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The Fallible Fiend
By L. Sprague de Camp

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The Fallible Fiend
By L. Sprague de Camp
Thorndike Press - Large Print, (2002)
ISBN: 0-7862-4662-6
Genre: Science Fiction

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - February 24, 2003

What would you do if you were a demon who was indentured for a year on a far off planet, and your master told you to eat any intruders that happened by? You'd eat them of course. But, what if the intruder was your master's apprentice. Well, if you were Zdim, you'd eat him anyway. After all, an order is an order, so what is a demon supposed to do?

Zdim Akh's son was just your run of the mill demon from the Twelfth Plane, when his life was turned upside down. He has a wife and kids in the making (his wife just laid some eggs), and everything seemed to be going just fine. Then boom! He's drafted by his planet to be an indentured servant for the humans of the Prime Plane. For his service, his planet receives a hunk of iron, a metal that they are sorely lacking.

Zdim's servitude gets off on a rocky start. First he eats his master's apprentice, then, after becoming a vegetarian, lets a thief get away with the Sibylline Sapphire, his master's valuable scrying stone. So it is not surprising that his master sells his contract to someone else. This someone else just happens to be Bagardo the Great, proprietor of a traveling carnival. Bagardo is just one of the many people that Zdim will find himself working for on the Prime Plane.

During his indenture Zdim finds that he is the focal point of an upcoming cataclysm. It appears that Doctor Maldivius, the wizard who was Zdim's first master, foresaw an event in his scrying stone that spelled doom for the province of Ir. Now everyone wants to know what it is he saw, and there are many, many people, who think that Zdim, having worked for Maldivius, knows how to use the scrying stone.

As events transpire, Zdim is the only thing / person that has the ability to save Ir from the fate that awaits it. From battle scenes to bedroom scenes, de Camp keeps the plot moving in this delightful fantasy.

In The Fallible Fiend, de Camp has created a unique and interesting world, peopled with equally fascinating beings. The use of a demon as the central figure is ingenious, and without a doubt, Zdim is the hero of the story. Just as Zdim is hero material, the villains in the story are suitably villainous, and they are amply treacherous.

The long and short of it all is that Fallible Fiend by L. Sprague De Camp is a rollicking, fast paced story that will have you rooting, from beginning to end for Zdim. For a blue scaled, tailed, creature Zdim is an adorable and lovable character - you just have to watch out for his barbs. He does tend to take his orders literately, so you have to watch what you say to him!

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