It's All Smoke and Mirrors


Having somewhat enjoyed the first book, when I was around my friend's house in Adelaide (and he was insisting on lending me as many books as possible, despite my protestations at having a huge TBR pile as it is) I decided to grab the next couple in the series just to see how well Asprin writes his sequels. Mind you, I tend to have a fairly low opinion of sequels, namely because Hollywood tends to have this really bad habit of completely ruining them (or creating them where they are not needed, and in the process completely ruining them – think Ghostbusters II). Anyway, it was two pages into this book when I had my first laugh out loud moment, so I knew that I was going to enjoy it.


The fact that it only took me two days to read it is probably testament to that, but then again it is a pretty short book, though a short book does not necessarily mean an easy, or a quick, read (The Abolition of Man is testament to that).


Well, we once again meet Skeeve and his mentor the Pervet Ahaz, who are spending some time in the old inn that they settled down in after sending the wizard Istvaan off into some random dimension. However, as is the case with life, this isn't the end of the story since a soldier from a nearby kingdom rocks up and tells Skeeve that the king would like to interview him for the position of court magician. Well, that sounds like a really cushy, high paying job where Skeeve can pursue his chosen career of being a thief – as long as they get it that is.


This is where Ahaz once again comes in because as anybody who has ever been to a job interview would know (or doesn't know for that matter) the whole interview isn't so much about the skills you have (because that is generally outlined on the resume), but rather how you present yourself. In fact you could be one of the best qualified candidates at the interview and get absolutely nowhere simply because the interviewers simply do not like you.


Job Interview



Anyway, enough about the job interviews because needless to say, with Ahaz's help, he nails it (and sometimes I wish I had a mate like Ahaz, but then again don't we all?). Problem is that it turns out that they weren't looking for a court magician to simply sit around doing the occasional party trick for the king, but to deal with an invading army that happens to be really, really big. The problem is (as if that isn't a big enough problem) that the general, who's pretty upset that the chancellor wouldn't give him any money to hire some more troops (let alone finish the walls around the castle), doesn't want to give him any troops simply because the way he sees it, if the magician wins then the chancellor's going to see this as an excuse to disband the army because as everybody knows armies are really expensive to maintain. However the problem is that soldiers and generals really, really don't like being thrown onto the unemployment lists, and no country wants a bunch of really upset vets running around complaining about the government.


Anyway, I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself, and I'm probably getting a bit too far into the book, which means that you don't need to read the book, which sort of defeats the purpose of a book review (and further more if I had written a book review at school which basically rehashed the plot of the book, I probably would have failed – that is unless I bribed the teacher, but then again I don't know anybody who went around bribing teachers – if that is even possible). However, I'm sure we all know how this book ends, pretty much the same way that most fantasy novels end, but then again I suspect it is not so much the ending that counts, but how we actually get there.