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The Complete Compleat Enchanter    by L. Sprague de Camp & Fletcher Pratt order for
Complete Compleat Enchanter
by L. Sprague de Camp
Order:  USA  Can
Pyramid, 1960 (1960)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt have both output a large number of fantasy novels (de Camp in particular co-authored many of the Conan series). However, I have never enjoyed any of them as much as their (unfortunately few) collaborative efforts that started with The Incomplete Enchanter. I read this one in my teens. It's the first humorous fantasy I encountered, and it's hilarious.

Psychologist Harold Shea is self-diagnosed as having 'a little suppressed romanticism' which sends him to the office in fencing outfits and riding gear. While participating in the development of a new science of paraphysics, Harold manages to transport himself into a parallel world of Scandinavian mythology in the bitter cold of Fimbulwinter, just prior to Ragnarok, the end of the world. He ends up in an inn at the Crossroads of the World, along with a bunch of Norse gods, who assume he's a 'southern warlock'. Harold is not a smooth operator; he stumbles over trouble at every step. When he asks for vegetables he earns contempt and the nickname 'Turnip Harald'. He boasts about his magical matches, which then fail to light. But he manages to redeem himself in an encounter with giants, as he is the only one able to see through their illusions. When captured along with the god Heimdall, he organizes an escape by giving their jailer troll Snogg a nose job. There is an uncontrolled and dizzying broomstick flight and, with the end of the world underway, a spae-wife (witch) hurls Harold back to his own world.

A second adventure takes Harold and his boss Doc Chalmers to the world of Spenser's Faerie Queen, where good intentions go awry again. Attempting to turn honeyed water into wine for consumption with dinner, they create strong whiskey instead. When they mistakenly invoke the Blatant Beast and must ransom themselves with words, all Harold can remember is The Ballad of Eskimo Nell - it does the trick, but leaves the poor Beast bemused. Harold meets the warrior woman Britomart (whom he counsels on how to get her man) and Reed Chalmers falls for the enchanted snow maiden Florimel, who promptly disappears. Attacked by repellent Losels they are rescued by the attractive archer Belphebe and it's Harold's turn to be smitten. Further incidents include conjuration of grass eating dragons, escape from druid sacrifice, a rhinoceros ride, attack by disembodied hands, and a broomstick made from poison ivy ... it's a wild ride, not to be missed!
Note: This book is out of print but can be ordered from used book stores. The stories in it are included in a later issue, The Complete Compleat Enchanter, which also incudes adventures from The Castle of Iron by the same authors.

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