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Warlock #1

The Warlock in Spite of Himself

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Back in Print: the novel that launched the epic Warlock series.

In an interstellar romp that proves science and sorcery can mix, only hard-headed realist Rod Gallowglass can save the people of Gramarye from their doom by becoming--The Warlock in Spite of Himself--if only he believed in magic.

384 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1969

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About the author

Christopher Stasheff

99 books287 followers
The late Christopher Stasheff was an American science fiction and fantasy author. When teaching proved too real, he gave it up in favor of writing full-time. Stasheff was noted for his blending of science fiction and fantasy, as seen in his Warlock series. He spent his early childhood in Mount Vernon, New York, but spent the rest of his formative years in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Stasheff taught at the University of Eastern New Mexico in Portales, before retiring to Champaign, Illinois, in 2009. He had a wife and four children.

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Displaying 1 - 29 of 182 reviews
Profile Image for Heather Clawson.
Author 1 book6 followers
May 13, 2008
The book starts off as typical sci-fi/fantasy fodder: An undercover agent, Rodney Gallowglass, discovers an entire planet of earth-descended espers who cut off communications with their home planet centuries before. By the time Rodney finds them they've structured their civilization based on a medievel monarchy. Rodney's use of technology gets him branded as a wizard and he finds himself balanced between the monarchy and a large group of "witches" and "wizards" who are, in actuality, regular people with telekinetic, teleportation and mind-reading abilities.

But then it gets interesting because Rodney finds himself battling to protect a monarchy that is slowly blossoming into a democracy against two factions, both from the future. One is comprised of Anarchists, the other, of Dictators. Both factions want the esper powers of the citizens at their disposal. The reason I liked this book was because 1.) Rod Gallowglass is a smartass. 2.) It examines the very interesting question of how a democracy forms and the myriad of ways any government can take a turn down any number of politically structured roads. And 3.) Rod's main sidekick is a robot named Fess who happens to have one gigantic flaw: when confronted with too much input or with input that he cannot logically assimilate, Fess has a "seizure" which incapacitates him until he can be reset. As you can imagine, this happens and some very inopportune times. The character development is awesome and the dialogue can make you think without feeling the need to run to the nearest dictionary or encyclopedia.
Profile Image for Kat  Hooper.
1,582 reviews395 followers
May 24, 2012
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Rodney Gallowglass is a spy whose job is to discover unknown planets that need to be brought into the fold of the enlightened democratic intergalactic system. When he lands on the backward planet of Gramayre in his spaceship disguised as an asteroid, Rod and his epileptic computer Fess discover a world of fantasy creatures — witches, ghosts, werewolves, dwarves and elves. Gramayre was originally settled by a group of humans who wanted to revert back to a feudal society. Now it’s a benevolent monarchy that’s threatened by anarchists, witches, and a man who wants to be dictator. Rod suspects that the agitators are being provoked and funded by an off-world interest. He decides that setting up a constitutional monarchy will be the best way to prepare Gramayre for moving on to a real democracy. Meanwhile, the people of Gramayre think Rod is a warlock because he’s got technology they can’t understand.

The Warlock in Spite of Himself, published in 1969, is a humorous science fantasy. I picked it up because I like science fantasy, I knew that Christopher Stasheff collaborated with L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt whose humorous HAROLD SHEA stories I enjoyed, and, lastly, an audiobook version of The Warlock in Spite of Himself has just been released by Wild Voices.

According to the publisher, The Warlock in Spite of Himself is “sword-and-sorcery with a witty, edgy, wry twist.” Though the story is fun and action-packed, I found that The Warlock in Spite of Himself, especially this audio version, didn’t live up to the publisher’s promise. It was often funny, but I wouldn’t call it “witty,” “edgy” or “wry.” There was nothing remarkable about the prose and I thought the humor was often juvenile and most likely to be enjoyed by teens (though The Warlock in Spite of Himself, because of the sexual content, is not marketed to teens).

Besides attempting to entertain us, Stasheff also uses his story as a platform to promote democracy and a representative government. I’m all for democracy and representation but, unfortunately, Stasheff’s treatment of different governmental systems is rather superficial and simplistic — democracy=good, Marxism=bad — without any serious discussion or explanation about what makes this so. This makes the story feel not only shallow, but also dated.

Another issue that makes The Warlock in Spite of Himself feel dated is Rod Gallowglass’s attitude toward women. For a future spaceman from an enlightened intergalactic confederation, it’s suspicious that his attitudes about women are congruent with those found in most 1950s American science fiction. He instantly falls in love with a woman just because she’s beautiful, laughs at the idea of asking a woman for help, thinks that men need to comfort women with lies about their relationship (“for a woman lives on love”), expects women to be weak and afraid, thinks they should be spanked when they misbehave and (if beautiful) “claimed” after a man proves his worth to himself.

The Warlock in Spite of Himself is over 40 years old, so I’m not asking it to fit my 21st century sensibilities (though plenty of old SFF does), but rather I’m explaining why the novel doesn’t hold up very well. I have no doubt, though, that it will be a fun and comfortable read for readers who originally encountered it and loved it a few decades ago, for readers who get nostalgic about old-fashioned science fiction, or for readers who occasionally (or always) enjoy a light, shallow, slightly silly adventure story.

The audio version of The Warlock in Spite of Himself was produced by Wild Voices and performed by a full cast. Unfortunately, this was not a good production and this may have contributed to my disappointment with the story. There are bad sound effects, inconsistent volume levels, and intrusive background music — all of these obscure the narration. The main narrator, Dennis F. Regan, was fine (though he pronounced “demesnes” like it looks), but some of the voices for the secondary characters were difficult to understand, sometimes because it felt like they were at the far end of a long tunnel. I couldn’t even hear some of what Fess the computer said, even with the volume on my Audible app turned all the way up. Needless to say, I won’t be trying any more Wild Voices productions. If you decide to read The Warlock in Spite of Himself, I suggest that you read the paperback or Kindle version.

ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 6 books2,015 followers
October 22, 2014
July2014: Rereading this for the first time in a lot of years with the Sci-fi and Heroic Fantasy group.
I'm hoping it won't disappoint since it is an old favorite.

It's fast moving & a lot of fun even today & knowing what was coming. Some of the ideas of SF are a bit dated, but I found the observation on literacy & the spread of knowledge interesting, especially in light of today's Internet.

These are 2 paragraphs from very early in the book.
It had long been known that the inefficiency of democratic governments was basically a problem of communication and prejudice. But, over a period of two centuries, DDT cells had functioned as speakeasy schoolrooms, resulting in total literacy and masters' degrees for seventy-two percent of the population; prejudice had thus joined polio and cancer on the list of curable diseases. The problems of communication had been solved by the development, in DDT laboratories, of sub-molecular electronics, which had lowered the bulk and price of electronic communication gear to the point where its truly extensive use became practical for the first time. Every individual was thus able to squawk at his Tribune at a moment's notice; and, being educated, they tended to do a lot of squawking just on general principles - all very healthy for a democracy.

Squawking by radio had proved singularly effective, due largely to an automatic record of the squawk. The problems of records and other bureaucratic red tape had been solved by red oxide audio recording tape, with tracks a single molecule in width, and the development of data-retrieval systems so efficient that the memorization of facts became obsolete. Education thus became exclusively a training in concepts, and the success of democracy was assured.

They contain a lot of ideas with varying degrees of success, at least by today's standards.
- Prejudice crushed by literacy & knowledge seems to be working. We're definitely not there yet, but tribalism is breaking down.
- Instant, cheap communication & education fostering a healthier democracy doesn't, at least not yet. We seem to be more polarized than ever & much of the communication isn't worth the time to read. Growing pains? I hope so.
- The idea that the communication was done via voice & tiny tapes that were then databased is interesting. It should be noted that the first email was sent about the time this book was originally published in 1969.
-Databases so efficient that no one memorizes facts. Google, anyone?

Stasheff did a good job on this one. No, it's not one of the great classics, but it was a great time. Glad I took the time to reread it.

2007: Added when I joined & not read in 20 years or more. His best book ever & it is very good. Funny & fun. Great mix of SF & Fantasy, although heavy on the latter. We have 2 editions of the paperback in our library, merged when my wife & I got married in 1982. This was a favorite of both of us.
Profile Image for Newly Wardell.
455 reviews
December 9, 2019
How does this book only have like 6000 ratings? I mean Its got everything! Um space traveler, time machine, magic witches, war, gallantry just the perfect blend of sci-fi and fantasy. Its funny, romantic, down right spooky. Its an absolute romp.
Profile Image for Sean O'Hara.
Author 17 books90 followers
August 13, 2019

You know when people go on and on about how modern SF is too political, and the old stuff was just concerned with telling a ripping yarn? This book is a prime counterexample. Written at the dawn of the feminist movement, the story is reactionary horsehockey full of misogynistic blather.

The basic plot is standard stuff: a galactic patrolman stumbles across a lost colony that's fallen back to a medieval society (or at least how bad writers envision medieval society). The twist is, since the initial colony included ESPers, the society has developed magic and witchcraft, and there are even aliens who correspond to elves. Being a representative of some galactic federation, Our Alleged Hero decides to help the society move towards democracy--but not too much. He doesn't want to disrupt the entire planet. He decides to help the Queen put down some stuck-up nobles who are oppressing the people, and then to defuse an anti-royal peasant movement.

Doesn't sound too awful, right?

The problem is in the details.

The Queen is a haughty but pragmatic woman who's trying to create a centralized state, which means taking autonomy away from her nobles. You'd think this would put her on the same wavelength as Our Alleged Hero, but he turns out to be a misogynistic ass who gets offended at Her Majesty making perfectly sensible decisions that undermine her male enemies. About five pages after meeting her for the first time, he starts referring to her as a bitch in his internal monologue, while out loud he chastises her for hurting her nobles' pride. Keep in mind, the nobles are doing much worse, but while the Alleged Hero is critical of them, he doesn't make personal attacks on them, and continually insists that they have legitimate points that should be addressed.

This culminates in a scene right before the Big Battle in which Our Alleged Hero instructs the Queen's love interest to go into her tent and spank her ass until she can't sit. Which the guy proceeds to do. This is all presented as light comedy, like John Wayne beating the crap out of Maureen O'Hara at the end of McClintock. The audience is supposed to chuckle at domestic violence because the woman has it coming.

Screw Christopher Stasheff, and screw anyone who wants science fiction to go back to this BS.
Profile Image for Chris.
217 reviews4 followers
February 10, 2014
This is an interesting book. I read it in high school, and liked it, and decided to revisit it.

It's an intriguing blend of fantasy and sci-fi. And not in the science-fantasy way, like Star Wars, but in a real high fantasy meets hard sci fi way. Some delightfully archaic concepts of future tech, such as data stored on tapes, etc.

Rod Gallowglass is an undercover agent for SCENT, an organization that seeks to spread democracy across the galaxy. In this future, communications have improved to the point where pure democracy is possible, with every human having an equal say in all aspects of the government. This is presented as an ideal, though I strongly disagree, but that's beside the point. Gallowglass lands on a planet that split off from the main human culture centuries before, having deliberately cut itself off from technology to the point of total ignorance of their past history. They live in a bizarre faux medieval setting, with cultures and eras mixed as badly as a Ren Fest (I enjoy this particular point, because Ren Fests annoy this history nerd on a certain level for just that reason). He lands in the middle of a volatile political situation with three warring factions supporting absolute monarchy, warlordism, and totalitarian communism (though a weak straw man only) respectively. Gallowglass suspects off-world influence, given the sophistication of some of the political dogma (spoilers, duh, he's right). There is also a class of people who appear to have powerful telekinetic powers, known locally as witches (and warlocks, obviously). As the title suggest, they are rather important to the plot.

Written in 1969, this is a book that absolutely must be placed in context. It was written during Vietnam, and the Cold War in general, and the political allegory is very, very weakly disguised. Though it must be said that none of the three are shown to be purely evil, just flawed, with Gallowglass' democratic ideal as the true goal. A bit simple, but not unreasonable given the time period. There is also some slightly off-putting sexism from the main character. I think, THINK it's deliberate, as the character he targets is often far more capable than he, and he often finds himself reversing earlier statements. Still, I'm not entirely sure of the author's intent. It's a minor distraction, though. It's not great literature, but there are some intriguing sci-fi ideas in there, nicely cross-bred with fantasy.

Also, he has an epileptic robot horse.
Profile Image for Jared.
577 reviews32 followers
April 10, 2008
This was the first book that I read by Christopher Stasheff. I found it on my dad's bookshelf, picked it up, and devoured it. At the time, being twelve-ish years old, I knew practically nothing about any form of government other than republican (representative) democracy and monarchy. I learned a lot about my own government and other forms of government by reading this.

Christopher Stasheff seems to be on a quest to educate through entertainment. (In fact, in a number of his other books he has characters that do exactly that.) It's a fun read, with an epileptic robot, a psionic population, and a protagonist who is determined to help a recently rediscovered monarchistic world become a democracy.
Profile Image for Kim.
401 reviews183 followers
April 25, 2011
I had first come across Christopher Stasheff years ago with his Rogue Wizard books. The combination of sci-fi, fantasy and politics intrigued me and though the books weren't masterpieces by any stretch of the imagination they were good reads which were slightly educational.

This is the first book Stasheff wrote and the progenitor of the Rogue Wizard books so when I wanted to reread those books I decided to go back a little further and start at the very beginning.

While I didn't enjoy this as much as I did the later books I kept in mind that this was written well before them and before he had hit his stride. It was still enjoyable and a good quick read and good to see where it all began.
Profile Image for Jeffrey.
888 reviews109 followers
April 18, 2010
A classic sf fantasy tale of a man from an advanced technological universe who comes to a planet where strange properties can be used to create magic, and becomes a powerful warlock to maintain peace.
841 reviews3 followers
June 24, 2009
I read this book in high school and couldn't stop till I got through the whole series. Now I love to go to the RenFair every February and it always makes me think of Rod Gallowglass.
Profile Image for Paul Baker.
Author 3 books15 followers
July 23, 2017
The Warlock in Spite of Himself by Christopher Stasheff is one of the great classic works of science fantasy and deservedly belongs beside the works of L. Sprague de Camp, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Samuel Delaney.

It is also unique in that it taps into the pipeline of intellectual humor popularized by Robert Lynn Aspirin, Harry Harrison, and Terry Pratchett. I refer anyone doubting this to the title of Part 1 of this novel: "A Visit to a Small Plantagent." The number of puns in this book is massive, as well as great fun centered around the use of acronyms.

It is the story of an agent of SCENT (The Society for the Conversion of Extra-Terrestrial Nascent Totalitarianisms), Rodney d'Armand who has come to the planet Gramarye to help along the cause of democracy. Little does he know when he put the brain of Fess (short for FCC--Faithful Cybernetic Companion) inside the body of his robot horse that he is about to face up against not only unreasonable nobles, but two other agencies from the future who are attempting in one instance to incite anarchy and in the other to create a communist dictatorship. Poor Fess has a problem capacitor that renders him epileptic and he is very prone to seizures when encountering witches, warlocks, elves or banshees, of which Gramarye is plentiful. Because of his own advanced hardware, the locals all think he is a warlock and how is he to argue, especially when he falls in love with a most beguiling witch?

This is a fun romp from beginning to end and Stasheff does not allow his generous sense of humor to get in the way of the story. It is a classic of the genre and one that is still great fun to read, even after all these years.

I highly recommend this book!
Profile Image for Craig.
4,801 reviews103 followers
March 17, 2014
I remember loving this book the first time I read it, and I was a little afraid to revisit it since so many of the works I read so long ago haven't aged too well. I remember many long conversations with my friends who were also readers in which we tried to decide if it was fantasy or a science fiction novel. I was happy to find that Rod and Fess and Gwen and the rest of the folk of Gramarye were all just as charming and entertaining as I remembered, and I found some interesting points about society and politics that surely flew right over my head the first time around. This one remains one of the true classics of the genre.
Profile Image for Dj.
577 reviews22 followers
April 2, 2018
I read this book first when I was much younger and found it to be a wonderful read. Or at least that was what my memory told me. After reading it again, I am not sure that wonderful would be the word I would use for the description, but I did enjoy it a great deal. It was a fun read, enjoyable, easy to work through and complex enough in the plot to hold interest start to finish.

I am looking forward to re-reading the rest of the series to see if it holds up as well as this one did to my memories.
Profile Image for Beth Hobson.
7 reviews3 followers
August 5, 2010
This has been one of my favorite books since I first read it. I immediately fell in love with Stasheff's unique and quirky writing style. The humour is clever and subtle and you'll find romance, politics and a study of fundamental human nature all wrapped in an entertaining science-fiction fantasy tale.
3 reviews
August 8, 2009
Just re-read this; still excellent. Fantasy meets Science Fiction. A little political intrigue, romance, and a little bawdy.
Profile Image for Adrienne Lehnert.
6 reviews1 follower
June 14, 2016
I was about to give it one star for being obnoxiously sexist, but then saw the date of first publication. The book is well-written but omg hooray for social progress!
Profile Image for Rhonda BeeZee.
7 reviews
September 23, 2016
This entire series is one I will love forever. Read originally in my teens, I started re-reading it a few years ago, and it stood the test of time.
Profile Image for Cathleen Townsend.
Author 12 books61 followers
February 11, 2021
A highly imaginative book 1 in a series I truly enjoyed--at least for the first seven books.

Rod Gallowglass is an agent for an interstellar democracy, and it's his job to travel to other planets and put them on the path to self-determining government. Grammarye looks like it'll be just another assignment, until he meets actual elves and "witches," people born with ESP talents.

Even though he tries to insist that he's not a warlock--all his "magic" comes from technology--he's soon dubbed one, and he's drawn into a brewing conflict on the side of the espers and a queen who's the best hope the planet has for a constitutional monarchy.

Lots of fun with plenty of serious moments--a terrific book. : )
October 29, 2015
I apparently have a highly elevated ability to suspend disbelief since I have loved so many books that others have dismissed for the same reasons I find them so interesting and imagination-consuming. If I rate a Sci-Fi/Fantasy book a 5-Star it means the characters have translated me into their world or place of existence. THE WARLOCK IN SPITE OF HIMSELF took me into Gramarye effortlessly. I don't mean this book is perfect and will make sense to everyone else who reads it. What I mean is that the story has a background world that is given enough form to allow for extrapolation, elements that work within the plot for both a Fantasy and Science Fiction genre, and several characters that I adore because they are realistic to the time period it was written within and the world it is about while still making sense here on Earth if a person will consider the differences and not try to cram it into OUR world's view alone.

This world is with a medieval Fantasy belief system nestled with a Science Fiction technology that is seen as "Magic". It is another planet with beings known in Fantasy and human abilities that have been possibilities to the human development in the past few decades in Science Fiction. Japanese Anime has been using some of these basic ploys for years. Rod from a futuristic democratic conflagration of other planets is sent to this other world and finds the medieval world of Gramarye with a young queen, a noble's son, a discontented group of nobles, and a freedom-seeking group of peasants – all the right elements to begin setting up a democratic monarchy! Too bad a shadow group of influencers are trying for a totalitarian or anarchist government by trying to get rid of the current medieval kingdom that could be on its way to a democratic republic.

I wish this book could be used in EVERY SINGLE POLITICAL SCIENCE CLASS in the USA! I already got Book 2 and will try to see where this political intrigue will turn, change, and land in this series. This first book is a lively read, an interesting twist of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and a group of characters I could not wait to see in the next book. I may be considered an EASY READER but I differ with that assumption. Read this novel and you might just come to realize that you have the same "highly elevated ability" that I have!
Profile Image for Alice Dillon.
45 reviews
February 26, 2015
I was certainly pleasantly surprised by this book. Because of some slight issues of repetition which should have been picked up in editing (Rod seemed to be confused over/just working out things he had already discussed or thought about) as well as occasional pacing issues and a definite political agenda (democratic), I developed fairly low expectations. However, throughout the book I warmed to it more and more and in the end it charmed me with its witty writing style, likeable characters, fascinating world-building and actually pretty exciting and satisfying conclusion, both in climax and in explanation. The blend of sci-if and fantasy was particularly enjoyable, as witches and elves and other such things are expertly explained by an increasingly frustrated Rod in a scientific way.

Fess, Rod's trusty ship computer/robot horse, could have been a terrible deus ex machina device, but because of the ingenious inclusion of his epilepsy, this is avoided and so tension is still very much present when needed.

I really enjoyed the world that Stasheff created, both in the large and small scale. The prediction of increased communications ability (almost a prediction of the internet) was especially gratifying and one could completely believe that this was the way the human race would go. The planet Gramarye itself, with the oft-used fantasy setting of medieval times (but this time it has been deliberately engineered and has influences from other places...) was well-developed and an enjoyable place to spend time in.

Rod himself at times seemed a little too perfect (in a male Mary-Sue sort of way); kind and caring, as well as clever, witty and almost unbeatable in combat. He could have been quite an infuriating character, especially with his political worthiness, but somehow he seemed to have just enough flaws to make him likeable, such as his obsession with the Dream, his wistfulness and his short fuse.

All in all, a very enjoyable read. I'm not sure if I'll bother with any of the other books in the series, this being such a nicely tied-up story (especially since the novels in the series appear to be quite numerous), but I'll certainly look out for Christopher Stasheff in future tours around bookshops.
Profile Image for Isabel (kittiwake).
748 reviews19 followers
December 15, 2019
Rodney d'Armand is a SCENT agent, whose job is to rediscover lost colonies and prepare them for re-entry into the confederation of worlds. His latest mission has taken him to the land of Gramarye, and soon realises that he has found a planet that was settled by a group that wanted to recreated Renaissance European society. So he isn't surprised to find a mismatch of architecture and customs taken from all over Europe, and a monarchy with both the aristocrats and a society of beggars on the verge of rebellion against their queen, but he is stunned to find witches on broomsticks, werewolves, ghosts, and tiny elves, and starts to suspect that the lords' suspiciously similiar-looking councillors may have off-world knowledge.

Realising that a constitutional monarchy would probably be the most stable form of government for this planet, he masquerades as a mercenary under the name of Rod Gallowglass, with his robot companion Fess occupying the body of an artificial horse, and sets out to join the queen's guard.

An enjoyable science-fiction romp, which is apparently the first book in a series.

From the back cover blurb: The lost planet of Gramarye wasn't so much evidence of galactic advances as a phoney shrine to the forgotten traditions, rites and graces of renaissance Europe. Sounds just like the SCA to me!
4 reviews
September 16, 2013
The Warlock in Spite of Himself, by Christopher Stasheff, is an incredible story about Rod "Gallowglass," a scientific explorer that finds a new world. This world is not developed scientifically, like the rest of the world. It doesn't have spaceships, but is still in a medieval time period. There is real magic on this planet, and they believe Rod is a warlock, but he only uses science. Rod has to save the planet from being conquered by other futuristic characters. This is a great story about lies, the truth, and learning to believe.

This book's theme is all about finding truth, lies, and some of the things that lie in between. For instance, the people on this planet believe that Rod is a powerful warlock, but he is not. He has to figure out that while this is not the truth, it is also not a lie. His science is like magic, and he needs to accept that this is what the people think it is. I would definitely recommend this book. It starts off with an incredible prologue, and then actual story becomes even better. It has a cool plot and great characters, but it can get confusing. Even though it gets confusing, after rereading, it is a great book.
Profile Image for Scurra.
189 reviews27 followers
September 4, 2010
This book has been sitting on my shelf for several years and I was surprised to find that I hadn't read it after all.

It's a nice SF/Fantasy "romp" - a direct application of Clarke's Third Law executed in a relatively original fashion, although, being forty years old, it perhaps doesn't feel quite so original now.

I enjoyed the clarity of his writing, which has a good visual style, and the characters were generally distinctive and well defined. But ultimately I found the overly political thrust of the book to be deeply, well, shallow. Whilst it was refreshing not to have undiluted libertarianism presented as being the only logical position (cf. Rand or Heinlein), even the admission that there are flaws in the preferred philosophy was offset by the presumption that no other political theory (Marxism in particular) had any redeeming features whatsoever - particularly given the slightly cheeky use of "thesis-antithesis-synthesis" at one point.

However, it's a fun read and makes me wonder why I haven't read more of this series.
Profile Image for Radwa.
20 reviews
June 26, 2012
I was reading a novel to kind of run away from all the crazy politics here in Egypt, only to find a brilliant blend of politics, technology and magic in the Warlock in Spite of Himself. Rod Gallowglass, a spy of an intergalactic organization, goes on an adventure to protect democratic transition in the medieval kingdom of Gramarye. All with the help of his robot horse, Fess.

The only drawbacks are some chunks of vocabulary that I had to look up in my dictionary, English being my second language. And the scene where Rod suddenly switches to talking medieval English; I had enjoyed the contrast between he and Fess's modern English and that of other characters. Other than that, the book is wonderful. Stasheff created a leading character like the ones I admire. You know, the brave and sarcastic kind of fellow (Reminds me of Rudolf Rassendyl from The Prisoner of Zenda, maybe). There is no big tragedy in the story, it all flows simply to a happy ending.

Since this is the first book of The Warlock of Gramarye series, I'd love to read the sequel.
43 reviews1 follower
March 23, 2018
Read this when if first came out, so my star rating reflects what I thought at that time, place and age. I really enjoyed it, and have re-read a few times since then, still enjoying it. Not sure if it will hold up as well today for a new/younger reader, there are some fairly sexist attitutdes and dated political viewpoints. But certainly well worth a look if you enjoy reading fantasy and are interested in seeing how/where it has developed.
One of the best things about this book is that it is STAND ALONE. Yeah, sure, there are 2 others to follow, then another cluster in the universe, but you can read this book and be satisfied without feeling complelled by a cliffhanger ending to purchase another. That being said, I enjoyed it enough when it came out to do a rare thing and buy the next 2 in the series - however, I did lose interest around number 5 or so.
Find a copy and read it, fun story and reasonably good writing - you may not find anything 'new' in it, but just remember it was one of the first of it's type back in the day!
Profile Image for Andrew.
2,113 reviews
January 3, 2013
Ok so here we go with the first comments of 2013. I should make a note of myself never to read comments and reviews of others on books I am or am about you read. You see yes I agree with many I still find some issue of my own. Namely that even though this is a science fantasy (by many commentators agreement a phrase coined for these books) I struggle in the fact that some characters - namely the main protagonist- speak in modern clearly understood english, while the natives speaketh thus and so forth. I can see why it was written like this, to differentiate between a man from the stars and the backwater natives - but still it does get slow going at times and rather cumbersome.
That said I did enjoy this - there is something appealing about the naive and innocent approach the story takes considering it was written originally in 1974. Sometimes a books very age is its appeal and this is one charm almost impossible to reproduce today even though many have tried.
Profile Image for Doc Opp.
442 reviews188 followers
May 1, 2007
The first in this series is a fun, if not particularly thought provoking read. It chronicles a space explorer with futuristic technology who lands on a planet with medieval culture and real magic. Because of his technology, he is believed to be a warlock by the locals.

The book is great for junior high or high school students just getting into reading sci-fi, or for somebody looking for a feel-good read to unwind after a long day. Folks looking for anything of depth or substance will probably be disappointed.

As the series progresses, the quality declines. Complex problems of social inequality or cultural misunderstandings are solved in ridiculously simple and somewhat inane ways. But that can still be fun if you're in the right mood.
Profile Image for Karen.
405 reviews30 followers
August 30, 2014
3.5 stars

I loved the concept of this story but I did have some issues with the execution. However, for the most part I quite liked the characters (except for Catherine). I particularly loved Fess! The plot is intriguing and fast moving, mixing elements of fantasy, science fiction, political drama to create something quite interesting. I may very well read more in this series.
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208 reviews
March 11, 2016
This is one of my favorite stories of all time. The tongue-in-cheek play on words and government agencies, really hit my funny-bone. The characters in this book are lovable and you really and truly care about them. This is one of those wonderful novels that can be read at several different levels depending on what mood you are in. I am so happy that it is back in print. I have already worn out my 2 previous copies.
I love Christopher Stasheff's writing and his choice in reading material. I was sold on him when I saw that one of big influences in writing was Lester Del Rey's DAY OF THE GIANTS. Which is another one of my all time favorites, unfortunately that wonderful piece of literature is out of print. My 3 copies of that book are in pieces.
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