by Robert Asprin & Jody Lynn Nye
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
When Robert Lynn Asprin introduced the magician Skeeve in Another Fine Myth in 1978, Skeeve was a naïve apprentice with knowledge of only a couple of spells. A dozen books and twenty-five years later, Skeeve was a naïve magician with knowledge of only a couple of spells. The difference is that now Skeve has a reputation, numerous friends, and the ability to figure out how to use his few spells to the best of his ability. Robert Asprin and co-author Jody Lynn Nye have written three stories about Skeeve and his companions which have been published in the collection Myth-Told Tales.
The first of these, “Myth Congeniality,” actually focuses on Skeeve and his assistant, Bunny. Bunny is required by her uncle, the Mafioso Don Bruce, to acquire the legendary Bub Tube. Their quest takes them to an interdimensional beauty pageant in which Bunny expects Skeeve to use magic to help her win, in spite of the rules forbidding sorcerous talents. Naturally, everyone else uses magic and Skeeve is at a disadvantage because of his actual abilities, although, as so often happens, his reputation more than makes up for his inability to cast potent spells. Asprin and Nye slip in a nice twist ending to the story, although they do not follow up to give the reader any idea to what purpose Don Bruce intended the Bub Tube.
With Skeeve’s story aside, the authors switch their attention (and viewpoint character) to Chumley, the Troll (a.k.a. Big Crunch). Along with his sister, the Trollop Tananda (a.k.a. Tanda) and Guido, one of Don Bruce’s henchmen, Chumley must find resolve a protection racket which is cutting into Don Bruce’s share of the profits in the Bazaar on Deva, the long-standing scene of many of Skeeve and company’s adventures. Although both Tanada and Guido come across well, Chumley doesn’t seem to strike quite the right chord. Asprin long ago established him as incredibly erudite except when in his public persona, but in “Myth Calculations,” he comes across as just another person. This story has more than its share of humorous set pieces, from the establishment of A Tough, a Troll and a Trollop beauty salon to the staged fights between trolls who need to have private conversations. Set in the middle of the collection, “Myth Calculations” is the strongest story of the trio.
The final story, “Myth-er Right,” is told from two points of view, Skeeve’s partner, the Pervect Aahz, and his replacement as court magician, Massha. Their story is a great hunt sequence, with the type of twist Asprin seems to like. The hunters, and their dragons, are trying to capture the princess. Because of the switching between the two viewpoint characters, this story seems the most disjointed of the three and also is the one with the most telegraphed ending, which both succumbs to a cliché and ridicules it. It does provide reminders of some of the characters Asprin has long been using, and helps to separate Nunzio, who appears in this story, from Guido, who appeared in “Myth Calculations.”The three stories contained in Myth-Told Tales serve as fun and interesting re-introductions to the characters and situations Asprin has invented over a century. They also serve to reinvent the series as the work of a collaborative team following Asprin’s 2002 solo novel, Something M.Y.T.H. Inc. Perhaps most important, it gives the fans of the series hope that “Myth” books will appear at more regular intervals and assures them that the style of the series will remain as it always has been.
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