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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Currant Events by Piers Anthony

Currant Events by Piers Anthony. New York: Tor, 2004. ISBN: 0-765-30407-4

Piers Anthony is a truly amazing phenomenon of an author. This is, believe it or not, the 28th Xanth novel, the first, as he himself describes it, in "the second Xanth magic trilogy, which of course is three cubed." Not many other authors have managed a series of this enduring length and still manage to keep each iteration relatively fresh and entertaining.

For the uninformed, Xanth is a magical land sharing much of the physical characteristics of Florida, but operating on magical principles unique to the author. One of the most enduring, if not always endearing of these is the use of literal puns. Most of these, nowadays, are sent in by eager readers, all of whom are carefully acknowledged in the "Author's Note" at the end of the book.

What makes these tales work is that Piers Anthony still knows how to tell a good story, to spin a good yarn, so to speak. He always manages to create a conflict, or dangerous situation of some kind, which requires the main characters to embark on an adventure or quest. Along the way we are entertained, sometimes more, sometimes less successfully, by the outlandish creatures and natural features of Xanth.

I have to say that in my opinion, Anthony did his best work in his earliest writing, with truly inventive works such as Chthon, Macroscope, the Omnivore, Orn and Ox trilogy, and even the Cluster, Tarot and Adept series. Since then, he went through a period of shallowly disguised didactic fiction, and his writing hasn't really benefited from the level of popularity and fame he attained, in which his publishers are pretty much obligated to print and promote whatever he writes, regardless of its quality. Oops, not always, I guess. His web site bibliography lists a CHROMAGIC trilogy that according to his FeBlueberry 2005 newsletter, has gone unclaimed by any traditional print publisher.

Nowadays he just seems to churn out more and more of the same kind of stuff, entertaining yes, original, not particularly. Recommended for Piers Anthony fans, among which I continue to number myself, albeit somewhat reluctantly at times.

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