by Piers Anthony
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
336 pages; ISBN: 0765304074
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
Tor, Oct 2004, $24.95, 336 pp.
On Mount Parnassus Clio the Muse of History begins to write the twenty-eighth Chronicle of Xanth, only to find the tome exists, which means somehow she already has written it. Already shocked beyond words adding to her chagrin, the tome is impossible to read as it contains words that are indecipherable. Clio decides to visit Humfrey the Good Magician Humfrey to learn how to read the enigmatic book.
Of course this being Humfrey, he does not care that Clio is a long time friend as anyone who wants his help must perform a required service. He orders her to find the magical red berry, a simple enough task. However, this is Xanth and not Mundania; nothing is ever simple especially if Humfrey is involved. On her trek, Clio gathers a host of fellow travelers especially Sherlock and must perform sidebar deeds like transporting safely six thousand dragons from Dragon World to Xanth and other dangerous tasks to solve the mystery of the unclear history book.
More a book of puns held somewhat together by the quest, Xanth fans will appreciate this lighthearted romp that takes readers away from Mundania. The story line leaps from one pun to another with occasional twists and turns to make room for a double entendre. Clio is a fine muse although skirting the edges of her magical world. As has been most of the recent novels, Piers Anthony has fun incorporating a zillion jibes, jokes and witty and not so droll bon mots provided by Xanthian readers, whom the author acknowledges for their contributions, but the Mundanian masses might feel it is time to punt.
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