The Incomplete Enchanter

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The Incomplete Enchanter
Incomplete enchanter.jpg
Dust-jacket illustration for The Incomplete Enchanter
Author L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt
Cover artist Boris Artzybasheff
Country United States
Language English
Series Harold Shea Series
Genre Fantasy
Publisher Henry Holt and Company
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 326 pp
Followed by The Castle of Iron

The Incomplete Enchanter is a collection of two fantasy novellas American writers L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, the first volume in their Harold Shea series. The pieces were originally published in the magazine Unknown in the issues for May and August 1940. The collection was first published in hardcover by Henry Holt and Company in 1941, and in paperback by Pyramid Books in 1960. It has been reprinted by a number of other publishers since its first appearance. A 1979 edition published by Sphere Books was issued under the variant title The Incompleat Enchanter. An E-book edition was published by Gollancz's SF Gateway imprint on September 29, 2011 as part of a general release of de Camp's works in electronic form.[1][2] The collection has been combined with later books in the series in the omnibus editions The Compleat Enchanter (1975) (which presumably influenced the title of the Sphere edition just mentioned), The Complete Compleat Enchanter (1989), and The Mathematics of Magic: The Enchanter Stories of L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (2007). It has also been published in Dutch.

The Harold Shea stories are parallel world tales in which magic exists in separate universes which coexist with our own, and which can be reached by aligning one's mind to them by a system of symbolic logic. The worlds frequently are based on the mythologies, legends, and literary fantasies of our world. In the stories collected as The Incomplete Enchanter, the authors' protagonist Harold Shea visits two such worlds, that of Norse mythology and that of Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene.



Reviewing the 1950 edition, Boucher and McComas described the series as "a high point in the application of sternest intellectual logic to screwball fantasy."[3] Damon Knight characterized the series as "relaced, ribald adventure . . . priceless," saying that "no fantasy reader should be without them."[4] P. Schuyler Miller declared that these "first and best of the Harold Shea stories," through the authors' "fiendishly clever application of symbolic logic", have "annexed the entire realm of "pure" fantasy to science fiction."[5]

In 1977, Richard A. Lupoff described the series as "whole planes above the hackneyed gut-spillers and skull-smashers that pass for heroic fantasy."[6]


  1. ^ Orion Publishing Group's L. Sprague de Camp webpage
  2. ^ entry for e-book edition
  3. ^ "Recommended Reading," F&SF, December 1950, p.104
  4. ^ "The Dissecting Table", Worlds Beyond, December 1950, p.114
  5. ^ "Book Reviews", Astounding Science Fiction, February 1951, p.150
  6. ^ "Lupoff's Book Week", Algol 28, 1977, p.56.
  • Bleiler, Everett (1948). The Checklist of Fantastic Literature. Chicago: Shasta Publishers. p. 95. 
  • Laughlin, Charlotte; Daniel J. H. Levack (1983). De Camp: An L. Sprague de Camp Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller. pp. 67–68. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Harold Shea Series
The Incomplete Enchanter
Succeeded by
The Castle of Iron