Jake Stoddard

I’ve wanted to read Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike for a long time, but I just had the ebook, and I really drag my feet without audio. As with Quest for Celestia, when I heard that the audiobook for Orconomics was released, it magically appeared on the top of my TBR pile.


When the whole world goes crazy, what can you do but try to keep up? —⁠Jynn Ur’Gored

Orconomics is a satirical fantasy in a world where the entire economic system is based on heroes defeating monsters and looting their hoards. Investors pay for their gear in exchange for a cut of the profits. Stocks and “plunder funds” are traded, as humans, elves, gnomes, and dwarves play the market, betting on what quests will succeed, and which hauls will be most valuable.

Enter a ragtag band of down-and-out heroes pulled together on the whim of an insane goddess for a quest of dubious validity. None of them want to be there, they can’t work together, and half of them are incompetent.

Oh yeah, and one of them is a goblin, who is automatically hated and distrusted, even with his noncombatant papers.

Their quest takes them on an adventure following false leads, dead ends, and betrayal. It wraps up in a satisfying way, but the book leaves some threads wide open for book two of the trilogy.


This book is both funny and a great adventure. The quest takes a while to get started as each of the characters is introduced and the quest is commissioned. Ordinarily, this delay would be a point against the book, but Pike infuses so much hilarity and intrigue throughout, that I didn’t mind the leisurely pace at the beginning.

Every character is interesting, particularly our heroes. Each is distinct and memorable, and almost all of them grow and change over the course of the book.


Power eludes the masses, and so the masses are ruled by the few. —⁠Jynn Ur’Gored

And then the few go crazy and start carrying Kobolds in their purses. —⁠Gorm Ingerson

Orconomics touches on various themes, including:

  • Living under society’s prejudices
  • Coming back from failure
  • Teamwork and friendship
  • Corruption of those in power
  • The complexity of mature capitalism

As a satire, Orconomics comments on corruption in a built-up financial system, but it doesn’t beat us over the head with it. It simply lays out what’s happening in this fantasy world and leaves the reader to contemplate whether it mirrors our world or not. It also allows the reader the freedom to ignore any deeper meaning and simply enjoy the story.

Regardless of your personal views, you can sit back and enjoy the story without feeling like you’re being preached at.


As I consider the fun, adventure, characters, comical setting, and tactful message, I can’t help but be impressed with Pike’s handiwork. That’s a lot to juggle without messing up, and he manages it well. He’s got quite a gem here.

Wherever ye go, there ye are. Try to find the comfy chair… And see if ye can grab a free meal. —⁠⁠Gorm Ingerson

There’s an old adage in writing: show don’t tell. Showing keeps us in the moment and glued to the page. In general, when the author starts telling, the reader gets bored.

There are exceptions to the show don’t tell rule. For example, when the author needs to telescope time and skip over the boring bits. Or perhaps the reader needs some knowledge of setting or backstory that can’t be worked into the events of the story.

The key to telling is to keep it short or make it amazing.

Pike masterfully employs this second strategy over and over. Plenty of times, he strays from showing the here and now to digress about some aspect of history, religion, or economics. But every time, he makes it either interesting or funny—usually both.


Will You Like It?

Unlike the typical fantasy adventure, this one includes investment brokers, insurance, regulations, and contracts. As such, younger readers, unfamiliar with these topics, will find parts of the story go over their heads.

On the other hand, readers who do understand these topics will find modern financial structures and laws a fresh take on epic fantasy.

This book is for you if you:

  • Like epic fantasy
  • Understand the basic terms of the stock market
  • Enjoy a generous mix of humor and adventure

If that sounds good to you, check out Orconomics