Robert Asprin,
Myth-ing Persons &
Little Myth Marker
(1984, 1985; Ace, 2002)

If you like your fantasy spiced up with lots of humor, then Robert Asprin's Myth series might just be perfect for you. If the silliness found in the old Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books by Douglas Adams is your cup of tea, then perhaps someone has already mentioned Asprin's series to you.

While the writing styles of the two authors differ and Hitchhiker is sci-fi while Myth is fantasy, both have lots of similarities. The individual books are rather short -- generally less than 200 pages -- which is great for a lazy weekend or to occupy you while you travel. Both authors play on words whenever they get a chance. The action is fast-paced, the dialogue extremely witty. The plots of the books are rather light, but then, so are the plots of those half-hour sitcoms you watch. Best of all, the characters are bizarre and all have enough quirks to make their antics nothing short of hilarious.

The Myth series was originally released in the 1980s. I remember thinking they were great when I read them back in my college days. Now that the books have been re-released in two-book volumes, I was curious to see if I would feel the same more than a decade later. I'm happy to report that I still find them amusing, clever and worth the short time-out I took from an otherwise busy life.

Let me introduce some of the main characters. Skeeve is a magician whose reputation precedes him. His skills are nowhere near as good as the rumors say, but his luck seems to make up for what he lacks. His partner, Aahz, is a demon from the dimension of Perv (which, incidentally, makes him a Pervect, not a Pervert). If Aahz has a skill besides his incredible strength and love of gold, if would have to be his volatile temper. Together, with a tent-full of quirky friends, bodyguards, an overweight apprentice and a pet dragon, this bunch experiences more adventure in 150 or so pages than we do in a life time.

In Myth-ing Persons, Skeeve and Aahz are accused of harboring swindlers who simply used a magical doorway in their home to escape to another dimension. Having the option of paying a fine or going after the cheaters, Skeeve & Co. begin the chase. Unfortunately, in this other dimension, vampires are the norm, while humans are known for being evil. Furthermore, when Aahz gets framed for murder and sentenced to death, can the rest of the gang come to his rescue? Maybe so, but the odds aren't likely since Skeeve's magical skills don't work in this dimension.

Little Myth Marker starts out with a friendly game of dragon poker. (The rules of dragon poker are quite complex; Asprin should write a book simply explaining the rules.) After a beginner's luck winning streak, Skeeve wins quite a bit of money ... and an IOU. The problem is that the collateral is a little girl named Markie. While she may be cute, she is more like a walking disaster area. If this isn't bad enough, the mob is causing unintentional trouble, Skeeve just lost the girlfriend he never had, and he has just learned that a bunch of lesser magicians have hired the notorious Ax to kill on his reputation!

While it is not imperative that you read the Myth series in order, a lot of references are made to prior entries in the series. Asprin does a pretty good job of quickly explaining things in such a way that new readers can understand a background reference, yet those familiar with Skeeve's past are not bored with the replay. Still, I would recommend that you pick up all the Myth books and allow yourself a giggle or two hundred. If people who laugh a lot tend to live longer than sourpusses, then I think I can safely say Asprin's book are good for your health. In fact, just take two (to begin with) and call me in the morning (when you'll be buying the rest of them).

[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 30 November 2002

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