the author's intention, I read this as comic and cartoony. The ending was neatly done and everything was wrapped up nicely. When I started this I didn't think there was any way I would pick up a sequel but Jakins has won me over. Jack Bloodfist: Fixer is well-worked urban fantasy with likable characters, exciting action segments, and gripping pace which led me to finish this within twenty-four hours. I don't think this will win the #SPFBO but I am happy I got to check it out and generally had a pleasant reading experience. Recommend if you'd like to read a story that mixes modern-life with fantasy tropes yet doesn't take itself too seriously.

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