The problem with shopping in used book stores is finding only the middle parts of series. However, it turned out that the fifth and final volume of de Camp’s Novarian books is a good place to start, because it picks up with a brand new main character. There’s a good number of references to the earlier books (often as stories told), but it’s by no means dependent on them.

Kerin, our new main character, gets into trouble with one of the looser respectable ladies of the area, and needs to take an extended trip. This powers the action of the rest of the novel, as he sets out for the east on an industrial espionage tour (he’s trying to find the secret of a better clock escapement).

And… this eventually comes up, near the end of the novel, and in a slightly unrelated note, the rest of the plot collapses into a conclusion shortly thereafter. The bulk of it is really more wandering travelogue, with somewhat episodic adventures, and a fair amount of humor. And also a fair amount of archaic speech. One of de Camp’s passions was history, and I think he does it to get more into the feel of the time and culture that his world is based around, but it does take quite a bit of getting used to.

It’s probably the closest I’ve read to a Myth Adventures book in some time. It’s certainly not the same (the brand of humor is different), but it’s aimed at the same light-hearted adventure on the road feel. It has also reminded me that I need to read more of de Camp’s books, and that there’s a number I’ve meant to get to. Overall, the tone is good, though certainly with a bit of male wish-fulfillment, and and the archaicisms are the toughest part to get into.