Book Review: Majyk by Hook or Crook by Esther Friesner

Majyk by Hook or Crook

In an effort to breathe new life into old books, here is a series of book reviews I wrote in the 1990’s. Not only is Esther Friesner a wonderful author, but a wonderful person as well. She was one of a few authors I looked forward to running into on the convention circuit. (Editor’s note: Esther’s book can be found in many used books stores or online at Amazon, eBay or other online used book dealers. Click here to find out more about Esther.)
I could say that Majyk By Hook or Crook is high fantasy at its humorous best. I could say it’s marvelous, fantastic, far-fetched fun. I could even say it’s a highly entertaining fantasy festival of laughs. Though these statements would be an accurate accounting of Esther Friesner’s latest edition to the fantasy genre, they would be clichés and an injustice to the work.

Majyk By Hook or Crook, the second installment in the adventures of a wizard and his cat companion, is loaded with humor – from funny to punny to outright hysterically. It’s the tale of Kendar Gangle, an under-educated wizard who happened to “inherit” his tutor’s Majyk (the physical personification of magic on the planet Orbix), and his feline friend Scandal, a cat from our world who chased the wrong rat down the wrong hole at the wrong (or right) time. Kendar has sporadic control of his master’s legacy, while Scandal has the abilities to read minds, speak and use a bit of the majyk he inherited.

Together with the oracle Rhett, his slave-girl Anisella and the “Blade of Justice” (a superhero, of sorts), they set out on a quest to stop the rain (literally) of doves, penguins and other assorted avian. Their travels take them to the Underside of their planet, where surprises, plot twists, and puns (both obvious and subtle) abound.

In my mind, whether writing about elves in New England or cats on Orbix, Esther Friesner has certainly earned the title Queen of Fantasy Humor. She takes tired clichés that have been done to death in the genre today, turns them on their sides and then topples them like so many dominoes. She is to fantasy what Robin Williams is to film.

Majyk By Hook or Crook gets two thumbs up and a few stomps of the hoof . . . er, foot . . . from me. Three cheers for Queen Esther, long may she rain . . . er, reign!

Paperback edition
Publisher: Ace (May 1, 1994)
ISBN-10: 0441000541
ISBN-13: 978-0441000548