Tentatively, Convenience's Reviews > Majyk By Hook or Crook

Majyk By Hook or Crook by Esther M. Friesner
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review of
Esther Friesner's Majyk by Hook or Crook
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - May 28, 2016

In my 55 or so yrs of reading SF & Fantasy I've more or less never gotten into series. I've thought of series as just cheap marketing tricks, a way of sucking the reader into repeat purchases that're based more on soap opera continuity than on solid writing around new ideas. Whenever I hear someone talking about their tastes in SF in terms of series I'm disappointed - it's too close to talk about one's favorite tv shows for me, a person who stopped watching tv 46 yrs ago.

Nonetheless, I'm usually happy to find exceptions to my own rules - if only for the sake of retaining an 'open mind'. The cover of Majyk by Hook or Crook proclaims "The sensationally silly series by the author of Majyk by Accident" & I have to at least agree w/ the "silly" part. This series is silly & that's one of the main reasons why I decided to read all 3 parts of it - I can use some silliness in my life. As I wrote in my review of Majyk By Accident ( https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... ): "I consider the serious reviews to be the important ones but I might very well enjoy things like this more. Make of that what you will."

I didn't really enjoy this one as much as I did Majyk By Accident & that's easily enuf attributable to the fantasy world being no longer fresh to me - another downside of serials. Some (most?) people want repetition, I generally am more impressed when a creative person has a whole new set of ideas for subsequent works. Fortean weather is new to this sequel:

"["]You're not getting me out in this weather."

""Oh, it's not that bad," I scoffed, and stepped outside. Shading my eyes with one hand, I looked up into the stormy sky. "There's hardly anything coming down at all any m— Ow!" A parrot the size of a layer cake smacked me right in the eye.

"I grabbed it by the throat and glared at it while a tempest of robins, finches, and larks pelted me. Far out over the swamp it was raining albatrosses and hens." - p 1

& counteracting this Fortean weather becomes the main quest of the novel.

""No," I repeated. "My mother always said that only a fool goes outdoors in fowl weather."

""Aaargh!" The cat fell over and stuck all four legs up stiffly in the air. "It's a deadly ninja throwing pun!" he cried, twitching from tail to whiskers. He made a loud choking noise and went limp." - p 2

I find that funny.. &, yet, at the same time, it's only in writing that the word "fowl" is explicitly known to be NOT the word "foul".

"Act like an all-powerful wizard, and nine out of ten people will treat you like an all-powerful wizard. Act like yourself and you'll get hit with a ladle." - p 21

Ah, so true, so true. I'm reminded of the sage SubGenius saying (wch I probably misquote): "Act like an equal & they'll treat you like a dumbshit." As for the "all-powerful wizard" part I'm reminded of 2 canonized filmmaker presentations I witnessed. No claim was too outrageous for the adoring suckers in the audience to lap up. One of these presentations inspired my friend etta cetera & I to found the S.P.C.S.M.E.F. ( http://idioideo.pleintekst.nl/spcsmef... ).

Friesner references Dungeons & Dragons, a game I've never played - perhaps revealing her own social milieu:

""It's not always this loud, gents," Strelblig explained. "You just happen to have come during the last round of our annual contest."

""Can't be a beauty contest," the cat said. "So what is it?"

""What is it?" The master thief was astonished at the cat's question. "Why it's tournament-level Palaces and Puppies, is all!"" - p 45

In half of this bk's world, dogs, like cats, are legendary creatures. Hence "Puppies" instead of Dragons.

Friesner is funny in a way that makes me wonder if she's in the Church of the SubGenius:

"An elder god slithered across the floor and tried to carry off the unconscious fortunetellers. The bartender threw the dead chicken at him and told him not to eat any customers until they'd paid their bills. The elder god slunk away in a sulk, dragging his tentacles and sucking on the chicken neck." - p 47

Shades of H. P. Lovecraft followed by shades of W. W. Jacobs (wch, in turn, was probably shades of Theophile Gautier's "The Mummy's Foot"):

""Monkey paw, sir?" said a voice behind me. I turned and saw a peddler with a tray full of weird relics. "Nice fresh mummified monkey paws, special today. You still get your full three wishes, but at half price. Satisfaction guaranteed."" - p 48

"fresh" & "mummified" at the same time - 'proving' that in ad-speak one can have the best of both worlds simultaneously. &, yes, the literary & film references just keep on comin':

"Scandal leaped from Ainsella's lap to mine and put his paws on my shoulder. "A word to the wise, boss," he whispered. "If he tells you his name is Inigo Montoya and that you killed his father, don't argue; run like Hades."" - p 64

I suspect that just about everyone I know wd immediately get that reference. I only got it b/c people were astounded recently when I didn't know it. Inigo Montoya is a character in William Goldman's 1973 novel The Princess Bride made into a very popular film by Rob Reiner in 1987. But you already knew that didn't you.

If Friesner's lucky, she's surrounded by friend who appreciate her punning abilities. If she's unlucky, she's surrounded by people who groan.

""Come on, I mean it! We've got a long voyage and this ship just doesn't look seaworthy. It doesn't even look like a ship!"

""It is not a ship," Rhett said. "Any fool can see that."

""Any fool just did," Scandal remarked.

""It is a snail. A goodly giant four-masted snail."

""A snail?" I repeated.

""What else did you expect?" Rhett shrugged. "This ship belong to the Postal Service."" - p 70

"I found Anisella in the little cookhouse built high on the giant snail's shell, her hair tied back with a thin copper wire. She wasn't wearing an apron—allergic to cloth, remember? But a chain-mail halter and kilt get very hot when you're working near cook-fires, and so . . .

""Oh, hello, Kendar." She looked happy to see me. Happy all over. "I hope you don't mind that I've taken over the cook's job. I love to cook almost as much as I love to clean house and do the laundry. Sometimes I get so sad when it seems like there aren't enough chores in a day. But then I just go and make clothing for orphans and I feel much better, even if working with cloth does make my hands break out in hives. It's for a good cause. How long have you been standing there?"


""Dinner's almost done. I'll serve it just as soon as I slip back into my clothes. I hope you like it."

""Oh yeah. Oh boy. Like it. Oh boy. Oh yeah."" - p 71

Such parody of male-female heterosexual relations led to my looking her up online to get further confirmation that Friesner's a woman. I reckon she actually is. She seems to have a much better sense of humor about sexual relations than many a feminist.

""King Wulfdeth looks like a Whiffenpoof?" Scandal asked.

""A what?"

""One of the legendary monsters of my world, half man and half sheepskin," the cat explained. He leaped back into my lap and sat there like I was his human throne. "My former human used to be once, in fact. They haunt the moldy dungeons of the kingdom of Yale and gather together to give their mating cry: 'We are poor little lambs who have lost our way, baa, baa, baa.'"" - p 109

Friesner is reputed to've taught at Yale before making it as a freelance writer.

"Still, some part of me hoped to see Undersiders walking on their heads or wearing their clothing backwards or putting mayonnaise on their corned beef sandwiches. When you travel so far, you want to see monsters." - p 133

Or faces in their chests with a mayonnaise & corned beef sandwich partially hanging out of its mouth.

"She pulled down the Golden Fleece's banner of piracy and ran up an innocent looking flag. On a bright red background the black and white, almost human, face of a round-eared mouse beamed happily over the waves." - p 135

The brand that dare not speak its name.

""Okay, the face. Whatever it is, I call it a face. White and black, mostly white. Hole-eyes. A black nose. the nose looks like a black Ping-Pong ball, does that make sense? Come to think of it, the ears—if they're ears—on top look like two Ping-Pong paddles, also black. O call them Ping and Pong, and one day they were walking through the deep dark forest and . . ."" - p 29, John Sladek's Roderick

""You know, boss," Scandal told me in confidence, "Back home we only caal chicks and foxes."

""Whatever you call them, they look like they're happy tonight," I said.

""Why should they not be happy?" Rhett commented. "They are each wearing enough gold and jewels to feed a family of four for a week." He flashed a warning look at Scandal. "And I do not mean that there are families of four who eat gold and jewels, so do not bother making your silly joke." - p 139

Yep, that one wd've been too obvious so Friesner manages to squeeze it in by preventing it. Friesner is also the editor of 6 "Chicks" anthologies:

Chicks in Chainmail (1995)
Did You Say Chicks?! (1998)
Chicks 'n Chained Males (1999)
The Chick is in the Mail (2000)
Turn the Other Chick (2004)
Chicks and Balances (2015)

Do Chicks give birth to Chicklets? This might not be great lit but it IS Chick Lit & it's more fun than a barrel of Monkey's Paws: ""I am going to be fine, although I will be seeing double until breakfast tomorrow morning. They will serve us stale bread and water, but we will have our choice of whole wheat of rye,"" (p 154)
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 22, 2016 – Finished Reading
May 29, 2016 – Shelved
September 10, 2016 – Shelved as: fantasy
September 10, 2016 – Shelved as: humor

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