This little book, composed of three short humorous stories about a wizard Wistril, was pure entertainment. Wistril is a rotund, peaceful wizard, if a bit grouchy. He likes his food, his books, and his comforts. He lives in a castle with his sarcastic apprentice Kern and a couple hundred of staff, all gargoyles utterly devoted to their master.
In all three stories, Wistril’s studies of arcane science are rudely interrupted by an unfortunate occurrence: a siege by a mercenary army (Wistril Besieged), an appearance of a lake monster in a nearby lake (Wistril Afloat) and an arrival of his betrothed, Lady Hohnserrat, and her other suitor, a belligerent baron (Wistril Betrothed).
On all occasions, Wistril triumphs over his adversaries, but he must utilize his formidable intellect to do so. He can’t use his magical power to harm anyone because he swore an Oath to that effect, but he can be inventive.
The stories are fast and easy to read, and the characters are surprisingly well defined despite the shortness of this book. They are all a bit cartoonish, but I think the writer intended them to be. I couldn’t read this book without smiling. Every time my eyes stumbled upon Wistril’s witty comments or his apprentice’s sly rejoinder, I giggled.
A quote from Wistril Besieged:
Kern frowned. “The Oath prevented you from turning the Captain into a turnip, but not from having the bridge supports hacked away, correct?”
“The Oath prohibits offensive arcane actions, not malicious carpentry,” said Wistril.
A quote from Wistril Afloat:
Wistril sighed. “A lake monster,” he muttered. “Why not a haunt, or a vampire, or a rafter-goblin? If I must face myths, might they at least have the courtesy to dwell indoors?”
A quote from Wistril Betrothed:
Sir Knobby gently opened the study door and padded through. Behind him crept three much smaller gargoyles. Two wore lace-trimmed pink aprons; the third was wearing a red lady-in-waiting dress, complete with silver-wrought sash and frilly white trim.
“Splendid,” said Wistril, no trace of dismay in his voice. “Thank you. The Lady Hohnserrat will be most pleased.”
A diverting read but nothing serious, just a small verbal trifle to enjoy without straining your brain or engaging your emotions. I like Tuttle’s later books better, but even these earlier stories (2001) are good enough to warrant your reading pleasure.