Murphy's Lore: Bartender of the Gods

Written by Patrick Thomas
Published by Padwolf Publishing
Genre: Fantasy/Humor
Cost: $14

By Jon Minners

There is a belief that when you continue to put out one great product after another; each one surpassing the previous edition, that eventually, there will be a point when you slip, even if just a little. 

Sadly, this is how I felt as I read the latest entry in the Murphy’s Lore series, Bartender of the Gods.  Never disappointing me, Patrick Thomas has continuously one-upped himself every step of he way, reeling me in with Fools Day, continuing the streak with the entertaining Through the Drinking Glass, exciting me with Shadow of the Wolf and thoroughly mesmerizing me with Redemption Road, the previous entry in the series that had me frothing at the mouth waiting for the latest installment. 

Unfortunately, while reading Bartender of the Gods, I believe visions of Redemption Road and just how great a story in the Murphy’s Lore series it was had me expecting quite a great deal from this collection of short stories.  While Redemption Road was a full-length novel, Thomas’ short stories have never disappointed me.  This time, some of them did, but I must amend this by stating that I did like a great number of them and upon completion of this collection, I was very satisfied. 

The book focuses around May Day, a strange occasion where the forgotten Gods come out of seclusion and make Bulfinche’s Pub their watering hole.  I think this annoyed me a little.  Some of those who got play in the stories weren’t exactly of much interest to me and took away from my usual favorites like Hex, Hermes and my favorite, Loki, who was never in the book.  Such a shame. 

Still, the book gets off to a good start as the gang helps a suicidal man who just can’t get over his depression, thanks in part to some strange creature that make those with the slightest case of depression think suicide is the answer.  The gang must stop the creature before he actually claims a victim.  I enjoyed this tale, but in reading the story on the cosmic chicken that lays an egg with an entire universe inside, was slightly immature, even going more overboard than usual.  I usually appreciate Thomas’ unique humor, but sometimes, I almost felt like I shouldn’t be reading the stories.  Maybe I’m just getting old. 

And while I actually found the tales of a priest who manages to stop a murder without breaking the seal of the confessional and the foolish criminal who tries to start a protection racket in and around the Pub I found them slightly simplistic and unrealistic in nature, considering that one of the key selling points of this series, to me, has been that the tales are pretty realistic, despite very supernatural characters.  Still, I enjoyed being entertained. 

I actually was very intrigued by the mythology involved in the story where two talking babies reveal that some Gods feast on certain souls in the afterlife. 

I also found the story where Hercules is forced to learn the value of modesty after he learns that he is not always correct in his assessment that it takes strength to be a hero.  In that same story, the relationship between our hero, Murphy, and the hardened Terrorbelle, takes a step into a very positive direction.  Thomas really outdoes himself with an emotional look at how two characters do not have to be in love to love one another.  His writing was very realistic and emotionally uplifting…even bringing a tear to my eye with hopes that Terrorbelle’s feelings will one day be returned.  

The major drawback of this story was the long and dull story involving the baby shower and a date rapist who ends up getting his just desserts.  This was the one story that kept me from completing the book faster than usual.  I just couldn’t get past the first few pages involving the presentation of gifts that just didn’t need to be told in such depth.  This was the one story I could totally have done without. 

Also, the story where The Mother of the Streets is forced to get a job just seemed too convenient to me and predictable. 

But Thomas saves the best for last with Murphy and Fred giving up half a week of their lives so one old lady can just win one game of Bingo before she is taken by Death.  That was a nice, sad story that I think would provide readers with a more positive view of the world. 

I also include, among my favorites, the story where Fred saves a girl enslaved to a news anchor. This was a heartwarming story and it was nice to see the Satyr get a little story for himself.  He is a very likeable character. 

Then it all comes together with an excellent tale that involves good and evil working together to stop the end of the world.  The only man who can save the day and his boss, Paddy Moran, who has been captured, is a mere mortal by the name of Murphy.  He is the character who is really writing these tales and one of my favorite characters after his exploits in Redemption Road.  While reading this, readers will begin to fully realize the need for some of the other stories that took place in this book, even those that were not as good as I would have liked. 

The one drawback with this story was that it seemed to be too quick.  The story deserved a full length story of its own, but maybe, Murphy’s involvement in a new universe will be explained in another title.  Thomas has been known to do this.  I begged to find out what happened to Loki after Fool’s Day and Thomas rewarded me with Redemption Road, still my favorite of the series.  We will see. 

I was slightly disappointed by this novel, but I believe Thomas set the bar so high with Redemption Road and I feel my expectations might have been higher than even he could meet.  Still, I enjoyed the book, as a whole, despite some stories that I could have done without. 

In the end, this book takes you to an imaginary place you wished existed.  With so much evil in the world, it feels good to know there is always a place to go where you will always have a friend; where everyone and everything is good and there is not a problem too big to fix.  Just follow the rainbow. 

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