Myth Adventures is the collective name of a series of humorous fantasy novels by Robert L. Asprin, popular for their whimsical nature, myriad characters, and liberal use of puns. The center around the (very very) diverse adventures of Skeeve, a journeyman magician from the dimension of Klah (who learns about demons very shortly after his mentor dies), and Aahz (short for Aahzimandius), a demon (dimensional traveler, as it is explained) from the dimension of Perv (making him a Pervect, thank you very much).The title of each novel contains some sort of wordplay on "miss" or "mis-" or "mess" (in the first novel), The "first" series contains twelve novels:
Another Fine Myth (1978)
Myth Conceptions (1980)
Myth Directions (1982)
Hit or Myth (1983)
Myth-ing Persons (1984)
Little Myth Marker (1985)
M.Y.T.H. Inc. Link (1986)
Myth-Nomers and Im-Pervections (1987)
M.Y.T.H. Inc. in Action (1990)
Sweet Myth-Tery of Life (1993)
Myth-Ion Improbable (2001)
Something M.Y.T.H. Inc. (2002)
The "new" Myth Adventures series, co-authored with Jody Lynn Nye:
Additionally, the first novel was adapted into an eight-part graphic novel by WaRP Graphics (publishers of ElfQuest) in the mid-80s, illustrated and heavily rewritten by Phil Foglio, who also supplied illustrations for many of the novels. This was the only part of the graphic adaptation to make it into full-color bound volumes. Four more issues followed, with art by Jim Valentino, attempting to bridge the action between the first and second novels. The second novel was later adapted into another eight-part comic series by Ken and Beth Mitchroney and published by Apple from 1987 through 1989. Foglio's comics have all been posted at his website.Now has a character sheet.
This series contains examples of:
Aggressive Negotiations: Skeeve is parleying with the head of the opposing army when suddenly he realises the opposing army has been moving into position to attack him while he's distracted by the peace talk. He complains that this is a breach of protocol, and is informed that yes, it is, but it also works extremely well.
Ambition Is Evil: Subverted. The main characters tend to use their functional magic to make money and wind up even richer than they started.
Another Dimension: A whole plethora of them, more than any individual can visit in one lifetime.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Played for laughs. Magic? Fine. Demons? Fine. Dragons? Fine. Interdimensional travel? Fine. Blue gremlins? NO WAY!
Don't youse be makin' fun of how Guido talks, know what I mean? He had to practice a lot to get that speech pattern down in the first place.
Never, ever refer Aahz as a "Pervert."
The Big Guy: Chumley is a Class 3, with Class 5 tendencies. As the male Trolls have found that being Big and Dumb tends to land them lucrative jobs as hired muscle, the entire male half of his race consists of Class 3 Big Guys.
Skeeve's native world has such combination animals as spider-bears or fox-squirrels, but Skeeve is baffled by such mundane animals as cows.
In a deliberate and repeated Lamp Shade of the trope, it's pretty obvious that Aahz (and some of the other veterans, such as Tananda) have been to Earth - or a dimension virtually identical to it. This club grows in size with every book until by the end it seems Skeeve is the only one who isn't a member.
The Call Knows Where You Live: Skeeve's original mentor, Garkin, is murdered about ten pages into the first book, and Skeeve and Aahz spend the rest of the book taking down the person responsible.
Cats Are Magic: Lampshaded in one of the books: "Cats and computers can work through dimensions."
Character Development: The whole series is that for Skeeve, in a way. His views and opinions about the world really evolve throughout the books. This goes for some of his friends/allies too.
Chekhov's Gun: Around the time he was actively working with/against the Mob, Skeeve acquired a Djin in a bottle. It took several years in-story and 8 year in real time to put it into use. His name is Kalvin, by the way.
The joke powder Garkin used to take away Aahz's powers turns out to be what he uses to de-power Isstvan and his cronies.
Cliffhanger: Sweet Myth-tery of Life ends with one, not resolved until nine years later in Something M.Y.T.H. Inc.
Cool Gate: Skeeve's tiny tent leads into a huge luxurious mansion. The mansion is actually in another dimension, which occasionally leads to some problems.
Creator Provincialism: Cultural references are almost always to 20th Century U.S.A even though none of the characters is from there nor any of the adventures set there (Perv city streets are "Like Manhattan only more so", the Teamsters union is run by the Mob, Massha flying "only needs 'Goodyear' painted down her side to complete the picture" etc. Even some of the Punny Names require American accents (Aahz-Oz, Klahd-clod, Jahk-Jock, and outside the U.S. "Jock" means "Scotsman", not "athlete" anyway.)
Cute Monster Girl: The women of Trollia, who are Trollops. Contrast their male counterparts, the Trolls.
Death Glare: Skeeve delivers a frighteningly intense one to everyone present when Gleep is shot in Something M.Y.T.H. Inc.
Defeat Means Friendship: Skeeve often winds up working with people who were previously his enemy. Though he subverts it in Little Myth Marker when he flatly refuses a request by the Ax to join his group. And that's only a temporary subversion—Skeeve and the Ax end up collaborating much later.
Delusions of Eloquence: Inverted with Guido and Nunzio who, in order, possess an MBA and was once a schoolteacher. Guido spent a considerable amount of time perfecting his mook-speak, though, because that's what people expect him to sound like.
Disqualification-Induced Victory: In the short story "Myth Congeniality", Bunny enters an all-dimensions beauty pageant to win a prize her uncle wants. She's picked last out of all the contestants, but still wins because she's the only entry who wasn't caught cheating.
Dragon Hoard: Gleep explains that dragons hoard gold because it's so soft and corrosion-proof that it's ideal for baby dragons to teethe on. Dragons with offspring collect it for their young, and grown-up dragons keep it as a sentimental reminder of childhood.
Gleep the dragon is actually very intelligent, but you would only know that if you spoke Dragon.
All of Skeeve's employees are smarter than him (or at least better educated) when they have their own POV stories. His mob muscle has the local equivalent of an MBA.
Encyclopedia Exposita: Each chapter has a fictitious quote. An example might be something like, "Violence is never the right thing to do" - Attila the Hun. This is dropped in later novels; Asprin commented at one point that thinking up the quotes had become the hardest part of the writing.
Epigraph: Parodied. Most of the quotes are fictitious, but some are genuine quotes that are made funny in the context of the associated chapter.
E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: Most "inventors" are alleged to be closet dimensional travelers, who generally introduce technology from more-advanced dimensions in order to make a buck.
Evil Chancellor: Although Grimble frequently engages in power struggles with General Badaxe, he has no desire to rule.
Evil-Detecting Dragon: Gleep immediately knows that Markie is up to no good, although Skeeve misidentifies who he's reacting to.
Expy: In Something M.Y.T.H. Inc., parodies of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Zorro, and the Fellowship of the Ring all make trouble for Possiltum. In the latter case, their expy status is self-invoked ("We need a dwarf!").
Extranormal Prison: Aahz is arrested and imprisoned in a city of vampires. Because a normal jail cell can't hold a vampire, he's placed inside the mouth of an animated dragon-head statue, which can swallow a prisoner who tries to break free or inhale them if they turn into mist.
Extreme Omnivore: Gleep has been known to nibble some pretty odd things; in one of the later books, Skeeve disguises his pet as a goat specifically because it'll be more plausible that way if Gleep should start chewing on, say, a hunk of scrap metal.
Fake Ultimate Hero: Aahz builds up Skeeve as one of these, although Skeeve becomes a genuinely talented magician.
Faking the Dead: Skeeve and Aahz have to do this in the very first book when the "innocent couple" Frumple asks them to pose as turn out to be a Con Man couple that the local Torches and Pitchforks mob then proceed to string up from the gallows.
The series has dimension-hopping, high technology, and heavy warfare, but no guns. The mobsters carry crossbows in their violin cases.
A couple of firearms do appear in the later books, but are generally ineffectual or introduced purely for the incongruity.
On Klah even demons use crossbows due to Masquerade and possibly logistics, though not everyone's too picky to use heat-seeking quarrels. Pookie was rather amused by crossbows and had something different on Perv. Then again, magic staves can send downrange all sorts of nasty things.
Fictional Counterpart: Skeeve's friend Gus manages the Yellow Crescent Inn, i.e. McDonald's. Skeeve finds the food horrifying, though he does eventually develop a taste for the milkshakes.
Fictional Sport: The Big Game, which is very similar to an epic game of American football, and determines the capital of the dimension Jahk.
Finger in the Mail: In M.Y.T.H. Inc. Link, Skeeve gets a finger in the mail; the ring on it is one of the linking rings he used on King Roderick and Queen Hemlock, initially leading him to believe she cut off her own finger so she could kill the king and pursue her ambitions. Later in the series, we learn it's Roderick's finger, he died of natural causes, and Hemlock sent it to show she figured out that the rings were bupkis and that she still wanted Skeeve.
Foreshadowing: In Myth-Chief, in which Aahz and Skeeve compete over who gets to be M.Y.T.H. Inc.'s new president, Nunzio accidentally calls Bunny "boss". Guess who ends up getting the job...
Frameup: Killing two birds with one stone, Aahz makes it look like Frumple is responsible for the de-powering of Isstvan and his assassins. Indirectly related, the couple Frumple gets Aahz and Skeeve to disguise themselves as show up later...not only getting Skeeve and co. in trouble by ducking through their tent's secret "back door" to escape creditors, but later setting up Aahz to take the rap for the "murder" of their partner Vic.
From Nobody to Nightmare: Rattila from Myth-Taken Identity was a janitor before he stole an artifact and began seeking world (or at least shopping mall) domination.
Fur Against Fang: In one dimension Skeeve visits, vampires are urbanites who look down on werewolves as country bumpkins.
Game Show: Sink Or Swim is a crystal-ball program from Class Dis-Mythed.
Gayngster: Don Bruce, the Mob's "fairy Godfather". Skeeve suspects, of course, but it's not confirmed until the books from Guido's point of view.
Genie in a Bottle: Skeeve meets one of these, a Djin from the dimension Djinger. They are only three inches tall, and hire themselves out for Bottle Duty because their entire dimension is in debt. They tend to be a bit short on Phenomenal Cosmic Powers, though, despite what the salesmen say.
The Genie Knows Jack Nicholson: Aahz is constantly making references to technology or pop culture that Skeeve has never heard of. Later on just about everyone but Skeeve gets into the act.
Genius Bruiser: Chumley is a rather highly educated troll, but goes by the workname of Big Crunch, mainly because most available jobs require dumb muscle instead of smart muscle.
Guido and Nunzio also count, but not quite as much. See Big Guy above.
Gentle Giant: Chumley, a huge green-furred Troll. While he works as hired muscle under the pseudonym "Big Crunch", he is actually a quiet poet at heart. Gus the gargoyle is also large and a sweetheart.
Glamour: Skeeve's actually rather good at magical disguises.
God Save Us from the Queen!: Subverted in Queen Hemlock, who is rumored to be greedy, ambitious, and cut-throat, even going so far as to murder her parents for the throne — but who in real life is actually rather down-to-earth and cunning... and, yes, ambitious.
Aahz offers to take protagonist Skeeve on as his apprentice, since Skeeve's teacher has just been murdered. Pleased, Skeeve offers his hand to seal the deal...and Aahz refuses, because he doesn't shake hands with apprentices. Skeeve wonders if he should have thought this arrangement through a little more.
Much later, while searching for a missing Aahz in his home dimension, Skeeve flinches at shaking hands with an apprentice. When he explains where he picked up the habit, Aahz's old magic teacher remembers him ("It was one of his less objectionable traits") and is able to help Skeeve look for him.
Hostage Spirit Link: Skeeve sets up King Roderick and Queen Hemlock with unremovable magic rings, claiming that if one of them dies, so does the other, all in an attempt to keep both of them in line (and from killing one another). He was bluffing; they're just normal unremovable rings. The bluff works but several books later, Hemlock catches on when Roderick dies of natural causes and nothing happens to her.
Hurricane of Puns: Oh Lord, yes... usually ranking F4 or F5. Fortunately, they tend to be a bit more highbrow than similar storm systems in Xanth, so your head isn't as likely to explode.
I Gave My Word: One of the primary complications in Myth Directions is that Skeeve promised not to do anything to endanger the job of one of the local magicians without stopping to think through the implications...specifically, the implication that this is the guy holding Tananda captive and therefore just breaking her out would damage his reputation.
Insistent Terminology: Denizens of Perv are called Pervects. One would be wise not to forget this, lest one be the subject of percussive education. Pervert, it is explained, is actually a racial slur.
Interquel: Myth-ion Improbable, written after a multi-year hiatus so Asprin could regain a feel for the characters before tackling Something M.Y.T.H. Inc.. Chronologically set between the third and fourth book.
Interspecies Romance: All over the place:Tanda and Aahz had a thing going (and technically the human men she's with periodically too; she's a Trollop, remember), Guido has the hots for Pookie, various Deveels leer at Bunny, etc, etc, etc. No one seems to take any issue with it.
It Can Think: Gleep is a lot smarter than his puppy-like demeanor indicates.
In Myth Directions, Tanda the Trollop assassin wants to procure a hideous green frog statue whose only value is as a trophy in a sporting competition, as a birthday present for Aahz. Hilarity Ensues. Then gets cranked even higher when Aahz learns about his intended gift and includes snatching it back as part of the plan to deal with the hilarity.
Even funnier is how it happens. Aahz chews Skeeve out when he learns that the thing everyone's been going nuts over is a butt-ugly statue. But as soon as Skeeve admits that it was supposed to be his birthday present, Aahz practically falls in love with it.
Judgment of Solomon: Subverted in Hit and Myth. The decision is rendered by Skeeve (while disguised as King Roderick) regarding a dispute over a cat, but:
"This was supposed to inspire them to settle their difference with a quick compromise. Instead, they thanked me for my wisdom, shook hands, and left smiling, presumably to carve up the cat."
Kayfabe: Used in-universe by two Trolls from a Myth-Told Tales story, who secretly have a conversation while appearing to beat the living crap out of each other.
Let's You and Him Fight: Skeeve and Vic aren't on the same side in Myth-ing Persons, but Vic would have surrendered a whole lot sooner if one of his partners hadn't convinced him that Skeeve wanted them dead.
Ley Lines: These are necessary for the casting of any magic whatsoever.
Living Legend: Skeeve the Magnificent, renowned across the dimensions. And it costs an arm and a leg to hire him because of it.
Lost Him in a Card Game: Subverted. This was deliberately done on the orders of the "child" in question so as to infiltrate the hero's household.
The Magic Poker Equation: Justified in Little Myth Marker. Skeeve has no skill or knowledge of the game in question: so he bets everything on the first hand without even looking at the cards. By reducing the game to what amounts to a coin flip, he renders skill irrelevant. This caused considerable problems for the people who'd manipulated him into the game, expecting that there was no way he could possibly win.
Masochist's Meal: According to Aahz: "The main problem with Pervish food is keeping the goo from crawling out of the bowl while youíre eating it."
No One Gets Left Behind: The villain reaction is elaborated upon by Guido and Nunzio in M.Y.T.H. Inc. in Action - aside from the benefits of a live prisoner, wounding a soldier takes three out of the action - one man down, one to carry him, and one to report back to his superiors.
Obfuscating Stupidity: The entire race of Trolls embrace this trope, apparently having found it difficult to get work if they spoke as eloquently as they do among themselves. Also true of dragons, who aren't even considered sentient. What fools these mortals be...
The denizens of Djinger are all strapped for cash and hire themselves out to work in magic lamps, rings, bottles, and so forth. Beyond that, they work entirely on hype.
Not entirely. The Djinni explains to Skeeve (but only AFTER he had already technically fulfilled his contractual obligation and was about to leave at Skeeve's insistance) that he had been deliberately underselling his abilities so that Skeeve would be more impressed when he finally DID perform his single service. He gives Skeeve a Self Reliance Aesop Speech before leaving.
Parody Magic Spell: All incantations are fake trappings meant to impress muggles. Quite a lot of them fall under the trope, including "Alakazam-shazam" and the perennial favourite "Walla Walla, Washington".
Please Put Some Clothes On: Skeeve has this problem with Queen Hemlock and Bunny. The fact that he's embarrassed tips off Hemlock that he's not who he's magically disguised as.
Politicians Kiss Babies: Parodied in Myth-Quoted, in which rival candidates for governor participate in a baby-kissing contest to see which one's kisses can get the most giggles and least crying out of hundreds of infants within a set time limit.
Poor Communication Kills: The plot of Myth-ing Persons happens because Skeeve and Aahz don't think to ask how much the con-artists they're being asked to pay restitution for stole, and wind up going through a life-threatening adventure over what to them is pocket change.
Isstvan's name from Skeeve's perspective; Aahz doesn't recognize it the first time Skeeve says it, even though Skeeve can't hear any difference in the way Aahz pronounces it. Aahz says the difference must be too subtle for the human ear.
Regenerating Mana: Magic is done using Ley Line energy. A skilled magician can build up & store the energy like a human(oid) battery and let it out later, so even if there are no ley lines around he can still do magic. But then he's depleted and has to go to an area with ley lines in order to recharge. It's a learned skill, but once you learn it it happens in the background so it's as good as automatic.
Rock Beats Laser: In Little Myth Marker, a crooked casino dealer disdains magical cheating methods (which the gamblers are watching for) in favor if the simple finesse of a marked deck (which they aren't).
Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Skeeve is all for doing this when things go south in Myth Conceptions, but Aahz won't let him, since by that point the reputation of magic is at stake.
Sequel Gap: The eight years between Sweet Myth-tery of Life and Myth-ion Improbable.
Smoke Out: Skeeve tries a variation of this to intimidate an army. Unfortunately, he quickly learns that his ninja smoke makes him sneeze.
Springtime for Hitler: Guido and Nunzio's attempts to disrupt the Possiltum army in M.Y.T.H. Inc. in Action only end up improving the army and/or getting them promoted. Even when they go as far as to have supplies delivered at random.
Officer: It took a sharp eye for detail to notice that these requests for winter-wear uniforms were six months old and send out summer-weight instead.
Squishy Wizard: Justified for humans. Aahz observes that humans simply don't have the lifespan necessary to become proficient at both magic and combat, whilst non-humans have longer to practice and become both magically competent and non-squishy.
Status Quo Is God: While there are multiple changes in Skeeve's supporting cast and living conditions, this is the only real explanation for his failure to learn more than four basic (though extremely useful) spells in the first twelve books, despite working as a professional magician for almost all of that time.
Take That: Myth-Told Tales, a collection of short stories, is a whole string of them, slamming fox-hunting, beauty contests and hair salons. After Asprin's Real Life troubles with the IRS, Myth-Taken Identity also worked in an anti-tax-agency subplot.
Taking the Bullet: Gleep takes an arrow for Aahz in Something M.Y.T.H. Inc., finally earning Aahz's respect (and the reader's forgiveness for how he tried to roast Tananda in M.Y.T.H. Inc. In Action).
Theme Naming: Common in the later books, as with the shutterbugs (named after camera brands) or Wuhses (whose names resemble sheep breeds).
Translation Convention: Averted at the bazaar - Deveels speak every language, or can hire on short notice someone who can, because they're far too savvy as merchants to lose a sale just because of the language barrier.
Watering Down: The book M.Y.T.H. Inc. In Action features Mob enforcer Guido discussing this phenomena, noting it's a way for the bar owner to make more money off less product, and his customers don't mind because less alcohol per glass makes the drink "healthier".
We Are as Mayflies: Skeeve's human lifespan is occasionally mentioned as being very short by the standards of his non-Klahd friends.
World of Pun: The series has puns everywhere, including the titles of all the books and of the series itself. The various dimensions have Punny Names: Klahds are from Klah, Deveels are from Deva, Cupys (small, doll-like people) are from Cupid...