Every fantasy lover will have an idea of what makes a troll. In L’Instinct du Troll (Troll Instinct), Jean-Claude Dunyach takes his rocky creature to a world where magic and corporate culture come together. If the ensemble is a novel, the four short stories (three previously unpublished) can be read independently. Of the same length, the short stories gradually take on importance through the episodes to finish in an apocalyptic festival worthy of a rock (!) concert.
Jean-Claude Dunyach's way with words gets to you immediately, his command of the short story form is legendary. L’Instinct du Troll is also a farce, more Rabelaisian than ironical. The combination is a hilarious experience that all readers (lovers of the genre or fresh converts) should have on their bookshelves.

These troll adventures are larger than life, the world is quite crazy, yet with a certain internal logic and I couldn't stop myself laughing out loud at the reference to Stonehenge. A good read.

It’s difficult to talk about this book, but trust me, Jean-Claude Dunyach knows exactly what he is doing. With his genius of turning company and office life (let’s not beat about the bush) into a fantasy world by subtly applying humour and relevance, archetypes and creatures that one might have expected to evolve in a different way.

But, don’t worry, there’s also action, suspense and a whole raft of characters that are worth looking at, from Sheldon, the king of new technology, to Trollesse, our troll’s true love, who hasn’t got a heart of stone, and some other more secondary characters, but who give all they’ve got when needed in the action.

He places the Troll in everyday situations at the office that many of us will no doubt recognise. Then, in transposing them to a fantasy universe – where we can find everything we like about this literary genre  - we get such an off-beat contrast that in itself makes you smile, because clearly he is gently poking fun at established codes of practice. […]

Yes of course one can use satire, caricature and write a light-hearted novel, and still not lose sight of the bottom line. Sometimes, fantasy is seen as a genre detached from reality and some readers even like it for that very reason. No need here to look for links between the writer’s universe and our nice little world: they stand out a mile. It’s all very effective. […]

You want to laugh when reading fantasy? Just laugh reading a book? And laugh of course, but not in a ridiculous way and also not losing sight the essential. Laugh to exorcise, laugh to condemn. Come on, get started, I don’t think you’ll regret it, because this farce hangs together perfectly. And we should, a little birdie told me, soon be getting new adventures of this Troll, who is, at first sight, not altogether attractive, yet so loveable.


This is a funny and inventive form of fantasy. We are a world away from the classics of the genre with this novel vision of a universe too often bogged down by rigid codes that prevent all possibility of originality. […]

I recommend you read this little gem of fun as soon as possible.

He has just succumbed to the temptations of fantasy taking weapons, bags and talent over to the “enemy”:  L’Instinct du Troll (L'Atalante) is a pure fantasy novel – you can’t dispute that – but all the codes and clichés of the genre are mercilessly put through the Dunyach mill and the result is a masterpiece of humour and fun. […]

From then on, in around 190 pages of delight and hilarity, there are four stories in succession that paint a riotously vitriolic picture of how big companies nowadays function – the author being himself an executive in one of the jewels in the crown of French technology, so he is speaking from experience – and of our society through the exacting prism of fantasy. […]

I laughed from beginning to end and then I had to read it all over again because every sentence, every remark, every expression is important: all Jean-Claude Dunyach’s verve and satire can be found in these finely honed sentences where every word is significant. To be carried on one’s person at all times to mask out hostile surroundings.

Jean-Luc Rivera, Actusf

Things start badly: even if he has competently carried out his latest mission and got rid of the necromancer of a distant swamp, from the administrative point of view things are not going well at all! He hasn’t brought back any receipts for expenses incurred during the mission. In short, following bureaucratic logic he has to return to demand the aforesaid receipts, as well as those of course generated by this new trip… […]

With the help of puns, risqué situations, pastiches of fairy tales (that give piquancy to these short stories), Jean-Claude Dunyach paints the portrait (or self-portrait) of a being who is against progress going too quickly , since speed is very often mistaken for haste by humans, whose miserable life expectancy gives a short view on events. The troll counts his age in geological eras. He thinks at the pace of a mountain. The gesticulations of insignificant little fleshy creatures no longer move him, and he gave up a long time ago understanding the reasons for such frenzy and such an orgy of pure waste of energy. He is a victim of the system, which needs him, as a check. Like all old things, he refuses modernism and trends -  both absolutely futile. But a lot less stupid than he seems (wisdom is a virtue of the old) and faster than he lets on, he knows exactly how to turn modernity against its promoters, reminding them of the other side of the coin when all they could see was its blinding glitter. […]

So, if the humour of the style and content is the primary reason for reading “L’Instinct du Troll”, the acerbic criticism of our society should not be overlooked, rid here of its veneer of decorum. The oppression of hierarchy, the ambition of some to the detriment of others, the meaningless jargon of daily human life, the superficiality of fashion, digital gadgets which in the end give us more trouble than satisfaction … Impossible not to recognise many professional situations, and dream of solving them in a troll-like manner: by a clear statement in an indifferent tone about the consequences of refusing to do things simply and freely. To quote him: “If I don’t have my receipt today, I’ll be obliged to come back to see the next owner as soon as he’s finished rebuilding the inn, and again and again until someone more intelligent than all the rest puts a stop to the process.”

Nicolas Souffray, Yozone



Published at June 17, 2015