Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ebenezum 01: A Malady of Magics (Craig Shaw Gardner)

Rating: 4
Year: 1986
Genre: Fantasy, Comedy
Read again? Yes

When wizard Ebenezum tries to awe his new apprentice by summoning a fearsome demon, a broken line on his protective pentagram means the demon's not in the wizard's control!

Even worse, this is Guxx Unfufadoo, a horrid rhyming demon whose dread powers grow with every rhyme!

After a brief battle--part of which with Ebenezum's beard stuffed in the demon's mouth to keep it from speaking--the wizard banishes his foe back to its home in the Netherhells.

Then...the sneezing begins.

Ebenezum finds himself cursed with a horrible allergy to magic. Even minor spells send him into convulsions of sneezing.

Now the stricken wizard and Wuntvor the apprentice must take to the road for Vushta, the famed City of Forbidden Delights, to seek a cure. But first, they raise some traveling funds by rescuing a damsel from a dreadful dragon...well, kind of. The dragon's really into theatre and takes on the damsel as his partner.

Soon our heroes encounter their next foe, Hendrek of Melifox, armed with the enchanted warclub Headbasher, which no man can truly own, but can only rent!

Then they meet Death; a woman with a chicken that poops gold; an assassin named the Dealer of Death (and who loves to strangle wild pigs); and an enclave of monks who worship Plaugg, the Moderately Great.

Very much in the vein of Robert Asprin's "Myth" series, which started as a send-up of heroic fantasy and swords-and-sorcery tales. As with Asprin's Skeeve the apprentice, Gardner's Wuntvor must handle the magical burden for his master (in Skeeve's case, his original teacher was assassinated; his second lost his powers as a prank by the previous guy). Wuntvor is incredibly clumsy, but he means well, and his successes are more from screwing things up than from being competent in magic.

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