Book Review

War Hogs – Book Review

War Hogs is a fantasy adventure story by Darren Wolfe. It is the story of Billy, an orphan boy who is employed by a local mage and his apprentice, Hamish. Billy and Hamish have developed a friendship from their circumstance. Though Hamish is self-centered and not the greatest friend, he isn’t horrible to Billy and has a bond with him. But that does not diminish Hamish’s entitlement issues.

Once the story gets moving it is a fun adventure story. There is a feeling of it being an unlikely Dungeons and Dragon quest group. That isn’t intended to be a judgment on the story. I liked the fact that it had the feel. At the beginning of the story, you have the two boys living their daily lives. They are not given a task or a quest that sets them on their adventure.

It is Hamish’s side job of stealing from the mage so he can make magical trinkets to sell that cause them to be kicked out of their home. Though, reading between the lines of where the story goes, I don’t believe the mage sent them out maliciously. I believe he was trying to protect them.

As the story progresses, we learn of a war happening off-screen. The ruler of the land is collecting mages and forcing them to fight for him and recruiting boys to be soldiers. By sending them off, the mage has given them a chance to escape and not be forced into the military.

Through a series of misadventures, the two find themselves in the employ of a mercenary group calling themselves the War Hogs. It is a mix mash of adventurer types and creatures’ types. Hamish uses his time there to try and learn how to control his natural abilities while Billy, who wants to be a fighter, is relegated to kitchen duty and has to find time to train himself during the few moments of free time he has.

It is a beautifully constructed story that has great moments of heart. One of the things the reader learns early in the story is that Billy is trans. He talks about having to wear a binder at all times and what he has to endure being trans in this world. None of his friends, who are aware of him being trans, judge him for it and see him as a boy without question.

For me, one of Hamish’s redeeming qualities is when he creates a gift for Billy. It is a charm he discovered in a book that was intended to be a curse for an enemy. But he tweaks it to be a blessing and gives it to Billy. If he sleeps with it under his bedroll it will transform his physical body over time. As the story progresses, we get to see Billy go through a second puberty, for lack of a better phrase. He gets excited as hair begins to grow under his arms and his mustache starts coming in, which he is especially proud of.

It does take a bit before we get to the adventuring part of the story, which is the moment I realized that, as I stated earlier, it felt like a Dungeons and Dragons party. The group is hired to search for a cache hidden in a cursed cave. During the journey, we learn more about the characters and how they came to be mercenaries.

This story is intended to be the first book in a series. Unfortunately, I fear this may be the only book in the series. It came out in 2018 and there has been no word of a follow-up. I looked into the author’s Twitter account and found he hadn’t posted since 2019. I hope that one day they return with the follow-up book, but for now, we only have War Hogs as a standalone.


Darren Wolfe on Twitter

War Hogs on Amazon

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