The Cranky Old Reader

I'm a Goodreads refugee, looking for a new home. Old books for children, science fiction, fantasy, mysteries, and humor are my main areas of interest. I've little interest in books that were written after 1975 or so, and prefer books that are older still. There are, however, a few still-living authors that I respect.

The Exotic Enchanter

The Exotic Enchanter - L. Sprague de Camp, Christopher Stasheff, Roland J. Green, Tom Wham, Frieda A. Murray I rarely fail to finish a book. But I didn't finish this one.It wasn't bad. It just got boring. And that was particularly disappointing, because I've been a big fan of the original Incomplete/Compleat Enchanter stories by Pratt and de Camp since I was a boy. Back then, that book was part of the secret lore of science fiction fans; "Yngvi is a louse!" was one of our passwords (not literally, mind you. I never belonged to an SF club).But as with many classic series and novels, the series has been resurrected and given into the hands of writers of far less stature than the original creators.For those not familiar with the original stories, they were the adventures of a modern (1940s) psychologist, Harold Shea, as he traveled through realms of various mythologies by means of a syllogismobile, an exercise in metaphysical logic created by his friend and colleague Reed Chalmers. Harold discovers that he can work magic through rhyme in many of those worlds, and his adventures are classics of light, humorous fantasy.The Exotic Enchanter is the second volume of a modern continuation of that series, i.e. there was another modern-day sequel written before this one. It continues an ongoing story from the previous novel; I hadn't read that one, and the lack of sufficient explanation of events between the original book and Exotic was a definite flaw. It consists of four stories by different authors.I made it though two and a half of them before returning the book to the library."Enchanter Kiev" by Roland J. Green and Frieda A. Murray was a pleasant surprise. I'm not familiar with either of those authors, and I tend to scowl at modern writers in general; standards have slipped badly since the old days. But "Enchanter Kiev" was a quite passable successor to the classic Enchanter stories. Green and Murray managed to capture the style of the original stories quite well.Not so the next story, "Sir Harold and the Hindu King" by Christopher Stasheff. This was a surprise to me as well, but for the opposite reason. Stasheff's Warlock series had been fairly well-written (although not terribly memorable), and rather reminiscent of the original Enchanter series. But his style in this story was leaden and painful. It limped, a soggy and awkward attempt to duplicate de Camp and Pratt's light, amusing style. It was repetitious, and oddly false to the original character concepts. All in all, quite a disappointment.I hate to say it, but "Sir Harold of Zodanga" by L. Sprague de Camp was also a disappointment. It wasn't awful, but it simply made no impression on me whatsoever: reading it soon became a dull chore. I was sorry to see that the sole remaining author of the original (he has since died) wasn't able to maintain the style or humor of the series. Fletcher Pratt may simply have been irreplacable. It was with something of a sense of relief that I returned the book to the library unfinished. Perhaps some day, if I'm terribly desperate, I'll try it again...but I doubt it.In a fractional system, I'd give this one 1.5 stars. If it had all been as good as the first story, it would get 2.5 or even 3.

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