7) The Compleat Enchanter – The Magical Misadventures of Harold Shea, by L Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt
Reading “The Compleat Enchanter”,
when I came to the fourth section,
(set in Finland’s Kalevala)
somehow I began to wonder:
Can one write LiveJournal entries
in iambic tetrameter?
(Yes, I know that last word’s bogus
and perhaps that gives the answer.)
This, a five-book compilation
of the works of Pratt and de Camp,
brings together the adventures
of a man called Harold Shea from
Ohio, mid-20th century,
who is, with his friends and lover,
thrust in various fant’sy poems,
first Norse legends, second Spenser,
third Orlando Furioso
(also Kubla Khan here featured),
fourth (as mentioned) Kalevala
ending in Cuchulain’s Ireland.
Though Mark Twain perhaps began it
writing of King Arthur’s Yankee
(don’t think I can really mention
which state that wayfarer came from
as it has two unstressed vowels
in succession, so won’t scan here)
this ambitious and effective
merging of mundane and mythic
surely was an inspiration
for much else in the same genre.
Even the stock story setting –
visitors arrive from elsewhere,
get entwined in local issues,
solve the problem (sometimes fail to)
disappear to next adventure
using magic means of travel
sounds a bit like Doctor Who, ne?
Also, use of spell components
such as “verbal” and “somatic”
was employed by Gary Gygax
in so far as I remember
from my teenage D&D days.
Anyway, this book is harmless.
Irish bit is, sadly, least good –
use of silly plot devices
to prevent our heroes making
any diff’rence to the story.
But the rest is entertaining.
And I think I’d recommend it.
Four stars in my on-line cat’logue.