Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"The Xanth Series" is a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge number of fantasy novels by Piers Anthony. A Spell for Chameleon is the first of 36 novels -- and running!!!

Anthony's "Xanth" novels are set in a fictional kingdom called Xanth that looks suspiciously like Anthony's home state of Florida. It has Ogre-Chobee Swamp, and the Gap Chasm (which, amazingly, is in the same spot as the Cross Florida Barge Canal).

Xanth (pronounced "ZAN-th") is oddly similar to the author's name: Pier-ZANTH-ony.

Each creature in Xanth has a magical power, although most people's powers are exceptionally limited and minor in nature (such as the ability to right a spilled glass of milk, or the ability to find a lost sock in the dryer). A few people have "magician-class" powers, and but these people are not the focus of the novel. Rather, it's the powers of people who are oddballs, outcasts, and whose powers seemingly could never be used that form the plots of most Xanth books.

The novels are full of puns on words. For example, the novel Centaur Aisle is about a race of centaurs that live on an island in the middle of a lake. However, one centaur seems to lack any magical powers at all... that is, until he crosses over into Mundania, the land where there is no magic. No magic, that is, unless you are within a space about three feet wide and ten feet long that extends in front of the centaur. The "centaur aisle"... hee hee hee!

I basically quit reading the books after about the 10th novel. The puns started to get bad bad bad. And Anthony was, by then, taking suggestions from fans -- who were turning in the most execrable plots.

I also saw Anthony begin to re-use the same plot devices over and over. Tangle trees were cool in the first few books. But after a while, it seemed like it was a hackneyed plot device that lost its zip-pow-wham and just got boring.

Still, I enjoy re-reading the first ones over and over.

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