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The Source of Magic (Xanth #2)

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  20,540 Ratings  ·  316 Reviews
Ordered by King Trent to determine the source of Xanth's magic, Bink and his companions were harried by an unseen enemy determined to thwart them. When even their protector turned against them, Bink still managed to reach his goal and carry out the King's orders...but the king did not expect Bink's next act--to destroy utterly the magic of Xanth!
Paperback, 255 pages
Published June 23rd 1997 by Del Rey (first published January 1st 1979)
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Tim Holley No. While they do form an overall connected timeline, each book is a standalone adventure. It helps to know the history of the land as it's often…moreNo. While they do form an overall connected timeline, each book is a standalone adventure. It helps to know the history of the land as it's often assumed that you know the characters who may have been introduced in previous books, but it's not necessary by any means and the entire series can be enjoyed without knowing the overall history.

Additionally, none of the books are really direct sequels, most are unique stories that simply take place in similar time frames or different locations and almost all have unique main characters.(less)
Zack Oliver well...misogyny is a hatred of women. And I can't say that Piers hates women from the handful of his books I've read. If he hates women at all in any…morewell...misogyny is a hatred of women. And I can't say that Piers hates women from the handful of his books I've read. If he hates women at all in any capacity, its just certain types (weak, tempting, airheady, girly girl type women..and from what I can tell that's no different from women who hate certain types of men), and the types he loves are actually quite in line with today's definition of a strong independent woman (intelligent, 'fierce,' independent, strong, capable, having agency, full of feeling and womanness, etc.). He even incorporates gender fluidity into this one during various sections. I think he gets criticism when readers assume that we are supposed to think Bink is an idealized man, and the author's avatar. I think that to some degrees that's true, but also I believe that Piers allows things to spin a bit sexist for a comic pulpy attitude that's meant to be entertaining and ironically crass. I think this is well in line with some of his other tropes, like the puns and quirky imagination. I think quirky is the word--Piers is a smart, albeit quirky, guy who likes to mess around with readers and their tastes in characters. He makes you walk the line of taste, always asking yourself, 'is this okay or not?' kinda like most successful comedians. If you take it too seriously, you're missing the joke. But to avoid criticism, I will add that if you or anyone else don't like Piers and think he is misogynistic, then that's a perfectly suitable interpretation which fits a great deal of the evidence here. He definitely does an awful lot male characters characterizing female characters in outdated modes. I prefer to contextualize this in a favorable light, but then again I enjoy what I've read so far from him (Xanth 1-2, Apprentice Adept 1-3). (less)

Community Reviews

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Jul 31, 2011 Lyn rated it liked it
This story takes up where A Spell for Chameleon left off.

Like the Incarnations of Immortality series, it seemed that Anthony had a great idea to begin with and then the originality, and quality, dropped off exponentially. This book was saved by Anthony's unique gift and talent as a writer, but I never read any more of the series.

For pure fantasy fans.

Sarah Lu
May 18, 2011 Sarah Lu rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, own
I tried, I really tried. The way that my sister was talking about this book, it sounded like so much fun, and there was so much potential. But... I just can't like this book.

First off, I think that it could have been so much shorter. It takes so much time, trying to sound more important than it really is, that it just sucks pages into bizarre explanations.

Secondly, I can only take so much of reading about nymph's pert little butts, their supple arms, and how female they are. And pretty much th
Jul 22, 2007 RachelAnne rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
The sexist attitudes prevented me from at all enjoying the whimsy.
Oct 30, 2013 Liz rated it did not like it
Hmmm... it's a strange thing to read your childhood favourites as an adult - except with Harry Potter, which for me is timeless. I will never stop enjoying them.

I quite enjoyed 'The Source of Magic', though reading it now, a few things strike me. Firstly an obvious one - the prose are not nearly as good as I remember. But that is to be expected - nobody writes like Ian McEwan when they're writing young adult fiction.

Also, this book in particular (I have yet to see whether the others will follo
Jan 21, 2008 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The first three novels of Xanth are classic fantasy novels. In A Spell for Chameleon, we are introduced to a world where everyone has a magic Talent. Some can point unerringly at trouble, others can change their appearance. In order to become a citizen of Xanth, a person must display the talent or they are exiled to Mundania (where we live). In Spell, Bink is revealed to have a talent, but the talent itself is reluctant to be revealed – as Bink’s talent, tries to thwart evidence of its existence ...more
Mar 11, 2011 Shane rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
My 12 year-old really liked -A Spell for Chameleon- so now we're on to the next book (can't say I'm all that excited).

So my reaction to this book is the same as my reaction to the re-read of A Spell for Chameleon. Too much sexual innuendo for kids. Too much "theory" for kids. Not serious enough for adults. Not funny enough for adults. Every woman is defined by her looks and made to be either a sexual object or basically "not a woman".

So again I ask who are these books written for? If I at age 41
Jul 29, 2012 Jessie rated it did not like it
Shelves: i-regret
If you loved the first book you may like this one.
I couldn't ignore the commentary on women because it never stops, ever. I don't know if Piers Anthony was bitter but that makes it not worth reading for me.
Also, the continuous lusting descriptions of the centaurs ass. No one needs to read from the inner mind of a man who seems to think a horse's hind end is the most beautiful thing he sees.
Aug 26, 2010 Jill rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Eh. Nope.

This one is another series of mini adventures in the course of a larger quest undertaken by Bink, Chester, Crombie, Humphrey, and Grundy to find out the source of magic in Xanth. I was really hoping it would be less sexist than the first one, but it's not. I mean, there was no infuriating rape trial here, but otherwise it was just as bad.

Every woman in Xanth is described and, to at least some extent, valued in terms of her attractiveness. You get a description of almost every female cha
Profundus Librum
Mar 18, 2014 Profundus Librum rated it really liked it
Régen volt, mikor utoljára humoros fantasyt olvastam – leszámítva az első részt – és felhőtlenül élveztem is. Régen a Skandar Graun-os könyveket imádtam (gondolom azok még ma is tetszenének), de aztán beleuntam kicsit – a nyíltan főleg humoros írásokat, Herry Kóklert és társait meg hagyjuk is inkább! – és nyilván azokban az időkben a Pratchett-könyvek is nagyon tetszettek, de azokba még hamarabb fáradtam bele.
Piers Anthony Xanth-sorozata nem ilyen fárasztó. Teli vannak bődületes ökörségekk
Nov 07, 2009 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, humor
3.5 stars. Just finishing re-reading this one, and found that it's not nearly as memorable as the first book in the series. I had forgotten nearly everything about this book.

It's not as well-written as the first book in the series either, but it's not as bad as some would have you believe. And the sexist attitudes are certainly prevalent everywhere, but perhaps they are intended to be part of the humor.

To me, this novel was Pier Anthony's attempt at worldbuilding. While not necessarily lacking
Oct 01, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: humorous fantasy fans
The Source of Magic is the second book in Piers Anthony's Xanth series. This series is usually well known for it's heavy use of puns and the resemblance of the land of Xanth to a certain North American peninsula with an oversized rodent infestation (i.e. Florida).
Bink, a Magician class Talent in a society where everyone has magic, is searching for the sourch of magic in the land of Xanth. He is escorted by two of his friends through the dangers and perils of a magical, but not at all friendly w
Apr 25, 2014 Josiah rated it did not like it
Plot: C
Writing: F
Vocabulary: D
Level: Easy
Rating: R (sexism, adultery, demons, scatological humor, lascivious descriptions of women as objects only)
Worldview: Do what you want to do.

The first of the Xanth novels was somewhat witty, did a decent job of world-building, and established the protagonist as a upright if slightly immature young man. This second novel is a ridiculous bodice-ripper lacking a cohesive plot. All the characters are one-dimensional, and many are written contrary to their orig
Jason Dickinson
Nov 17, 2016 Jason Dickinson rated it did not like it
This is a re-read review. I haven't read this since I was a teen and coming back to it, my feelings are conflicted. On the one hand I still enjoy the whimsy and (fuzzy though it is) worldbuilding of this series in general, and this book in specific. On the other hand, even knowing that this novel was written in a different time when the lines were drawn differently, the amount of male gaze and chauvinism is painful to read.

None of the characters are much more than a single trait or idea, but th
David Sarkies
Sep 24, 2011 David Sarkies rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Nobody really
Recommended to David by: A friend at the library
Shelves: fantasy
The second Xanth book is obviously a sequal
24 September 2011

This book doesn't actually seem to be much at all. It is a sequel to Spell for Cameleon and the second in the Xanth series. It appears that the Xanth series probably should be read in order because, unlike Discworld, it appears that it moves around the same characters (though considering that this is only the second book in the series that is probably a pretty tough call). In this book Bink has discovered his magical power, which is de
Apr 22, 2013 Swankivy rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 22, 2008 Anastacia rated it really liked it
I originally reviewed the Source of Magic on the blog in 2009 here, and wrote a series review about Xanth as well.

I'm re-reading most of the Xanth series as part of my Read all the Books challenge: the reviews will be even shorter and pithier than my usual short pithy reviews :) and will serve more as a reminder and a placeholder for which books I've re-read and when.

I know I liked this book a lot before, but re-reading it again as an adult it falls way short. It's just too much sexism/constant
Aug 01, 2013 V. rated it it was ok
I liked this series as a child and having read the first one recently, and found it not too bad, I wanted to read the second one to see if he developed as a writer and if he managed to improve on the problems I had with the first one.

Sadly this one is a little worse than the first. It sticks to the same episodic template and jumps around all over the place, a book of ideas more than a strong narrative. I can see why I would have liked it as a child, but in terms of story it tended to be full of
Eric Moreno
Sep 30, 2010 Eric Moreno rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 21, 2008 rytr_1 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008-reads
Like its predecessor, A Spell for Chameleon, this book is a very pleasant diversion from the mediocrity of daily life. Anthony has a special gift for creating characters who in some way go against fantasy stereotypes in the way they act, look, and think. The Xanth books are short enough that you can dive in and get a good sense of the unfolding story within the first chapter. I do wish more attention had been given to the characters of Chameleon and Millie the Ghost, both of whom are largely sid ...more
Feb 10, 2010 Kathryn rated it really liked it
I think I liked this book even more than the first one in the series. Piers Anthony gives us our first look at some of the REALLY strange places (and people) in Xanth. It's also a swashbuckling boys-only adventure, (at least until the last quarter of the book) with very little of the moping that went on in "A Spell for Chameleon". At least until near the end when the main character does something unbelievably reckless that you have to admire him for. And also? There's some cute puns, but not to ...more
Chris Evans
Mar 11, 2015 Chris Evans rated it it was ok
I dislike the entire series a great deal. In fact, I've started using Xanth as a measurement for how bad other book series are.

I managed to get through 5 Xanth books before I couldn't bring myself to continue any more. 5 books before I would rather listen to nothing while driving than be subjected to Piers Anthony's writing any more.

It isn't the worst series I've ever read, I only managed 4 Maze Runner books, and 3 Divergent.

In truth, it was the Ogre being propelled like a rocket by vomiting Bl
Jessica M
Oct 18, 2015 Jessica M rated it really liked it
Anthony starts you off quickly, something I enjoyed, since most sequels tend to summarize what happened in the first book. I had to slog through these first half as we rejoin Bink, Crombie, and Chester on a new quest. I didn't like the first half. It felt episodic and the world building felt drug induced, in my opinion.
However, Anthony pulled his craftsmanship together by the latter half, and the end was satisfying, albeit he ends it with a cliffhanger. If you enjoyed the first book, this will
Jun 06, 2012 Kirsti rated it it was amazing
The second of the Xanth novels, and the second book to focus on Bink. In this book he discovers the source of magic in Xanth, and learns more about the land he calls home. I love the adventure in the early novels, they aren't the standard boy meets girl formula (although boys do still meet girls, it just isn't the central quest) A fun read, I can't remember even say how many times I've read this one but I always enjoy it. On to the third!
Elisa Kay
Jan 26, 2015 Elisa Kay rated it really liked it
My partner pulled this book off the shelf for me to read. I did not want to give him the satisfaction of knowing it was good, every time he asked how it was going - I'd reply "boring". So he'd ask hows's that boring book going.

Well now I want the next book in the series and find out more about his son.
May 04, 2011 Jenny rated it really liked it
Fabulous and innocent fantasy series. Xanth was my first experience into a magical world of fantasy years ago. Anthony uses puns and clever wordplays as part of the magical charm of the land of Xanth. This whole series makes our life here in "Mundania" seem so... well... mundane.
Nov 25, 2009 Brian rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I loved these books as a young adult and I'm considering introducing them to my son who is 11. I read the first 7 or 8 but soon got tired of Anthony shoehorning bad puns into everything. Or maybe I just grew up a bit. Good light fantasy.
Bill Meehan
May 05, 2015 Bill Meehan rated it liked it
A psychedelic, politically incorrect, comical, fantasy world filled with magical adventures.
Xanth is an interesting place, silly fantasy for adults, I'll definitely return for book 3.
John Devlin
A great effort. Bink most uncover the source of magic, test his honor, and show once again its character that wins through.
Genny Clary tice
the author goes way out there and tries to hard. interesting story line
Jun 14, 2017 STU rated it it was ok
Personally I didn't mind the first book in the series.
Yes, A Spell for Chameleon was sexist, etc, but at least the characters were vaguely likable and interesting and the plot moved along reasonably well.
The Source of Magic I didn't enjoy as much. The macho attitude and 1-dimensional characters just started to get really tedious. And it had the "everything will work out in the end" feel about it regardless of any dangers and challenges found along the way.
I've managed to collect most of this ser
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Though he spent the first four years of his life in England, Piers never returned to live in his country of birth after moving to Spain and immigrated to America at age six. After graduating with a B.A. from Goddard College, he married one of his fellow students and and spent fifteen years in an assortment of professions before he began writing fiction full-time.

Piers is a self-proclaimed environm
More about Piers Anthony...

Other Books in the Series

Xanth (1 - 10 of 41 books)
  • A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth #1)
  • Castle Roogna (Xanth, #3)
  • Centaur Aisle (Xanth, #4)
  • Ogre, Ogre (Xanth #5)
  • Night Mare (Xanth, #6)
  • Dragon on a Pedestal (Xanth, #7)
  • Crewel Lye (Xanth #8)
  • Golem in the Gears (Xanth, #9)
  • Vale of the Vole (Xanth #10)
  • Heaven Cent (Xanth #11)

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