I discovered DeChancie’s Castle Perilous books many years ago. I read a couple and enjoyed them, but they are a bit older and can be hard to find. I finally managed to snag copies of all of them, and have been catching up on the ones I haven’t read.
The stories are set in Castle Perilous, the linchpin universe, if you will, that all others branch off of. Inside the castle are 144,000 aspects, or doorways to alternate worlds, one of which is Earth. There are permanent residents of the castle, including the King, Lord Incarnadine, and several humans and aliens. When you enter the castle, you discover that you have a latent magic talent that the castle enhances. Each story takes you to one or more of the different aspects, as well as the goings on inside Perilous itself.
In Castle Kidnapped, things seem to be falling apart in Perilous. There are earthquakes that cause parts of the castle to degenerate, and portals to close off without warning. Gene, a human, gets stranded in one such aspect, and has to deal with a world with intelligent, but unpopulated cities, plus the native inhabitants, as he struggles to find his way back. Snowclaw, from a frozen tundra world originally, is stranded on Earth, not the best place for a huge, white-furred, somewhat bear-like fellow with horns and fangs. Meanwhile, Jeremy, a computer hacker, is transported to Perilous when an aspect opens allowing him to escape the authorities. Incarnadine is trying to figure out what is going on, and how to stop it. As usual, things get worse before they get better, and everyone has to use their castle-given magic as well as their wits to solve the puzzle before Perilous is destroyed, taking all of reality with it.
These are light-hearted stories, with a lot of stretch your believability in them. There is an abundance of fun, a good dash of action, a sprinkling of mystery, and not a small amount of mayhem. Yes, they are a bit dated now, but a good story is a good story, and if you can put the fact that this was written in the late ’90’s aside, it is still enjoyable.
Castle Perilous is the star of the series, in many ways, despite its role as setting. Other characters are enjoyable and believable, if a little archetypal. Light, fun reading that doesn’t have a hidden message or deep meaning, the Castle Perilous books are perfect for a quick, easy read for anyone who likes their fantasy laced with humor.