Piers Anthony: Books I've Read

I can't remember if it was A Spell for Chameleon, the first book in the Xanth series, or Sos the Rope, the first book in the Battle Circle series, that I first picked up from the Wasatch Junior High school library in 1986. I was looking for works like Tolkien's, and the work of Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob (P. A. D. Jacob, or Piers Anthony) stood out to me.

I have followed other authors closely (e.g. Isaac Asimov), yet many of the books I once owned were sold after the .com crash to pay rent. Anthony is one of the few, like Tolkien, that I kept. Here are short notes about each of P. A. D. Jacob's books that I've read.


Book order is roughly chronological by the edition that I own, noting the date of completion before publication of the first edition. This is a tricky thing. Some novels are finished long before they are published. Once published, sometimes there are editorial changes made along the way, an author's note updated, or even rewrites to portions of the novel, like happened with Mercyle. The dates are gleaned from author's notes, autobiographies, and newsletters. Sometimes this is a bit of a guessing game, so one criteria is the author note contents and a kind of chronological reading order of the books in general. The order I give here may be readjusted as I learn more.

The first autobiography, Bio of an Ogre (BiOgre) orders by first (presumably American) publication date. Later, Anthony began identifying dates for first draft completion, submission drafts, galley reviews, author's note dates, as well as first publication date (especially in Britain), without consistency. Republication has tended to go by his existing final draft copy, (if he still has/had it. I understand some of the Xlibris prints were scans from his author's copies, some British editions). I thus note the edition of the book I own and have read.

These notes began when I first started rereading my Piers Anthony collection in 2014, going back to old favorites (e.g. Battle Circle), then ultimately starting chronologically from the beginning, which led me to tracking what was known of writing order (vs publication order). The first reviews were published on Amazon then Google+, where I'd take a screenshot of the book and give a review. This carried over into Twitter and selectively longer reviews on Facebook on my second account (replacing the first deleted account). Thus starts this page. I want to keep my writing on my own site, instead of ending up on Goodreads, Amazon, or elsewhere. These do not duplicate the old reviews and will likely be elaborated on as I go. I try to keep spoiling content out of my notes for potential future readers.

Review Contents:

Anthony's first book was Unstilled World, written as a Bachelor's thesis in 1956, and was never published.

Omnivore hardcover


Published December 1968, I read the Ballantine hardcover, a book club edition. It is the oldest Anthony edition in my collection. There is no author's note, though there is an author's bio-blurb on the back cover with a photo of a very young Piers. The front cover is eerie, but heavily influenced my imaging of the characters and landscape. It looks like an overexposed photo, but well done for the time.

Omnivore was surreal with its intelligent, fast moving fungi-based creatures, and engrossing with its character development and interaction. Though dated in the mid-21st century, it is excellent science fiction for the time it was written. The idea of intelligent fungi is perhaps not very realistic, but it captures the imagination reading the book.

Orn hardcover


Finished under its working title Paleo on 27 June 1969. I read the 1970 Nelson Doubleday hardcover, a book club edition, with cover illustration by Frank Franzetta.

This is the sequel to Omnivore. It has the same threesome of human characters, and the fungi aerial creatures called mantas they befriended. They are sent (or forced) on a mission to Earth 70 million years in the past, or an alternate reality Earth. A postscript by Calvin Potter explores the science in the book. Modern reprints have an afterward by Anthony looking at the viability of the idea from today's science. Dinosaurs become extinct 66 million years ago according to the fossil record. Though Anthony's idea isn't completely unfeasible, it's clear that a catastrophic world event is responsible, likely a meteor perhaps coupled with volcanic activity or aftermath.

Prostho Plus British hardcover

Prostho Plus

I read the Victor Gollancz Limited hardcover, published in 1971. This book was finished in October 1970. A couple of the stories are published in the Athonology short story collection.

This is a collection of eight short stories about becoming the first Earth intergallactic dentist. These stories were primarily published by Galaxy in If magazine, but the first was published in Analog. The second and third story were not published until this volume. Apparently, there's also a Prostho Minus series that has three stories, not available in an anthology, alas. Prostho Plus reminds me of the humor from Asimov's Azazel, and is Anthony at his best. I love these stories.

Rings Of Ice British hardback

Rings of Ice

First published in 1974. I read the 1975 Millington Ltd hardcover, with afterward by Donald L. Cyr.

This is one of Anthony's more obscure works, it seems, but the idea of a flood with a scientific, non-Biblical explanation, set in the modern day (for the time) US, was a fun read with interesting characters. Gripping, classic SciFi. The story takes place in an RV motor home, and the interest is in the characters they meet and save, at least initially. Having read this many years after its publication, I was mildy reminded of the Xanth novel Yon Ill Wind. It also contains a character with diabetes which becomes a bigger concern in a world where insulin is not readily available.

Triple Detente British paperback cover

Triple Detente

I read the Sphere Books Ltd first paperback edition from 1975, originally published in 1974, but finished in 1972 (as an elaboration on a short story, The Alien Rulers, from from Analog, 1968).

This is a space invaders plot with a twist, as suggested by the title. Earth conquers the Kazos, but works out an uneasy peace in a kind of mutual domination of each other. In their manipulative intrigue they have worked out a resolution against annihilation and for a wicked, interspecies cooperation, reducing the human population. Then the plots identifies another party that is involved, and seems to throws off the delicate, disliked balance.

0X hardcover


I read the 1976 Nelson Doubleday, Inc. book club edition hardcover.

This is the conclusion to the Manta trilogy, where two men and a woman have adventures in parallel universes, befriended by the aerial Manta fungi-based creatures. After the debacle of Paleo, a debacle from the encounter with the Orn, the trio is captured by the Earth invaders of their parallel universe. When being brought back to their Earth, a portal is opened not to their universe, but yet another parallel Earth reality. Not only must they escape, but get back to their own reality and preserve the mantas, but they encounter another form of life that is unexpected. 0X (i.e. Zero-Ex) is about artificial intelligence based on Gardner's the game of Life. There is a brief author's note about it.

Hasan paperback


I read the Borgo Press trade paperback edition, printed in October 1977, with illustrations by George Barr, Afterword by Richard Matthews, cover design by Judy Cloyd. This book is Anthony's fourth published novel, his fifth written novel, and the second stand alone (non-collaborative) work. The publication is elegant, the illustrations well adapted to the story, aiding in visualization.

This masquerades as historical fiction, bringing to life the Arabian Nights tale of Hasan. I did not expect to enjoy this tale as much as I did.

0X hardcover

Battle Circle

I read the Avon, January 1978 paperback, with an unattributted cover art that in my mind is the best of all the editions of these books. Sos the Rope and Var the Stick were first printed in the UK, I believe in hardcover. This may be the first edition that prints the entire trilogy, in this case in the US.

Sos the Rope

This won the Pyramid Fantasy and Science Fiction Award in 1967. It was first published in October 1968, I believe in the UK. Of all Anthony's books, it is one of my favorites, based on a part of Anthony's Bachelor's thesis, Unstilled World, and one of the earliest that I've read of his works around 1987.

This is a classic dystopian, post-nuclear apocalyptic story of the future. It focuses around the idea of the battle circle as the arbiter of justice and dispute resolution in a world where there is no government. This story follows Sos as he gets wrapped up in the vision of a mentor, who defeats him, to unify the remnant tribes of humanity. It reminds me of the movie Bloodsport as if it were in the world of Stephen King's The Gunslinger.

Var the Stick

This story is so much about Var and his experience in the dystopia world of the battle circle. He is a lonely brute character that the author makes you love.

Neq the Sword

The conclusion to the series. Neq is the youngster who brings the world back to civilization, following the visions and works of Sol, Sos, and Var.

Pretender paperback


I read the Borgo Press trade paperback edition, printed in 1979 by Griffin Printing & Lithograph Co., with cover and illustrations by Larry Ortiz (cover package design by Judy Cloyd). The publication is elegant, the illustrations well adapted, and aiding the story in visualization.

This book was Anthony's first book length collaboration, with Frances Hall, and the second book completed, sold in 1967. Pretender is historical fiction reframed as science fiction by Anthony to make it more saleable. This adds an engrossing story line and beginning to the portrayal of ancient Babylonian life that makes this story so interesting.

Magic of Xanth hardback

Magic of Xanth

I read the Nelson Doubleday hardcover book club edition with jacket painting by Tony Fiyalko. Originally, I read the 1977 Del Rey paperback of A Spell for Chameleon in the 1980s.

A Spell for Chameleon

Spell won the August Derleth Fantasy Award 1977 for best novel. It was written from June-November 1976. After some of the conflicts with Ballentine, discussed in Bio of an Ogre and to a degree in How Precious Was That While (where Ballentine's name is mentioned explicitly), Anthony was burned out working with that publisher until Lester del Rey reengaged the relationship. With Anthony science fiction being with other publishers by that point, Lester suggested Anthony try fantasy. The result was Anthony saying yes, but not taking fantasy seriously, so created a funny fantasy framework that turned out to be successful: a fantasy realm mirroring where Anthony lived based on puns for Anthony to make fun of magic in sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle ways (e.g. easter eggs for readers to find and enjoy).

A Spell for Chameleon is about Bink, who is the underdog of his community: he has no magic that anyone can see. His girl friend is hesitant with this disability too. How he is to resolve this, his resulting expulsion from his community, and ultimately Xanth, leads Bink to the Good Magician Humphrey, the magician of information. This is a great introduction to Xanth, and one of the pillars of the series. Is it the best? Not necessarily, but it is the ultimate book of the series for me: perhaps that's because I read it first.

I'm aware of a revised A Spell for Chameleon that comes from a reader suggesting a less advanced language. The language level is higher with the original Del Rey A Spell for Chameleon because of a preference from Lester del Rey for a more adult series. However, Anthony has kept the series readabile by youth while still following an old fashioned approach to adult allusions and inenudo in the series. I for one prefer Anthony's original final product, and am not keen on the dumbed-down language of the simplified version, though approved and updated by Anthony in December 1992 and January 1993 (approximately), but I don't think the overall story is impacted, and the following Xanth novels are not as high language as the original A Spell for Chameleon.

The Source of Magic

What is the source of Xanth's magic? Why does Florida have a magic proximity that is separate and independent from Florida? Bink wants to know. I liked the goblins in this story, but the answer I found kind of tedious, and the reoccuring theme in later Xanths ranges from funny to here-we-go-again, (though Xanth novels always end with satisfaction). Millie and her background was a highlight of the book.

Castle Roogna

King Dor is a funny character, or more to the point, his magic talent is hilarious and Anthony plays it for all it's worth. Castle Roogna explores the history of the castle, introduces zombies and the Zombie Master, and the battle behind that history. It also introduces Grundy, an endearing side kick of the earlier series. This is an early favorite of this series for me.

Split Infinity hardback cover

Split Infinity

I read the Del Rey (Ballantine) April 1980, first edition hardcover, with an iconic cover illustration by Rowena Morrill, and map by Chris Barbieri.

After Anthony's switch to fantasy with Xanth, Lester del Rey asked for a second series. This was a mix of science fiction and fantasy, using a story similar to what Terry Brooks did later with Magic Kingdom, but with a world overlay similar to Xanth but with a science fiction theme, and on another planet. This is quintessiantial Anthony with a layered love story of a woman, a horse, a planet in peril, and the game (a plot device Anthony would come to use in other books and series).

Centaur Aisle hardback cover

Centaur Aisle

I read the Dell Rey 1981 book club edition hardcover, with jacket painting by Tony Fiyalko.

Dor and Irene reach the height of flirtatiousness in this hilarious fantasy that plays up Dor's magic talent in funny ways. This is the first time since A Spell for Chameleon that an adventure takes the questing companions to dreaded and dreary Mundania. This story really made me laugh, but it is Xanth after all.

Ogre, Ogre hardback cover

Ogre, Ogre

I read the Dell Rey 1982 book club edition hardcover with jacket painting by Tony Fiyalko.

This is a Xanth novel in search of a quest, providing it as an answer to a human woman's question: travel with an ogre who never asked a question. The quest is the answer. There's something about Anthony's Xanth, and certain leaps forward with certain novels in the series. This is one of them, and is one of my all time favorites of the series.

Double Exposure

Double Exposure hardback cover

I read the Nelson Doubleday, Inc. book club edition hardcover, with cover art by Victoria Poyser, and map by Chris Barbieri. The map, I suspect, is the same as that in Juxtaposition. This is a trilogy collection of Apprentice Adept: Split Infinity, Blue Adept, and Juxtaposition. The About the Author page in the back has the same text that is in my edition of Split Infinity.

Blue Adept

Stile faces deportation in the science fiction realm of Proton, risking his life and status in the fantasy realm of Phaze. His only hope is to take risks in the hope of becoming a citizen. The only thing I don't like about reading the Double Exposure edition of this book was the lack of the sexy cover of the Del Rey edition that had first got me interested in this series.


This is the conclusion to the Stile focused Apprentice Adept trilogy, exploring the relationship of Phaze and Proton, which Stile must save risking the power of both citizens and adepts. I read this in the Double Exposure book club edition.

Night Mare hardback cover

Night Mare

I read the Dell Rey 1982 book club edition hardcover with jacket painting by Tony Fiyalko. The novel was completed 28 October 1981.

The night mare is Anthony's daughter's horse. Like it's sequel, the author shows his versatility by making the main character that horse (which is also Stile's horse in the Apprentice Adept series) escaped (or perhaps freed) from the gourd dream world. Her first problem is she's acquired a soul, affecting her capability as a night mare carrying bad dreams to sleeping Xanthians. The other problem is that an invasion of Mundanians is about to occur, a repeating event that brings fresh non-magic blood to Xanth. She must warn the king of what is to come.

Dragon on a Pedestal hardback cover

Dragon on a Pedestal

I read the Dell Rey 1983 book club edition hardcover with jacket painting by Bob Stuhmer. This is the first Xanth novel with an author's note, at least from their original publication. It was finished in October 1982.

Ivy is Dor's young daughter. Like it's predecessor novel, the author shows his versatility by making the main character a three year old little girl. Ivy gets lost in Xanth, and Dor must find her before she is hurt or killed, but little do they know that Ivy is about to make Xanth history.

Incarnations of Immortality hardback cover

Incarnations of Imortality

I read the November 2013 Science Fiction Book Club (SFBC) Omnibus Edition, with jacket art by John Jude Palencar. This is by arrangement of Random House and Del Rey, and the two first books of the trilogy, On a Pale Horse and Bearing an Hour Glass, appear to be unedited (other than perhaps the needful copy editing for typography) from the originals.

On a Pale Horse

Finished 17 May 1982 (according to the author's note, and the Xlibris Refugee author's note). Author notes started about 1981 for Anthony, as observed in this novel. I suspect that the writing of the author notes in On a Pale Horse, and the author's recognition of him reaching age 50 about the same time as reaching the authoring of fifty books (as noted in his About the Author blurb, see Night Mare), inspired the writing of BiOgre (as Anthony's second autobiography called it), and the author's notes followed there after with most of his novels. Author's notes really never existed, as far as I can tell, before Viscous Circle, though there are some simple ones, like the explanation of the game of life in 0X or the first Xanth acknowledgement of reader puns, (stop sending them, he asks. Gee, that worked well) in Dragon on a Pedestal.

This novel is a favorite. Maybe that's because, like the Battle Circle trilogy, this was an early novel of Anthony's that I had read, and like the author has observed with Xanth, the first read seems to become the favorite. (Oddly, I didn't like Xanth as much until I reread A Spell for Chameleon as an adult.) It's dealing with the macabre, the far off fear of the pain of death, and the odd unsurity of what happens after, if anything, is dealt with so well in this story. Many allusions to the Christianity of our culture are found here, some serious, some facetious, but also dealing with other legends and mythologies that our species uses to grapple with our finite existence. (Other than the Latter-day Saint movement, there don't seem to be many that grapple with what came before our existence.) Clearly, we don't want to stop being ourselves, and watching others stop, in gruesome and peaceful (if there is such a thing) ways, is appalling. This isn't funny fantasy, but it is not entirely serious either. Perhaps that's the way death should be considered.

Bearing an Hourglass

The manuscript was finished 24 May 1983, a week before its deadline. (See the Mercenary and Bearing an Hourglass author notes.)

Hourglass shows Anthony's versatility as an author in telling a story in unique ways without distracting the reader from being immersed in the story, the reservation of their scepticism of the fiction of the tale. This story tells about a being that lives backward, living from end to beginning, and the beginning is passing on the hourglass to their successor while existing with its use until the beginning point, which is really the end as this incarnation. A fascinating story and a fascinating spin on the previous tale around the theme of death, but through the lense of time. A fitting sequel.

Crewel Lye hardback cover

Crewel Lye

I read the Del Rey 1984 hardcover, with jacket illustration by Ron Walotsky. The manuscript was finished 23 October 1983. This is the book where things start to fall apart between Anthony and Lester del Rey. Already disgruntled by the author's notes from the first two(?) Incarnations novels, according to the author's note, the first chapter was deleted because of too many puns. Clearly the note is written after, or at least updated. The missing first chapter is found in the collaboration Visual Guide to Xanth. I'm happy to have first read this novel with it. I noticed that the second chapter had been slightly edited to not be too jarring starting there, but it's not noticed until reading the missing first chapter.

This is another Ivy story, and is about what you'd expect. It seems like a sequel to Castle Roogna, perhaps a bit, too.

Anthonology hardback cover


I read the March 1985 Tor hardcover, with cover art by Joe Bergeron.

Along with BiOgre, this documents the beginning of the author's career, which began with the short story Evening in 1954. This includes stories published between 1963-1972, compiled for this collection in 1984, including some original to it, (though it is not always clear when they were written). These stories give a clear sense of the tone the author will use throughout his career.

Race Against Time paperback cover

Race Against Time

I read the Tor paperback, printed September 1985, though first published in 1973. The first chapter of Hasan is found in the back.

John Smith. What a character name. This is not a reference to the Doctor. (Doctor Who?) He's a teen boy in the 1960s. At least so he thought, but things don't add up, and his cloistered, disciplined life doesn't seem right. This is a fun science fiction story, billed for teens, but as other Anthony children's stories, the writing is adult even if the content is more PG than is his norm. Looking back, it reminds me of a science fiction form of M. Night Shayamalan's The Village.

Steppe hardback cover


Steppe was finished in 1972, at least as a science fiction novel. (It appears to have originally been written as a historical novel.) It was first published in 1976. I read the September 1985 Tor hardcover, with the sexy dust jacket painting by Boris Vallejo.

This approach, which started with his first collaboration novel Pretender, doesn't always pay off. Anthony has done it to get the books into print, since he's recognized as a science fiction and fantasy genre writer, not a historical writer. What I've noticed is that the science fiction facade often is nothing more than that: an encasement that doesn't always follow through on the science fiction ideas presented. Steppe had times where the science fiction element got in the way, and other times it felt unfulfilled (especially with such an engrossing beginning), but the story comes to terms with itself and the threads aren't abandoned. The story itself was fun and enjoyable, and the historical imagery realistic.

With a Tangled Skein hardback cover

With a Tangled Skein

I read the Del Rey 1985 hardcover, with cover painting by Michael Whelan. The manuscript was finished 11 April 1984.

This story brings failed love (again?) into the motivation for taking over as one of the fates that weaves the fabric of history for human individuals, only to find her intrigue with the incarnation of Satan becoming its own political hassle as she discovers her own line of fate and what happened to her love lost.

The author's note presents its own skein, a kind of mini version of what later became Bio of an Ogre.

Uncollected Stars paperback cover

Uncollected Stars

I read the Avon Books, February 1986 paperback. This is a collaboration with two other genre authors.

It is a collection of previously unanthologized classic science fiction tales. Each editor gives a small introduction to each story. If you love science fiction stories, this will expose you to stories likely otherwise unread, unless caught from its original publication in the respective genre journal, but worthy of further publication. A typical theme for Anthony: the worthy otherwise passed over or ignored.

Shade of the Tree hardback cover

Shade of the Tree

I read the May 1986 hardcover published by Tom Doherty Associates, cover art by Linda Garland. Is this the one Anthony said he wrote as a trade off with Stephen King for their daughters, the one that resulted in The Eyes of the Dragon? Does anyone have the reference where Anthony claimed this?

This is Anthony's foray into thrillers, though he calls them horror. Shade of the Tree succeeds in its characterization, plot, and environmental focus that are typical of Anthony's work. A man and his family, sans wife, move to a Florida home that is haunted, or is it? This is up there in my Anthony favorites.

Ghost hardback cover


Written originally as a story (see Anthonology), it was expanded into a novel in 1972, then expanded further in February 1976 by editorial request. I read the TOR September 1986 hardcover, with cover art by Ron Walotsky. Presumably, in entering it into a computer for the edition, according to the author's note, he probably revised it further as any submission draft might be.

Captain Shetland takes the time ship Meg II to the edge of space and time, looking for a new energy source for an energy exhausted Earth. Earth had recently recovered from its poluted history not wanting to repeat the mistake.

Golem in the Gears hardback

Golem in the Gears

I read the Dell Rey 1986 book club edition hardcover, with jacket painting by Ron Walotsky. The Lexicon of Xanth is offered as an appendix, compiled by M. J. Langley and Ass-osciates Michael and Keith. The manuscript was finished after the But What of Earth? restoration in August or perhaps September, 1984. This is the last of the Dell Rey Xanth novels, written shorter so as to avoid Lester's editorial knife.

Following Grundy, who was introduced in the first trilogy, Golem in the Gears introduces his romance with Rapunzel, yes that's "pun", and the sea hag that steals identity. Grundy is an irascible character, but that's why we love him.

Wielding a Red Sword hardback

Wielding a Red Sword

I read the Del Rey 1986 hardcover with cover painting by Michael Whelan.

The Incarnations series seems to work in pairs, except for Being a Green Mother and Under a Velvet Cloak, which are more conclusion novels than books that run in seeming parallel themes. There's a kind of Siddhartha-as-Buddha story here, but instead of enlightenment, a prince wants to ameliorate violence in the world by becoming the incarnation of war, but it becomes a fight against the incarnation of Satan. He meets a woman who makes him feel comfortable with his stutter, and this is a kind of bridge story line between With a Tangled Skein and Being a Green Mother. The series has settled down here, and the past figures are coming back to revisit for the readers of the trilogy.

Out of Phaze hardback cover

Out of Phaze

I read the Ace/Putnam hardcover, cover art by Darrell Sweet. The maps are signed by Storrings. The submission draft was completed end of August 1985.

A new Adept trilogy that can stand alone from the first, from a new publisher, this follows Stile's child, Mach, who doesn't know about Phaze, at least at first. Naturally, he has his own magic and counterpart in Proton, throwing things into an alernate perspective from the trilogy: it is the magic side discovering the science side.


Tarot paperback cover

I read the Ace November 1987 trade paperback with excellent cover art by Kinuko Craft. The draft was finished in September 1977. It was originally published in three volumes: God of Tarot, Vision of Tarot, and Faith of Tarot, by two different publishers. The Ace edition is noted as a revision to the original text, which was finished in March 1987. The changes are mostly in titles, and introductory texts to the chapters (instead of quotations) and book. I sent a correction, which Anthony accepted, to the reference of a pope that may have been female.

The development of Paul in this story has no where near the same feel as But What of Earth? where he is introduced. The book is long, seems to drag on in parts while Paul has his visions, and parts of it are offensive and crude if you don't keep your eye on the purpose of the story. It's a good story. Tarot should be read while reading the first two books of the Cluster series (and after But What of Earth?, which should, but doesn't have to, be read first before all of them). Perhaps part of the problem is I wanted more of the Brother Paul of But What of Earth?. I got that Paul, but in a circumstance perhaps that was not as much to my fancy.

Tarot has a long history of writing, punctuated between the first two Cluster novels, maybe the third too, I can't quite tell, so it is a sequel to But What of Earth?, or maybe it's more accurate to say that But What of Earth? is a prequel to both Tarot (the original sequel) and the later Cluster trilogy that was written in tandem. Cluster can stand on its own. Tarot is a hard hitting reflection on religious behavior and motivations, among other things.

Vale of the Vole hardback

Vale of the Vole

I read the Avon 1987 book club edition hardcover, with jacket art by Ron Walotsky.

Anthony writes the perspective of a vole, diggles, wiggles, and the swarm at the end. You can hear the echos from Dragon on a Pedestal, as a swarm has occured before. This continues the Xanth trilogy of trilogies under a new publisher. This brings all the normal characters we are used to from Xanth, reintroducing them for new readers, but the Good Magician, who carries the Xanth stories along like a kind of Deus ex Machina, is gone, vanished without a trace, like a metaphor for the breach of relationship with Lester del Rey.

Being a Green Mother hardback

Being a Green Mother

I read the Del Rey December 1987 first edition hard cover, with cover painting by Michael Whelan.

Songs, a follow up on Mym, and an interesting relationship with the incarnation of Satan that lead to an unexpected climax of the series. The Llano runs throughout: a musical book of nature, longing, finding our place, love, and peace in unexpected places.

Bio of an Ogre hardback cover

Bio of an Ogre

I read the Ace May 1988 first edition hardcover, with jacket painting by Darrell Sweet. This book was finished fairly early, in the latter half of 1985, but sold late. It covers up to the publication (writing?) of his 50th book, and includes one of his first short stories in an appendix (not included, but mentioned, in Anthonology).

This book is a must have for Anthony fans. I've read it more than once, and have enjoyed the honest relation of his life and writing. It is not as detailed as Asimov's biographies, but gives a feel for Anthony's first half of his life and work.

Robot Adept hardback cover

Robot Adept

I read the 1987/88 Ace/Putnam hardcover, cover art by Darrell Sweet. The maps are the same as from Out of Phaze.

More adventures from Mach, in a way a forbidden love story, maybe a spin on Romeo and Juliet, but with two worlds, errr their world, to save on top of it. Something similar is happening in teh Proton frame, and the youngsters are finding a special bond between them while the adepts begin to fight over both Phaze and Proton in aliance with the citizens. All seem like pawns in the intrigue. A fitting sequel to, and a continuation from, Out of Phaze.

Heaven Cent hardback cover

Heaven Cent

I read the Avon 1988 hardcover, a book club edition I believe, with jacket art by Ron Walotsky.

We met Morrow Bones, a lovable creature of the gourd realm, who has been asked to take Bink's grandson on a Xanth adventure. He has so many questions, from mushy adults to a grandmother's waning talent, to where in Xanth has the good magician gone to? Some things in Xanth don't follow Mundanian mores. This is a story from a little boy's perspective, very similar to how Dragon on a Pedestal is a story from a little girl's perspective.

For Love of Evil hardback cover

For Love of Evil

I read the William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1988 first edition hardcover, with jacket design and painting by Rowena. The manuscript was finished January 1987. (The author's note was finished 27 December 1986.)

The incarnation of evil actually played out much better than I had expected. Go figure that the primary plot is a good man falling in love with a good woman, something bad happens, then the slippery slope to taking over as the incarnation of evil occurs. This crisscrosses a bit over old territory, but from the incarnation of Satan's eyes. The build up to the end of Being a Green Mother happens in unexpected ways. If anything, Piers Anthony knows how to finish a story.

But What of Earth?

But What of Earth? paperback cover

Finished June 1975, I read the TOR July 1989 paperback edition with cover art by Don Maitz. The restoration appears to be in September of 1984, and the conclusion notes suggest that edits could be into 1985, just before Golem in the Gears. It's not clear, but 1989 seems really late for publication. Why wasn't it published in 1986?

For Anthony, this rates as his least favorite novel, probably from the circumstance of its writing and publication. There are two naratives here.

The first is the short novel that would become the prequel of the Cluster series. From notes in But What of Earth?, Tarot, and the Open Road Integrated Media, Inc. edition of Cluster, it's not entirely clear if ideas for Cluster came before But What of Earth?. The Introduction is the only place that it is suggested the ideas for Cluster came first, and But What of Earth? became a prequel to it. Certainly, I can see after the fact why it would be thought of that way, but it appears that the ideas didn't develop that way. But What of Earth? can be ignored by Cluster series fans without taking away from it.

The second is the story of the butchering of the novel. In this, and other places, Anthony brings the case that editors should not change the work of an author without agreement. Editors have been known to change and improve an author's work (Hemingway is an example) as well have authors sign their copyright in various degrees over to the publisher. Strictly, from a copyright point of view, Anthony is absolutely correct: the copyright is to start with. From Anthony's writings it is clear that publishers tend to do what they want regardless of contract. Anthony's problem really is he expects publishers, that is corporations, to honor their agreements. It's made him a bit of a pariah. I can't help but agree with him. A contract is only as good as the word of those who sign it.

But What of Earth? is not my favorite of Anthony's work, but it is definitely one I have fond memories of. The character of Brother Paul in this book shines, and I enjoyed the exploration of the idea that population increase and decrease, especially in aggressive change, affect the level of civilization. I also love that unlike much science fiction, space travel constraints are recognized, and a different, and interesting way forward is explored in matter transmission. Other than a bit of an abrupt, raw start to the novel, I found it enjoyable and worth a reread.

Unicorn Point hardback cover

Unicorn Point

I read the Ace/Putnam 1988/1989 first edition hardcover, with jacket painting by Darrell Sweet.

A game for power over Proton and Phaze leads Mach and the other children into an adult battle for their future. The book follows each character in sets of 3 chapters, each chapter dedicated to following a particular character. This is the conclusion of the second trilogy following Mach.

Through The Ice hardback cover

Through The Ice

I read the 1989 first edition hardcover from Underwood-Miller, illustrations and cover art by R. Daniel Horne. Finished in July 1988, a month after the submission draft of And Eternity.

This is a basic, fun fantasy: an enjoyable way to escape for a few hours. A group of youngsters are chosen. Seth is one of them, pulled from his harsh reality in Michigan. They go on a trek to defeat the evil emperor bent on world domination.

Man from Mundania

Man from Mundania hardback cover

I read the New English Library hardcover edition. The cover art is beautiful, showing a man in a cave looking out on a snowy mountain scene with a young woman running down a path from a large, somewhat crystaline looking tower in the background. For some reason, the cover art is unattributed, and doesn't appear to have a signature.

It is time for Ivy to leave Xanth for Mundania. She meets a college student and falls in love, but the student is Grey Murphey who likes to read Xanth but doesn't believe Xanth is real.

A supplement to the lexicon from Golem in the Gears is provided as an appendix.

Visual Guide to Xanth hardback cover

Visual Guide to Xanth

I read the Avon 1989 hardcover edition, with cover illustration by Darrell K. Sweet. The book illustrations are by Todd Cameron Hamilton and James Clouse. Anthony writes a forward and afterword. The book text is in collaboration with Jody Lynn Nye.

This is a necessary addition to the Xanth series at this point. For one, after Golem in the Gears, Avon, Morrow, and the British editions (and presumably all others) no longer have a map. The text is not a duplicate of the Gears lexicon, or the additions to Man from Mundania, but is its own source of information. The illustrations are beautiful.

I am confused by the illustrated maps though. The maps on pages 101 and 103, and the descriptions on pages 98 and 100, are inconsistent with the maps shows in the books Ogre, Ogre through Crewel Lye: Earth is out of place, coming after the Void. Centaur Isle and Golem in the Gears (and possibly the individual texts of the trilogy, though my copy of The Magic of Xanth doesn't have a map) mark the Forbidden Region as Incognito. The Tor maps that begin with Demons Don't Dream are the same. Water should be immediately south of the Void, and Earth should be immediately north of Air. I don't know if something changed in medieval Xanth, if Anthony made a mistake in a later book or the described them this way and that mistake was followed by accident, or a mix. Any Xanth experts who know are welcome to contact me.

Total Recall

Total Recall hardback cover

I read the William Morrow and Company, Inc. first edition hardcover, published September 1989, with jacket illustration by John Berkey. It was finished in early 1989.

The hardcover initial release was based on the original script. There are some minor differences, e.g. Quail instead of Quaid (following Dick's original name), and a sexy scene with Quail walking through the 3D light projection of a beautiful woman. The paperback follow up was changed to more closely match the movie as produced. I think Anthony's first edition novel was more fun, though Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone were great to watch. I think that Anthony's rendition of the script, as originally printed, does justice to Dick's story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, updating this 1960s pulp (F&SF) science fiction classic for the current culture (though even that has aged since). Of course, the movie story is far more elaborate than Dick's: there's no Martian terraforming, political consipiracy, underground, or mutants. Quail's job is not a clerk, but more suited to Schwarzenegger's muscle. In some ways, I like Anthony's rendition the best.

Balook hardback cover


I read the Underwood-Miller 1990 first edition hardcover, with illustrations and jacke art by Patrick Woodroffs This is an elegant, beautiful edition, with multiple illustrations, thick glossy paper, and stitched binding. The writing (not sure about the illustrations) was finished in early 1987, though an original story was written in 1966, long before Jurassic Park was written.

This is a children's story about a large, prehistoric zoo animal that becomes attached to a child. When the animal escapes, causing havoc in the country side, alarm spreads and the boy goes after him. A simple, fun story about the bonds we form with animals (other than humans) and some of the environmental implications that come from our power over animals. This has got to be one of Anthony's most elegant youth novels.

And Eternity hardback cover

And Eternity

I read the Morrow 1990 first edition hard cover with jacket illustration by Rowena.

In a way, Being a Green Mother, For the Love of Evil, and And Eternity are a kind of trilogy, perhaps with Wielding a Red Sword as a kind of prequel. In another way, For the Love of Evil and And Eternity stand alone. To say much about And Eternity presents a lot of spoilers for how For the Love of Evil covers previous ground and And Eternity continues the story. It's a fitting conclusion to the series. Except it isn't. Many years later, Anthony decided to write about one of the lesser incarnations after all in Under a Velvet Cloak.

Phaze Doubt hardback cover

Phaze Doubt

I read the Ace/Putnam 1990 hardcover, with jacket painting by Lisa Amoroso.

Is it a surprise that the grandchildren are going to save the world in this concluding adventure to the Apprentice Adept series? Now, the threat is external, an invasion fleet that wants the resources of Proton, and its magical capabilities that are found in Phaze. The grand children befriend one of the invader informants and political choices must be made that affect the future of Proton, and the future existence of the magic that comes from Phaze.

Adventures of Kelvin of Rud trilogy hardback cover

Adventures of Kelvin of Rud: Three Complete Novels

I read the 1993 Three Complete Novels Wings Books hardcover edition of the Adventures of Kelvin of Rud trilogy, with cover art by Mel Grant.

Dragon's Gold

Once Anthony got the bug from a mixed science-fiction/fantasy realm with his Apprentice Adept series, it seems to have forever colored his approach to science fiction. Put a different way, I think Anthony started as a science fiction writer, not a fantasy writer, though the fantastic elements of most of his books begs the difference. Early on he has worked on historical fiction, some that has been made into science fiction to sell it, some that has fantasy elements, but ultimately where fantasy doesn't mix with his science fiction it is clear he has branched out into other genres.

Dragon's Gold begins with a brother and sister sneaking away from home to steal gold scales from a dragon. Little do they know that this will fulfill a prophesy that will change their sense of who they are and where they came from.

Serpent's Silver

Alternate realities are introduced and Kelvin learns how to jump between them in his bid to save his captured father, deal with the evil witch who is a kind of doppelganger of his mother, and to save Rud and fulfill the prophecy. This book forwards the series concepts further.

Chimaera's Copper

More reality jumps. More intrigue and war. More Kelvin saving the day. It didn't feel like much development of the series was done here, though it lays the ground work for the sequel. I didn't enjoy this book as much.

Firefly hardback cover


I read the 1990 Morrow first edition hardcover with jacket design by Linda Kosarin and photo by Lisa Stein.

This is a horror novel, heavy on character. This story has an environmental theme, and one of sexuality. It treats some subjects of sexual sensitively, but it is graphic. A monstor begins romping the Florida country side, eating people from the inside out, but there is no sign of struggle. It's almost like people are allowing themselves to be eaten. Anthony excels at horror and thrillers, equaling his hard science fiction, but he doesn't write it much.

Dead Morn hardback cover

Dead Morn

Written in 1970-1972, I read the Tafford 1990 first edition hardcover with jacket illustration by Jeff Myers.

This is the first collaboration between Anthony and Fuentes. It originally described Fuentes' experience in Cuba working for Castro's rebellion and government until he was able to escape to Florida. Anthony turned it into a science fiction novel, but the science fiction is mainly at the beginning. Though its premise seemed solid, the events of Cuba's revolution overwhelm the story. It's good reading, and comes to a resolution for both the science fiction element, and the main character within the Cuban missle crisis.

Hard Sell hardback cover

Hard Sell

I read the Tafford 1990 first edition hardcover with jacket art by David Welling. The first three chapters were sold to If magazine, the same as with the Prostho Plus stories, as Hard Sell, Black Baby, and Hurdle respectively. The last three stories Galaxy bounced, but the fifth was later published Twilight Zone magazine as Life. Hard Sell and Black Baby were also published in Anthonology, the latter under its original title of Hurdle. The fourth story was titled Death. The sixth and final story was titled Libel.

This is the complete collection of science fiction stories about Fisk Centers, first conned by a salesman but then becoming one, when he'd rather retire. Like the Prostho Plus stories with a theme around dental work, this is a funny romp through experience with sales propaganda, but in an interstellar framework of aliens and humans getting the best of each other.

Isle of View hardback cover

Isle of View

I read the Morrow 1990 first edition hard cover, with jacket illustration by Darrell Sweet. The initial author's note 19 May, the following day from finishing the initial manuscript draft.

This is a story of young love and a decision between two suitors, but from a male with two women. This is complicated by the introduction of Jennie and her personal story that Anthony got involved with and thus changed the story dynamic. See Letters to Jenny.

Tatham Mound hardback cover

Tatham Mound

I read the Morrow first edition hardcover, with jacket illustration by Jerry Lofaro. It was written immediately after Isle of View, and finished in October 1989.

This is one of my favorite works of Anthony's, not a fantasy (maybe a little) but history. It is based on research the author funded of a tribe that lived in Florida and was effectively destroyed by the Spaniards (de Soto). It is a large book, but kept my interest page for page. It follows Hotfoot through his life beginning as a new warrior traveling up and down the American coast, following the guidance of his ancestors, and becoming his tribe's story teller.

Orc's Opal hardback cover

Orc's Opal

I read the TOR, October 1990, first edition hardcover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet.

Piers Anthony potrays child characters well and seems to have fun with them. This story is a rather weird, but perhaps typical, switch-a-roo, wicked witch story. The witch's witch Zady, who is Zoanna's (the antagonist of the trilogy) aunt who taught and raised her, comes for revenge against Kelvin and his family, putting their children into a bad situations and framing them and others for her bad deeds. It also introduces the opal and its orc guardians, which the children are tricked into finding and stealing.

Virtual Mode hardback cover

Virtual Mode

I read the Ace/Putnam hardcover with jacket illustration by Daniel R. Horne. This was finished 8 March 1990. The jacket illustration is beautiful, and forever fixed my impression of the protagonist of the story.

This is one of Anthony's classic fantasy series and is perhaps my favorite of his, and is certainly suitable as young adult fiction. Colene (pronounced like Colleen: Call-een) is a depressed, suicidal teen, backed into a corner by peers, abused, and ignored by parents with their own problems. Then she finds a man, beaten on the side of the road, and can't help but help him. Little does she know, the man is royalty from a magic kingdom, and he is searching for her.

Question Quest hardback cover

Question Quest

I read the Morrow 1991 first edition hardcover with jacket illustration by Darrell Sweet. At the back is an appendix History of Xanth (simplified) by E. Timber Bram, and of course the standard author's note which indicates the novel was finished in May 1990.

The Good Magician Humphrey is an iconic part of Xanth, but after the estrangement in Mundania of the author and his editor, Lester del Rey whom Humphrey was kind of based on, Humphrey suddenly disappeared from the series, and his fate was left unknown. Question Quest is about a woman who goes on a quest to ask her question of Humphrey, but then must find out what happened to him before she can ask her question.

Mercycle hardback cover


I read the 1991 Tafford first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Ron and Val Lindahn.

Originally written in late 1971, this a rewrite of the original finished around May 1990. It reminds me of the novel Ghost, though the plots are dissimilar. Most of this story takes place under the ocean off Key West, Mexico, and Cuba on a mission that is not explained but taken out of individual desperation.

Fractal Mode hardback cover

Fractal Mode

I read the Ace/Putnam 1992 hardcover, with jacket illustration by Daniel R. Horne. The book was finished 22 November 1990, after Isle of View and the expansion and revision of Mercycle.

Traversing the modes, the new friends land in a mode realm where the mandelbrot set is a literal fractal reality, with different cultures and sizes of people existing within each iterative level of the set. The level they land in is in a magical transition period. They meet Nona the most powerful magician of the land, and future ruler, in a despotic environment ruled by men for which she wishes to escape.

Mouvar's Magic hardback cover

Mouvar's Magic

I read the TOR, August 1992, first edition hardcover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet.

This concludes the series and gives the final revelations about Kelvin's father's origins. Books three and four (Chimera's Copper and Orc's Opal) are a kind of pair, similar to books one and two, but focused more on character development of the series. Orc's Opal also moves away from Kelvin as a primary character. This book returns to the series concept and wraps up the loose ends.

The Color of Her Panties hardback cover

The Color of Her Panties

I read the September 1992 Morrow hard cover with jacket illustration by Darrell K. Sweet. This is the last Ace/Morrow Xanth.

What color are the merwoman's panties? This Xanth novel skirts close to the boundaries of the adult conspiracy, joins a roc in a cloud city/home with characters from Isle of View, and has an author's note that occurs as part of the novel with Jenny Elf ant Humphrey's castle. Par for the course. This novel was funny.

Caterpillar's Question hardback cover

Caterpillar's Question

I read the Ace October 1992 first edition hardcover, with jacket painting by Romas.

This is the adaption of a short story by Anthony, turned into a first chapter, then rotating between the two authors, at least initially. An alien seduces Jack, who needs him for protection until she can morph into a powerful creature capable of moderating the tyranny of a galactic empire. This is a romp around the galaxy in a science fiction story typical of both authors. Each chapter in some ways is a separate story, and in some ways eggs on the collaborator to find a way to continue with get-out-of-this-one cliff hangers. For instance, chapter 9 ends with ...yet there seemed to be no alternative. Chapter 10 starts with, Then he saw something. It reminds me of some of the early Weiss/Hickman D&D plot advancements.

Alien Plot hardback cover

Alien Plot

I read the TOR October 1992 first edition hardcover, with dust cover by Carol Russo.

This is a second collection of short stories after Anthonology. Apparently, Anthonology was originally a collection of unsold stories in 1969. Instead, what sold was a collection of published stories, with a couple of unsold additions. Alien Plot thus adds the unsold stories, plus more recent stories, some of which were sold. Like the first, each story has a small author's note introduction. This is about on par with the first volume, if you liked it, but with some newer stories. The final entry is not a story, but an article that I originally read in The Writer, called Think of the Reader, which I remember enjoying at the time. This version is the unedited one, naturally.

Killobyte hardback cover


I read the Ace 1993 hardcover, with jacket illustration by Den Beauvais. The book was finished in September 1991 (or at least its author's note was), and was written in the summer of 1991, including some reader feedback at DragonCon that year. Publication appears to be the first of 1993 (5 January?).

This action thriller is a kind of fantasy within a virtual reality game, with two misfits who become lovers, and a power hungry player who ups the stakes to deadly interactions. Anthony seems to like this virtual reality approach, but unlike other series and short stories, this stand-alone novel is a gem on the cusp of the internet era.

Demons Don't Dream hardback cover

Demons Don't Dream

I read the Tor February 1993 hardcover with jacket art by Darrell Sweet. This is the first of a long string of Tor Xanth hardcovers, the third major publisher of the series in the United States.

After the success of Killobyte, and the idea of a 3D alternate reality through the a computer interface (which Anthony plays on for years after), it's time to have a Xanth game. Apparently, this was made into an actual computer game. This brings another Mundanian into Xanth.

If I Pay Thee Not In Gold

If I Pay Thee Not In Gold hardback cover

I read the Baen July 1993 hard cover edition, with jacket illustration by Darrell K. Sweet.

Anthony had some criticism of this collaboration. It was initiated by the Baen editor. Anthony provided an idea for a novel he had been mulling over. However, when he received a completed manuscript from his collaborator, he thought the novel he received, written by Lackey, was subpar, and decided to rewrite it. From there it seemed a trilogy was planned, but was scrapped when Anthony's payment for his work was almost neglible. I understand there was a lawsuit over it.

The novel itself, in its finished form, was epic. I found myself immediately engrosed by the character. The Roman-like historical setting was believable, and described in a way that kept interest in the surrounding and the characters. The politics was a believable matriarchy. When the main character is left homeless, and becomes involved in a classic type of fantasy quest, the outside world from the matriarchal city-state is drastically different, and the contrast is again engrossing. This was a fun novel. It's a shame it got buried in the politics of the publishing Parnassus (as Anthony calls it).

Letters to Jenny hardback cover

Letters to Jenny

I read the TOR August 1993 hardcover, with jacket art by Jael.

On 9 December 1988, a drunk driver hit a teenage girl, put her in a coma, and left her paralyzed. Knowing she was an Anthony fan, her mother wrote asking for help: write Jenny and see if that will wake her up. It did. This book is the first year of letters that he has written to her since.

I first encountered mention of Jenny in the Xanth novel Isle of View. The autobiographical material it provides is interesting for a year span of the author's life. His humor and encouragement of Jenny, through imagined interaction (she never really responded much, though her mother would report some things), is both funny and endearing, and provides its own narrative dialog, as well as background to Isle of View and to a degree Question Quest and The Color of Her Panties.

Isle of Woman

Isle of Woman hardback cover

I read the Tor September 1993 first edition hardcover, with cover art by Eric Petersen. The text was finished either in August, or sometime thereafter (September?) in 1992.

Geodyssey is a series of books that is a collection of short stories and novellas, beginning in evolutionary pre-history and finishing in the relatively near future. It ties the stories together through characters that seem to have souls that transcend their physical manifestations, adapting to the local culture and situation, but being sufficiently recognizable to make interesting stories, and even plot strands shared between the individual stories and later books.

Isle of Woman is the first of five books in the series. It has some information that later books refine or even find not to be entirely accurate. The stories and ideas themselves are worth reading, regardless, and tend to lend to a kind of suspense of what-really-happened? as the series progresses. This first volume introduces some early ideas around human breasts being a mating attractant early on, instead of mammary glands that swell only when fertile, suggesting that going into heat is something human evolution abandoned, as well as exploring the mating of Neandertal and modern human.

Some of the language is a bit dated by modern standards, having seen a shift in the period this was published, as I imagine many of his prior novels will start to seem similar. Perhaps the author is starting to show his age (and perhaps temperment). All in all, I really enjoyed this series, on the same level or better than Tatham Mound. Exploring different cultures of history and time periods was fascinating, and Anthony does well making them come to life (as even his earliest books do, e.g. Pretender) as well as being entertaining. Each ends with more of a science fiction focus, and this one's final story, an apocalyptic ending to the book, shows us what may happen if we don't get control of the pollution of the biosphere, but paints a potential way forward too.

Chaos Mode hardback cover

Chaos Mode

I read the Ace/Putnam 1993 hardcover with jacket illustration by a new artist this time, Romas Kukalis. The new character Burgess is shown on the cover.

Chaos Mode is the third novel in a series beginning with Virtual Mode, and is the sequel to Fractal Mode. The series start in a way stands alone, though clearly not reaching the expected fulfillment. This installment seems to revisit the issues of the first and second book, wrapping up loose ends, creating a new one with Burgess, and bringing to a head the conflict with Ddwng and the attempt to finally get to Darius' home mode. (My best pronunciation of Ddwng, following Anthony's explanation, is Dee-Doong, not quite D-dung, which was my temptation.)

The ending is a cliff hanger, and must have felt insufferable to readers to have to wait 8 years for the conclusion from a different publisher. Anthony's newsletters provide some of the context for the writing of the final book, DoOon Mode.

Harpy Thyme hardback cover

Harpy Thyme

I read the Tor 1994 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell Sweet.

Another coming of age story, this time from a mix between a harpy and a goblin (how did that happen!?), and of course of a love story, because really that's what Xanth is half the time. This story looks at our uniqueness, finding our inner beauty, as well as acceptance of our differences from others. We also get to meet some old characters and places that the book references in context of fading away. Time moves on, old makes way for new, but that doesn't mean that in Xanth we can't revisit old, comfortable friends, places, and things.

Shame of Man hardback cover

Shame of Man

I read the Tor October 1994 first edition hardcover, with cover art by Brad Schmehl.

Some of Anthony's explorations here include his ideas on dreams being a kind of collation mechanism for thoughts, how left handedness might have been perceived among early humans, the need to escape from Africa due to volcanic activity, an idea on the origins of Easter Island, and another science fiction projection of a burdened world finding its way back to civilization from environmentally sound food and communal living.

Tales From The Great Turtle hardback cover

Tales From The Great Turtle

I read the first edition, December 1994, TOR hardcover, with jacket design by Bonnie B. Butler.

If you liked Tatham Mound, you'll enjoy these stories. One of them is from Anthony, and reminds me a lot of Tatham Mound, and some of the stories from his Geodyssey series. There's authors I remember from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, and Asimov's Science Fiction, e.g. Mike Resnick, Kristine Katherine Rusch. There's a lot of good fiction here, some angry stories, and a few wild ones, but all in theme and entertaining, some educational, some gritty, but ultimately a satisfying collection.

Geis of the Gargoyle hardback cover

Geis of the Gargoyle

I read the Tor February 1995 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. The manuscript was finished approximately August 1993.

This felt like more classic Xanth, whatever that means, with a gargoyle protecting his land from environmental pollution encroaching from Mundania. Standard formula: Humphrey, quest, innuendo, adult conspiracy. A new cast of characters that have developed during the Avon/Morrow publication Xanth books that provide amusement and interest. Perhaps the first Tor trilogy reminisces about past Xanth, for Del Rey and Avon/Morrow readers, but it's time to move on and explore Xanth from the perspective of new characters.

Roc and a Hard Place hardback cover

Roc and a Hard Place

I read the Tor October 1995 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet.

Metria has become a common figure at this point in Xanth, and her past with Mentia, her sister, and the Roc she is supposed to visit, reveal much of the mythos hidden in Xanth. Perhaps part of this is Anthony reread A Spell for Chameleon as part of the simplified version revision, and discovered some loose ends to wrap up. The other part is Parnassus, the icon of the insurrmountable fortress that represents the publishing industry by analogy, is itself in violation of Xanth law (there's laws?), presenting an unusual trial.

Yon Ill Wind hardback cover

Yon Ill Wind

I read the Tor October 1996 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. It was finished in December of 1994.

This demon thing with Xanth was not my favorite. The demons weren't entirely a back drop, began betting with Xanth's future, were far too much a deus-ex-machina contrivance for the series, yet I suspect that is not only too harsh but not quite accurate. Other than perhaps A Spell for Chamelon, and that is arguable, I suspect all Xanths are created equal, but some resonate for us more than others. Yon Ill Wind is of that variety for me. Not only does the demon X(an)th become a relatable character, but the whole of Xanth is brought into a narrative that fits so much of the earliest part of the series, if not validates the things that didn't resonate with me originally. Plus, an incursion from Mundania bring even more of a human factor into this novel that isn't always in the others. This was a lovely vacation into Xanth on nested levels.

The Willing Spirit hardback cover

The Willing Spirit

I read the Tor December 1996 first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Tristan Elwell. It was finished June 1993.

This is a saucy, fun tale of fantasy from Hindu folklore and theology. Hari is a naive, young man seeking spiritual enlightenment. Instead of marrying he sets out on a quest, only to have the gods and a demon bet on his sexual corruption. 7 life threatening seductions face Hari who is unaware of the wager, and who only wants enlightement not sexual romance.

Hope of Earth hardback cover

Hope of Earth

I read the May 1997 Tor first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Tristan Elwell.

Hope of Earth fits into my category of Anthony favorites. It is my favorite of the series for sure, and apparently is Anthony's favorite of the series. One might think that writing the same novel over and over, starting in ancient pre-human pre-history and ending in the near future, exploring the environmental impacts of human exponential growth, would soon get dull and boring, but the different places in archeological and evolutionary past, and historical places of the known human past, with different character streams and interactions, hits its pinnacle with this novel. Each book in Geodyssey improves the flow and academic foundations from the previous, sometimes refining previous ideas, but not repeating them. Anthony also hired a researcher for this series (originally for Tatham Mound?), so a lot has gone into it, not only Anthony's whim of how he sees the world.

Faun & Games hardback cover

Faun & Games

I read the Tor October 1997 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. It was finished in approximately March of 1996. This is the last of the Tor Xanth books that print the beautiful color map of Xanth, which is far more readable than the black and white expanded print-on-a-page that is more difficult to read.

A whole new collections of worlds orbits Princess Ida's head. A faun befriends a tree, and goes to the Good Magician Humphrey to find a way to save it. He must go to these worlds. The opening exploring the existence of a faun, the very near skirting of the adult conspiracy, was both hilarious and fun, and then gets serious as the friendship between faun and tree nymph develops. A fun story with more Xanth to explore.

Spider Legs hardback cover

Spider Legs

I read the January 1988 TOR first edition hardcover, with eery jacket art by Latif Kazbekov. This is a story about a super lobster that is hungry and begins eating humans. The author's note claims this is the hundredth book he's written (not published).

Anthony writes very good horror and thriller novels, and this is one of my favorites of his collaborations. The Candian coast is itself an eery, beautiful landscape to imagine and explore, especially for the environmental theme Anthony adds to the story. Plus, the romance and characterization Anthony contributes to the story is spot on for a tale of this type, certainly more low key than Anthony's more adult sexuality in his other stories. Certainly, this is an adult story, and the gore is certainly shocking in places, but such is the horror genre. Anthony wraps this tale up nicely, as he always does. As he says often enough in his newsletters, this is my kind of junk.

Quest for the Fallen Star

Quest for the Fallen Star hardback cover

I read the July 1998 Tor first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Tristan Elwell. I have gone through a couple copies of this hardcover, and each one, no matter how gently I treat it, cracks along the inner front and back lines where the paste down block is attached. Something with this particular binding was flawed. An old glue? Inexpensive outer pages to the block? The book was finished after Yon Ill Wind in 1995.

This is a typical, but utterly engrossing, epic fantasy. Richey and his collaborators really did a thorough job with it. The characters are alive and interesting. The fantasy elements, however seemingly typical, are in the mix the right thing to hold reader interest. Though the book is big, and the writing pace slow, that pace keeps marching forward with interest. Expect the novel to feel slow at first, but that pace is relentless, the descriptions interesting and detailed, and the story line and characters everything they should be.

Zombie Lover hardback cover

Zombie Lover

I read the Tor October 1998 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. It was finished approximately March 1997. The cover fits the story, but I agree with Anthony's criticism of it: why is Breanna of the Black Wave not black? (She kind of is if you look closely, but not at first glance.)

No-nonsense Breanna doesn't think she's prejudiced against zombies until she catches herself in a statement that she wouldn't want to marry one. Then she encounters the decomposing King Xeth and falls prey to a love potion.

Dream A Little Dream hardback cover

Dream a Little Dream

I read the TOR January 1999 first edition hardcover, with jacket illustration by Tristan Elwell, though I understand this is based on, or actually is, Julie Brady's painting in the foreground.

A depressed woman with lucid dreaming begins to create her own fantasy reality that she can disappear to, until her bad dreams risk overtaking her fantasy and reality. Not one of my favorite Anthony collaborations, but I strongly approve of Anthony's work with new authors to get them published. Some go on to write their own novels. Sadly, some stop with the one collaboration. This appears to be one of the latter.

Muse of Art

Muse of Art hardback cover

I read the Tor May 1999 first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Tristan Elwell.

This is book four in the Geodyssey series, and the first after the originally planned trilogy, a sequel (though not dependent on) Hope of Earth. For me this had ups and downs. Anthony can get destracted with sex in his stories, and sometimes it's fun, and sometimes it just becomes too much, overwhelming the story. This one was border line, but ultimately worked out in the end. (I like a saucy story from time to time, like I imagine most people do.) The North Italian Celts story was fascinating, and one of the highlights for me, seeing early Rome before its dominance. The story in Stalingrad was excellent, showing another aspect of the war between Germany and Stalingrad Russia. This reminded me in a way of the movie Enemy at the Gates.

These novels are a remnant of the previous century (millenia). The final, futuristic stories are starting to become dated (with the exception of the fifth novel). In this case, it is literally dated with a plausable enough future scenario (especially with the scare from Russia on going on heightened nuclear alert with their invasion of Ukraine) in 2024. Thankfully, concerns in the first four books have not reached fruition, though they all remain possibilities to me.

Volk hardback cover


Volk was originally started in August 1980, but Anthony was unable to get a sale based on the initial chapter(s) (there were two) and summary, apparently because it wasn't his typical fantasy. In 1990, with the additional successes of his other novels, he decided to finish the book, and did so in 1991. However, it remained unpublished until his investments with Pulpless and Xlibris. I believe it was the first book he published with both of them in 1996. I read the 1999 corrected hardcover. I tried reading the Open Road Media mobi format from Amazon, but it had unindented paragraphs to the point it was too frustrating to read. The Xlibris hardcover is far nicer. Make sure to get a review copy before licensing the ebook in case they haven't fixed it, otherwise it's not worth the purchase. The Xlibris hardcover was nicely done and is recommended.

Volk is based on Anthony's parent's experience in Spain as Quakers volunteering for peace service during World War II. The story is about a Quaker woman who does the same, then falls in love with a German officer, and is captured by the Germans. The officer tries to save her. I enjoyed some of the lesser known history, and the slightly odd Quaker English that isn't quite the same as that which we read in Shakespeare and the King James Bible.

Reality Check hardback cover

Reality Check

I read the Xlibris hard cover, originally published by Pulpless. They renamed the title from Candle. This was finished in March 1997, but not published until 1999. More about the early thinking of Candle, as it was originally known, can be found in Anthony's web-based newsletters.

Perhaps one of the more fun fantasy stories that Anthony wrote in this period, this is about a grandchild who goes to stay with her grandparents at a rented house, which turns out to have doors that open to other places, seeming other worlds. The house seems haunted, except that doesn't seem to fit the situation. This was a fast, engrossing escape from mundane reality.

Xone of Contention hardback cover

Xone of Contention

I read the Tor October 1999 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. This was finished approximately January 1998. A couple years previous Anthony got ahead of himself with writing Xanth novels, due to juggling other projects, and Tor decided to publish once a year in October, and then stated they wanted no other novels from Anthony but Xanth. This led to a law suit to get five collaborations published. With each new contract, Xanth has been used to get some of Anthony's other books published, such as series that had been cut short (such as Muse of Art and much later Climate of Change). It may have been the beginning of the end for Anthony with Tor as about this time is when his Xlibris books were coming into print (for some, e.g. Volk and Reality Check, these were corrected editions) after the demise of Pulpless. Xone of Contention is the book where Anthony claimed that he had a novel published with a title starting with every letter of the English alphabet.

The green house effect is about to destroy Xanth, the result of an epic battle between the demons X(an)th and E(a/r)th. Our heroes must travel to ancient Xanth to identify the source of the magic errr effect, errr something that makes the trees want to die. It makes sense when you read it. :) This is one of those Xanth novels with the demons that I liked again. Perhaps they're growing on me.

Refugee hardback cover


I read the Xlibris hardcover. The book was originally finished 26 June 1982, almost two months after On a Pale Horse. The author's note is dated June 1999.

This is pure science fiction, which Anthony tends to excel at. The story and characters are gripping, but the situation is rough and graphic, modeled after some of the traumatic stories of Hatian immigrants to the United States. Though analogies abound, it provides an interesting glimpse into what a solar system full of human colonists might look like. This is a switch from his Cluster series, which explores what an interstellar society would look like with more realistic space travel. Now we have a vision of a solar society and what it might look like, though similar to Xanth, it is also a commentary on existing society. I find interstellar society to be more realistic than an intergalactic society. This shows what is typical of Anthony's style and hopefulness for greater sexual openness (at least in entertainment print).

This series seems to be, or at least towards, the beginning of his break from standard publishing, and moving towards greater authorial freedom.

Mercenary hardback cover


I read the Xlibris hardcover. The book was initially finished on 22 July 1983. This is volume 2 in the Bio of a Space Tyrant series, the sequel to Refugee.

Spoilers to follow.

This book has some beautiful and imaginative scenes on and around Jupiter, and some epic spaces battles and politics. Hope and his family begin to integrate in Jupiter culture, having successfully immigrated.

Politician hardback cover


I read the Xlibris hard cover edition. It was finished May 1984. This is volume 3 in the Bio of a Space Tyrant series, the sequel to Mercenary.

Spoilers to follow.

Having immigrated to Jupiter, Hope becomes popular and begins as local governor, catching the political eye of a rival who is running for president and wants Hope out of the way.

Executive hardback cover


I read the Xlibris hardcover, the text finished 27 December 1984. This is volume 4 in the Bio of a Space Tyrant series, the sequel to Politician.

Spoilers to follow.

This is in some ways the pinnacle of the idea behind the Space Tyrant. Between revenge against the pirates that brutalized his family in Refugee, and his taking control of not only Jupiter but the rest of the solar system, this brings forward some of the political and environmental ideas that motivated Anthony to write the series in the first place. If you had absolute power to fix societal problems, what would you change and how?

Statesman hardback cover


I read the Xlibris hardcover. The book was finished 24 November 1985. This is volume 5 in the Bio of a Space Tyrant series, the sequel to Executive.

Spoilers to follow.

This follows the rest of Hope's life, exiled and deposed in the best way that could be done. Finally, we get to look at what is to come from solar exploration, beginning to look out to the stars. Is there hints of the other, unspoken parts of Cluster here? (I may speculate too far.) Here is Hope's madness and concluding fancies pushed into reality.

This is the conclusion to the series, or so it was at the time it was written in the 1980s, setting a ground work to see what the experience might have looked like from the eyes of Hope's sister, but especially what the next steps after Hope would be. However, that is another story.

The Secret of Spring

The Secret of Spring hardback cover

I read the Tor March 2000 first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Tristan Elwell. It is astonishing how long this novel took to get published. It must have been one of the ones in Anthony's law suit with Tor. The author's note is from before the 1997 shut down of HIPIERS.

The cover art nails it. It's a scene from the book, captures the two main characters well, and also gives a sense of what the whole book is like. This story is witty, insightful, funny, sauncy, and a classic science fiction, fantasy, romantic adventure.

Herb, the main character is a walking, humanoid plant, young and looking for a good time with women. Though he's is in love with Lilly, something isn't working for him, so he leaves his planet for an extended bachelor party to figure it out.

Spring is the daughter of a scientist, who has imbedded his scientific secrets in his daughter. The only way to get them out is a romantic, sexual encounter. Zygote is the evil wizard that Professor Gabriel, Spring's father, is trying to protect his secrets from. Sometimes it's the simple stories that are so good.

The Gutbucket Quest

The Gutbucket Quest hardback cover

I read the Tor May 2000 first edition hardcover, with jacket art by Tristan Elwell.

It's not quite clear when this novel was completed. For certain, inbetween 1989 and October of 1999 (when his author's note is dated). As Anthony's memoir indicates, the collaborative novels last sold to Tor were done so in groupings, and this one was essentially after Dream a Little Dream, though the publishing order is not the same as the writing and sell order.

Gutbucket refers to a guitar, and this novel is a 1960s style love story. It is about the love of the blues. It is about finding love in unexpected places, especially when that place is an alternate fantasy reality.

What happened if the civil war was won by the South?

It goes farther from there, but likely not the way one might think. The GutBucket is magic, and is the core talisman of the story. Progress is a dynamic character that reminds me of a similar character in Stephen King's The Stand. I couldn't help but imagine Morgan Freeman as Progress. If this ever gets made into a movie, Freeman has to be the actor. I really enjoyed this book.

Chthon hardback


Chthon was written in 1965, sold 27 June 1966, and nominated for a Hugo and Nebula in 1967. I read the Xlibris hardcover, published in 2000. This is the fifth edition, has an author's note explaining some of the difficult parts of the novel, and its difficult publishing history. It also appears that my copy is an earlier print edition of the novel with a ton of errors, later corrected (according to the author in private correspondence with me). I got the Amazon ebook edition from Open Road Media to identify the corrections (and perhaps later changes) for reference.

Chthon is a prison story about a man condemned for falling in love with a woman that finds pleasure in torture. There's more to the story of course as her existence threatens the galaxy. It is inspired by the song Remember Me, though Anthony remembers it as The Girl in the Wood.

Phthor hardback cover


I read the Xlibris hardcover. This is the sequel to Chthon.

Anton's son is tempted and seduced by the Minionette with the existence of the universe hanging in the balance because of it. This looks back at more history of the species of the Minionette, and explores life in the catacombs that was once Anton's prison.

An editor of Anthony's, Charles Platt, wrote two authorized sequels to Phthor: Plasm and Soma.

The Dastard hardback cover

The Dastard

I read the Tor October 2000 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. It was finished approximately November 1998.

This reminds me of a more severe version of Golem in the Gears, where the Dastard is like what an evil Grundy might be. I wonder if this totally messes up the Xanth timeline, such as that recorded in Question Quest. I also wonder how that affects the one published on Anthony's site, presumably an extension and continual update of the one Question Question is based on. With the history of Xanth at stake, two individuals with completely separate lives and timelines struggle with understanding their place as individuals in a larger magic macrocosm.

DoOon Mode hardback cover

DoOon Mode

I read the Tor April 2001 first edition, with jacket art by Daniel Horne. Yes, the original trilogy was published by Ace/Putnam. I'm not aware Tor ever published the older novels. The manuscript was finished in May 1999.

This brings the Mode series to its conclusion, and a fitting, expected conclusion it is, with both a twist, and a recognition of some of the issues presented from the beginning. Perhaps expected is not the right word to use, considering the twist(s), but by the time you get to the end, it is expected and it is fitting.

DoOon Mode returns to the animal androids, introduces a dragon version, and begins slowly to tie up the lose ends of the trilogy. The ultimate question of course is whether Colene will get her man, and be able to truly be happy.

How Precious Was That While

How Precious Was That While hardback cover

I read the Tor July 2001 first edition hardcover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. The illustrator is the same for Bio of an Ogre (referenced in the book as BiOgre) and the relationship between the art shows.

This is a memoir. It is stand alone, does have some clarifications to BiOgre, and does not run chronologically as BiOgre more or less did. It is both a sequel and a stand alone book that references BiOgre for more detail. BiOgre goes to the author's age of fifty. How Precious Was That While has a reprise chapter of the first book, and then reflects on different periods to age sixty.

Alas, publishers don't seem to be keen on his autobiographies, and it is with difficulty that he is able to publish them. Who knows if there will be further follow ups. As he indicated in the first author's note of any substance in On a Pale Horse, they are a kind of sequel to BiOgre, and now How Precious Was That While. His newsletters should probably be included in that.

He is much more open with this memoir than the first, nor does he hold back in mentioning by name the swine (as he nicknamed them in BiOgre) he encounters. Some names are still kept out for safety or privacy.

Swell Foop hardback cover

Swell Foop

I read the Tor October 2001 first edition hardcover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. The manuscript was finished in November 1999.

Here we go again with the demons. The demon E(a/r)th is missing. Some thing with another demon is up. Without the demon E(a/r)th, gravity will dissipate. The Swell Foop instrument must be found. A whole bunch of characters are involved. That's really why we love Xanth: the characters, and the silly, the puns, the nonsense, and the inuendo.

Mute paperback cover


Mute was originally written in 1979. It was restored in early 2001. I read the Xlibris trade paperback. I couldn't find it on Xlibris and had to contact the author to get a copy from them, which he noted in one of his newsletters. Thank you Piers!

This is one of Anthony's epic novels, a mixed science fiction and fantasy, like many of his after Split Infinity. A mute mutant discovers his memory is wiped and gets caught up in an interstellar conflict. I never read the abridged version published by Avon, but I'm not sure how it could have been better.

In a newsletter, Anthony had queried about whether there was interest in a sequel Moot, which I responded in the affirmative, but he apparently lost his notes on it, and ultimately decided against the sequel. Bummer.

Jason Striker Martial Arts Series

I read the Xlibris three volume compendium, the third of which includes story extras, the unfinished draft of book 6, as well as other work related to the series.

Kiai! soft cover


Written in 1972, Kiai! was the second novel written with Fuentes after Dead Morn. Apparently, it didn't take off with the publishers until the TV series Kung Fu aired with David Carradine, at which point it was suddenly popular. Kiai! is about Jason Striker sensei, a Judoka who joins an underground tournament, meets an Aikido sensei that he befriends. This reminded me of the movie Blood Sport.

Mistress of Death

Not quite sure when this was written. 1972-73? Like Kiai!, it wasn't published until 1974. This is where the plot starts to get interesting and a bit more bloody. The mistress is the new antagonist who uses drugs to capitivate her victims. It's basically a drug ring and Striker wants to bring it down. Meanwhile, his dojo and students become imperiled.

Jason Striker volume 2 soft cover

Bamboo Bloodbath

Likely written in 1973, Bamboo Bloodbath introduces a strange antagonist, the Hyena, and Striker gets involved to take down this weird, nefarious character after Judoka in his dojo are injured. This relies to a degree on Fuentes' experience in Cuba.

Ninja's Revenge

Written in 1974-75, Ninja's revenge revisits the old Aikido master of the first novel, and a mysterious Ninja legend of a ghost from the past, and the polution of a local village.

Jason Striker volume 3 soft cover

Amazon Slaughter

This is the final installment, written in 1975. A curse, a black castle, and a Judoka to save the day.

Curse of the Ninja

This is the unfinished sixth installment. It can only be found in the Xlibris edition, and gives the wrap up to the series, even if only in the author's summaries for what they had planned to write.

The Iron Maiden paperback cover

The Iron Maiden

I read the Xlibris trade paperback, finished March 2000.

The Iron Maiden retells the story of Bio of a Space Tyrant from the perspective of Hope's sister. It both stands alone as a novel and rexplores the original series. It felt like I was rereading the original series, enjoying revisiting this science fiction world of Anthony's analogies. Some things were noticeable additions, and was nice to see what happened from Spirit's perspective, and in a way a good recap and rememberance. It also brings the story just a bit further beyond the original series. I suppose a sequel series could stem from this book, but wonder where it would overlap with But What of Earth? and Cluster.

A comparison of scenes between the original series and this book suggest very subtle distinctions in how the scenes are described and expressed where they are overlayed between the two character's persepctives. Ultimately, I suspect that reading the original series will give the full impact, and The Iron Maiden is a great way to fill in the gaps as well as revisit, whether immediately after, interspersed, or years later as it was for me. It also could just be a smaller, less involved way of enjoying the story.

The Ring paperback

The Ring

Sold October 1967. Finished January 1968? I read the Xlibris 2002 softcover, which has a 2002 copyright, so may have had some small revisions to the text. There's no author's note.

Geoffrey Font Jr is convincted of a crime, and sentenced to a decade with the ring, a good behavior enforcer that is implanted. However, when Jeff must defend himself and others, his ultra-conscience keeps him from doing the right thing because it is a bad thing. This is a fun, suspenseful science fiction mystery. It's the first of the books I read (and that was written) with Margroff, and remains my favorite of them.

The E. S. P. Worm softcover

The E.S.P. Worm

Sold 1969, published 1970. I read the Xlibris 2002 softcover, which has a 2002 copyright, so may have had some small revisions to the text. There's no author's note.

A difficult, alien, run away child needs to be returned to its home planet, and Harold has been selected to do the job. This is both a funny adventure story as well as some serious and thoughtful characterization and plot.

Up in a Heaval hardback cover

Up in a Heaval

I read the Tor October 2002 first edition hard cover with jacket illustration by Darrell K. Sweet. The manuscript was finished November 2000. The galleys were handled in the summer of 2001.

As a sarcastic summary, a snail-mail package from Mundania gets forwarded to the demon Jupiter, who takes offense. It's like a Usenet flame war breaks out, started by Jupiter who tries to destroy the environment of another demon, i.e. X(a/n)th. So Xanth inhabitants are martialed to solve the problem and save Xanth. It's like a plot in need of characters for the sake of amusement, and this one was amusing.

Cube Route hardback cover

Cube Route

I read the Tor October 2003 first edition hard cover with jacket illustration by Darrell K. Sweet. The manuscript was finished November 2001.

This is the 27th Xanth novel, or the trilogy cubed, completing the trilogy of trilogies. Puns abound as expected for Xanth.

This is a story of finding love and acceptance as well as finding our inner beauty so that it is visible. We've had this theme before, but there's certainly differences of characters, as well as a counter Xanth where everything is opposite.

Macroscope hardback cover


This was originally finished August 1968. I read the Mundania Press, November 2003 edition with cover art by Ariana Overton.

This is the kind of writing I like: speculative science fiction, with good hard science behind it, an awareness of human foibles, ideas, prejudices, and intellectual investment. It's also fascinating seeing Anthony's vision of Neptune before some of the data we have now on it was available, with imagery similar to that of Jupiter's with the Bio of a Space Tyrant series.

I very much enjoy this kind of writing from Anthony. Sadly, he doesn't write much science fiction these days, fantasy being easier and more sailable for him. Understandable. Asimov too would complain when asked for more books of science fiction when he found non-fiction easier and quicker to write.

Key to Havoc hardback cover

Key to Havoc

I read the Mundania Press July 2004 second edition hardcover, with jacket art by Stacey L. King. Written April-August 1998.

This is a really big book, bigger than even the Geoddesy novels. It took a long time to finish. Each book in the trilogy is 10 chapters long, and each chapter is a novella in its own right, often following a distinct story line, but fitting the larger narrative. Key to Havoc caught my interest for one basic reason: the tension between love and the political situation of Charm is coupled with the little guy having access to fulfilling his dreams. That's really what this story is about. It's full of sex, violence (there was a dungeon torture scene that was rougher than my taste), and intrigue. As Anthony calls it, hard hitting fantasy.

Key to Chroma hardback cover

Key to Chroma

I read the Mundania Press November 2003 hardcover, with jacket art by Stacey L. King. Written August-December 2000. This is the last novel and work of the millenia, though Anthony is not in agreement that 2001 begins the next, in which case it is Swell Foop that finishes as last written novel, and work, of the millenia.

Havoc's destiny is now a question. Who is he? Where did he come from? A series of quests for him and his companions occupy his time as he begins to investigate his new reality. What they discover leads to a dramatic discovery, setting the stage for the final book of the trilogy. I had a hard time getting into this one, but it turned out to be very interesting as I got into the second half of the novel.

As Key to Chroma clearly starts off, the ChroMagic series is full of sex. As Anthony states elsewhere, sex is to ChroMagic as puns are to Xanth. I liked it better than the first book, but can't say this is my favorite Anthony series so far.

Key to Destiny

Key to Destiny hardback cover

I am reading the Mundania Press June 2004 first hardcover edition. The August 2002 newsletter indicates that the first draft was almost finished. My guess is that the submission draft was finished that Fall, maybe September or October. The author's note is dated 17 March 2004, which was for the gallies, a final read through before it went to press.

Key to Destiny follows the glamors, their search for the icons, and the use of the loom to discover its purpose, and to finally use and explore that purpose.

The tension in the previous books of whether Havoc will get to be with the love of his life as her husband is resolved, and their future begins to express itself in the sudden adoption of three problem children. They are unique in being able to perform magic in the non-magic zone of the imperial city. Meanwhile, more glamour icons are identified, and need to be found, as the icon tapestry is being woven, and new things are revealed along the way as the sister planet, Counter Charm, is exposed in its involvement with the changelings.

This series is a kind of pornography, wrapped in plot and characters. I found that reading this series off and on, one chapter at a time, was the easiest way to digest the constant sex. Read a chapter, put it down, read something else, then come back to it for a chapter when the mood struck, or when I started to worry I might lose track of the story line. This made the series not only more palatable, but more enjoyable. Anthony always delivers in the end, and the characters develop their own personalities and motivations, but if you don't like the sex you'll hate the series. I found it to be a bit much at times with this trilogy, and the magic concept was not as enticing to me as some of his other work. It has alot of parallels to the Adept series, which I think I prefer. However, the science fiction part of the background of this series caught my interest. In the end, the novels were just too big, a bit too gratuitous without strong justification in the plot (it's more of the atmosphere and culture of the books), and not quite enough satisfaction with the reveal at the end.

Currant Events hardback cover

Currant Events

I read the Tor October 2004 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. The submission draft was finished in November 2002.

There's a dragon world in Ida's moons, and the dragons are running rampant across Xanth. It seems that the Currant, a rare berry, is believed by Clio to hold an answer. There's always folks along the way that make a Xanth story so interesting. Otherwise, how could we stand the puns, (and this one has a lot).

Pet Peeve hardback cover

Pet Peeve

I read the Tor October 2005 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. The submission draft was finished in October 2003, after finishing The Magic Fart. Alfred was finished after, though started before.

Xanth needs a Grundy-like character every so often, and the Peeve fills this need. The bird is hilarious. I've owned parrots, including a cockatoo, and this made me smile thinking of what a magic bird might be like in attitude. It gets even better when the goblin assigned by the Good Magician to find the bird a home is the exact opposite: a polite goblin with a very rude problem.

This book was set up to be hilarious in ways that out does some of the previous books. Not all Xanth is comedy. Some of it is serious, and even the puns are carefully tempered artifacts of the landscape, not the story itself. This is not one of those, but at the same time every Xanth has characters and theme that underly the stories. It's the ones with which we identify that make our Xanth favorites. This is one of mine.

Stork Naked hardback cover

Stork Naked

I read the Tor October 2006 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. The submission draft was finished in October (maybe November?) 2004.

Xanth misfits are so misfit that they are no longer misfits but the norm. However, two centaur misfits, those rejected by the centaur community, have their baby from the Stork Works for the first time in Xanth history, only to have their baby kidknapped. The Good Magician doesn't seem to be helping though, and all the misfits of Xanth seem to band together to find out what happened, and to get their baby back. Meanwhile, an alternate frame of Xanths is exposed. No, not Ida's moons, or the reverse Xanth. There are parallel universes of Xanths. Lovely: there's going to be even more puns.

Tortoise Reform paperback cover

Tortoise Reform

I read the Mundania Press, September 2007 first edition paperback, with cover art by SkyeWolf Images. This appears to have been finished August or September 2001, but the author's note is October 2004. Not sure of the disparity in time frame there, but likely publishing issues.

Billed as a children's story, I found this slower paced, with more nuanced thinking and language than I would expect of a child. This is a teen's story, I think, more than a ten year old's. It is about befriending and saving animals, dealing with depression, and finding an alternate reality to escape to, at least at first. I found the story well considered, clearly written by a parent with daughters, and insightful and sensitive as I've come to expect of Anthony's more serious work.

Relationships I paperback cover


I read the Phaze 2007 paperback with cover art by Debi Lewis. Phaze was an imprint of Mundania Press. The short story collection was written as a cohesive whole, intended for the volume, which may be unique for Anthony, as all his previous short story collections have stories that were targeted for science fiction publishers (mainly). The volume was first published with Venus press. The April 2006 newsletter indicated this was a trial, by Venus' invitation, with Anthony doing the promotion. Venus went out of business and Anthony had to go the Mundania imprint Phaze. Phaze published this as Relationships I because by that point, Anthony had already written Relationships II, also published by Venus. After Phaze, when Mundania Press went out of business, was Dreaming Big Publications, where others of this series were published. Relationships was finished in early 2004 before starting Under a Velvet Cloak and towards the conclusion or after Alfred.

This is a collection of stories with the theme being relationships. In theory, these are not all erotica, but if you know Anthony, you know where his brain goes, so really, these are erotica. He's very imaginative, so these actually weren't as bad as I thought, and I've very much enjoyed the series. Hot Game was completely unrealistic (for it to happen), but was fascinating for this Utah boy who is not in to erotica...

Alfred softback cover


I have the Xlibris 2007 softcover edition. This is the fictionalized story of Piers' father, Alfred Jacob, from the perspective of the four women in his life, the third of which was his wife, Piers' father. It is in the form of five novellas and author's note. The data for these stories is clearly from Alfred's journal and accompanying records as later confirmed in the author's note (as well as newsletters from the time).

The first story is about Alfred's first crush, or at least significant crush, and one of the last. The story telling is somewhat slow, but interesting at times. The second is about what is Alfred's idealized love of his life whom forever flavored his future relationships. The third is about meeting his spouse, getting married, losing their virginity, their rocky relationship, and the birth of Piers and his other siblings. It is told from Norma's not Alfred's perspective. Alfred volunteered as a Quaker in Spain during the second world war, then later started the Quaker Hilltop Farm community. The fourth story is of Genevieve whom Alfred has an affair with as his marriage with Norma disolves. Finally, is a return to his first crush. As his life comes to a close there starts to be a final woman, but his health devolves and that relationship never transpires.

Key to Liberty hardback cover

Key To Liberty

Written from December 2004 to June or July 2005. I have the Mundania Press hardcover first edition, April 2007, with by SkyeWolf.

Earth has come back to claim Charm. They're bent on domination. I had assumed it was the Chroma promiscuous society, enabled by technologically efficient birth control, and engaged by changelings that led to the constant sex. Like with Xanth and puns, part of the magic of Charm was a sexually active environment where influenced by magic or the changelings. However, from the first page introducing the humans in chapter 2, they're engaging in the same kind of sex. Yes, they're around Charm, but the implication is this is normal behavior. I've barely started the novel, so perhaps this is explained later. It reminds me of the Tail in the Bio of a Space Tyrant series, but with the blatant sexuality of ChroMagic.

Air Apparent hardback cover

Air Apparent

I read the Tor October 2007 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. The submission draft was finished in October 2005.

A soul napping? A murder mystery? A new husband is taken just as a marriage starts. The Good Magician Humphrey can't help: his book of knowledge is completely scrambled. Our heroine is blind, and some unlikely characters are along for the ride. This is a typical Xanth, and it always ends well.

Relationships II paperback cover

Relationships II

I read the Phaze March 2008 paperback with cover art by Debi Lewis. The cover is slightly modified from the first, essentially a blow up of the first with a Rook key lock at the bottom. This is a much larger volume than the first, and likely the biggest of the series.

Relationship volumes are a collection of short stories and novelettes of erotica with the theme being relationships. The stories for II, like I, were written for the volume and not published elsewhere.

Two to the Fifth hardback cover

Two to the Fifth

I read the Tor October 2008 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. The submission draft was finished in September 2006. This was finished after Under a Velvet Cloak, and before Relationships II.

A robot who wants to be a playwright? He goes to ask the Good Magician Humphrey how this can be done, only to be told he has to save Xanth. Can a merry band of actors, a wannabe playwright, and three powerful child twins save Xanth from destruction? Will a rediculous bard fall in love? This is typical Xanth. Keep an eye on those twins. There's later fun novels with them.

Relationships III paperback cover

Relationships III

I read the Phaze January 2009 paperback with cover art by Debi Lewis. The cover is slightly modified from the first, essentially a blow up of the first (and more than the second) with a light bulb at the bottom. I was shocked when I went to buy this for a friend and learned that, with Mundanie Press, and thus Phaze, being out of business, and thus the series out of print, that it was going on Amazon for nearly $900. I understand that Dreaming Big Publications will be taking on the older series, but as of yet it is not available.

This is a collection of short stories and novelettes of erotica with the theme being relationships. They were written for the volume and not published elsewhere.

Jumper Cable hardback cover

Jumper Cable

I read the Tor October 2009 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. The submission draft was finished in November 2007.

Castle Roogna was a favorite Xanth. It may be because it was the end of the original trilogy, and certainly better than the second novel which I didn't exactly like (perhaps I should reread it and see if it has the same affect on me the second time). It's also because I love the theme: a youngster must come of age quickly, but for (mostly, i.e. assuming he can survive it) harmless reasons. This begins to stretch the boundaries of the adult conspiracy, gives an introduction to Castle Roogna, its zombies, has an epic battle, and gives the most interesting anthropomorphization of a spider. This seems to be one of Anthony's specialities (giving perspective from non-adults and non-humans).

I've probably done a better job describing that novel than I did in the Castle Roogna entry, but this is its proper sequel, and Jumper is a spider of that lineage. It's also, really, a kind of sequel to the Source of Magic, which I think Anthony has vindicated in my mind through later Xanth novels.

This time Pluto is a demon involved, who has been demoted. Sorry Anthony, an oort cloud object is not a planet. Pluto is not in the planetary orbital plane. Perhaps it is, in a way, a tiny planet, but it seems to more closely fit the definition of a comet. Regardless, Anthony expresses well the general perception in typical Xanth fascetious humor. Meanwhile, among this back ground, Jumper must recable the outernet to the internet, and the twins are back as sexy 19 year olds to torment him when he must temporarily become a male human.

Yeah, Xanth is silly, but there's something to be said for punnish humor that makes fun of day to day things in the real world. It's all in good fun.

I have begun reading this.

Key To Survival

First draft started in December 2006 or January 2007, and finished May 2007. The final draft was finished in June 2007. I have not yet read this.

Climate of Change hardback cover

Climate of Change

I read the Tor May 2010 hardcover. The jacket cover seemed like a basic clip art, no real illustration. This is the fifth and final book in the Geodyssey series, published a decade after most of the book was written. It was finished between May and July 2008, and the unfinished part was written after Jumper Cable. The book binding seems to be an improvement over past volumes (and Quest for the Fallen Star). Maybe there was an issue with those couple of years at Tor, but the binding glue would crack and the block sever with even careful reading, and consistently, in previous Geodyssey volumes. There are no maps in this one either, and it was the only volume written at least in the last part without his researcher.

There's a lot of history here that's fascinating to have visualized and explored, similar to previous volumes, but this seems more history thick. It is a worthy conclusion to the series, which I'm sad to see had to stop, like other series of Anthony's. All good things must come to and end; well, except Xanth.

Knot Gneiss hardback cover

Knot Gneiss

I read the Tor October 2010 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. The submission draft was finished in October 2008.

Love stories and heart's desires is the theme of this book, though perhaps not original. The quest is to retrieve a knot of petrified reverse wood and nuetralize its effects. The need to save Xanth every novel gets old though. Sometimes the little-guy-finding-himself type story, like the original Spell for Chameleon, has its charms.

Cluster Series

This series is a sequel to the book But What of Earth?. The novel Tarot is also a sequel to But What of Earth?. But What of Earth? sets up the idea of matter transmission, what Star Trek called beaming. (Star Trek subspace beaming was, with one TNG exception, not used and not really possible. There's also transwarp beaming suggested in the Star Trek reboot, i.e. Kelvin timeline, movie series.) Matter transmission was Anthony's way of maintaining integrity with known constraints of speed-of-light travel. The series was revised and digitized in 2008-2009 for its publication at E-reads (now part of Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.) in 2010.

Cluster paperback cover


I first read the Gollancz British hard cover edition of Cluster. I gave this as a gift to a friend, and now have the Open Road Integrated Media 2014 trade paperback edition. This was revised in December 2008 as he began digitizing the series.

Cluster moves the idea of matter transmission forward, and looks at the clustering of civilization out from the center, based on the distance from that center. The idea is that civilization degrades the farther away it gets from its center. Speed of light travel would limit this to a degree, but matter transmission makes it far easier, but the energy cost for transmission is significant, until something new is discovered. This seems to build on the idea in But What of Earth? where civilization density affects its progress, shown more drastically where matter transmission suddenly deminishes civilization density. With Cluster, matter transmission extends civilization density outward, thus having a similar effect.

Chaining the Lady paperback cover

Chaining the Lady

I read the Open Road Integrated Media 2014 paperback edition. This is a new revised edition, edited in January-February 2009.

Spoilers to follow.

The discoveries of the Kirlian aura now are realized at a galatic level. This follows Flint's daughter. The idea of the aura allows a different kind of interspace travel, but the implications are less about civlization's progress.

But What of Earth? and its sequel Tarot have influence here, with echoes of Brother Paul and later interpretations of the Animation Tarot. The two books, Tarot and Chaining the Lady, can be started together, but switching to Chaining the Lady part way through Tarot (it is a bit long), is fitting, and Tarot could carry through reading Kirlian Quest.

Kirlian Quest paperback cover

Kirlian Quest

I read the Open Road Integrated Media 2014 paperback edition. This is a new, revised edition, edited in February 2009.

This is the conclusion to the trilogy (not the series). It introduces a threat to the two galaxies and wraps up the mystery of the Ancients introduced in Cluster. The Kirlian aura is brought to its pinnacle of use as the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies battle it out and identify a new threat.

Thousandstar paperback cover


I read the Open Road Integrated Media 2014 paperback edition. This is a new, revised edition, edited in March 2009.

Thousandstar takes places in the Cluster universe. A new, functioning site of the Ancients is discovered, and a race between the spheres will determine control of the site. This story is a bit less serious, and more fun (not a negative reflection on the preceding novels) than the trilogy. It explores the discoveries found in Cluster and looks at the origin of the Ancients more closely. This book wraps up some loose ends in the trilogy.

Viscous Circle paperback cover

Viscous Circle

I read the Open Road Integrated Media 2014 paperback edition. This is a new, revised edition, edited in March (and possibly April?) 2009.

Viscous Circle is a deeply moving, and original, novel. It takes place in the cluster universe. Anthony's strength at imaginging completely alien existence comes to the forefront in this novel, telling the tale of an entirely unique biosphere and the environmental impact that the Spheres, including Earth's sphere, has on it in their need to explore the sites of the Ancients.

Relationships vol 4 paperback cover

Relationships 4

I read the Phaze January 2011 first edition paperback with cover art by Niki Browning. The cover is more elaborate than the first trilogy's, with tastefully hidden but tantalizing nude couples. I understand that Dreaming Big Publications will be taking on the older series, but as of yet it is not available.

This is a collection of short stories and novelettes of erotica with the theme being relationships. They were written for the volume and not published elsewhere. It was finished in July 2009.

Eroma paperback cover


The author finished this in August 2009. I have the Open Road Media paperback printed in 2017, but copyright 2011. I have only started to read this. I tried reading the Open Road Media ebook, but it is a botch in terms of typography. The paragraphs are not spaced, nor indented, so it is difficult to read at all, so I'm waiting for after I finish Under a Velvet Cloak, and as I continue the ChroMagic series, before picking it up again with the paperback version. (ChroMagic books are absolutely huge, and I have found trading off my reading helps, so Eroma seems perfect for this.)

Well-Tempered Clavicle hardback cover

Well-Tempered Clavicle

I read the Tor October 2011 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Darrell K. Sweet. The submission draft was finished in November 2009.

Picka Bones plays music with his bones, enough that a princess falls in love with him, but she has meat on her bones that disgusts him. There are others with issues. Naturally, they go to the magician of information to figure out what to do. Oh, it gets better: do they need to open Pundora's Box (yes, Pun-dora), or one might think of it as the Good Magician Humphrey opening Pundora's Box in answer to their problems.

Pandora Park paperback cover

Pandora Park

I read the Premier Digital Publishing (PDP) 2011 paperback edition. Oddly, neither the PDP, nor the Open Road Media Kindle, edition have an attribution for the cover artist, whom I thought did an excellent illustration for the book. This book was written in November 2005, after the Xanth novel Air Apparent. According to the December 2007 newsletter, a publisher was never found for the book. PDP is where this was published finally in 2011. PDP was bought by Open Road Media, so is now found there, but without the publish-on-demand option that PDP offered.

Of all of Anthony's children's books, this is my favorite, though Balook is a rough tie with it, especially because of the elegant illustrations of that book. The park in question has a magical forest that a boy from the States, and a girl from China, are able to meet and interact, and get to know one another. Having had such experiences in real life (not literal magic, but certainly magical), this story brought back some fond memories.

The Sopaths paperback cover

The Sopaths

I have the Fantastic Planet Press 2011 paperback edition, an imprint of Eraserhead Press. The cover art is a young nude woman with a dark, cloudy or ominous background, by Dan Henk. The author's note is dated June 10, 2010.

As I finished Alfred, and began looking into the beginnings of Under a Velvet Cloak in Anthony's newsletters, which I've entirely read (the newsletters that is), but look back to identify context in reading, I found that Piers' website is being redone in WordPress. As I was in the middle of one newsletter, and moving on to the next, pieces were disappearing. Some reappear on WordPress, some don't. So I went to the index of the old newsletters, and it too disappeared as I was using it. Someone should teach their webmaster or webmistress about HTTP redirect configurations so that old files still present are not lost. It seems I am left to the author's notes at this point, and my memory, to identify writing order.

The story turned out to be better than expected. It is uncomfortable in places as it tackles brutality and sexual explotation by children of others (including children). Anthony imagines what it is like for children to be born with no conscience. Thankfully, he moves some of this off-screen, out of the direct line of the story. The real story is how survivors make a family and try to discover what has happened to them, which makes the story more bearable.

Relationships vol 5 paperback cover

Relationships 5

I read the Phaze August 2012 first edition paperback with cover art by Niki Browning. The cover follows on the vol 4. cover, but not as tantalizing. I understand that Dreaming Big Publications will be taking on the older series, but as of yet it is not available.

This is a collection of short stories and novelettes of erotica with the theme being relationships. They were written for the volume and not published elsewhere.

Luck of the Draw hardback cover

Luck of the Draw

I read the Tor October 2012 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Judie Dillon. Darrell K. Sweet has been doing covers for Anthony across publishers for years, so this is an Anthony staple that has changed. The submission draft was finished in October 2010.

I guess when you clean out your garage in the real world, it spawns a whole new set of ideas, especially if you're a writer. For Anthony, we have an 80 year old man cleaning out his garage. Next thing you know, the man is in Xanth. There's a foundation of youth, a love spring, a magic talent, and a girl. Oh, and a dog is brought along, because who would leave Mundania without a dog? (Cat people: hush.). Oh and the demons are back with their games. Go figure.

Esrever Doom hardback cover

Esrever Doom

I read the Tor October 2013 first edition hard cover with jacket art by Judie Dillon. Darrell K. Sweet has been doing covers for Anthony across publishers for years, so this is an Anthony staple that has changed. The submission draft was finished in November 2011. This is the last Tor book from Anthony. Did something about the Macmillan buy-out of Tor not go over well?

Kody finds himself in hospital, then wakes up in Xanth. Wah?! He begins a quest to find his way back to Mundania, but earns his keep along the way in Xanth. Reversal seems to be a theme as of late.

Board Stiff hardback cover

Board Stiff

I read the 2015 Open Road Media hardcover. This is a reprint of the Premier Digital Publishing (PDP) January 2014 edition. Open Road Integrated Media bought PDP. When I got to the end of this edition, the last two paragraphs was missing. I have an email from the author with the missing text, and I believe he posted it in one of his newsletters, (yeah, I was the fan he mentioned there). My guess is current editions have been corrected.

The Good Magician Humphrey doesn't seem to be immediately involved. The beginning is fascinating and immediately brought me into the story. How does Anthony create a character that is a literal board and make it work? He does, and this novel is as good as any Xanth.

Odd Exam cover

Odd Exam

I read the Open Road Integrated Media Amazon 2014 Kindle edition. As far as I'm aware, there is no print edition. It was written in June 2012.

A virtual reality college entrance exam becomes more as this multiplayer game becomes recognized as a real existence on another world, fighting others and alien monsters, and along the way falling in love and dealing with romance. I really enjoyed this story, my favorite so far of the ebook-only novellas.

Pornucopia hardcover

Pornucopia Compendium

I read the August 2015 Mundania Press LLC hardcover edition, with cover art by Joel Mallory and Niki Browning. Apparently, not as fancy a hardcover as the individual editions from Mundania from photos I've seen online. The cover art has gone through variations in its editions.


Originally called 3.97 Erect. Written beginning in 1969 and finished in 1970. This went unpublished for over a decade. Originally, it was written for Essex House, which went out of business, perhaps as a too hot publication concept: Taboo breaking, pornographic fantasy and science fiction. The author of the two sequels to Chthon and Phthor tried to create a publication to publish it, Black Sheep, and failed, but found another to publish the book: Tafford. I have three of Tafford's books, and they are as well done as Mundania's. When Tafford folded, Electric Bookworm took it and folded before it was published. I think at this point, now that Mundania has folded, it is at Open Road Media as an electronic book.

The story line is simple. A man has a small penis, meets a demon, who promises to solve his sex problems. Then things go wrong when the talent of his cum curing venerial disease is discovered and a doctor removes his genitals for scientific research. He has a prothesis and goes on a quest to conquer the demons to recover his bodily integrity. Meanwhile, he has to have lots of sex in every way possible.

This book is brain damage. You will lose your mental virginity. Somehow, it not only maintains plot integrity, but has characterization, and actual humanistic themes. I don't know how he pulled it off. Having read in his newsletters that the sequel has been more than enough to satisfy the urge to write such things, since he has sufficient money to no longer care about finding new markets, I am relieved. I'm one of Anthony's completists, but Pornucopia was something that questioned my wanting to continue being so. This is likely not one I intend to reread.

Magic Fart

The text was finished January or February 2003, and immediately before Pet Peeve. Prior, unfulfilled from the prior attempt to find love and happiness, and doing nothing but gaining revenge and what he had lost from the prior venture, is now pressed further into the demon realm, a trap being set for him in revenge for his revenge, with the promise of his perfect mate. Like the first, this is the grossest, most explicit sexual content in a book I've read. Yet Anthony somehow pulls it off with a plot, characterization, and dare I say it a funny theme.

This is only for the sexual misfit, with a couple screws loose, or Anthony completists, of which (I surely hope) I am the latter.

Under a Velvet Cloak hardback cover

Under a Velvet Cloak

I have the Mundania Press 2015 hardcover, with cover art by Niki Browning. It was completed in July 2004 (see the August 2004 and December 2007 newsletters), and the galleys for the Mundania press edition in November 2007.

This book is like a post-lude to the Incarnation of Immortality series. That series has five books, then two. This book plays on events in those two, books six and seven. The original idea comes from one of Anthony's readers who identified clear plot trajectories that stem from revelations in those books, digging into the origins of the incarnations and establishing a more concrete concept of the magic timelines.

Anthony's highly sexualized series are all at play during this period, and though this book begins to see the beginnings of a warming of this, it is clear it is still active on his mind, from the ChroMagic series, to his Relationships story series, Pornucopia sequel, and Eroma. As his mainstream series are brought to an end, other than Xanth, a general adult sexually explicit, but not over-the-top period of writing is at play. I don't think Under a Velvet Cloak is as bad as Anthony seemed to identify in his newsletters. If anything, it's more an indication that Anthony's writing has changed since Incarnations was originally written, so its tenor is perhaps different if the series are read all at once. Certainly, once the ChroMagic series is brought to a close after this book, there will be some simple series, including a collaboration, as well as Relationships, but his big science fiction and fantasy epics (other than Xanth) are winding down. This seems to be Anthony returning to his origins in shorter fiction.


Aiena cover

I read the Open Road Integrated Media Amazon 2014 Kindle edition. This is the first book I've licensed for electronic use for a cost. It was finished by the author in February 2013, and written after what became the The Metal Maiden Collection and the Xanth novel Board Stiff.

Not to say I don't have many electronic books, mainly public domain or free of charge (it was actually my second Amazon Kindle book, which I got on a deal), but see I have some issue with the exhorbitant prices of an ebook versus a printed book. A printed book has the cost of the paper, the binding, distribution, advertising. There's something about the feel of a printed book in your hands in a nice looking arrangement and cover. An electronic book you have to read on your own device, and it costs the distributor and publisher almost next to nothing for one copy versus thousands. (Not to say it doesn't cost for typography, editing, copy editing, and advertising, when it's done.)

Certainly, services cost a little more, such as Amazon, because of keeping the book on server. Amazon downloads on the Kindle, or Kindle app on 3 allowed devices (so you can read on your phone on the run, and on your tablet at home) will cost more. It's when the cost of the ebook becomes similar to the printed version that I raise an eyebrow and have refused to purchase a license for such texts. My guess, from newsletter comments, is that the author doesn't agree. College text price gouging I find especially problematic.

Aliena came about when I was on a holiday with my family and realized I had forgot the novel I was reading at the time (another Anthony novel). I was aware that Anthony had works that had never made print, and were only available in electronic format. I got on my tablet, saw Aliena for $2.99 and figured that was a winner. I enjoyed the book while enjoying my vacation. Other Anthony ebooks I've got when specials are run that let me get the book for the right price.

Aliena is about an Alien symbiant in a beautiful woman host. They fall in love with a man she lives near by. Then things go wrong and the human host rejects the alien. The alien must join with another human. Will her lover accept her with a new body?

Five Portraits hardback cover

Five Portraits

I read the Open Road Media 2015 hardcover edition. As with Board Stiff, I have no idea who did the cover illustration (on the actual hard back: there's no dust jacket. The electronic edition came out in 2014).

A basilisk becomes human, gets a soul, and rescues five children from Xanth's future, a future where apparently Xanth will cease to exist. Meanwhile, the pun virus of the previous book that nearly whipes out Xanth still has some residual after effects.

WereWoman cover


I read the 21 October 2014 Kindle ebook from Open Road Media. It was written in June 2013. I'm not sure why Open Road Media doesn't credit the cover art. It was written after Five Portraits.

This is a Noir fantasy about a shape changing for hire detective who specializes in supernaturals. A witch hires the detective to find the murder of a warlock. This leads to the murder trail of other supernaturals and sexual intrigue that is a constant in the story.

Cautionary Tales

Cautionary Tales cover

I read the Open Road Media 2014 Amazon Kindle ebook edition. This is a collection of short stories that are considered cautionary, i.e. out of the main stream. Each story or essay is prefaced to indicate what to watch out for, in case the reader wishes to skip reading that story (or essay).

In general, this was not as bad as I thought, though a couple stories were a bit intense. Basically, this comes down to Anthony has stories that no longer fit the main stream market, and he appears to be writing for himself these days instead of what he knows he can sell. This is basically his retirement, and this is the first short story collection since Alien Plot that collects stories together, (not including Relationships which is a unique series of short stories written as a collection).

In some ways I like this about face. He hit the pinnacle of size with his ChroMagic books, huge quarter million word tomes. Anthony has returned to short story and novella writing, and it is enjoyable, but his hard science fiction days are over and that is something I miss, and unfortunately there's a lot of stories building up again that haven't been published. I'd rather read small novels that are actually published, that know there are stories out there I can't read at all. There's also a bunch of one-off stories that get into a magazine or anthology which won't be available for some time, if at all, because of it.

The Metal Maiden Collection cover

The Metal Maiden Collection

This is a collection of four novellas published by Open Road Media. As far as I'm aware, there is no print media version available. This collection is a bit after-the-fact. The novellas To Be a Woman and Shepherd were originally separate ideas and separate stories. Enough influence from To Be a Woman led to Shepherd having some references and fitting into the same framework. That led to two sequels both fitting in to the framework and it became a novella series.

To Be a Woman cover

To Be a Woman

This is Anthony's version of The Bicentennial Man, (my description, not Anthony's). Unlike Asimov, however, Anthony picks a female android instead of a male robot, and makes her, as Data in Star Trek might say, fully functional. She wants to be recognized legally as a person, (the Asimov connection I'm seeing). This remains a viable question to ask, especially without the laws of robotics and other Asimovian trappings. In this case, she wants to marry a human male, so the female perspective adds to it, and Anthony is actually not bad with this it seems to me.

Shepherd cover


Oh the tangle of this one. A student joins an exchange program that has him exchange bodies, i.e. like Anthony's Cluster series, mind transfer with body exchange allows one's thoughts and awareness to control a body elsewhere. First he finds out the animals of this world are not only telepathic, but able to defend themselves against a human, but then he finds himself falling in love, and has a dilemma when it's time for the exchange program to be over.

Flytrap cover


The two previous novellas lay the ground work for this story. To Be a Woman was written as a separate story, as was Shepherd initially. This story is in a way a sequel to both, and what creates the series.

Mona mind exchanges to a planet with a human colony and her host is a pregnant woman. It's the same planet as the telepathic sheep, and Mona knows the android who got married. This novella wraps up some loose ends introduced by Shepherd. It ends on a cliff hanger and the story is concluded in Awares.

Awares cover


An aware is a human chameleon, one who is so aware of their surroundings that they blend in, physically and socially. The emancipated android of To Be a Woman and Flytrap discovers an alient invasion from a planet of telepathics and must find a way to rescue Earth. This is the conclusion to the series.

Aliena Too

Aiena Too cover

I read the Open Road Integrated Media Amazon 2014 Kindle edition. I have no idea who did the cover illustration, design, (or clip art?).

Aliena is a sapient star fish, an alien from outer space that interacts with humans as a symbiant. Aliena helps a woman in this story to rescue her dying husband, except the tide turns with this story from the previous. It is not the mind of the lover that is preserved but the body. Can she learn to love a new mind in her husband's body? Can she teach the host to know how to love her back?

Isis Orb hardback cover

Isis Orb

I read the Open Road Media 2016 hardcover edition with cover design by Sarah Kaplan. The illustrations continue to be unattributed. Have these been clip art that's been arranged and inserted? This book was finished in June of 2014. It seems this took nearly as long as Tor did with their 1.5-2 year publishing cycle. A newsletter points out this was due to an argument over licensing: they wanted full copyright to be signed over. Anthony was ready to take Xanth elsewhere and move on from Open Road Integrated Media, but they must have worked it out.

Hapless is looking for love. He's also looking for how to defeat the irony of his magic talent: the capability to conjure musical instruments, none of which he knows how to play. The Good Magician Humphrey, with the talent of information, sends him to get an orb from the goddess Isis, who naturally doesn't want to give it up. To control the orb, a totem from each of the five forbidden regions of Xanth must be retrieved.

Ghost Writer in the Sky hardback cover

Ghost Writer in the Sky

I read the Open Road Media 2016 hardcover edition with cover design by Amanda Shaffer. This book was finished in March of 2015.

A mysterious Mundane begins creating stories, innacted by the Night Colt during the day, that makes the inhabitants of Xanth carry out the stories, written in the sky. Meanwhile, other Mundanes find a portal into Xanth. That smells of the demons to me, but is it?

Writer's Retweet paperback cover

Writer's Retweet

I read the Dreaming Big Publications 2016 edition paperback of Writer's Retweet, with cover art by Macario Hernandez III. The November 2011 newsletter indicated that Anthony was doing a new thing. Instead of having blog posts retweeted on his Twitter account (maintained by his blogger and publisher), he would have tweets that would be pieces of a story. In the end, that was five stories in all, averaging over 100 tweets per story.

You can tell the paragraphs are small, but the stories follow from their own merit, and sometimes it seems that paragraphs contain several tweets as the book improves the typography and text layout. These are typical Anthony stories with a new publisher, Dreaming Big, that appears to be a common secondary publisher for him now (for instance, see the Relationships series), the main one being Open Road Media.

Hair Power paperback cover

Hair Power

I read the Dreaming Big Publications 2016 paperback with cover art by Mac Hernandez. This was finished in August 2015, just after rereading Virtue Inverted (presumably for publication).

An alien hair ball saves a suicidal young cancer patient from death. The alien is telepathic and becomes a symbiant with her to save her, but it wants something in return. This is a fun, saucy fantasy. It reminds me a little bit of Aliena.

Service Goat paperback cover

Service Goat

I read the Dreaming Big Publications 2016 paperback, with cover art by Macario Hernandez III. This was written in June and July of 2016. My edition print is dated 06 December 2016. This is a small novel, like Writer's Retweet, and seems to be Anthony's new normal.

This is a fantasy and science fiction mix, with a goat with mysterious powers, and alien UFOs. It's fun for a light, quick read.

Hair Suite paperback cover

Hair Suite

I read the Dreaming Big Publications 2016 paperback with cover art by Mac Hernandez. This was finished in August 2016.

The hair balls have set up an embassy. Now another alien species, a kind of cyborg called the Chip Monks, wants to conquer Earth, and the hair balls intend to save it. Yeah, it's kinda silly, and typical Anthony saucy.

Virtue Inverted paperback cover

Virtue Inverted

I read the Dreaming Big Publications 2017 paperback, with cover art by Mitchell Davidson Bentley titled The Good, the Bat & the Ugly. The novel appears to have been finished in July 2015, a collaboration with one of Anthony's Christian correspondents.

This was sword and sorcery fantasy. It reminds me of some of the Weiss and Hickman Dungeons and Dragons books perhaps mixed with Meyer's Twilight. That's a kind of snarky comparison. It took me a bit to get into this novel, but it turned out OK. Not my favorite of Anthony's. It is the first novel in a trilogy.

Read the Read paperback cover

Read the Read

I read the Mannison Press February 2021 first edition paperback, with cover illustrations by Deidre J Owen and pixabay.com. Walk the Walk was first published in Little Girl Lost: Thirteen Tales of Youth Disrupted in 2019. Ride the Ride was published in Little Boy Lost: More Tales of Youth Disrupted in 2020. These were both Mannison Press collections. The final story Fly the Fly is unique to this volume.

A girl meets a skeleton and becomes friends. A boyish man becomes friends with a ghost. All three finally become linked together.

©2022-2023 David Egan Evans.