This book is a 2007 Fantasy and Science Fiction Cybils Award Nominee.
Mason knows what heroes do: they're great, they save the day and do Heroic Things. Mason's village of Highsmith has a "Hero's Alley" and the names of the greats are on the doors of their homes. There's Roland Warbringer. Cassius Coldhammer. Brendlor Bowbreaker. The names have a sound as amazing as the people who did amazing things like battling orcs, goblins and dragons. Their deeds were memorialized by the Anonymous Warrior Poet of Highsmith, who recorded their fabulous history. Highsmith has a past as bright and bold as solid gold, but it's all in the past. In Highsmith, there are no more enemies. They aren't really needed, according to Duke Darlinger, who single-handedly is hero for the entire village. He decapitates orcs and arm-wrestles goblins, all without letting one blonde curl get mussed.
Mason kind of hates him.
Yet, there's nothing left in Highsmith. The people are poor, and Mason wants a different life than barding for people who haven't got an heroic bone in their bodies.
Mason and his best friend, Cowel know that the age of heroes is over, but they long for adventure anyway, and when it comes to them in its truly terrifying form, they're ready -- at least they try to be. After all, if the Duke can Save the Day, how hard is it to buckle some swash, kill some goblins and get home in time for dinner? Isn't it all just Standard Hero Behavior?
A funny and fast paced adventure for younger teens, this book reveals the true nature of heroes as people who just do a job that needs doing.