The Chronicles of Xanth is a series of novels, not unlike the Chronicles of Narnia series, written by Piers Anthony and continued on by his son after his passing. Piers Anthony combines many elements in his telling of the magical world of Xanth, including tremendous wars, romance, comedy, puns, myth and legend, magic, horror, etc. His creativity can be seen by how original the world is. You might be thinking, well this is just a Narnia or Lord of the Rings type knock off, but no; it is nowhere even close to that. The books delve away from the average genre of fantasy where there is usually just fighting and magic with some romance kicked in along the way.
There is Something Punny About These Books...
One of the greatest things for me as I read was his use of puns to create his unique world. Want so see a butterfly from Xanth? Stick some wings on a stick of butter and let it flap around some. Want to have a chat with a native? You should go visit an incessantly talkative babbling brook perhaps. This take on puns to describe a world and the creatures that live within is unique, original, and downright hilarious at times. The old-school elements are still in here, such as centaurs, minotaurs, trolls, fairies, sprites, etc. There are however, unique elements beyond the norm, such as the night mares that prowl the night delivering bad dreams to the populace. Elements such as this, from the commonplace to the extremely unique are present in every single novel and will have the reader either laughing or just trying to figure out how he will piece that element together.
The real world is also present in his novel, known as Mundania to the natives of Xanth. It is devoid of magic and a place of banishment for lawbreakers of Xanth. To the inhabitants it is drab and useless, so you can see how a group of magic bearing humans trekking there could be a good story.
Magic within the realm of Xanth is handled in an original manner as well. Rather than spell books and having to learn different spells and alchemy and such. The inhabitants are all born with one magical ability ranging from useless to magician class. The abilities never duplicate thereself so if someone can make a pillow appear out of thin air then no one else in the history of Xanth would be able to do it, though there can be similar abilities. Like someone might be able to conjure couch pillows while someone else can conjure bed pillows, though the differences are almost always wider than that, that is just an example. People with magician class abilities are also the only ones eligible to rule the land of Xanth. All kings are magician class, and the strongest rules until death or missing in action. Magic abilites are also very unique, you will rarely read about fireballs and lightning strikes. There are however, people who can talk to inanimate objects, conjure exploding fruit, give good or bad luck, etc. These unique abilities add flavor and provide exciting challenges for completing missions and saving the realm of Xanth from invaders from Mundania.
Overall, this series is a fantastic telling of a even more fantastic fantasy realm full of myth, magic, adventure, and creativity. The reading level is at least seventh to eighth grade and there are some elements not suited for some children. Scenes of gore and some sexual content are found within some of the books so take care before letting your child read. These novels are definitely must reads though. Many people haven’t heard of them, so just because there not as popular as Narnia or Lord of the Rings does not mean they are not great, just under-valued. Imagine a funny (or punny) twist on the world of Narnia mixed with the epic battles of Middle Earth.