Review: The Xanth Series

Author: Piers Anthony

I’ve debated for a couple of weeks now about whether or not I wanted to review this series. Apparently, most people either find these books humourous or think they are the most sexist books to have been written and should be trashed immediately. What varied responses! How does one address such a charge? And yet, here I am. I’m only two books in, and while they aren’t the best fantasy series I’ve ever read (I mean, what can really top Wheel of Time), they aren’t awful. 

Following the normal fantasy tropes, Anthony mixes in a tongue-in-cheek sort of humor on every page, making literal our idioms and fantastic our literal. Things are not always what they seem, either in Xanth or our world, and Anthony has a curious way of demonstrating that in his stories. Along the way, he grapples lightly with some philosophic questions, such as the nature of right and wrong, truth and delusion, and the substance of value. Through the mind of the main character, the reader also has to deal with these basic life questions. I can’t say I always agree with Anthony’s conclusions, but his writing about them is interesting, to say the least. Further, he wraps in a coming-of-age story with a quest, asking within a journey what it is that makes a man. I like this especially because I’m always looking for stories that are more relatable to guys. I wouldn’t hand this series to a middle schooler, but I think it would be decent for an older high school student and above. There are definitely some topics and scenes that would be inappropriate for children. 

But what about the charge of sexism? Well, if you are easily offended by less than uplifting comments about your own sex, this is not the book for you, whether you are a man or a woman. I won’t say that Anthony deals with men and women in a good way or a bad way. He deals with the nature of people brutally, yet also in an unserious manner. And in doing so, he shows things to be what they actually are. In this way, I find his writing entertaining and interesting.

The Xanth books are good for light adventure reading with (so far) relatively happy endings. These books are a comedy in the fullest sense of the word. So, if you don’t take yourself too seriously and are looking for a fun fantasy series to read, this is the one for you. 

Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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