Forget what ails you with Asprin

I love the the original "Myth" series by Robert Asprin. Refreshingly funny, these books take on the conventions of the fantasy novel in a light-hearted way. Like the best send-ups, they are done with love and contemporary satire.

The Myth series, not including co-written books:

Another Fine Myth
Myth Conceptions
Myth Directions
Hit or Myth
Myth-ing Persons
Little Myth Marker
M.Y.T.H. INC. Link
Myth-Nomers and Impervections
M.Y.T.H. INC. In Action
Sweet Myth-Tery of Life
Myth-Ion Improbable
Something M.Y.T.H. INC.

Robert Asprin is well-known for The Thieves World Books, the Phule's Company series and some stand-alone books. I have never read any of these but probably should. I don't like most medieval-flavoured Fantasy but find the 'Myth' books a compulsive read.

The main character, Skeeve, is a thief and would-be magician from Klad. That's right, among all the races you might meet in the crowded Bazaar on Deva, humans are called Klads. It's part of the fun to cheer for Skeeve, the underdog, in a scenario where parallel dimensions are home to races that live longer and have greater powers. Skeeve's friend Aahz, a pervect from the dimension of Perv, is huge, with enormous teeth and muscles to complement his armour-like green scales. Aahz's powerful mind, like that of most Pervects, is perpetually focused on monetary gain. The adventures begin when Aahz, a powerful wizard who has had his magic abilities revoked, takes young, hapless Skeeve as an apprentice.

If you're looking for escapist fiction that will not disappoint, I suggest the first books in the series, written by Asprin alone. Later books, done with co-writers, often disappoint. The first of these that I feel is equal to its predecessors is the latest: Class Dis-Mythed.

This novel, co-written by Jody-Lynn Nye, skillfully evokes the fictional world created by Asprin and reintroduces the contemporary social criticism some of the latest books had been missing. In Class Dis-Mythed, Skeeve is on a sabbatical to learn more wizardry. His success in past missions, aided by much more powerful friends and allies, has puffed up his reputation despite his modest magical skills. What Skeeve is best at is team-building and strategy.

When Aahz sends him three pervect graduates to tutor in magic, Skeeve wants to refuse but Aahz has already collected their tuition fees. With help from his allies, Skeeve teaches his students that in a life-and-death conflict, theory is only as good as the street-smarts used to apply it. During the first part of the book, the dramatic tension comes from intrigues between the competing students: three Perv females, a talking dog with healing magic and a Klad with military experience. At the end of the book, their secrets are revealed when Skeeve's former students enter a duel-to-the-death contest to win a fortune. I especially enjoyed the send up of reality TV, with its fixed contests and scripted shenanigans.

Word on the street is tomorrow!

I hope to take lots of pictures, buy lots of books and meet people. Watch this space for updates during the week!

Happy reading.

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