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Author Topic: Xanth
-Xan-
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I have recently been rereading a couple of the Xanth books by Piers Anthony ( I got thinking about it afer i finished Empires) and i was wondering if it is worth it to read the entire series.
I Have read the first eight or so, but in my opinion they aren't as good as the first three, and i was wondering if i should make the effort and read all twenty-six books.
I am hoping that you give me some good news, but if not i will take other recommendations of good fantasy books i can read(since im in a very Fantasy oriented mood recently)

[ January 18, 2007, 12:54 PM: Message edited by: -Xan- ]

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rivka
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I enjoy the Xanth books, and have read all but the last one or two (I'm waiting for them to be available cheaper secondhand). There are some standouts in the latter dozen (Isle of View and Man from Mundania in particular), but they are not as good as the first ones.

Oh, and his first name is Piers.




Have you read Robert Asprin's Myth books?

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Puffy Treat
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I haven't been able to read -anything- by Piers Anthony ever since I came across Firefly...especially the truly horrifying author's note.
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FlyingCow
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I read A Spell for Chameleon and lost all respect for him as an author. It was just terrible. Awful, awful, awful. And the blatant sexism didn't make it any better.

It is (and will be) the only Piers Anthony book I read. How it won the World Fantasy Award, I'll never know.

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A Rat Named Dog
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In high school, one of my best friends was given Firefly as a prank. When I saw it at her house, she sort of freaked out and told me not to open that abomination. I opened it, read a sentence at random, and understood immediately [Smile]
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-Xan-
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I have read up to the Vale of the Vole, so i guess i will try to read the rest. My brother works at a bookstore so getting the books doesn't take effort for me.
I have read the Robert Asprin's Myth books.

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A Rat Named Dog
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I took the sexism in A Spell for Chameleon as a tongue-in-cheek parody of real sexism, not as a serious message. Was I alone in that?
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FlyingCow
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I think my biggest problems with it were the bad writing, terrible plot, flat characters and the silly groaner of an explanation at the end for the repeated use of deus ex machina from start to finish.

It was junk from cover to cover, imo.

Edit: As for the sexism, I didn't take it as a message at all. It seemed to me that all the female characters were either vapid or nasty - either mirroring the author's view of the world, or unconsciously parroting society's view. It didn't strike me as satire in the least.

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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by -Xan-:
I have recently been rereading a couple of the Xanth books by Piers Anthony ( I got thinking about it afer i finished Empires) and i was wondering if it is worth it to read the entire series.
I Have read the first eight or so, but in my opinion they aren't as good as the first three, and i was wondering if i should make the effort and read all twenty-six books.

Good Lord. He's up to 26 now? I think I stopped at about 12 or so. The puns were just too blatant to be funny any more, and Anthony himself was too preachy.
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Chris Bridges
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I can get through the first five Xanth books. I like the Tarot books, I like some of the Incarnations of Immortality series, and the first three Adept books. But for the most part I avoid Anthony books because the constant theme of underage sexuality squicks me out and because I can only take so many pages of hearing the protagonist's inner musing as he laboriously figures out a problem step by mind-numbing step.
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The Pixiest
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I understand he has a factory writing the xanth books now. He keeps his secret formula locked in a safe.

I think I read them all back when there was like 12 of them. Even then I was saying "Didn't I just read this but with different character names?"

I haven't read Firefly. What was wrong with it?

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FlyingCow
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So, he's the fantasy equivalent of Louis L'Amour then?

Funny, I thought that was Brian Jacques... [Big Grin]

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Chris Bridges
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It's about a monster that produces sexual pheremones to capture its prey, which it dissolves and devours. The prey, caught up in sexual ecstasy, does not resist. The monster starts going after humans, and the story begins.

Which is fine. Erotic thriller, yay. But in the pheremone-charged atmosphere the characters start telling stories of their past and one tells of a five-year old girl (Nymph) who was molested by her father and brother, and who then became involved with a next-door neighbor named Mad. The story is told in such a way as to make the neighbor nearly blameless since he only did what the child insisted he do, and the man's later incarceration is portrayed as regrettable, the relationship a tragic love affair. The character tells other stories, all of which involve sex and many of which involve underage participants.

In an afterword, Anthony explains the reasoning behind the book's narratives, including this:
"The games five year old Nymph played with Mad where a joy to her at the time, but it was nevertheless abuse by our society's definition (not necessarily that of other societies) ..."

Whatever his intent may have been, the book reads (to me) like a lengthy defense of pedophilia.

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MightyCow
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My brother told me about Firefly, after I read some book about an Ogre and his love for a Faerie. Anthony seems like a dirty pervert to me, and I found all the lame puns and mediocre writing didn't make things any better. Seems like YA smut to me.
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The Pixiest
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MC: It *is* YA Smut.

Chris: That certainly clears up a lot about Anthony's writing... =/ wish someone had warned me he was like that when I was reading his books as a teenager.

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rivka
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Firefly is indeed beyond awful.

The Xanth books are fun (IMO), but certainly not deep. Rather like mental bubblegum. [Wink]

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Scott R
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IIRC, a prominent member on this board has had second-hand personal experience with Piers Anthony's perverseness.

[ January 18, 2007, 03:04 PM: Message edited by: Scott R ]

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Perplexity'sDaughter
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I read a couple of the Xanth books, but I'm with Lisa-the puns were terribly cheesy. After reading about 3 books, I couldn't force myself to continue. But hey, if you are looking for a long, inexplicably-drawn-out read that doesn't actually require your brain, these are the books for you!
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The Pixiest
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Scott: Left hand or right hand =(
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ricree101
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I liked some of his incarnations of imortality series, and there were one or two of his xanth books that were decent. That said, the vast bulk of them were pretty bad, especially a string of them when he really went overboard with the puns. In general, I would recommend finding something else to read. There are enough good books out there that it just doesn't seem worth it to read these.
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Sterling
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I read Xanth up until Man From Mundania, I think, largely because someone kept buying them for me. Given my druthers, I probably would have stopped at Golem in the Gears.

Of his stuff, I think the trilogy 0X, Orn, Omnivore is much more interesting.

Somewhere along the way he got the idea he was writing Xanth for twelve year olds, and started writing for what he perceived as that level.

I rather hope a lot of twelve-year-olds were really insulted by that.

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dean
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Some fantasy books I enjoyed far, far better than any Xanth book: Curse of Challion (Lois McMaster Bujold), Deed of Paksennarion (Elizabeth Moon), A Brother's Price (Wen Spencer), and Terrier (Tamora Pierce). In fact, the Xanth books were some of the worst reading I ever came across. I think your time might be better spent with almost anything else, but some of the above might be really enjoyable for you.
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Dagonee
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Man from Mundania was where it jumped the shark for me. The the title character's interpretation of the moral conundrum he faced was reprehensible, and Anthony's later justification and defense of it makes it clear that he thinks the character's reasoning is the morally correct reasoning.

The moral view of the situation by the other characters was even more reprehensible - as if the legitimate government of a land needs to not interfere with illegal plots to overthrow it.

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ClaudiaTherese
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Not only did Firefly come out as an apologia for pedophilia, but in one of his Forewords or Afterwords for one of his many books (can't remember which), he related a RL story about a very intense relationship he had with some young adolescent fan, and how her parents just didn't understand and had forbidden them to communicate, and ... ew.

Kids are sexual. They are human, and humans are sexual. But that is their sexuality, not for others. It should be respected and kept private to them individually until they are each of age to consent -- and anyone who finds children as a whole more appealing than another adult needs to get some sophisticated professional assistance. [Frown]

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plaid
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Random note: I know Piers Anthony's sister-in-law -- she's a very wonderful person. (But since I think his books are pretty dull, I've never asked about him, and she's not a gossip, so I know nothing.)
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Dragon
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Sterling - I read several of his books as a twelve year old and while I wouldn't say I was insulted, I also stopped reading them after I figured out that I could just have a ten minute conversation with my father and it would include better puns than any three of his books put together.
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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by Dragon:
Sterling - I read several of his books as a twelve year old and while I wouldn't say I was insulted, I also stopped reading them after I figured out that I could just have a ten minute conversation with my father and it would include better puns than any three of his books put together.

I read Ogre, Ogre when I was nine. [Smile] But that was before he started aiming Xanth at children.
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Earendil18
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Regarding the earlier comments about his books being YA smut. Eyaahh, that's basically it. I remember when I was 13 and loving those descriptions of the centaurs and their hippie views towards natural "drives" and nudity in general.
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Verily the Younger
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I'll admit that Piers Anthony was my favorite writer when I was thirteen, and I had a particular love for the Xanth books. I came across Centaur Aisle at exactly the right time in my life that even today it remains special to me, even though objectively I will freely admit that it's not a very good book. But it hooked me on Anthony's works for a time, and I devoured every one of his books I could get my hands on.

It wasn't long, however, before I moved on. The puns got distracting, and so did the juvenile prurience. For crying out loud, there is a Xanth book called The Color of Her Panties, and in that book there is a section of, if I recall correctly, four whole pages that consist of nothing but two girls trying on different pairs of panties. Now, four pages is not much in the space of an entire novel, but whether it feels long or not depends on what is happening on those pages, and on these pages the only thing happening was girls trying on panties. Even at thirteen or fourteen (however old I was at the time), I was bored and annoyed by this sequence and just wanted to scream, "Get on with it!"

Gradually I came to the realization that Anthony is a creepy old pervert and a hack writer. By the age of sixteen I had abandoned his work entirely. Today I can't clearly remember many Xanth books aside from Centaur Aisle, and I've never felt the desire to go back and revisit them. I couldn't sit here and tell you which Xanth books are good and which are bad, and why the bad ones are bad. I just don't remember what most of them were about.

I will say that some (though by no means all) of the "Incarnations of Immortality" books were pretty good, and that I love the idea behind the "Geodyssey" series. The concept is compelling, as are some of the ideas he puts forth in them. But overall the concept would have been much better served by a better writer; even if Anthony does have some fascinating concepts from time to time, his execution of those concepts always ruins them.

I've never read Firefly. I am somewhat familiar with the controversy around it; Anthony's detractors say it supports pedophilia, and Anthony himself denies it. Beyond that, I am not competent to comment because I don't know the details of it. Maybe one day I'll read it so I can see for myself what the book really contains--but probably not. I know from experience the kind of permissive, amoral stance he takes on sexual matters in his other books. Simply put, I don't have enough confidence in him to think that he's being misinterpreted with this one. If I read the book, then I could judge for myself whether I think it really is pro-pedophilia . . . but frankly, I'm not inclined to put a thing like that in my memory unless there were a compelling reason to.

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TomDavidson
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There are two things which have prevented me from enjoying more than two or three things Anthony's ever written:

1) His obvious and extraordinarily creepy enjoyment of pre-teen sexuality
2) His tendency to not only tell instead of showing, but to tell over and over again.

As an example of the latter, I recall some book where, in the first four pages, someone tells the protagonist to "get lost, you filthy spacer!" And this happens three or four times within the space of four pages. After the third time, the narrator steps in to tell us that "spacer" is a particularly nasty -- but common -- insult. Well, no! Really? I would never have guessed from the context.

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