By Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye
Published by Audible Frontiers
Read by Noah Michael Levine
It has been a while since I read of listened to any of the Myth Adventures series. This is mostly because I got tired of the characters and eventual predictability of the stories – read enough of them and you can see where each is going from the first or second chapter. However, there was a time I really enjoyed them and so I thought it might be good to listen to one I had not previously read.
The series itself started out as a breath of fresh air; comedy blended with satire and aimed at the epic fantasy genre. More important it was fun. I think, however, that Bob Asprin ran out of fresh ideas after a relatively few stories in this series, but managed to extend it by playing with different combinations of the characters, but by that time the stories became too predictable or else rambled from one situation into another.
Then, I think it was after his hiatus from the series, he started collaborating with Jody Lynn Nye. Both authors quite talented at this and other genres, but at first it was pretty easy to see who had written what. I think I commented last time I reviewed a book in this series that it was as though they told each other, “You write your parts and I’ll write mine and we’ll see each other when the royalty checks come in.” I recall one story in particular that was so clearly divided that way that it had two entirely separate sets of characters the readers had to follow and since we got to see the story from both sides there were no surprises and not much to be interested in by the time we got to the climax when both sets finally met.
Well, in Book 15 of the series you can still see clearly that two authors were involved but their styles mesh a little better than in their earlier collaborations, but the story had flaws. Some of that is in the details like getting dimension names wrong and I note that some reviewers claim that some of the characters are misidentified in this story… I cannot say for certain as I have not memorized every detail of the books, but I did notice that some of the characters were acting… well, out of character for themselves, at least as they had been betrayed previously.
My biggest complaint, however, is that the main character of the series, Skeeve, is not in it. Some doppelgangers of him are floating around, but they are not him and like the M.Y.T.H. Inc sub-series stories, they just do not work without him. Instead we have Aahz and the sort of main character although the point of view often shifts to Maasha. The problem is Aahz’s position in the stories is that of the straight man. He is Abbot to Skeeve’s Costello, or Martin to Skeeve’s Lewis. Together they work well, but apart… well, I had similar problems when Skeeve went off on his own too. The two need to work off each other. So why isn’t Skeeve here?
Here’s a quicky synopsis: Aahz learns that Skeeve’s credit card has been used above and beyond its limits and no one has bothered to pay off the debt, but meanwhile collectors are lobbing fireballs at his place in Deva (Skeeve is back on his home dimension, Klah, by the way…). Apparently credit cards don’t work there are they do here and trying to kill the debter rather than wring every penny out of him is considered sound financial practice. So Aahz grabs a couple sidekick characters from the previous books, Chumley the Troll and Maasha from Jahk and they go off to “The Mall” to find out what is happening. They quickly convince the Mall owners and accountants that Skeeve is not to blame and are offered the job of tracking down the Identity thieves who are a big problem there. They turn that job down for no good reason on the basis that they intend to do that anyway. That was odd since I’d never seen Aahz turn down money to do something he’s doing anyway, but there you are.
The ending, as I said was predictable, although for a while there I expected to find out that the massive charges really had been by Skeeve because he had been hired by the merchants to do the same thing Aahz and the others had been doing. It would have been a funnier ending, I think. I won’t give the rest of it away, but once again showing too many points of view gave away the ending long before we got there.
By the way I don’t agree with many of the reviewers that this is the worst book of the series. I think it’s somewhere in the middle, but it is too good an example of how most series have a half-life and this one reached it quite a while before this fifteenth installment.
If I never listen to Noah Michael Levine read another humorous satire again, I think I can live with it quite comfortably. That is probably not going to happen, but…
Mister Levine relies of “Funny voices” in the extreme to delineate the characters so Aahz sounds like a stereotypical Jew from Eastern Europe who moved to Brooklyn. I found the accent insulting and grating on the nerves. All his Djinni have heavy Italian accents and it goes on. I thinkit also mispronounces the word Djinn… Maybe I’m wrong (I could be) but I think it ought to be pronounced as a single syllable, not as though spelled DeeJeen, especially since they are supposedly from the dimension Djinger (Ginger? Or DeeJinger?). Between the silly voices and the bad pronunciations, this just was not enjoyable to listen to so I really hope the next time I listen to a book of this series someone else is reading it.
In conclusion: It’s a fair to middling story but totally ruined by the reading.