Exile is the first book in a new fantasy series by Betsy Dornbusch, The Seven Eyes. It was released in hardcover and ebook earlier this month, and Emissary, the second book, is scheduled for release in 2014.

Born into slavery as a bastard relative of the royal family, Draken gained the king’s esteem and rose to become one of the more important officers in the Black Guard—until the day he was accused of murdering his wife. Draken came home to find his wife gutted, and when he was found with her dead body, he was blamed for the crime. His punishment was exile to the island of Akrasia, where his survival would be left to fate.

Since Draken’s wife was killed in a manner commonly associated with Akrasian magic, Draken is hoping to find the killer and vengeance for his deceased spouse. Soon after arriving, he instead finds Osias, a necromancer who saves him from suicide by spirit possession. Osias is searching for the missing Mance king and also warning people about the banes, the same type of spirit that took control of Draken. Osias forces Draken to accompany himself and his companion Setia on a visit to warn Queen Elena so he can personally testify about the dangers of possession by banes.

They are escorted to the queen and are able to warn her about the threat Osias fears. However, the queen is nearly struck by an arrow in front of them and is only saved by Osias. Osias and Draken remain in the castle, along with Setia, and plot to hide Draken’s true identity from the queen. Next time they see the queen, Draken offers to find the one who tried to assassinate her, and she accepts his offer. Draken sets out to find a potential killer but finds far more than he believed he would.

To be blunt, I was not a fan of Exile. It had an intriguing opening with Draken being exiled for a crime he didn’t commit, and I was interested in finding out what happened to him in the beginning. The book was decently paced with a lot of major occurrences and revelations, but I didn’t care about any of the characters enough to be concerned about what happened to them. The characters’ motivations often did not make sense to me, and there were some parts where the dialogue seemed awkward or cheesy. In addition, the main character suffered from a severe case of Special Snowflake Syndrome, and the whole book had far too many cases of Surprise! Identity for my taste (especially considering the way one of these was slipped into the conversation).

My biggest problem with Exile was that this was a book in which the main character was portrayed as someone extraordinarily special, and I never understood why the other characters seemed to be in awe of him. Draken certainly had admirable traits, such as respect for human life and reverence for the dead. Before the beginning of this book, he’d risen quite far to go from being a slave to a respected officer in the Black Guard, and once he gets to Akrasia, he also rises quickly to a powerful position. However, he didn’t strike me as being nearly as amazing as all the other characters seemed to think he was, and I felt like I was constantly hearing about how wonderful he was more than I was being shown how wonderful he was.

For instance, when Draken looks upon Osias, he sees great beauty. This is important since those who look upon Osias simply see a reflection of their own character (for reasons I never quite understood other than that it seemed like a convenient way of telling the reader how amazing Draken was without his actually exhibiting any sort of charisma through his dialogue and characterization). There were many conversations in which a character told Draken something along the lines of, “I see why you are held in such esteem by others,” and in my opinion, there was nothing to make him stand out more than any other character involved in these discussions. In fact, I thought Osias was far more impressive than Draken. He’s a necromancer who caught an arrow out of the air with his bare hands.

For much of this book, I kept thinking of Draken as a passive character, even though that wasn’t necessarily true when I stopped to consider his actions. He did act. Even as early as the first couple of chapters, he took the initiative and freed a slave from the men holding her captive. His quick rise on Akrasia was due to his actions (even if I did feel there was more luck than skill involved and that the reward was not entirely suitable, but I’ll talk about that in a bit with some spoiler tags). I believe the reason I kept thinking of him as passive was that he did seem to be swept along by events rather than instigating them and also because the regard others had for him seemed to be out of proportion with his actions. Also, Draken was a character who didn’t have a lot of obstacles. Early in the book, I had some sympathy for Draken since he’d just lost everything—his wife, his status, his home, and his respect. Yet he was barely even on this island before his life was looking up. He was found and rescued by a necromancer who put him in contact with the queen, and from there, his situation improved drastically. It seemed as though he didn’t even have to do a whole lot and people were ready to bow down at his feet!

This brings me to the spoiler discussion of Draken’s rise to prominence on Akrasia:

This isn’t the only instance in which a character’s actions made me wonder why they would ever do such a thing. Unfortunately, the other example I think best illustrates this was also late enough in the book that it should be hidden behind spoiler tags.

Osias had some potential as a character since he’s a necromancer who can do amazing feats, but all the characters were flat and bland, especially since they seemed so intent on how wonderful Draken was. The characters did not seem like people in their own right, but they seemed as though they existed solely to revolve around Draken whether it was to praise him, advance him, inform him, make not-so-subtle hints about him, help him, or be a foil to him.

The setting seemed fairly generic to me, even though it isn’t the common European-based fantasy world. It’s a world with 7 moons that are worshiped as gods with different attributes, and it’s composed of several different races of people, some of which are somewhat original. There is a history involving strife and wars among the different kingdoms, but none of it was particularly interesting or original. There’s a lot of magic, but it’s often used as a plot device, whether its Osias and his necromantic powers or the magic sword and its abilities. I prefer magic in my fantasy to be explored with all its advantages and disadvantages instead of used when there needs to be a convenient way of making the plot happen.

Exile did have an intriguing start, and there was a small part of me that was interested in reading to see what the next big revelation would be. Mostly, though, I was just bored with it and did not find it interesting.

My Rating: 3/10

Where I got my reading copy: From the author.

Read Chapter One

Today I’m excited to have chapter one from River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay to share with you! River of Stars, available on April 2, is set in the same world as the World Fantasy Award nominated novel Under Heaven but takes place about 400 years later. I am currently reading River of Stars, and so far I’m rather enjoying it. I hope you enjoy reading the first chapter!

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

CHAPTER I

Late autumn, early morning. It is cold, mist rising from the forest floor, sheathing the green bamboo trees in the grove, muffling sounds, hiding the Twelve Peaks to the east. The maple leaves on the way here are red and yellow on the ground, and falling. The temple bells from the edge of town seem distant when they ring, as if from another world.

There are tigers in the forests here, but they hunt at night, will not be hungry now, and this is a small grove. The villagers of Shengdu, though they fear them and the older ones make offerings to a tiger god at altars, still go into the woods by day when they need to, for firewood or to hunt, unless a man-eater is known to be about. At such times a primitive terror claims them all, and fields will go untilled, tea plants unharvested, until the beast is killed, which can take a great effort, and sometimes there are deaths.

The boy was alone in the bamboo grove on a morning swaddled in fog, a wan, weak hint of sun pushing between leaves: light trying to declare itself, not quite there. He was swinging a bamboo sword he’d made, and he was angry.

He’d been unhappy and aggrieved for two weeks now, having reasons entirely sufficient in his own mind, such as his life lying in ruins like a city sacked by barbarians.

At the moment, however, because he was inclined towards thinking in certain ways, he was attempting to decide whether anger made him better or worse with the bamboo sword. And would it be different with his bow?

The exercise he pursued here, one he’d invented for himself, was a test, training, discipline, not a child’s diversion (he wasn’t a child any more).

 

Due to the length of this excerpt, this is only the first page. To read the rest of the chapter, click here.

About River of Stars:

 

Ren Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate of Kitai. That moment on a lonely road changed his life—in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later—and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles towards the court and emperor, while war approaches Kitai from the north.

Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor—and alienates women at the court. But when her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has.

In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.

About the Author:

Guy Gavriel Kay

Guy Gavriel Kay’s work has been described as “elegant, sweeping and colorful” (San Francisco Chronicle), “resonant and powerful” (Washington Post Book World), and “wonderfully imaginative” (Publishers Weekly). A #1 bestseller in Canada and an international award-winning author, Kay has often blurred the lines of genre. Like A.S. Byatt who conceives of fantasy as an alternative to—rather than an escape from—everyday life, Kay uses elements of the fantastic to examine themes of history. RIVER OF STARS is a grand-scale, emotionally compelling work that evokes a magnificent period through vividly realized characters.

Please visit: www.guygavrielkay.ca and www.brightweavings.com for additional information or follow Guy Gavriel Kay on twitter @GuyGavrielKay

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

This week brought four finished copies, two of which I already covered when they came as ARCs (and one of which is on my want-to-read soon stack, which I wish I could get through faster!). As usual, I’m not going to display the cover and description of the books I already featured, but I will list each with a link to the original post in case you’re curious about either of them. Also, I’ll mention the release date in case they’re books you’ve been waiting for! They are:

On to the new books!

The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf by Tia Nevitt

The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf (Accidental Enchantments #2) by Tia Nevitt

I am delighted that Tia Nevitt, who used to run Fantasy Debut and now keeps a blog with reviews and writing discussions on her website, has a new book coming out! The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf will be available in ebook format on February 18. Even though it is the second Accidental Enchantments book, it is a stand alone story. The first book, The Sevenfold Spell, is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Of course, this one is based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I have much fondness for retold fairy tales so I’m quite interested in reading this one!

 

Book two in Accidental Enchantments.

Prince Richard is cursed. Enslaved to a magic mirror, he must truthfully answer the evil queen when she uses it to call on him. To keep from betraying innocents, Richard wanders the countryside and avoids people.

All her life, Gretchen has been teased for being small. When she hears of a hidden farm populated by little people like her, she sets out to find it—and is welcomed by the mostly male inhabitants. Lars in particular woos her with his gentle kindness and quiet strength.

Danger looms when Gretchen meets a runaway princess and offers her shelter at the Little Farm. Wandering nearby, Richard instantly falls in love with the beautiful princess, and is later compelled to tell the queen that she is not the fairest of them all. Enraged, the queen vows to find them and destroy them.

If either Gretchen or Richard are to have their happy endings, they must team up to break the mirror’s spell before the queen kills them all…

For another fairy tale retelling from Tia Nevitt, check out The Sevenfold Spell, available now!

The Romanov Cross by Robert Masello

The Romanov Cross by Robert Masello

The Romanov Cross will be released in hardcover and ebook on March 5, 2013. An excerpt is available on the publisher’s website.

Thrillers aren’t my usual reading fare, but I am a bit intrigued by this one since it has a supernatural twist and ties in with the history of Rasputin.

 

Nearly one hundred years ago, a desperate young woman crawled ashore on a desolate arctic island, carrying a terrible secret and a mysterious, emerald-encrusted cross. A century later, acts of man, nature, and history converge on that same forbidding shore with a power sufficient to shatter civilization as we know it.

Army epidemiologist Frank Slater is facing a court-martial, but after his punishment is mysteriously lifted, Slater is offered a job no one else wants—to travel to a small island off the coast of Alaska and investigate a potentially lethal phenomenon: The permafrost has begun to melt, exposing bodies from a colony that was wiped out by the dreaded Spanish flu of 1918. Frank must determine if the thawed remains still carry the deadly virus in their frozen flesh and, if so, ensure that it doesn’t come back to life.

Frank and his handpicked team arrive by helicopter, loaded down with high-tech tools, prepared to exhume history. The colony, it transpires, was once settled by a sect devoted to the mad Russian monk Rasputin, but there is even more hiding in the past than Frank’s team is aware of. Any hope of success hinges on their willingness to accept the fact that even their cutting-edge science has its limits—and that the ancient wisdom of the Inuit people who once inhabited this eerie land is as essential as any serum. By the time Frank discovers that his mission has been compromised—crashed by a gang of reckless treasure hunters—he will be in a brutal race against time. With a young, strong-willed Inuit woman by his side, Frank must put a deadly genie back in the bottle before all of humanity pays the price.

The Romanov Cross is at once an alternate take on one of history’s most profound mysteries, a love story as unlikely as it is inevitable, and a thriller of heart-stopping, supernatural suspense. With his signature blend of fascinating history and fantastic imagination, critically acclaimed author Robert Masello has once again crafted a terrifying story of past events coming back to haunt the present day . . . and of dark deeds aching to be unearthed.

Books of 2013 is a feature for highlighting speculative fiction books coming out in 2013 that appear particularly intriguing.

 

Book of Iron by Elizabeth Bear

Book of Iron, a novella and prequel to Bone and Jewel Creatures, is scheduled for release on September 30, 2013. It’s set in the same world as Range of Ghosts and the rest of the upcoming Eternal Sky books (Shattered Pillars, the second of these, will be available next month). You can read a little more about the book on Elizabeth Bear’s blog.

I love Elizabeth Bear’s writing, and I especially loved Range of Ghosts (so much that I will definitely be nominating it for a Hugo Award this year). This book sounded amazing, and once I saw it was set in the Eternal Sky world, it went right onto my wish list.

About Book of Iron:

 

Subterranean Press is proud to announce Book of Iron, the standalone prequel to Elizabeth Bear’s acclaimed novella, Bone and Jewel Creatures.

Bijou the Artificer is a Wizard of Messaline, the City of Jackals. She and her partner–and rival–Kaulas the Necromancer, along with the martial Prince Salih, comprise the Bey’s elite band of trouble-solving adventurers.

But Messaline is built on the ruins of a still more ancient City of Jackals. So when two foreign Wizards and a bard from the mysterious western isles cross the desert in pursuit of a sorcerer intent on plundering the deadly artifacts of lost Erem, Bijou and her companions must join their hunt.

The quest will take them through strange passages, beneath the killing light of alien suns, with the price of failure the destruction of every land.

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.

Today we have an interview with Jody Lynn Nye, author of the recently released Myth-Quoted!  Myth-Quoted is the newest book in the fantasy/comedy Myth-Adventures series that was begun many years ago by Robert Asprin.  This series has always been good for a laugh and light moment – even through many trials surrounding their creation – and Nye’s take on it continues to entertain and expand its universe.  As a long-time fan of the series I was very happy to be able to chat with her about all things Myth!

Jody Lynn Nye Giveaway: Myth-Quoted by Jody Lynn Nye

Fantasy Cafe: First of all, thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Jody. I know you’ve been working on the Myth Adventures books for quite a while, but based on some of the responses to our recent giveaway of Myth-Quoted it seems that some fans were still under the impression the series ended when Robert Asprin passed away in 2008. Could you please give a quick review of how you started co-authoring the series and ultimately took the reins to keep it going for those who might have mythed it? (I’ve really very sorry; I promise I won’t do that again…)

Jody Lynn Nye: Thanks for letting me sit in with you! I’m not surprised by the feedback you have been getting. I think most people would assume that a series would die with its creator, but look around at what’s happening in other genres as well as in SF. Even such classics as Gone with the Wind and Peter Pan have had sequels (Scarlett and Peter Pan in Scarlet, in fact.) not by their original writers. The difference is that I began to work with Bob long before his passing.

Like most people who read Another Fine Myth and the others, I fell in love with the characters and the world. A fantasy epic that was full of puns and didn’t take itself seriously? I was in college when the first one appeared. I read it, and was hooked. Thereafter, I kept a close eye on the very small collection of fantasy books in our local bookstore for each new one. I would never have thought I’d end up meeting Robert Asprin, let alone working with him on his best-known series. I know how lucky I have been.

We wrote eight books together. The first happened because Bob came down with a bad case of writer’s block following the announcement that he had made the New York Times Bestseller List.(Not your everyday reaction, but Bob was not your everyday guy.) My husband, Bill Fawcett, an author himself and a book packager, was one of Bob’s best friends. He felt the two of us would work well together, and that talking out a new book might help break the dam and let the words flow again. (He also sold the project to Baen Books.) That was the origin of our first book together, License Invoked. It had nothing to do with Myth or any of Bob’s other universes, or any of mine. It was a stand-alone, a humorous contemporary fantasy about spies, magic and rock ‘n’ roll. Bob came up to our house for a week to work on the book. Bill sat with us for a while when we started outlining, to make sure we wouldn’t kill each other, then went back to his office to play computer games. That was the extent of Bill’s input. Bob and I spent the next few days hammering together an outline. We marked in the margin who would write what section, with the idea that Bob would review the final manuscript before it went in. Bob went home to New Orleans, and we began writing.

Once Bob got going, he saw how well we worked together. When he finished with the last two Myth books on the original Donning-Starblaze contract, he said he wanted to write further Myth books with me. Bob felt that I respected the series well enough to trust me with it. I was thrilled but wary. I know how deeply his fans feel about the books. He felt that I understood the characters and the raison d’etre. I believe that I do, and I have the gift of being a good literary mimic, so you’ll find it difficult to determine who, in a collaboration with me, wrote what. That’s important, especially when the lead author has such a distinct literary voice. Thus Myth-Alliances came into being.

We had a ball coming up with each plot. Every year at DragonCon in Atlanta, we would sit together, usually in the Hyatt restaurant. I would type on my laptop, and the two of us would cackle over ideas. When we really got rolling, we’d be spouting ideas faster than I could get them down. I noticed fans walking by, dying to stop and ask us what we were talking about.

When Bob passed away, we were under way on Myth-Fortunes. There was never a thought that I wouldn’t finish it, of course. Under the circumstances, the timing of the book’s plot (the ultimate pyramid scheme, to sell tombs to people in an Egypt-like dimension, with Aahz thinking a little about his own mortality) was sadly ironic. It absolutely flattened me when Bob died. We were to meet up in person at MarCon the very next day. Bill and I had to cancel our appearance. I couldn’t possibly go and be funny so soon after losing such a dear friend. I did finish the book. I even got it in early.

The publisher approached me to continue with not only with the Myth-Adventures, but Dragons, the series Bob began a couple of years before his passing. I’ve now written two more Dragons books (Dragons Deal and the upcoming Dragons Run) and am working on the next Myth book.

FC: In a series that has now been running for thirty-five years, how do you manage the balance between stasis and change? Do you ever have the temptation to not mess with what has worked, just pretend you’re writing a sitcom and hit the big red reset button at the end of every book? Or is significant change necessary for the series to survive? I notice you were sowing some seeds of potential change throughout Myth-Quoted

JLN: Stasis was never a feature of the Myth books. Bob had Skeeve growing up very slowly, but mature he has, from a greedy wanna-be thief to a philanthropic leader, though still young. Neither of us is in a hurry to put him into a permanent relationship. Skeeve will always be Grasshopper to Aahz’s Master Po.

Seeds are always being sown. Bob has had an extended story arc before. The readers will see more as I reveal them. I think readers are comfortable with the basic status quo: the partners will always be there for one another. Beyond that, with every plot line comes challenges that they need to meet in different ways. As in Myth-Quoted, where Skeeve is worried about losing Aahz. But he’s been worried about that before. I’ll cover other things as they become important to the characters.

FC: It seems that the timing of Myth-Quoted is nicely appropriate after the election season we just survived. Is it tough to parody something that in the real world has already gone so far down the path of self-parody as politics? Or does the target just get that much bigger?

JLN: Strangely enough, that plot line was supposed to precede Myth-Fortunes and another book, which will one day appear. What with one thing and another, each book has come out at the right time. Fate’s a funny thing. Delaying Myth-Quoted only gave me another entire election season’s worth of outrage and absurdity from which to glean. I doubt I could ever run out of things to ridicule in politics.

FC: It must be nice to have the freedom to hop your characters to another dimension any time you feel like giving them something new to do. Are there any fun dimensions that have ended up on the cutting room floor, or places you’ve thought they should visit that they’ve never quite made it to?

JLN: Dimensions are so much fun to design! One of my favorite things about Myth was to learn that “demon” was short for “dimensional traveler.” A few dimensions turned out not to be worth writing about. A few are due for a reappearance, and that will happen, Crom willin’ and the publisher says yes.

FC: Other than some cameos, you seem to work with a tighter cast within each book in your take on the Myth universe when compared to the earlier books. Is there a particular reason you wanted to focus in more on subgroups of characters for each book? Or am I just imagining this?

JLN: When Skeeve ousted himself from M.Y.T.H., Inc., he voluntarily limited contact with the others. That was part of the story arc from Myth-Alliances onward. Until all of them were reunited in Myth-Chief, the stories used only a few of the partners. Unless the story takes place in the Bazaar, many of the other characters are on different missions. I like mixing up the groups to get a different dynamic.

FC: Maybe this is getting a little philosophical, but I’ve always wondered: You have a multiverse here where magic and technology theoretically exist side-by-side (depending on the dimension, of course). Where do you draw the line between the two? I’m sure that in a humorous fantasy series like this magic fits a whimsical style better, but is it possible to do technological whimsy in a multiverse like Myth? Or does it just not work the same way as an author or reader?

JLN: The fun of doing an all-technological dimension is that magik doesn’t work there, or only works a little. That may be why the people in it developed technology, to make up for the lack. The presence or absence of force lines (the source of magik) largely determines which way a dimension will develop. (Kobol is an all-techno dimension.) But there are exceptions. Perv is strong in both magik and technology. Sure, we can do techno-whimsy. This is Myth. Trust us.

FC: Myth Adventures hasn’t always been purely whimsical either, though. While still staying firmly in the range of comedy, several of the books from just before you joined as a co-author hit some heavier topics like alcoholism, parenthood, and feelings of betrayal among friends. Since transitioning out of that period you’ve still had some occasional undercurrents show up in your books, but would you ever want to bring those elements back into the story in a more forceful way? I hear “dark” and “gritty” are in right now, even for humor…

JLN: The mark of how real characters feel is if they experience things that other, real beings do. Skeeve ran away from home after his mother died. Aahz walked away from almost every relationship he had on Perv. Bunny has felt her intelligence was unappreciated because of her gender. Very adult situations will crop up in the characters’ lives because they are adults, in spite of the brightly-colored, funny situations. Many things that happen to them are literally life and death, but they get out of them in humorous ways. I hear “dark” and “gritty” are in, but I never bothered to make an appointment to see them.

FC: Since we’re discussing the Myth books, I have to ask you about the other Asprin-originated series that is now under your stewardship. I read that there is a new Dragon book coming out this year, is that right? And what about future Myth books for that matter, I assume from the events in Myth-Quoted that at least one more is on the way?

JLN: Yup. As I mentioned before, I have already published one Dragons book, and another is on its way out. I have a wonderful plot for the one after that, but it’s not under contract yet….  I am writing the next Myth book now.

FC: As an aside, I just wanted to let you know (if it somehow wasn’t already apparent…) that I’m a long-time fan of the series and of RLA in general; from middle school through college I literally read and re-read the early Myth books until the covers fell off, at which point I of course bought new ones and started again. I really appreciate that you’ve taken on the characters and universe so people like me can get new adventures from old friends. I think they’re doing well under new management, as it were, and am now a fan of you and your take on them in your own right. So, thanks, and I hope they keep coming!

JLN: Thank you so much for your faith in me. I will always do my best to make sure that readers of new Myth-Adventures will feel the same pleasure reading them as they did reading the old ones. I’ll keep writing them as long as I can. I have lots more ideas and plots.

Thank you again for interviewing me today! Please drop by my websites: www.jodynye.com and www.mythadventures.net. I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.