Another Fine Myth, originally published in 1978, is the first book in the Myth Adventure series begun by Robert Asprin, also known for his work editing Thieves’ World. Later books were co-written with Jody Lynn Nye, and she now continues to write the series on her own since Robert Asprin passed away in 2008. John recently interviewed Jody Lynn Nye about Myth-Quoted, the latest book in the series, and the Myth Adventures books in general.
Normally I list the books in a series in a review, but I’m just going to refer to the list for the Myth Adventures series on Goodreads this time. Myth-Quoted was the twentieth installment, and listing all the books in the series would take up a lot of this review!
Skeeve, apprentice to the magician Garkin, spends his day practicing levitating feathers and lighting candles with magik until Garkin decides it’s time to teach his student an important lesson. Garkin wants Skeeve to understand that great power is meaningless without the ability to control that power, and Garkin plans to demonstrate this concept firsthand by summoning a demon. He informs Skeeve that the demon is “powerful, cruel, and vicious, and would kill us both if given the chance,” but he also reassures him that there is no need to be afraid of the demon. Garkin will contain him within the pentagram and he will be controlled, unable to give in to his vile nature and destroy them.
Unfortunately, the demon summoning is interrupted by an assassin, who claims to be there on behalf of Isstvan. Garkin does manage to kill the assassin with fire but is too late to save himself from being shot and killed. Even worse, he dies after summoning the demon, leaving Skeeve all alone with the monster and its terrifying sharp teeth and talons.
At first, the demon appears quite menacing, but soon he starts laughing at Skeeve’s visible terror. The demon introduces himself as Aahz, a friend of Garkin’s and a dimensional traveler (or demon for short). Garkin and Aahz had an arrangement in which they could summon each other in order to have a bit of fun with their respective apprentices. The pranks didn’t stop with their apprentices, though; the two usually played a trick on each other during the summoning. Aahz soon realizes that Garkin removed his own ability to use magik—leaving him stranded in Skeeve’s dimension without his power and no one able to restore it to him with Garkin’s sudden demise.
When Aahz hears the assassin claimed to be from Isstvan, he has an idea about what happened. At one time, Garkin and Aahz helped prevent Isstvan from implementing his plan to gain control of all the dimensions, and Aahz suspects Isstvan decided to remove Garkin before attempting to do the same again. With nowhere else to go, Aahz makes Skeeve his own apprentice and the two set out to stop Isstvan’s evil plot from coming to fruition.
The Myth Adventure series is one of my husband’s longtime favorites, and I finally read the first book in the series when I was looking for a fun book that wouldn’t take all that long to read. Another Fine Myth was exactly what I was looking for: an entertaining, diverting book. It’s not a book that has a lot of depth or takes itself at all seriously, and it’s well-paced without a dull moment. There’s a sense of humor, and it’s not nearly as cheesy as I had been expecting given the series’ reputation for puns.
It’s largely an adventure story without time spent on character development, although it may be bringing the characters together to set up later books since it is only the first of many. In this book, there are some general views on the different characters’ personalities, but none of them have a lot of substance. Aahz is the seasoned traveler who has a lot of knowledge about how the world (and various dimensions) works, and Skeeve is somewhat naive in comparison. A few small details about their pasts are mentioned that may be important in later books, but this book is more about advancing the story than exploring the characters.
The premise of numerous dimensions that can be visited leads to all kinds of possibilities for settings. In this first installment, the only other dimension that is visited is Deva, inhabited by the devilish merchants known as Deveels. (Making a deal with a Deveel is generally a Very Bad Idea.) There are other characters from other dimensions introduced, such as Imp assassins from Imper, who tend to be rather gullible. Aahz, the demon Skeeve travels with is from the dimension Perv, making him a Pervect (but most certainly not a Pervert, and he’ll be quick to correct anyone who confuses the two terms).
The beings from all these dimensions seem to be lumped together as having certain qualities due to their dimension of origin. In a more serious story, this would have bothered me, but it didn’t seem out of place in this book with its light-hearted tone. Another Fine Myth isn’t a book that focuses on the serious moments. For example, when Garkin dies at the very beginning, neither his apprentice Skeeve nor his friend Aahz spend much time being overly concerned about this death or dwelling on how they feel about it.
There is one aspect of the book that I can see bothering a lot of people, and that is the lack of strong female characters or even multiple female characters. There is exactly one female character with a speaking part in this book, and she doesn’t even show up until close to the end. Her main purpose seems to be to stroke the main character’s ego, as she constantly calls him “handsome” and says how he’s got style, although she is an assassin who seems to have some rather intriguing abilities. As mentioned, it’s not a book that focuses on attention to detail, but including multiple women interested in more than making eyes at the main character (as one other woman did from afar) seems like basic world-building to me—even if it is basic world-building that is quite frequently overlooked in fantasy books, especially older ones like this one. I do tend to assume approximately 50% of the population is female unless given reason to believe otherwise, and I did keep wondering what had happened to all the women. (Was there a deadly virus that only affected women for some reason? Were all the men such jerks that women decided to leave for their own dimension?) After I finished the book, my husband told me that Another Fine Myth is supposed to be a parody of buddy comedies and this lack of women is probably part of the joke. There are more female characters later in the series.
Another Fine Myth is a fun quick read with adventure, magik, dimension-traveling, assassins, and dragons (I liked the dragon a lot!). It’s not a book that will make one think too hard, but it is one that is easy to get drawn into and keep reading. I had a good time reading it, and I am planning to read Myth Conceptions, the next book in the series.
My Rating: 7/10
Where I got my reading copy: I read my husband’s tattered copy of the book.