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Topic: The Dullness of Xanth

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Subject: The Dullness of Xanth
Date Posted: 12/29/2009 1:43 AM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2008
Posts: 75
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Okay. Am I missing something or was this a big joke at my expense?

I just finished reading Piers Anthony's The Magic of Xanth last night. What a pile of dragon dung.

I don't think I have ever seen the word "balked" in a novel before but Anthony uses it on every page and sprinkles every other page with "abated." It's so repetitive I was balked from this novel, his own writing abated my pleasure. Then there is the issue of the plot, if indeed a series of things happening one after another is what we are calling a plot. It's so linear you could draw lines with it. Each thing happens and then something else happens and that leads to something else. There is no subtlety, no interaction, no devices - in otherwords - there's no story telling.

Can someone tell me why The Magic of Xanth is considered to be such a classic? Or at least why I was compelled to keep reading it to the end?

Last Edited on: 12/29/09 1:44 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/29/2009 2:25 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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I don't know of a Xanth novel titled The Magic of Xanth. . . I read and enjoyed the first five or six many years ago (the first one is called A Spell for Chameleon) but even as a young teenager I could see when the quality started to really get bad. . . so if the novel you read was from later in the series I'm not surprised you had such a bad reaction. But I've reread A Spell for Chameleon in recent years and still found it fairly enjoyable. It's a coming-of-age story, which I tend to avoid like the plague these days, but other than that the puns are fairly funny and the pacing is quick enough that it makes for a pleasant afternoon. And the first several books made enough of an impact on me that I still remember something of what happens in them. . . which I can't say for quite a few other books I've read more recently.

I can't address your comments directly because, as I said, I'm not sure which novel you read. . . but I have to say I've read the word "balked" in quite a few novels. Repetitive usage would be annoying, but I'm not going to knock an author for choosing a less common word over something like "stopped." :)

Date Posted: 12/29/2009 4:20 AM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2008
Posts: 75
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My appologies. Yes it was "A Spell for Chameleon" I was refering to. I have it in a single edition trilogy entitled "The Magic of Xanth" and had forgotten that the individual book was called "A Spell for Chameleon."

(I dont know why it wont let me STOP underlining now - sorry)

The word "balked" is littered through out the book. Hundreds of times. On occassion, multiple, times on a single page. And the word "Abated," though to a lesser extent.  I'm not knocking the author for using a less common word. I'm knocking him for using the same word excessively. Sometimes it reads like he is creating situations  and setences just so he can showhorn the word in. This alone makes the whole "story" flat .

I just don't see why this is a "classic" fantasy novel. But then I also don't get Anne Mccaffrey so maybe I'm just a lost cause.

(Oh NOW it stops underlining WTF?)

Subject: Xanth
Date Posted: 12/29/2009 10:01 AM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
Posts: 460
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I read quite a few of the xanth books when they first came out (70's -80's) and quickly grew tired of them. His books get more & more obviously sexist (yes I know he has some stong women characters but I still get a creepy sexist feeling from him) his stories lack depth and in the Xanth books his puns stop being entertaining If there weren't so many sexual references in his books I suspect he would be labled a young adult writer. I decided I just really don't like most of his books. (He does have one series that's not bad but I forget the name right now) If you like humor & can tolerate puns try some of spider robinson's callahan stories -not literature by any means but entertaining. -At least I like them... As for Anne McCaffrey, I think the concept of her world is pretty interesting but in some of her books the writing and/or editing is not so good. I stopped reading those a long time ago too.

Edit Since I didn't get around to saying what I planned on saying.     I think it might be considered a classic by some since it was a sort of new subgenre of the science fiction world when it came out -more mainstream.  But I'm just guessing there.

Last Edited on: 12/29/09 10:07 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/29/2009 2:53 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2009
Posts: 585
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I remember reading and enjoying them when they were first published.  My mother gave me one recently that she picked up at the local senior center and I couldn't get through it.  I guess they just haven't held up over time. 

Date Posted: 12/31/2009 3:47 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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I read the first 6 books of his Xanth series as a 14yo, I found it funny and it passed the time.  I tried to read a few of the books around 5 years ago and as an adult I cannot fathom how I found them entertaining..LOL
They seem to amuse teens and no one else.

As for classic, hrmmm never heard of that series refered to as that.  Though once I found Terry Pratchett I never read another Xanth book.

Anne MCC- Now some of her books are ok but I have yet to read her whole series.

Date Posted: 1/2/2010 8:06 PM ET
Member Since: 8/2/2005
Posts: 27
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I read Castle Roogna when I was a teenager. It was actually the first fantasy novel that I ever read and turned me on to the genre I now love. I didnt enjoy the first two Xanth books...but enjoyed several of the middle ones. I used to be faithful and read the new one every year...but I stopped probably 8 or 9 years ago because they just became too bad. It seemed like he was just creating the novels to use up his puns. But I loved the middle ones a lot. I wonder how I would feel about them if I went back and did a re-read though. Was a long time ago. :o)

Shaun (sec) - ,
Date Posted: 1/6/2010 8:37 AM ET
Member Since: 11/23/2008
Posts: 80
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I'm in the same boat as others here: read the books -- and enjoyed them -- as a teenager.  That's not the intended audience (judging from the ever-present sexual undertones), but it probably should be.  I don't think I could read those books now -- quite honestly, he is a crap author.  If you truly want to kill some brain cells, read his book Firefly.  What a pile of...  dragon dung.

And the Xanth books are considered classics?!  Seriously?  Now there's a whole bag of WTF going on right there, if that's true.

Date Posted: 1/6/2010 11:40 PM ET
Member Since: 10/7/2009
Posts: 446
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same. Read and loved as a teenager.  I stopped when they got too dumb for me. They are a good entree into the genre for teens but not too great otherwise.

I actually think about Golem in the Gears fairly often. That was my favorite. Every time my kids play lines and boxes I think about it. 

ETA: I got turned off by him in the Fractal Mode series and the last Incarnations book.  He seems to have a thing for middle-aged men with young teen girls. Not cool. Especially for a man that has daughters. I haven't bought any of his since then.

Last Edited on: 1/6/10 11:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/8/2010 3:28 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2006
Posts: 182
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There are a lot of books that seem to sell a lot that I do not consider "classic" - kinda like Harlequin romances.  I believe Anthony's books fall into this category.  I've only read a few of his books, but from what I have read, Anthony's books are a lot like a fantasy version of the Harlequin romance - there's lots of em, the story is cookie-cutter, not the best quality writing, and liberally sprinkled with sexual stuff.  I agree with the sentiments above to the effect that they are light fluff that could be YA reading if not for the sexual content.  I definitely do not consider anything by Anthony to be a classic.