on April 14, 2004
Lately, have you run into any carnivorous Tangler trees? Haw about the gigantic, Roc bird, or a Manticore (shown on the cover of the book). Do you get your shoes of a ripe shoe tree. If so, you're living in Piers Anthony's magical land of Xanth!
Introducing the average, Earth dwelling human to this fantasy world could prove to be difficult. But Anthony mastered this with wit, extraordinary word choice, and well formed characters. He begins this mystical series with 'A Spell for Chameleon'. Bink of the North Village has no magic talent. Every citizen in Xanth is born with a talent, even if it's what is called "spot on the wall" magic; a useless talent. If a citizen of Xanth does not have apparent magic by age 25, they would be banished. All the kids in North Village taunted him about his seemingly lack of magic, they would laugh and call him the "Talentless Wonder", and harassed him with dim -witted logic and what Anthony calls 'garden variety' magic. They would never be further off in assuming Bink had no magic within him!
Bink, although he was a supposed talentless wonder, was no weakling, in intellect nor body. If the other children were to race him, Bink always won. Well he won according to "Mundane" (no magic) rules. But when magic interfered some cheap kid who could create an illusionary hole, or run through hills, generally won. Still , Bink grew p to be a fine mane, and held no hindrance to magic itself. In fact, Bink was quite curious about it. But curiosity does not help you find a magic talent, and in a couple of weeks Bink would be banished to Mundania, a world with no magic, otherwise known as "Earth".
Apparently having no magic in a magical land is bad enough, but there is more to it. There would be no exception made for Bink, unless he had a visible talent, and he would be banished not long after his 25th birthday. The decrepit Storm King, Xanth's current king, enforced this law wholly. The only thing Bink could think to do is go to the Good Magician Humfrey, who has all the answers. Also, Humfrey charges one years service per answer, and Bink would have to stay and fulfill his payment before he was banished.
Bink is sent on a journey that would discover some amazing secrets, and repeal all accusations. along the way, he would meet many friends and magical creatures, as well as the previous Evil Magician Trent, who has definitely changed his scene.
A Spell for Chameleon is a definite must-read for any fantasy fan, and any other book fan at that! If you enjoy a witty, clever, creative and fun book, I would recommend any Piers Anthony book!
on February 17, 2004
I have been always reading fantasy books such as Harry Potter for my entire life. But this book was extremely good, no other fantasy books can ever compare with this book! Just a few months ago, a friend of mine lent me this book to read over the winter, which a teacher introduced her to read. As usual, I took this book casually as though I read this many times and took it without notice. However, as I started reading, I was immediately emerging into the book. It did not seem like any other original fantasy as I have read before like Harry Potter; talking about magic and casting spells! This book, took me into magical worlds where I could never have imagined and the description makes me feel like I¡¦m watching the characters doing things first-hand.
There is one unique way in how Mr. Anthony writes, which I really admire. Each character he describes is really different from each other and unusual. I¡¦m using the word unusual is because one of the characters he described was known as a villain however this villain turned out not doing any villainous action. Basically, he misleaded us and surprised us!
In this book, each person/character obtains a skill, where each individual has his or her own magic. However, the main character Bink was forced to lead a magical journey and duels with the most evil wizard known in his magical world. If one likes to read books about magic, adventure, and fantasy this is a must read book!
Also, since I have started this fantasy, I have never stopped reading, up till now; I have read the first three series of Xanth (the name this magical world Bink and the other characters dwell in). I¡¦m going to continue and finish the rest of the series about Xanth since this book is really good!
on February 11, 2004
I passed by these books everytime I went to the book store. I didn't think I would enjoy these novels, they looked too childish. I finally ran out of other fiction to read, so I picked the first book up in a used book store. Boy was I surprised. I enjoyed it so much I decided to buy the whole series. This series definitely has a quirky side to it. However it is a very enjoyable fantasy series. Full of excellent imagery, characters and storylines. Mr. Anthony is constantly coming up with interesting new stories for this series. The puns don't destroy the fantasy element. They add an enjoyable sidenote. These novels took me through a variety of emotions (most of which either had me chuckling or laughing outloud). "Question Quest" (book #14) is the last book in the series that I have read so far. I definitely plan on reading the rest though.
I have read more than 450 fantasy novels in the past 15+ years, so I am always trying to find something a little new and entertaining. Xanth definitely fills this requirement. I highly recommend these novels for a quick light read.
on November 14, 2003
I am not a fantasy reader. I never have been, until I read this book. It seems to me that all of the other fantasy novels include such ridiculus names that you can't seem to remember who is who which really frustrated me, so I never took a liking to them. Well, at least that was how it was with me! But with this book, the characters that Piers Anthony portrays is a whole different story. You come to form a bond between them. You learn about their families, their lives and follow them throughout their adventures and trials of love and challenges. They aren't much different from us except that they harvest pies from trees in their backyard and everybody has a magical talent! I was very skeptical at first when my friend gave it to me to read. I opened it up and read the first 10 pages and I was like Noooo way! This is crazy! What are all these puns doing in here and WHY? But, my friend just told me to keep reading. That was 2 1/2 years ago! I am STILL reading the Xanth novels today. So far I am on book 21. But, I have to say the original characters, Bink, Chameleon, Trent, Iris, and their children Dor and Irene, Old Magician Humphrey, and the centaurs Chet and Chem are still my favorite today. I miss those old characters! And what is really wonderful is that they age right along with you! Every book is (in Xanth) about 3 years apart to keep things moving. But old Binker is still my favorite! So...if your not a Fantasy lover currently, just pick up this book and give it a good read. I think you will change your mind. I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud or (Shhhh) sniffled, or was on the edge of my seat!
This whole series is very light-hearted, easy to read and just a lot of fun to ecsape from reality with.
But, I must say if you do start reading this series I strongly recommend not skipping any books (unless you absolutely must).
Just have fun with it and don't take it too seriously.
on May 7, 2003
I couldn't decide whether to keep puzzling over this book or just laugh myself silly, its that good.
Young Bink is in trouble. Unless he can prove to the senile old king that he has a magical talent al his own, out he goes. Only the magical may stay in Xanth, and facing life in the outside world, Mundania (you guesses it, here), is more than Bink can take, particularly since it means parting from the girl he loves. So, he sets out on a quest to find his talent, and his place in the world.
The book has its fair share of bad puns and clever lines, but most of the humour comes from the ridiculous situations that can happen only in Xanth. Imagine a world where everything is magical to some degree. Than imagine a world where everything is completely weird. Than ad the fact that every tiny little problem always escalates to a huge catastrophe. Multiply by ten. Than you have Xanth.
If you like Terry Pratchets Discworld, you will probably like Xanth too. Give it a try. And have fun!
on February 18, 2003
This is the book that first got me reading fantasy novels. I read this for the first time when I was in 8th grade, I believe (now 23 years old). At the time I found it to be a simple, fun to read novel that got me interested in the world Piers Anthony created. It also got me interested in other fantasy novels, and I moved along from Anthony to Eddings, Brooks, McCaffrey, Feist, Jordan, and Martin. Anthony's Xanth series is what got me started, however.
I think I've read about half of the Xanth series, and it is apparent that the novels are becoming less and less serious. The books become filled with puns, and everything magic is punned. A Spell for Chameleon is the first Xanth novel, however, and there is very little of the punning that the series is known for (and may be the downfall of the series). This first novel sets up the series and defines what Xanth is and what kind of land this is. Xanth is shaped like Florida, but is not actually connected to the United States. It is a separate world filled with magic. Anthony teases that all of the magical creatures in Earth's legends actually were real (dragons, centaur, harpy, sphinx, etc), but they came from Xanth by mistake. Xanth is a magic land is somehow connected to our world, but not in any fixed location. The human population of Xanth was settled by Mundanes (our world is called Mundania) in a series of waves of Invasion, as the Mundanes (from various parts of the world) discovered passages to Xanth. While humans don't naturally have magic when they arrive, any children born in Xanth do in fact possess magic.
When this novel begins, we know there is a Shield blocking any more Waves of invasion from Mundania (prior waves had been mostly violent). The king is an old man with failing health and he has decreed that any citizen who has reached his 25th birthday must be able to demonstrate his magical talent (everyone has just one) or be exiled to Mundania (beyond the Shield). Bink is a young man nearing his 25th birthday and he has not yet discovered his talent. He is journeying to the Good Magician Humphrey to discover his talent. As Bink travels, we learn more about what type of land Xanth is, and discover some of the most prominent features of the land. Humphrey knows that Bink has a Magician level talent, but is unable figure out what the talent is. Bink is still to be exiled.
While I feel that the novel has lost something over the years, it was still a very enjoyable read and it is fun to revisit the world of Xanth.
on December 2, 2002
This is one of the greatest books for people to read in the fantasy genre. I first read this book when I was 13 years old. At first it took me a while to get through it, I couldn't understand why. I finally sat down one day and forced myself to start reading it and I have been thankful for that everyday since.
This book sends you deep into the wonderfully created world of Xanth, a seemingly alternate fantasy universe of Florida strangely enough. The characters in the book are all extreamly colorful and delightful. The main character, Bink, is the classic bumbling hero treading through life trying to find a magic talent before he is kicked out of Xanth forever and sent into the dreaded Mundania. He faces many trials by magic and pure thought and somehow is able to escape most situations without even a scratch, strangely enough..
If you like a story with fun situations and exciting adventures, then this is for you. If you like puns and humor, then this is for you. If you like fantasy, then this is for you. Grumps, people searching for the worst in everything and those without imagination need not apply for this is the wrong book for you. Enjoy a classic at its finest.
on August 18, 2002
This is the first book of what now numbers 25 volumes in the Xanth series by Piers Anthony. Do not let the size of this series frighten you because each volume is an individual story in and of itself and can be spread out between more serious works you may be reading. I do, however, recommend that you read the books in order to understand them even better. Have you ever read something serious and wanted a humorous break? That is what this book and the whole series is. It is comic fantasy that soars, suprisingly often, into areas of profound ideas and philosophies. It does not shy away from ... attractions either and this is incorporated well into the book. This, the very first Xanth book, details the young man Bink and his quest to try to discover what his magic talent is. Everyone in the magical land of Xanth has a talent. If you don't discover it before your 25th birthday you are banished forever to Mundania, a boring place similar to the realities of Earth. Bink does this to stay with and marry his sweetheart, Sabrina. During his quest he goes through many dangers and encounters Centaurs, Evil and Good Magicians, a Sorceress of Illusion, a soldier, and others along the way. He goes through many adventures and it should be pointed out that their are actually 2 quests within this one book. The author does not have a heavy male or female bias but writes to please everybody. He has alot of fans of both genders. He displays an intimate understanding of love and even of women's menstrual periods! This is a very funny fantasy novel with love, trust, honor, and lots of ... appeal at its core. I think you may love it, I really did.
on April 21, 2002
I have read many a Xanth book and the trick is DO NOT TAKE IT TO SERIOUSLY! Xanth book are fun. The puns are helarious and i would recommend this book to anyone that doesn't mind a few(try a million) cheesy jokes. Now i have heard some say that Mr. Anthony doesn't really portray women in a good light but like i said above, don't take the books to seriously. It all fun, and as far as i'm concerned thats what books are for; entertainment. If your not entertained then what is the point?
This book is about a guy named Bink who doesn't seem to have a magical talent and is very near being kicked out of Xanth and into Mundania, our world completely devoid of magic. So of course he goes to the Good Magician Humfrey who sends him on a Quest. On the way he meets Chameleon whom on their third meeting begins to like her. He then gets caught up in another quest of Evil Magician Trents, who was banished many a year ago becuase obviously he was evil. And in the process he discovers he does have a magic talent! but for some reason i don't think the king will believe him...
on July 30, 2001
Piers Anthony is a very uneven writer, and this book shows that more so than anything else I have read. The problem with Xanth is that you need to read the bad books to understand what is going on in the good books. And this is one of the worst books he has written.
The ideas are terrific in this book. He really did create a terrific plot full of delicious characters with interesting motivations. But the dialogue is wooden, unbelievable, and just plain poorly written.
However, one thing Mr. Anthony does well is create characters that are unusual and different. Trent is one of the most engaging villains I have ever read, because his motivations are so non-villainous. Piers Anthony lets us play with concepts of Good and Evil in this book, and he lets us decide morality for ourselves. This is refreshing, since most fantasy novels hit you over the head with the morality. The guy in the black robes who laughs as he tortures his minions is evil, the knight with the white robes and blond hair is good. Piers Anthony gives no such simple motivations and actions.
However, I wish that he had come up with the ideas, then given the book to someone else (say, James Blaylock) to write. It would have read much better.
For the next few novels, particularly The Source of Magic and Castle Roogna, Mr. Anthony's style improves, and he discards the wooden, exposition-heavy, idiotic dialogue for a more natural, conversational tone. Those books are much more enjoyable to read. But this book is the painful tooth-pulling we must go through before we are allowed to have the good stuff. It's like being forced to do your homework before you can watch Invader Zim.