No Phule like an Old Phule, the fifth installment of Robert Asprin's hilarious Phule's Company saga (Phule's Company, Phule's Paradise, et al.), pits the legendary Willard Phule -- a.k.a. Captain Jester -- and his misfit soldiers of Omega Company against their most ferocious enemy yet: a genetically enhanced celebrity canine named Barky the Environmental Dog.
As usual, every villainous being in the universe is seemingly conspiring against Jester and his unconventional company of legionnaires. While General Blitzkrieg -- a bloated commanding officer who is obsessed with dishonoring Jester -- is sending Omega the worst recruits available, he also has his hands in a plot to publicly disgrace the company by sending a rigorous ecological observation team to the planet Zenobia for a surprise audit. The eco-team, fronted by the aforementioned media star Barky, is the least of Jester's worries, however. While dealing with the annoying pooch -- who relentlessly sniffs out pollution and other "dangers to the natural balance" -- Jester must also accommodate a group of powerful high-rollers who have come to Zenobia to hunt native reptilian creatures rumored to resemble predatory dinosaurs. Add to the plot Jester's meddlesome father (who happens to be a billionaire weapons magnate) and a bumbling pair of would-be kidnappers, and Jester has himself one rip-roaring snafu!
The madcap members of Omega Company -- which include Sushi, Do-Wop, Super-Gnat, Tusk-anini, Roadkill, and Chocolate Harry -- are like a cross between the Dirty Dozen and F-Troop. Fans of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels and Piers Anthony's Xanth series who have yet to experience Asprin's wit should give this laugh-out-loud saga a try. Paul Goat Allen