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4.0 out of 5 stars Fourth in the "Xanth" comic fantasy series, 6 Jan 2014
Marshall Lord (Whitehaven, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: [Centaur Aisle] [by: Piers Anthony] (Paperback)
The author originally intended when he published the first "Xanth" fantasy novel, "A Spell for Chameleon" in 1977 that the series would be a trilogy. However, the series was a huge hit with fans and publishers - Piers Anthony is supposed to have said that the reason he is still writing Xanth books is to keep his publishers happy as the series is the only thing they ever pestered him for. "Centaur Aisle" was the first of the follow - on books after the original trilogy and this comic fantasy series is still going strong thirty-seven years, as many books, and millions of copies later, making it one of the longest series of all time.

"Centaur Aisle" and all its' successors are set in a magical land called Xanth, a peninsular which usually looks a bit like Florida but can sometimes appear like other peninsulars such as Italy. All the human residents of Xanth have a magic talent, which may vary from trivial to immensely powerful and from extremely useful to being a downright liability. The fauna, flora and geography of the land are based on a combination of legends and puns.

While all the humans of Xanth have magic talents, the Centaurs of Xanth believe that they do not - and rather look down on magic. But then it turns out that there is at least one centaur who does have magic - and indeed, magic of magician calibre. Dor, the hero of "Castle Roogna" who is now a young man, finds himself on a magic quest with Princess Irene, the daughter of King Trent and Queen Iris, to investigate. It is a quest which will take Dor and Irene further away from Xanth than they could possibly have imagined ...

The series as published and planned in January 2014 is as follows:

1 "A Spell for Chameleon" (1977), link A Spell for Chameleon
2 "The Source of Magic" (1979), link Source of Magic: Xanth Series, Book 2
3 "Castle Roogna" (1979), link Castle Roogna
4 This book, "Centaur Aisle" (1982)
5 Ogre, Ogre (1982)
6 Night Mare (1983)
7 Dragon on a Pedestal (1983)
8 Crewel Lye (1984)
9 Golem in the Gears (1986)
10 Vale of the Vole (1987)
11 Heaven Cent (1988)
12 Man from Mundania (1989)
13 Isle of View (1990)
14 Question Quest (1991)
15 The Color of Her Panties (1992)
16 Demons Don't Dream (1992)
17 Harpy Thyme (1993)
18 Geis of the Gargoyle (1994)
19 Roc and a Hard Place (1995)
20 Yon Ill Wind (1996)
21 Faun & Games (1997)
22 Zombie Lover (1998)
23 Xone of Contention (1999)
24 The Dastard (2000)
25 Swell Foop (2001)
26 Up In A Heaval (2002)
27 Cube Route (2003)
28 Currant Events (2004)
29 Pet Peeve (2005)
30 Stork Naked (2006)
31 Air Apparent (2007)
32 Two to the Fifth (2008)
33 Jumper Cable (2009)
34 Knot Gneiss (2010)
35 Well-Tempered Clavicle (2011)
36 Luck of the Draw (2012)
37 Esrever Doom (2013)
38 Board Stiff (2014)
39 Five Portals (being written at Jan 2014)

There is also a companion volume, "Piers Anthony's Visual Guide to Xanth" and the co-author of that book, Jody Lynn Nye, has written the adventure book "Ghost of a Chance (Crossroads Adventure : in the World of Pier Anthony's Xanth).

A major part of the plot of the sixteenth book, "Demons don't dream" relates to a computer game about Xanth, and Legend Entertainment were licenced to bring out a real computer game shortly afterwards which had the same plot as the game in the book and the same name, "Companions of Xanth." This game was designed to run under DOS and is no longer available at Amazon UK although it can still be ordered from or downloaded as abandonware if you have a working computer old enough or flexible enough to run games designed for the specs and operating systems in place twenty years ago.

If you have the right sort of sense of humour, particularly a love of dreadful puns, this book and most of its' successors can be quite amusing. These books are not meant to be taken seriously. Be warned that if you did take some of the other Xanth books seriously, they can come over as rather sexist even by the standards of 1977, let alone those of today.

As you work through the series new characters and themes are gradually introduced and old ones fade away, so it it not essential to read this series in sequence, though I personally prefer to do so.

Worth a try if you enjoy fantasy and puns, are reasonably broad-minded, and able to avoid taking things too seriously or literally.
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[Centaur Aisle] [by: Piers Anthony]
[Centaur Aisle] [by: Piers Anthony] by Piers Anthony (Paperback - 7 May 1993)
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