When I was complaining about old-school sci-fi written by old white men (darn you, library sci-fi book club!) a couple commenters suggested I try Clifford Simak. My mom had also recently suggested him, so when I found Enchanted Pilgrimage at a used bookstore, I figured it was a sign.
Unfortunately, I didn’t love this one either. It had some lovely bits and passages, but overall it was very disjointed, with plot threads lost and picked up again (or not), characters doing stuff for no reason other than Plot, life-saving coincidences that then disappear, and a totally out of left field ending.
A university scholar stumbles on a map to the land of the Old Ones, commonly thought to be a myth. But when someone tries to kill him to get the map, he thinks there might be some truth to it. So he and the goblin who live in the rafters set out to find the Old Ones, collecting all manner of magical creatures, sidekicks, and weapons along the way. (Plus a virgin who naturally falls in love with the only other human, because what else are girl characters for? They can’t do anything but pine, though, because she has to stay a virgin in order to keep wielding the unicorn horn they found. But hey, at least she gets a weapon/magical object!) The quest gets more nonsensical as they go on. It almost felt like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, with each chapter having very little to do with the last. They meet monsters, aliens, a guy who brought his motorcycle over from our reality, and some scary harpies who apparently were left on like a burglar alarm, but it was totally an accident the entire party almost got killed!
There were some bright spots. A lot of the side characters were fun, and some of the writing is great. Some lines that made me wish this was a better book:
Quote from an ogre: “I have many excellent, I might say endearing, qualities which are not immediately apparent.”
“You have no look of a fighting man to me. You smell of books and inkpot.” (same ogre)
Looking for the Old Ones, who are said to be “humanoid, but overlaid with abundant myth content.”
So. Not my favorite, but I’ve definitely read worse.