The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England by Brandon Sanderson

The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England

by Brandon Sanderson

#1 New York Times Bestselling author Brandon Sanderson meshes Jason Bourne, epic fantasy, and time travel together in a standalone adventure where an amnesiac wizard's only hope of survival in medieval England lies in recovering his missing memories.

A man awakes in a clearing in what appears to be medieval England with no memory of who he is, where he came from, or why he is there. Chased by a group from his own time, his sole hope for survival lies in regaining his missing memories, making allies among the locals, and perhaps even trusting in their superstitious boasts. His only help from the "real world" should have been a guidebook entitled The Frugal Wizard's Handbook for Surviving Medieval England, except his copy exploded during transit. The few fragments he managed to save provide clues to his situation, but can he figure them out in time to survive?

Reviewed by annieb123 on

4 of 5 stars


Originally posted on my blog Nonstop Reader.

The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England is the second "Secret Project" kickstarter funded fantasy by Brandon Sanderson. Released 27th June 2023 by Macmillan on their Tor imprint, it's 384 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. Paperback format due out in June 2024 from the same publisher. 

This is a humorously zany adventure/time travel(but not really)/SF mashup, and very much in a lighter Sanderson style. He has taken Clarke's law (sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic) and expounded on it to the Nth degree, and the result will either delight or dismay, with not much overlap. Some of the humor is straight up silly (which can be a good thing). There are a number of "Army of the Dead" type jokes ("This is my BOOMSTICK") which will be a definite hit or miss, depending on readers' current mood.

One thing which hasn't been discussed much in reviews is the inclusion of the delightful incidental pencil art by Steve Argyle. It enhances the read surprisingly much. Simple but subtly rendered B&W pencils and digital art, they invite a pause & look. 

The unabridged audiobook version has a run time of 9 hours and 12 minutes and is well narrated by Michael Kramer and in counterpoint by Kate Reading. He has a neutral midwest American accent and does a good job of the read. He has a surprisingly intense voice, but isn't overly dramatic, and it doesn't overpower the story. The narration alternates with Kate Reading, also adept and one of the better known narrators on Audible and other platforms. She has a classically trained theatre voice, but again, not at all a detraction. They work well together although they're quite disparate in accent and emphasis, and readers will find they soon settle into the story without being overpowered by the narration. 

Four stars for the story, with the codicil that readers should probably be looking for a mostly silly adventure on a par with Terry Brooks or Piers Anthony (and also keeping in mind that the tone's a lot more serious/straight in the last third of the book). It would make a nice choice for public or school library acquisition, home use, and buddy reading. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes. 

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Reading updates

  • 31 October, 2023: Started reading
  • 31 October, 2023: Finished reading
  • 31 October, 2023: Reviewed