Home > Book, Book Review, Fantasy, Reviews > (Oldie But A Goodie) Book Review – A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth) by Piers Anthony

(Oldie But A Goodie) Book Review – A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth) by Piers Anthony

December 3, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’m patterning this review after the “Before the Blog” meme by the YA Litwit blog which is about reviewing “books you read and loved before you began blogging about them.” (Unfortunately, it seems that the “Before the Blog” meme has since been discontinued by the blogger). I’m not sure how often I’ll be reviewing old books I’ve read before (mostly because I’m not big on re-reading stuff), but these ‘Oldie But A Goodie’ books sure stand-up well to re-reading a couple years down the road!

Book Description:

Xanth was the enchanted land where magic ruled–where every citizen had a special spell only he could cast. That is, except for Bink of North Village. He was sure he possessed no magic, and knew that if he didn’t find some soon, he would be exiled. According to the Good Magician Humpfrey, the charts said that Bink was as powerful as the King or even the Evil Magician Trent. Unfortunately, no one could determine its form. Meanwhile, Bink was in despair. If he didn’t find his magic soon, he would be forced to leave….


Why did you choose this book? Piers Anthony’s Xanth series was one of my favorite fantasy series as a child, and I hate how the series has become so dull and uninspired (I tried reading the 34th book Knot Gneiss recently but it was sheer torture for me as a Xanth fan). Before Piers Anthony somehow decided that his core audience for the Xanth books were oversexed adolescent boys, and that an over-abundance of puns was preferable to a good storyline, his Xanth novels were a delightful mix of magic, light humor, interesting characters and good plots.  And A Spell for Chameleon (the first book and the one that set the series rolling) was the best example of that.  The book was actually published back in 1977 (way before my time), but like other good fantasy books, it’s virtually timeless.

Who would you recommend this book to?  Anybody who enjoys a light and humorous fantasy adventure story (it won the Best Novel of the Year award from the British Fantasy Society upon its publication).

Like I’ve said, I was a huge Xanth fan as a kid. Xanth was this magical secret land where all the citizens had unique magical talents  (in contrast to Mundania where the non-magical people like you and me were located). In Xanth, you could pluck shoes or a blanket or a loaf of bread off trees anytime you needed them (well, if they’re ripe, that is); you had love springs, dragons, centaurs, invisible giants, nymphs, mermaids, etc. I loved the variety of magical creatures and objects that abounded in Xanth.

And then, we had Bink,  a young man who seemed to have NO magical talent at all (kind of like young Will Stronghold when he first went to Hero school from the movie Sky High). Bink is sent off into exile to “dreary” Mundania for the sin of not being able to demonstrate any magic, but that turns out to be just the start of a great adventure for him when he ends up teaming with the “evil” magician Trent (who was banished from Xanth years before) and the girl Chameleon (who followed Bink into exile for reasons of her own).

My favorite character was actually the “evil” magician Trent (who turned out to be not as bad as advertised). But Bink was a great character too, a bit too stubborn for my taste, but definitely a good guy and someone to look up to. I mean, we’ve all been there – trying to find a reason to be special or having to grow up quick when confronted with prejudices that turn out to be wrong.

A Spell for Chameleon is a great introduction to the Xanth series and it’s one of the books that I can recommend whole-heartedly to fantasy lovers looking for a fun, light read. It is a bit innuendo-heavy, but it’s sort of innocent and never crass (unlike the present Xanth books)

A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth) by Piers Anthony (Del Rey) is available on Amazon as a Kindle edition and Mass Market Paperback edition.

The eBook is also available at B&N, Apple iBookstore, Kobo books.

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  1. December 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I absolutely LOVED the Xanth series when I was in junior high. My best friend and I read all the books and would even create our own mini scenarios with challenges and magic talents. I had less enjoyment for the series as it continued, though occasionally I’ll see a newer book at the library and pause, considering.

    The Incarnations of Immortality series was wonderful (excluding the last two books). I also enjoyed Bio of a Space Tyrant, though it was dark and upsetting.

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