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Fallible Fiend Paperback – June 1, 1992
All Books, All the Time
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"By herself, Roska sar-Blixens is a grave, reserved lady, of great dignity and presence, even if she be ever changing her mind. Admiral Diodis is gruff, positive and forceful. Both are, one would say, as mature as one would ever expect of a human being. Yet, when together, they seem as full of careless laughter and foolish remarks as children...."
"It is simple," said Schnorri. "They are in love."
Fluff, but *good* fluff. Recommended for frivolous relaxation.
Peter D. Tillman
De Camp has written a witty, tongue-in-cheek novel that entertains, beguiles and to a degree excites the reader. The author's secret is that he writes in the first person from a demon's point of view, thus much of what we accept as normal (if not good) is seen in a new light. De Camp examines mankind's darker side, probing bigotry, greed, war and conceit, but all of this is done in a quizzical, lighthearted way that does not lecture us or make us feel we are being preached to. In this way De Camp is following in the footsteps of Jonathan Swift's _Gulliver's Travels_ (1726) which also lampooned man's senseless flaws. Once again like Swift, De Camp relies on changes of geographical location and the resulting changes of characters to keep the story rolling along and the reader's attention up. Like Gulliver, Zdim wanders the world from place to place learning about man's greed here and bigotry there. As a result the book is episodic, but there is some progression of character and inter-relationship of episodes that make this book more than just pulp fiction.
2) The language is like old King James with thee's and thou's...which made the reading a bit cumbersome.
3) I did like the idea of the demon being the main protagonist and how he deals with each strange situation is entertaining and did keep me reading through the story.
4) Good commentary on humanity and society.
5) It is a short, quick read even considering the language used was slowing me down.
6) Not a bad read but definitely not what I was hoping for as my first book by De Camp.
Zdim, a demon from the Twelfth Plane is indentured to a wizard in Novaria. Zdim is highly intelligent and follows his instruction to the very letter - a commendable attribute that nonetheless entangles him in a bewildered confrontation among the contrary city-states of Novaria.
Frankly this reader found the story line somewhat contrived and the plot overly drawn out. Also missing was some of the sharp and witty dialog that made "The Reluctant King" trilogy a favorite of mine.
For those who may be interested a shortened version of this book was serialized in the bi-monthly magazine Fantastic in the December 1972 and February 1973 issues.
But he is denied a wavier and whence the adventure begins.
de Camp's one central grace for me is he writes about people. His villians will look at you and say, "Me, a villian? But you, dear sir, are far more a villian!" And they mean it, spouting viewpoints which are (in the villian's sense) perfectly logical (if not exactly moral). Culture clash is often the center of his stories. Take a demon skilled in logic and reason and throw him in with barbaric humans and you wind up with non stop exasperation and amazement at the duplicity involved. As Zdim points out, 'feindishly clever' is quiet a strange racial tag for the incessantly cunning and devious humans to come up with!
"I endeavor to give satisfaction," is perhaps the exasperated catch phrase of the de Camp books.