Robert Asprin &
Jody Lynn Nye,
Myth Alliances
(Meisha Merlin, 2003;
Ace, 2004)

The first book in Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series came out in 1978. I discovered them some time later, and it's been a while since I read one, but I do remember having fun with it so I was looking forward to reading this latest release.

The Myth books are centered around the character Skeeve, a practising magician, and his mentor, Aahz. I daresay Asprin gets sick of the comparison, but if you've yet to come across them, think Terry Pratchett, or Piers Anthony in Xanth-mode.

This story starts in Klahd, Skeeve's birthplace, where he has sort of inherited an inn. Staying with him are Gleep, his pet dragon; Gleep's best friend, Buttercup (a unicorn); and a drop-dead gorgeous assistant called Bunny. They are visited by a representative of Pareley, who begs for help. It turns out that the Deveels have caused the Pareley-ites to get into debt. And in an attempt to extricate themselves from the mess they have jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire by calling on the Pervects.

Aahz refuses to get involved but, luckily for Skeeve, there's a Kobbold at hand, and he's an expert on Pervect ways. Skeeve's merry band of associates are roped in to help, and off they go to romp their satirical way through topics like credit card debt and shopping channels.

This is the first of the Myth books to be co-authored, and that in itself is a hint that the series is running out of steam. That's not to denigrate Jody Lynn Nye's work, but the result isn't quite what it might have been, in my opinion. Here's a passage showing Skeeve discouraging a couple of tourists from staying at the inn:

"Ye-ees?" I croaked.

"Hello! the man said brightly. "Do you have a room for the night?" As he glanced over my humped shoulder at the ruin of the room his face changed. "I mean ... er ... do you know of a nearby hotel where we could spend the night?"

"Come in, come in," I urged them, beckoning with a gnarled hand. The man backed away. Gleep chose that moment to stick his head around the door. I changed his scaled visage to large and mangy dog. There was no need to alter his breath, which was bad enough to send maggots packing. The man and woman stepped back another pace.

"We'll just be going," the woman said weakly. The two of them, apologizing hastily, sprang back onto their cart. The man whipped up their horse, who lurched into a trot. I waited until they were out of sight, and had a good laugh.

Which is more than I did, I'm afraid. Maybe I was myth-ing something, but I didn't laugh at the snippet on the back cover either, and that's never a good sign.

This book will probably be enjoyed by hardcore Skeeve the Magnificent fans, and by people who haven't read much else in the comedy/fantasy genre. But others will be better entertained by the earlier tales.

- Rambles
written by Jean Lewis
published 15 May 2004

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