Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Incompleat Enchanter” as Want to Read:
The Incompleat Enchanter
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Incompleat Enchanter

(The Incompleat Enchanter #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,163 ratings  ·  29 reviews
The Mathematics of Magic - it was the greatest discovery ever. Or so thought Professor Harold Shea. With the proper equations he could instantly transport himself and his friend Reed Chalmers back - or sideways - in time to all the wondrous lands of ancient myth and legend.

But slips in time were a hazard. and Shea's magic didn't always work quite as he expected. A dragon s
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 25th 1979 by Sphere Books (first published 1940)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Incompleat Enchanter, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Incompleat Enchanter

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,163 ratings  ·  29 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Incompleat Enchanter
Oct 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Never thought I'd see the day where Frege's definition of a number is a key plot point in a fantasy novel...
Greg Curtis
Aug 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Of the incomplete enchanter books the first was clearly the best which is why I have given it five stars and the complete enchanter four. Having said that they are both excellent reads.

This is a fast paced, enjoyable fantasy adventure in several parts in which our hero, an academic of course, finds himself whisked across parallel universes simply by an act of will and belief to mystical realms from books and legends, where he can suddenly find he can do magic. Its awesome as he realises that his
Lyndon Hardy
This volume is the first of a series in which the protagonist, Harold Shea, is whisked away to parallel universes modeled on the myths in our own world. The tone is light and comic, absolute fun to read. I must have been subconsciously channeling when I wrote The Riddle of the Seven Realms.
Sean DeLauder
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the sort of book I imagined writing when I was younger--injecting the protagonist into one of the many existing mythological or fantastical realms of human conjuration--albeit reducing a bit of the uncomfortable misogyny of the main character, Harold Shea. It's wonderfully realized, though the magic is at turns simplistic and (perhaps by design) incomprehensible. The stories were written in the 1930s and 40s, yet they entertain an idea of a multiverse, that all the fantastic worlds imagi ...more
Kaju Janowski
Nov 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
Connection between fantasy and realism in this book is so embarrassingly stupid I don't even have to mention main character is a total patsy to justify my rating.
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy, fantasy
These were funny little stories.

The basic premise is fun - some sciency-types in our world figure out a theorem that lets a person jump into alternate-worlds. Shenanigans ensue

In the first story, our PoV character - prof. Harold Shea, is a tad dissatisfied with his life, and risks trying an untested theorem - and finds himself in the mytic world of miðgard, complete with Aesir, giants, and the coming Ragnarok!

In the second, Prof. Shea is joined by his colleague Prof. Chalmers (a more ... sedate
Apr 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: appendix-n
This is nothing serious, but a very fun book. I can see how it would have inspired fantasy role-players, it is basically a couple of moderns using their modern ways of thinking in fantasy medieval worlds. Harold Shea seemed a bit too obtuse in the first part of the first half of the book: we figure out what’s going on long before he does, which makes his choices seem stupid.

In his defense, all the best-laid plans of mice and men often fail to survive first contact with an evil DM.

The only real p
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book over 50 years ago, and enjoyed it almost as much this time as I did then. I was surprised by how much I remembered. I'd forgotten how funny it was or maybe I didn't fine it funny back then. It was one of the first alternate-universe books I read and that has turned into my favorite variety of SF. It led me to try to read "Fairie Queene," but gave up on that until college. (Maybe I'll re-read it now.) So, back then, I enjoyed the Norse myth story much more. The main change in my ...more
Fabio Ticconi
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Weird psychologists find a way to travel to fictional worlds through magic performed via complex formal logic. The worlds they travel to are worlds of our myths and legends, and there the magic they can use depends on the narrative style, lexicon etc the original opera's author used. So they often have to invent some sorts of poem, appropriate for the setting, to get the desired effect - and while one of the two psychologists avoids trouble and try to focus on understanding said magic, the other ...more
Pinko Palest
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first story, with Harold Shea encountering the old norse gods, is absolutely magnificent, and on a par with Lest Darkness Fall. Hilarious and a great comment on what it means to encounter people from a different millieu. The second, which is a light-hearted look at the Faerie Queen is rather substandard, maybe because the author hasn't really come to grips with Spenser's work and doesn't seem to relate to it as well as he did with Norse mythology. The first story is definitely five stars and ...more
Timothy Boyd
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very funny fantasy series. Great read. Very recommended
Isca Silurum
Feb 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A strange book in as much as written in the American vernacular, but very enjoyable all the same.
Jun 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous book!! Everything your looking for in an adventure book!!
Steve Rainwater
Nov 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Amusing science fiction series disguised as fantasy.

A group of psychologists come up with a multiverse theory that suggests writers of myth and fantasy are actually recording events in parallel universes with different physical laws that allow things like magic to work. They further propose a method of jumping between universes by means of contemplating the right set of symbolic logic that operates in the desired universe.

This volume contains the first two stories. In the first, "The Roaring Tru
Norman Cook
Retro Hugo Award Finalists (1940)

• “The Roaring Trumpet” by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (Unknown, May 1940)
Professor Harold Shea discovers a way to transport himself back to a time of ancient legend. But instead of landing in Ireland as he wanted, Shea discovers he is really in the Scandinavia of Norse myth, hanging out with the likes of Thor and Loki. To his disappointment, Shea realizes that his modern artifacts such as matches don’t work in this land, but through trial and error man
Sep 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I picked this up randomly from a used bookstore because the title caught my eye. It has a decent hook; namely, a handful of scientists and psychologists devise a mathematical formula that pushes people into alternate universes, and for some handwave-y reason these universes are based off existing myths and stories. Once in an alternate universe, they must use their wits and scientific knowledge to deal with the locals, figure out how magic works, and (ultimately) travel back home. This book incl ...more
One of those good old literature hopping humour stories. In these Harold Shea transports himself into the myths of Viking legend and then the world of Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene. I wouldn't say it is laugh out loud funny but is a nice romp and adventure nonetheless.
I must say I enjoyed the first half more than the second but that may well by the result of my familiarity with Norse Myth over Spenser's writings.
Alessandro Paci
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Stupendo libro, assoluta poesia. L'ho adorato per la sua particolarità, per come giustifica l'esistenza della magia, l'esistenza dei mondi fantastici stessi, per l'assoluta logica e indiscussa varietà della storia. Meraviglioso, non esagero nel dire che sia uno dei fantasy che in assoluto mi è piaciuto di più.
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was on my dad's shelf growing up, somewhere around where he kept Asimov, Aspirin, Heinlein, and so many others. I'm never really objective when reviewing, but here even less than normal. It's a part of my childhood. I wonder what I would think if I read it now?
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, adult, fantasy
Very, very funny fantasy! Some scientists discover a formula that allows them to visit alternate worlds, and they do: the world of Scandinavian Mythology, and the world of Spenser's Faerie Queen, with hilarious results!
Will Shetterly
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved this when I was in my teens. Dunno what I would think of it now, and would rather like to reread it someday to see. For now, consider this the rating of my young self, who might very well be wiser about these things than I am today.
May 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Piacevole e divertente, inoltre ti costringe a cercare i miti a cui si rifà per capire come dovrebbero andare le cose e comportarsi i personaggi incontrati :)))
Jess George
I enjoyed this light, fun tale of time-travel into mythical worlds.
Oct 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Harold Shea in a parallel world or two. Nordic mythology and Spenser's Fairy Queene offer settings where magic works.
Erik Graff
Oct 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: followers of the series
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
This book of two connected stories is rather like Poul Anderson's 'A Midsummer Tempest' in concept. The device employed for the transition between worlds is interesting.
May 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, time-travel
Really fun read - a bit frustrating at times
Apr 16, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was one that belonged to my dad and I really wanted to like it, but I couldn't get to chapter 3. I couldn't understand the language or the plot.
rated it it was amazing
Jul 15, 2013
Souza B.
rated it liked it
Nov 02, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Aug 19, 2012
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Swords and Deviltry (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser #1)
  • Three Hearts and Three Lions
  • Nine Princes in Amber (The Chronicles of Amber #1)
  • The Web Application Hacker's Handbook: Discovering and Exploiting Security Flaws
  • Network Security Technologies and Solutions (CCIE Professional Development Series) (CCIE Professional Development (Unnumbered))
  • Prize Money (Fox Book 3)
  • Battle Smoke (Fox Book 8)
  • Court Martial (Fox Book 7)
  • Witch World: Estcarp Cycle: Trey of Swords, Ware Hawk, and The Gate of the Cat
  • When the Bullet Hits Your Funny Bone: The Essence of A U.S. Navy Seal
  • Powder Monkey (Fox,#5)
  • The Fireship (Fox Book 11)
  • Moonflower Murders (Susan Ryeland #2)
  • Tunnel Vision (V.I. Warshawski, #8)
  • Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid
  • Forever and a Day
  • At the End of the World (Black Tide Rising Book 7)
See similar books…
Lyon Sprague de Camp, (Pseudonym: Lyman R. Lyon) was an American science fiction and fantasy author and biographer. In a writing career spanning fifty years he wrote over one hundred books, including novels and notable works of nonfiction, such as biographies of other important fantasy authors. He was widely regarded as an imaginative and innovative writer and was an important figure in the heyday ...more

Other books in the series

The Incompleat Enchanter (5 books)
  • The Castle of Iron
  • The Enchanter Compleated
  • The Enchanter Reborn
  • The Exotic Enchanter

Related Articles

You might know comedian Colin Jost from his work as the co-anchor of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, or perhaps you know him as Scarlett...
122 likes · 46 comments
“Not at all," persisted Chalmers, unaware that Shea was trying to shush him. "The people of the country have agreed to call magic 'white' when practised for lawful ends by duly authorized agents of the governing authority, and 'black' when practised by unauthorized persons for criminal ends. That is not to say that the principles of the science — or art — are not the same in either event. You should confine such terms as 'black' and 'white' to the objects for which the magic is performed, and not apply it to the science itself, which like all branches of knowledge is morally neutral —"
"But," protested Belphebe, "is't not that the spell used to, let us say, kidnap a worthy citizen be different from that used to trap a malefactor?"

"Verbally but not structurally," Chalmers went on. After some minutes of wrangling, Chalmers held up the bone of his drumstick. "I think I can, for instance, conjure the parrot back on this bone — or at least fetch another parrot in place of the one we ate. Will you concede, young lady, that that is a harmless manifestation of the art?"
"Aye, for the now," said the girl. "Though I know you schoolmen; say 'I admit this; I concede that,' are ere long one finds oneself conceded into a noose."

"Therefore it would be 'white' magic. But suppose I desired the parrot for some — uh — illegal purpose —"

"What manner of crime for ensample, good sir?" asked Belphebe.

"I — uh — can't think just now. Assume that I did. The spell would be the same in either case —"

"Ah, but would it?" cried Belphebe. "Let me see you conjure a brace of parrots, one fair, one foul; then truly I'll concede."

Chalmers frowned. "Harold, what would be a legal purpose for which to conjure a parrot?"

Shea shrugged. "If you really want an answer, no purpose would be as legal as any, unless there's something in gamelaws. Personally I think it's the silliest damned argument —”
More quotes…