Robert Asprin,
Another Fine Myth &
Myth Conceptions
(1978, 1980; Ace, 2002)

There seems to be a trend lately of publishing omnibus volumes of popular, older sci-fi and fantasy novels. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series presents a couple of recent examples. Likewise, Another Fine Myth/Myth Conceptions is a new collection of the first two novels in Robert Asprin's very popular Myth series.

Another Fine Myth, originally published in 1978, introduces the reader to Skeeve, an aspiring magician (who had previously aspired to be a thief) whose master is assassinated, leaving Skeeve in the dubious company of Aahz, a stranded demon. A magician in his own dimension, though currently without powers and trapped in Skeeve's, Aahz agrees to take Skeeve on as his apprentice. And the first thing he decrees they must do is destroy the great magician Isstvan, the person behind Skeeve's former master's assassination. It seems that Isstvan wants to rule the universe, and his first move is to kill all competing mages -- which, Skeeve is informed, now includes him, even though he's merely an apprentice. Because Skeeve is Our Hero, he, of course, manages it, but not quite in the way anyone might expect.

In Myth Conceptions (1980), we find Skeeve and Aahz enjoying a quiet life in the country while Skeeve continues to work on his magical learning. But when he is invited to audition for the position of court magician to the Kingdom of Possiltum, Aahz decrees that to Possiltum they will go. So, accompanied by their unicorn Buttercup and their dragon Gleep, off they go. But it's when Skeeve wins the position that they discover that what Possiltum is really looking for is a way to avert a war without an army!

I was pleased to see these novels re-released and equally pleased to see others in the series when I recently visited the book store. When this was initially published, I refused to read it, in a fit of typical teenage arrogance, because ALL my friends thought they were so wonderful (and also because I had OD'd on a certain other pun-filled series).

As one might guess from the punning titles, these are comic novels, but they don't rely on puns over plot to carry the story. Granted, the plots are not complicated -- this is not Great Literature we're talking about here. This is fun, light reading; the sort of thing that can be read in a single, lazy afternoon -- or two, in the case of this omnibus -- perfect for the beach or poolside.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]
Rambles: 22 October 2002

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