On the face of it, this collaborative novel sounds perfect: Zelazny has always had one of the most inventive imaginations in the genre, and in his prime Sheckley was a brilliant humorist and one of sf's finest short-story writers. But Zelazny has been indulging himself in his lucrative but tired Amber series for the past few years, and Sheckley's recent work has shown little of his former panache. This joint effort has moments that recall the best of Zelazny and Sheckley, but like most of their recent solo work, it lacks depth. Azzie, an ambitious demon, decides to advance his career of wrongdoing by entering the Millennial competition between the Forces of Light and Dark for control of mankind's destiny. Azzie plans to stage a classic fairy-tale quest, sending a handsome prince out to rescue an enchanted princess with a kiss, but by judiciously preparing the players, Azzie expects it to end badly, thus proving that given free rein evil will win out in the human spirit. Azzie's preparations occupy most of the book, and we meet a hunchbacked servant, an alluring witch, a dim-witted dwarf, an aged dragon, and other unlikely creatures by the bushelful. The fast-moving story is dotted with moments of good fun and good gags, but most often it is merely amusing, and many of the jokes have been done better elsewhere. A pleasant diversion and some laughs, but this collaboration is not the equal of either author's best work.