The challenge of any fantasy writer is to create a believable alternate world and people it with interesting characters. In that regard, the illustrations in the book do an excellent job of depicting the odd, almost impossible landscape of a realm run almost exclusively by madcap wizards and scholars (hence the title "Most High Academe"). Instead of one mad scientist, Stewart envisions an entire domain of them, each operating with their own agenda. He offers the obligatory bizarre assortment of servants, henchmen, and villains, although it must be admitted that within the context of this volume the some of the plotting of various villains seemed either a touch contrived or a bit vague (an objection that will no doubt be ignored by those swept up in the oddball humor of it).
Stewart's world reminds me a bit of say, L. Frank Baum's cockeyed land of Oz, especially as that series unfolded, with its many mechanical men and other stray creatures. There is also something of C.S. Lewis' Narnia in it, at least insofar as all the characters seem to be able to talk (even the ones that look rather like large spiders) and many of the adults seem a bit distracted or befuddled. But there is also a modern, gritty edge to it, and the theme - of the consequences associated with experimenting on things we don't understand - resonates against the modern backdrop of genetic engineering, cloning, and similar research. The book may stint a bit on characterization in favor of adventure, but then again, it's not written for somebody looking for a character study. It's a fast-paced flight through a zany, oddball world.