Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin

Another Fine Myth is the first book in Asprin’s fantasy comedy Myth series, of which their are currently over twenty books. Our main character, Skeeve, is a thief who becomes a magician’s apprentice in order to enhance his thieving abilities. During his training, his master summons a demon but is attacked by an assassin and they both kill each other, leaving Skeeve alone with the demon.

The story is an adventure about a demon sorcerer with no powers teaching his incompetent new apprentice magic so they can defeat an evil warlock so the demon might recover his powers and return back to his own dimension. Another Fine Myth is  combination of buddy-adventure, odd couple, fish-out-of-water and comedy of errors. It is a fantastic combination. The book is written in plain language, descriptions and details kept to the minimum for clean prose, but at no point does the book become condescending. If anything, the book is most certainly self-aware.

From subtle nods to the real world, to characters straight-out questioning their own reality, the book is borderline meta-fiction. Through this self awareness it can relax and just focus on being entertaining, it doesn’t have to try to convince the reader of anything. Asprin’s books are all short by modern standards (we would call them novellas now) but he has a mastery of the language that allows him to complete a tale in a minimum of words. Every sentence is carefully crafted to develop character and plot simultaneously. Not a word is wasted. This leaves the book feeling fast-paced and sometimes frenetic – and as a more-famous writer once penned: “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

If you have not yet read Robert Asprin, then I would highly recommend it. His humour is in the same vein as Terry Pratchett – indeed, his world is populated with demons and sorcerers and strange creatures – and it feels almost like stepping into a parallel Discworld. Though where Pratchett has a mastery over emotive character-based comedy, Asprin is more situational comedy. His books will appeal to anyone who also enjoys the Martin Millar (writing as Martin Scott) series Thraxas, or anything penned by Tom Holt, or the infamous Douglas Adams.

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