Do you know about the Xanth series?
It’s a very, very long light fantasy series by author Piers Anthony, started in the 70’s with his book, a Spell for Chameleon. The series started as a trilogy, but was so popular he wrote a second trilogy, and after that he just gave up and called it a series.
Though it’s a series, you can definitely read any of the books out of order and honestly, in any order too. I HATE reading series out of order or not starting from the beginning – in fact, I refuse to do so, even if it’s supposed to be a “standalone” book. I personally don’t believe any series book is a standalone book, because if it’s a true standalone book, why are you including it in the series? (rant over)
My first Xanth novel was Golem in the Gears, handed to me by my dad. I was recovering from walking pneumonia the summer between my third and forth grade years. Yup, I was a kid reading adult books. My mom was a little nervous at the idea of me reading an adult book, but my dad assured her it was kid friendly and yes, the series is kid friendly (especially the earlier books) though there are a LOT and I do mean a LOT of adult jokes going on (the adult conspiracy).
I devoured that book, and read every other Xanth book dad owned, and then checked them all out of the library (after getting permission from my parents to let me take books out of the adult section, that is). After that, I didn’t really read a lot of “kids” books other than the classics or ones for school.
So I have fond memories of Xanth, but here’s the thing… the series has gotten very commercialized… Anthony’s critics have said that he keeps churning out the books because they are a commercial success and not because he actually has any original story lines left, and that’s true. (seriously what author doesn’t write to make money? Isn’t that their job?)
His fans also “help” him write the books in a very vague way… Anthony is famous for using puns in his books and his fans send him in puns, which he credits in his author’s note at the back of the book, giving the fan a moment of fame. Often the book revolves around one particular pun, without really much of a plot.
Anthony also has turned into quite the dirty old man… or maybe I just notice it more. The books are still written in such a way that most kid’s aren’t going to get the reference (like Disney movies) but it seems that every other page now has a dirty joke in it. Dirty jokes that aren’t funny and aren’t anything but filling pages.
So can I still love a series, that I adored as a kid, that I’m less than thrilled about as an adult? I don’t really read most of the newer Xanth books but I do still occasionally pick up one of the earlier ones in the series (which are very quick reads). The last book I read and reviewed in the series was Five Portraits.
Is there a series that you have very mixed feelings about, too?