Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Myth Adventures

Myth Adventures Volume 1, by Robert Asprin
$18.21 at Amazon.com ISBN: 1592221114
This is the first volume in a truly outstanding fantasy fiction series. I first came across it in junior high, but it's a lot of fun for readers of any age. Skeeve, the story's young hero, is an apprentice magician whose teacher is killed by an assassin from another dimension in the first chapter. Befriended by Aahz, a reptilian-looking wizard with a short temper and a penchant for drinking and hoarding money, the two of them set up a business called MYTH Inc., offering the services of magicians for hire.
One of the things I like most about these books is how light and funny they are. None of the long, grueling journeys that are so common in Lord of the Rings type books appear here. Skeeve and Aahz give every situation a Laurel and Hardy feel: "This is another fine mess you've gotten us into!" As the series progresses, they take on a cast of characters, each more outrageous than the last.
In the first of six short novels collected in this volume, the heros set out to find the assassin who killed Skeeve's teacher. In the second, as Skeeve's magical powers have progressed, he becomes court magician in the small kingdom of Possiltum, only to find that his job involves stopping an invading army. Vampires, devils, gargoyles, and a host of other mythical creatures travel from other dimensions to hire the Great Skeeve, who is in reality a somewhat dorky young guy we can all relate to.
He also relies on a collection of magical charms and trinkets that have the unfortunate tendency of breaking down at the worst possible moment, leaving Skeeve and his friends to come up with a hastily devised Plan B. A lot of their jobs involve traveling to other dimensions, which sometimes gets them trapped there, deep in unknown territory with no escape route. The ingenuity the characters employ is truly impressive.
So if you're into fantasy fiction but want something to lighten up a little, here's a terrific choice. It's also a fine selection for the teenage boy in your life who isn't yet interested in reading. Light but never childish, Myth Adventures is as exciting as Harry Potter or any other magician genre fiction, only it isn't so dark. In fact, it's so much damn fun, you're sure to be hooked.

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