Robert Lynn Asprin
The MYTH Series
M.Y.T.H. Inc. Link
This is number seven of the Myth books. It is most notable because this is the first Myth book that is not told from the viewpoint of Skeeve. While it is still told in the first person, the viewpoint switches between the team members. Hearing the tale from these different viewpoints gives us some surprising information about some of the characters. In theory, all future books with non-Skeeve viewpoints will have 'M.Y.T.H.' in the title, while all Skeeve books stick with the plain old 'Myth'.
This book also is notable on two other counts. First, it is the first Myth book that doesn't have a real plot. It is closer to a collection of short stories than a complete novel. It does have the over-arching theme that the team, and Skeeve in particular, have some unresolved issues. Second, in this book it become blindingly obvious that Robert Asprin isn't going to worry about keeping the books consistent -- apparently the sword and ox-cart culture of Klah is also capable of providing Master Degrees in Business Administration and Finance, and has a surprising mix of technologies, material culture, and imports, from comic books to three piece suits to sushi. It has been clear for a long time that Klah wasn't limited to the standard sword and sorcery stereotypes, but in this book R. Asprin isn't even trying. Gleep's new personality also seems to be a break in the narrative continuity.
This book is also the first with an Introduction, in which R. Asprin explains the history of the series, and why this book took so long to write. It is interesting, if your interested.
The gang has just gone corporate (hence the 'M.Y.T.H. Inc.'). We get to follow five operatives as they work on various problems brought to the M.Y.T.H. group. In between each assignment we hear from Skeeve, as he tries to deal with being the president of the new company.
1. Guido's Tale: Guido and Bunny are sent to solve the case of how novelty products are being stolen from a high security factory. Bunny works in the offices, Guido on the work floor. We don't hear much about what Bunny is doing, but Guido has a grande ole time inspecting Rubber Doggie Doodle, with Realistic, Life-Like Aroma That Actually Sticks to Your Hands and trying to find a way to smuggle goods past the guards (the best way to find out how the thieves are doing this is obviously to find a system that works, and test it thoroughly...)
Guido has an interesting speech pattern, and it's a little hard to read his narrative until you get used to it. He has an intellectual-type gangster persona, using big words and a clipped accent. You'd better appreciate it though -- the narrative is the main gimmick for this chapter. Guido doesn't have any great adventures, or even solve the crime. Still a fun read, but just a little flat in review. It is entertaining to see how a Mob thug reacts to having a blue-collar job.
2. Chumley's Tale: Tananda is sent out on a collection mission in Arcadia... alone. Chumley hears about it, and after chewing out Skeeve for a few minutes, runs out after her, fearing the worst -- for Arcadia. Tananda has a habit of breaking things... lots of things. Chumley does his best to temper her wrath, with moderate success. It doesn't help that the locals seem determined to protect the man they're after at all costs. For the most part, this chapter is about Tananda's relationship with Skeeve and Bunny. Nothing is resolved, but at least we learn the tension is there.
3. Massha's Tale: Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Massha and Vic (you remember Vic. He was the 'bad' vampire from Myth-ing Persons. Well, now he's good) are sent out on an unusual project; they are supposed to find a way to make a hotel show a profit. This is way outside of the type of job The Great Skeeve and Co. usually take... but it pays well. So we get to read 25 pages of Massha and Vic redesigning a hotel. It's more interesting than it sounds, but it's no great adventure. (We also get to see what became of the Geek).
4. Aahz's Tale: In an attempt to get Skeeve away from the office, Aahz takes him along on a mission to help an old 'friend', Quigley. Quigley is still holding down a job as the Magician of Jahk, but Jahk isn't treating him very well at all. He had signed his contract without reading it, and after a number of pay cuts he was starting to regret this. Needless to say, Skeeve solves his problem, and does it without lawyers. I can't say too much more without adding spoilers. This chapter lets us know that Skeeve is getting a bit self-centred, and sets us up for the surprise ending.
5. Gleep's Tale: Gleep is... smart!. In fact, if Gleep is to be believed, he is superior to all the Myth team in practically every way. He is a dragon, after all. He's also a bit sinister, but in a comic way. Of course, Skeeve doesn't know this, and has actually assigned this mission (a simple guard duty) to Nunzio. Nunzio turns out to be a poor guard (what can you expect from a humanoid?), and Gleep ends up doing most of the work himself. Quite entertaining, but it seems rather out of character; R. Asprin had in earlier books quite clearly set Gleep's personality as that of a young kitten, not a subtle mastermind. Ah well.
All in all, it's a very entertaining book, but it's main value is that you get to see all of the characters you've grown to know and love up close and personal. It isn't until the last chapter (from Skeeve's viewpoint again) that the over-all story line of the series is advanced, and that's basically just setting up the situation for the next two books (Myth-nomers and Im-pervections and M.Y.T.H. Inc. in Action). A side road on the journey that is Skeeve...
The previous book in the series is Little Myth Marker. The next is Myth-nomers and Im-pervections.