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    80-era novel: Prince reads book-within-book of merchant puzzle-stories

    Only read this a few years ago, but the name and author completely escape me.

    I was an "old" fantasy novel, probably from the 70s or 80s, relatively short and generally not very memorable. Plot surrounded a lazy prince being taken on a forced tour of his kingdoms by a worldly vassal-character; each section was followed a very formulaic pattern of the prince getting separated from the vassal, ending up in big trouble with the locals (chased by an entire town or being trapped in a giant-beaver dam), getting out of it through seer luck and in the process causing some form of local revolution before meeting up with the vassal again and traveling on to the next kingdom.

    The most memorable part was that the prince had a journal of some old adventurer with him, and would stop every so often to read a story from it. These tended to be set up as little puzzles that the merchant adventure arrives to solve, usually getting away with a bunch of gold after teaching the locals some lesson. One involved three kingdoms inheriting 17 machines from a dead inventor and being unable to divide them fairly, and in another the merchant offered to sell the townspeople either wisdom or gods.

    Does that ring a bell with anyone?
    Last edited by jwanders; May 14th, 2012 at 11:29 AM.

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