Publication year: 2008
Format: Audio
Narrator: Suzanne Toren
Running Time: 9 hrs, 23 m

Another funny stand-alone book from Martinez.

Margle the Horrendous is a powerful wizard. He’s also pretty obnoxious and enjoys bullying the people under his power. On the other hand, he makes a point of never killing his enemies. Instead he transforms them and keeps them in his tower. They are quite an interesting and entertaining group.

Sir Thedeus is one of Margle’s enemies, an aggressive (Scottish) warrior. Now, he’s a fruit bat flying around in the tower and swearing he will kill Margle one day. To everyone’s surprise he, and a powerful creature called nurgax, manage to kill Margle by accident but that’s only the beginning of their problems. Everyone assumed that the transformed people would change back after Margle’s death but that doesn’t happen. So everyone is afraid that he isn’t really dead and just want a quick way to transform back so that they can flee before the wizard will return, presumably pretty angry. Instead, another dark wizard comes knocking on the tower door, claiming that she has an appointment with him. The denizens don’t want to start serving Tiama the Scarred so they try to keep up the appearance that Margle is still alive and well.

Nessy is Margle’s assistant and a kobold. She serves his diligently sweeping floors and polishing statues. Sometimes she steals a glance in his spell books and has learned a few small spells. After Margle’s death, it falls on her to learn enough magic that she could transform the other back into their original selves. However, because Nessy and the others live in the tower, she also has to keep on doing all of the chores, such as feeding the various creatures. So, she doesn’t have much time to learn the magic involved. Fortunately, Margle’s brother offers to teach her. Starting with levitating potatoes.

This is a fun book and just about the right length. I wouldn’t mind reading more about the characters, though, they were very entertaining. The plot is fast-paced with lot of twists, even though some of them are rather predictable. Martinez makes fun of a lot of fantasy cliches.

The book shines most with the eccentric cast. Echo is only a voice. Margle’s brother Yazpib is a brain, eye and other bits in a jar full of yellow fluid. Yet he’s still arrogant and thinks that he’s the most powerful wizard around. The castle is also haunted by apparitions which don’t have material forms. Then there are the really strange beings, such as the Thing that Devours and the Door At the End of the Hall which even Margle fears. One poor soul is cursed with eternal alliteration. The vampire king is cursed into just a stumbling corpse and he chimes every time he moves. And various other creatures.

I really enjoyed Toren’s performance. She made different voices for different characters wonderfully.

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