An Excess of Enchantments
by Craig Shaw Gardner
Reviewed by Scott T. Barnes

An Excess of Enchantments is the second in the second of three trilogies in the Ebenezum chronicles. In other words, book five, or book two in The Ballad of Wuntvor.

Got that?

No matter. If you have enjoyed books 1-4 in the chronicles of Ebenezum, read on. If you haven’t started yet, I’d recommend beginning with A Malady of Magicks. If that doesn’t hook you, you are reading in the wrong genre.

An Excess of Enchantments follows the adventures of apprentice Wuntvor as he tries to convince Mother Duck, a powerful sorceress, to help his master Ebenezum in a war against demons. Unfortunately for Wuntvor, Mother Duck’s only concern is to force travelers to act out her badly written fairy tales.

Craig is a very funny man. He and Terry Pratchett have a pact never to read each other’s work so they can’t be (successfully) accused of stealing each other’s ideas. And if you are one of Pratchett’s myriad fans, you will surely enjoy Craig Shaw Gardner as well.

Craig lectured at Odyssey on humor in speculative fiction. Among other things, he explained the comedian’s Rule of Three:

The first time you hear a joke it is funny.
The second time you hear a joke it is mildly amusing.
The third time you hear a joke it is hilarious.

Certainly Saturday Night Live follows this Rule. And Craig’s right, although intellectually a joke can’t get funnier the more times you hear it, if you hear the same joke ad nauseam it becomes imperative that you repeat it to as many friends as possible. 

An Excess of Enchantments takes this Rule a little too far. It is rather repetitious and at times the humor feels forced. The silly characters and situations carry the reader through the book’s short length (180 pages) but couldn’t hold up for much longer. It is the type of book best enjoyed on an airplane and left behind in the back seat pocket. Though perhaps if you read it several times, mildly amusing would indeed become hilarious.

Craig explained that he wasn’t really planning on doing a second trilogy, but the publisher wanted him to. The same thing happened to Stephen R. Donaldson with the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. And, as with Donaldson, by the time Craig had An Excess of Enchantments written, he knew the publisher would want a third trilogy, so the last three books are crafted with more thought.

Although An Excess of Enchantments isn’t the strongest book in the series, I’d still recommend it to anyone looking for an easy smile.