An on-going series first started in 1977 with A Spell For Chameleon, Xanth is a magical world penned into creation by Piers Anthony. Every person inside of Xanth is required to have a magic talent, even if it is of the spot-on-the-wall (a magic talent that literally is so useless it can only create a spot on the wall) variety. The world is populated by evil magicians, good magicians, golems, harpies, The Gap Dragon, Chimeras, Night Mares, nymphs, the Gorgon, and the list goes on. Essentially, the idea is that all myths are true. Anthony takes this idea and runs with it, creating the world of Xanth, a land full of magic and puns, that borders a continent known as Mundania. Mundania is where all of the non-magical people are – basically it’s our world. No one in Mundania knows of Xanth, though Mundanes have been known to enter it from time to time despite the fact that Xanth does not seem to connect at the same time and place to Mundania for very long.
In a world where the most exciting adventure you can have is one in your own mind, it is easy to see why Xanth seems so appealing. Xanth is absolutely full of adventure, otherwise there wouldn’t be forty novels and counting in the series. This is really what draws me to Xanth. I am enamored with the idea of having a great adventure. Rescuing a king after he goes missing? Finding the source of all magic in Xanth? Protecting Xanth from a mysterious creature only known as “The Horseman” and an invasion from Mundania? I am there. Everyone with a spark of imagination has thought of having a grand adventure, and while this can make many places and story lines appealing, it is the number one reason why I find Xanth so alluring.
Xanth is also alluring because it has magic. I would absolutely love to have a magic ability, even if all I could do was grow my hair longer by concentrating intently for a minute. No one else in the world would have that ability. Ever. Everyone with a magic ability would be unique in the sense that no one else would have the same magical ability. Uniqueness is something many people strive for through out their lives and in a way, Xanth would provide this.
The trees in Xanth are what I originally read the series for when I was twelve. There are Chicolate Chop cookie trees that actually grow cookies, Dogwood trees that bud hotdogs, Pie trees that grow multiple flavors of pies – including pizza. At twelve I was convinced that scientists needed to start working on this, and seriously, they still do. Then Xanth has the scarier trees and plants, such as the Berry Berries which cause the one that eats the berries to slowly die, and the Hypnogourd (which I personally believe sounds fun), which will entrap whoever looks into it’s peephole in the world where nightmares are made (which Night Mares then deliver).
One of my favorite things about Xanth include all of the reader submitted puns that actually get worked into the series. The readers submit their puns to Anthony and if he uses them he credits the original creator in the back of the novel. This obviously helps incorporate the fan base into the novels and encourages readers to see if their puns where selected to make an appearance in the newest novel. This may not be something that makes me want to hop into Xanth, but I do think it is a fun and thoughtful idea.
While some of Piers Anthony’s writings in Xanth have sparked controversy, I enjoy the series and the premise of the story. Many aspects of Xanth are appealing to me and, if given the opportunity, I would cross over from Mundania to Xanth in a heartbeat.
What do you think of Xanth? Which parts of it seem alluring to you?