Things are looking up between me and my coworker, reading-wise… after reading Touch of Frost I have a better idea of what she’ll like and I also know that I need her to explain what’s awesome about a book before I go ahead and read it. Also, she’s promised to give The Eyre Affair another go at some point in the future, which is all a girl can ask for, really.
With this book, though, we almost had a situation on our hands. My coworker was talking about this series to one of our patrons, and she mentioned that it was a send-up of fantasy series, with all the appropriate dragons and such but also a good amount of humor. At the exact same time as I was saying, “Oh, funny fantasy, I love that!”, my coworker was telling the patron, “It’s humorous; Alison wouldn’t like it.” I’m pretty sure a Look was given, and the patron was definitely laughing at us. I couldn’t find this first book in our library or my home library, and I feared I would be unable to prove my clearly advanced sense of humor, but luckily my coworker had a copy and was willing to lend it to me, possibly only to avoid getting stuck on shelf-reading duty. I will take it!
Aaaaaanyway, to get to the actual story part of the story, this turned out to be a pretty funny book! The narrator, Skeeve, is an apprentice magician whose master decides to summon up a demon for a proper introduction and then proceeds to die at the hands of an assassin. Skeeve is terrified of the demon until he finds out that “demon” is just a terrible abbreviation of “dimension traveller” (suuuure it is) and also that this demon, Aahz, would be no worry anyway as Skeeve’s master happened to take away Aahz’s power when he summoned him. As a practical joke. As you do.
Of course, Skeeve soon becomes terrified again, because, you know, dead master, assassins, potential future death, not actually a magician yet, stuck learning all the important things from a guy with no powers. But Aahz is smart and funny and not unlike a certain Bartimaeus, so he is of course able to shepherd Skeeve through all of the ridiculous things that are about to happen to him. These things include mastering disguise, travelling through dimensions, meeting a hot chick, and, you know, going up against the guy who sent the assassin, so there’s something for everyone!
The writing style and the plot of this book reminded me of a slightly less absurd Terry Pratchett novel, which is excellent except that I’d rather gotten used to the absurdity and this book seemed practically straightforward in some places. Asprin also focuses his satire more on the fantasy novel and less on, say, everything in the world, so I felt like I was missing a few things since I’ve never been a big classic fantasy reader.
It’s nothing terribly new to me (though it was probably new in 1978, when this book came out). But I still enjoyed it rather a lot, and after I finish my giant work-based TBR pile (ha… haha… ha…) I may see if my coworker will let me borrow the second book so I can keep up on the exploits of my new friend Skeeve. He seems pretty cool.
Recommendation: For those who like a good satire and a snarky demon.
an RIP read