Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Jul 13, 2007

Class Dis-Mythed

I think Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures were the first fantasy novels I ever read. I was eight years old and the jokes did not even remotely make sense to me. It didn't help that my Dad started me on the third book first, so I didn't even have the advantage of familiarity with the characters to help me out.

But I still liked them! In fact, I eventually bought all the books in the series and re-read them all numerous times. I feel a little old for them now, as I do for the other fantasy novels I read as a youngster: Piers Anthony's Xanth novels and Craig Shaw Gardner's tales of Ebenezum and Wuntvor. Still, I usually enjoy Asprin's new fantasy offerings while I have abandoned most of the other authors.

I think the primary reason for this is that Asprin also belongs to the "Military Science Fiction/Fantasy" club that loosely includes Linda Evans, Elizabeth Moon, David Drake, David Weber, Eric Flint, Mercedes Lackey, and John Ringo (I may have missed one or two there). The main distinguishing literary factor of their writing is that they all firmly and obviously believe that people act the way they do for a reason. I mean, to the extent that they actually have a really tough time presenting a convincing villian that isn't appallingly stupid and cliched. They are like modern disciples of Victor Hugo. Their books sometimes read like cheerful management tracts for a down-at-the heels organization.

Class Dis-Mythed, apart from its obvious lisp-inducing qualities, is one of Asprin's better books. In it, The Great Skeeve (a human magician whose reality does not meet the hype), undergoes to train a mixed gaggle of off-dimension students in "practical" magic. It just gets crazier from there. Skeeve may not be the magician most people think he is, but his practical thinking skills are top-notch and he demonstrates them very convincingly over the course of the novel.

I thought the ending, which dramatizes the students off on their own, was just a bit dull and over-done because it seems completely isolated from the plot at first, but Asprin brings it back on track after a short while. All in all a very fun, light read.

Rating: 3.5

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