Lion of the Blogosphere

Lessons from Xanth

After finishing the book A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony published in 1977, his first of 41 Xanth novels.

Spoiler warning: you’re supposed to find out these lessons by reading the book. Having them all handed to you will ruin the story.

1. Women who are both pretty and smart are inherently deceitful and can’t be trusted. Pretty and stupid is OK, and ugly and smart is OK, but when a woman has both, they will use men for their own ends. Thus Bink’s girlfriend Sabrina dumps him as soon as Bink hits hard times, but then wants him back when she sees that Bink is a friend of the new king and thus one of the highest status men in Xanth. Bink smartly rejects her.

2. Women need a stronger man to marry. The “Good Magician” Humfrey explained to Bink that the Sorceress Iris didn’t need power, what she needed was a husband, but none were suitable for her because she would look down with contempt on any man who had less powerful magic. But there is a happy ending: She marries the magician “Trent” who has more powerful magic, and in the last scene we see her happily being put in her place by her more powerful husband.

3. Miscegenation is bad. Yes, Piers Anthony uses that word in the book. In Xanth, the human population is shrinking because humans are mating with non-humans and having non-human offspring. What Xanth needs is new human settlers from Mundania to replenish the pure human stock, otherwise humans will eventually disappear. No one ever considers the possibility that Xanth would be better off without any humans. Are humans a stand-in here for the white race? Is Piers Anthony cautioning us against race mixing?

4. Evil people can reform and become good. Throughout the book, Bink is convinced that the “Evil Magician” Trent is evil because everyone know he’s evil. Even though Trent continues to behave in a good manner. Eventually, Bink realizes that Trent truly has reformed and is the best person to be the king of Xanth.

5. Also, as with the Star Trek episode The Enemy Within, we learn that a good leader needs to have a little bit of evil in them. Good leaders need to be alpha males who are able to make quick and necessary but tough decisions. What if Xanth is attacked and needs to fight a war? You don’t want a wishy-washy beta in charge during a war! I am sure Piers Anthony saw that Star Trek episode so he may have been influenced by it.

I had no memory that the book was so politically incorrect!

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

September 29, 2018 at 12:51 PM

Posted in Books

12 Responses

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  1. You have no memory of it because that was the norm back then. Have you read the Drizzt novels by R.A. Salvatore? They also seem to be pre-PC.

    CamelCaseRob

    September 29, 2018 at 6:45 PM

  2. I didn’t read the review because I haven’t read the books. Do you recommend the series? Or is it something odd that would only appeal to a certain kind of ‘geek’?

    destructure

    September 30, 2018 at 8:40 PM

    • I suppose the book is horribly outdated and it appeals to a juvenile reader, so I guess I don’t recommend it.

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      September 30, 2018 at 9:01 PM

      • Dated and juvenile isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. I love Lord of the Rings. I prefer old scfi by Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke. And I’ve read plenty of juvenile fiction like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Skulduggery Pleasant. I’ve even read Edgar Rice Burroughs’ old Tarzan series. I was just wondering if Xanth was witty and entertaining or goofy and weird.

        destructure

        September 30, 2018 at 9:41 PM

      • “I was just wondering if Xanth was witty and entertaining or goofy and weird.”

        All four.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        September 30, 2018 at 11:41 PM

      • The Xanth books are not full of science like Asimov and Clarke, epic and literary like Tolkien, or thrilling and swashbuckling like Burroughs; they are full of jokes and references to sex. But like the best work of all the authors listed, the earlier Xanth books are entertaining and interesting as a product of their time.

        Gozo

        October 1, 2018 at 12:00 AM

      • I bet that the series is full of jokes and other tidbits that only adults would truly appreciate; probably worth a try for that reason!

        S.J., Esquire

        October 1, 2018 at 3:16 PM

  3. Trump’s October surprise – a new NAFTA deal.

    IHTG

    September 30, 2018 at 10:15 PM

  4. Another Palin has been arrested, which usually triggers a “the Palins are so prole” post from Lion.

    But what about wealthy families with famously ill-behaving members?

    Are the Kennedys prole? The Madoffs?

    The “Palins = prole” formula is facile.

    Justice Duvall

    October 1, 2018 at 12:53 AM

  5. Compare Xanth with the Dragonlance novels, which I recall being as blue-pill as they come. Weiss and Hickman always struck me as fundamentally decent and good people, which is probably why they failed to transmit any really useful red-pill information.

    S.J., Esquire

    October 1, 2018 at 3:15 PM

    • The first six or so Dragonlance books, the ones with Raistlin, are good if you are a depressed teenaged loner who hates the world.

      Gozo

      October 1, 2018 at 5:30 PM

      • Oh, I agree they’re good stories qua stories!

        S.J., Esquire

        October 2, 2018 at 6:41 AM


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