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Spellsinger (Spellsinger #1)

3.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,901 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
In a world of sentient animals and humans, the hardheaded (and hard-shelled) wizard Clothahump searches across the dimensions for another kind of wizard to help defeat the looming threat posed by the armies of the Plated Folk. What he gets is Jonathan-Thomas Meriweather, part-time would-be rock guitarist and janitor, who finds that with the use of a unique instrument calle ...more
Paperback, 347 pages
Published June 16th 1983 (first published March 1st 1983)
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The Hotel New Hampshire by John IrvingCujo by Stephen KingGorky Park by Martin Cruz SmithMidnight's Children by Salman RushdieChronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
Best Books of 1981
73rd out of 94 books — 84 voters
Watership Down by Richard AdamsMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'BrienRedwall by Brian JacquesAnimal Farm by George OrwellThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Best Anthropomorphic Animal Books
129th out of 235 books — 181 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Emma Sea
Jan 22, 2015 Emma Sea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nostalgia-rating
When I was young and dumb--even dumber than I am now--I spent a summer as a live-in staff member at a prestigious, World's-Top-Hideaways-list-making New Zealand luxury lodge, waiting tables and working housekeeping. For a hundred bucks a week in my pocket. This is one of the numerous downsides to having incredibly shitty parenting; no one to tell you, when you are young and dumb, that it is illegal for employers to pay less than minimum wage, that legally the lodge was allowed to charge me 9% of ...more
Narnia meet Ted's Excellent Adventure. Sort of.

I'd make a lousy lawyer, he thought. And if I can't help thinking about power and mastery, well hell, I'm only human.
Maybe if I work real hard, he told himself, I can manage to overcome that.

I think we all know that wise turtles have a unique sense of humor and the concept of a suitable hero.
master oggway by berserk xxx d49x0ab

So, when Clothahump searches the universe between clouds of cof open minded concoctions looking for a powerful magical engineer, Jonathan-Thomas Meriweather -w
Sep 17, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why I decided to reread this but I'm glad I did. I forgot how much I liked some of Alan Dean Foster's work.

Spellsinger is the first in a series about a law student/amateur musician, nicknamed Jon-Tom, who is transported to a world of magic and talking animals that is seriously not Narnia. Unless Narnia is now inhabited by alcoholic, fornicating, foul-mouthed, violent creatures.

Jon-Tom discovers that his fledgling musical talents have now manifested themselves as magical with the ab
Jan 16, 2009 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Cheesy. Very strange pacing, and characters who are just a tetch too much (the Latina cheerleader "cursed with extreme beauty"? Are you kidding?)

But on the other hand, there are a few gems thrown in here--I laughed out loud when Falameezar made his appearance. And the bugs, or Plated Ones or whatever, are done very well, if only because I adore when people use the word "chitin."

I may read the rest of this series or I may skim it. I'm not sure yet. It was an interesting read and a great diversion
Jul 18, 2008 Josh rated it liked it
Read this book when I was in middle school and absolutely loved it. Having re-read it recently, however, I've noticed several inconstancies which really detract from the enjoyment of the book (for instance, in the first book horses are non-sentient, but can talk in later books.) I still enjoyed the books my second time through, but I really wish that Foster had spent more time proofing/editing his books.
Feb 18, 2016 Pawel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can only regret that i didn't read this book when i was 13, back then it would be amazing :) now its just good fantasy with a lot of humor.
There is quite standard setup where hero from our world is teleported into the land of magic, thinking and talking animals, and has to save the world etc. Although the world is rather simple it has couple of nice quirks in it. Heroes are likeable, and a plot is quite sound. (big plus for a marxist dragon character).
A good book to read on a rainy afternoon.

Rob Richards
Feb 09, 2011 Rob Richards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The following summary was taken from the TV Tropes Wiki entry on the Spellsinger series, and slightly modified.

"The Spellsinger series is a fantasy series written by Alan Dean Foster, which has been described on this wiki's This Is Your Premise On Drugs page as "Narnia on an unholy combination of pot and Viagra".

In the first book, Spellsinger, the hero Jonathan Thomas Meriweather, also known as Jon-Tom, is a prelaw student with pretentions to rock stardom, who is innocently smoking pot when he's
David Sarkies
Mar 15, 2014 David Sarkies rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who want a slightly more amusing fantasy series
Recommended to David by: My dungeon master friend
Shelves: fantasy
The Chronicles of Narnia for Adults
1 January 2013

The first thing that I probably have to say about this book is that it is effectively the Chronicles of Narnia for adults. While the main character is human, when he is transported to the world of Spellsinger, he is transported to a world inhabited by talking animals. Okay, not all of Lewis' characters in Narnia were talking animals, but a lot of them where. However, Narnia was originally written for children (not to say that adults don't enjoy t
Feb 19, 2016 Thom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-series
A ripping good fantasy, complete with dimensionally displaced human, wise turtle, wisecracking otter and Marxist dragon. Also a fair bit of testosterone, with the two female characters described as fiery beauties. The biggest problem with the book it stops well short of the end of the story, which continues in the next book. Not satisfying.

First read this book and it's sequel when they were written, back in the early 80s. I don't remember how the second book ended, but I'm fairly sure the third
Anthony Ryan
Oct 14, 2014 Anthony Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Or 'The movie Jim Henson never made but should have.' Anthropomorphic fantasy fun from the masterly pen of Alan Dean Foster. The Marxist dragon alone is worth the price of admission.
Jul 30, 2009 DavidO rated it it was ok
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I read this when I was a kid and liekd it. But reading it now as an adult, I am less than impressed. It's got talking animals so you'd think ti was a kids book. But there is drug use and swearing. Not to mention that everyone is so violent that the popualtion of the planet shoudl have gone to nothing centuries before. Somehow the whole thing is supposed to be a political commentary of sorts, but it doesn't have any teeth to speak of. It's supposed to be funny, but I found it amusing at best, pai ...more
Conan Tigard
Nov 15, 2015 Conan Tigard rated it really liked it
I first read this book back in the 1980's, right after it came out. The first three books in this series were all published together in a single hardback. I remember greatly liking the characters, but that is all. It has been too long, and too any books have been read, for me to remember the plot. But I always did remember Jon-Tom being stabbed by Mudge on the second page of the story.

Reading this book again, I was quite pleased with this storytelling and remembered why Alan Dean Foster was one
David Meredith
Spellsinger is probably THE primogenitor of anthropomorphic fantasy (aka furries), originally released in 1983.I actually read this when I was about 15 years old in 1991 or 92. As a teen I remembered liking it, but even then certain elements of characterization, plot, and writing struck me as clunky and weird. It is supposed to be funny and sometimes it even is, but there is no question that it is also VERY dated (i.e. the Stalinist dragon Falameezar)first of all and comes across as exceptionall ...more
Feb 27, 2015 SFReader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In high school I read a lot. I was a mediocre student, despite always having a test book in my hands, sitting quietly at the back of the class. Alas, behind the screen of the text book was some science fiction or fantasy novel. I spent most of my high school class time reading fiction.

I came across Spellsinger poking through used book in a flea market stall. Was it worth the $1 I paid? Too me it was. Spellsinger was originally published in 1983, my senior year of high school. Indeed, it was one
Mar 22, 2016 Justin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A light easy to read fantasy adventure. With sentient animals, groovy magic, and college students this book an enjoyable ride.
Matthew Brown
I got this book in a bundle of old or independent scifi and fantasy books and it's the inaugural use of the kindle touch gifted to me by Matt Brown. This book was chosen first because I thought "SpellSLINGER" sounded like a really cool title and I was looking forward to a guy slinging some spells around.

TLDR - Hilariously absurd book.

The story follows a young janitor (referred to as Jon-Tom for some reason) who is summoned to an alternate world where all warm blooded creatures became sentient an
Oct 29, 2011 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who do weed
Shelves: read-in-2011
Not my thing, although the writing was good and the world was set up well. I just didn't really like any of the characters, and the book just ended. The author set up a huge conflict, but this is clearly just the first volume. Too little happened in too long of a time. Glad it's over and not willing to slog through another book to find out what happens...don't care enough.
Scott Wozniak
Nov 10, 2014 Scott Wozniak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jon, a college student, gets transported by a wizard into an alternate dimension where all mammals evolved intelligence--and where magic is real, of course. Unfortunately, insects involved intelligence as well and they're trying to take over the wold again. This time they have some mysterious magic that may allow them to do it and the wizard thinks Jon may be the key to stopping them.

The story is good, but moves a bit slow. There are plenty of adventures, but many of them interesting side adven
I wasn't too impressed with this one, to the point where the book ends mid-scene and I don't really care (at 88% on my Kindle, might I add). It turns out the next book, previewed at the end, starts at that same scene, revealing that this is one of those series written like one big book and just chopped up into individuals. It's like when I'm watching something on Hulu and their commercial algorithm pops one in the middle of someone's sentence.

Nothing about this book was particularly bad, it just
Feb 23, 2015 Dustin rated it liked it
That wasn't bad. It takes your standard person from Earth gets pulled to fantasy land, adds a heaping helping of talking animals, sprinkles a touch of absurdity (with a Marxist dragon), and bakes the way that only 80s fantasy can.
Pierre D
Aug 18, 2014 Pierre D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's the first time I've read a book by this author, and I must say, I'm glad I read it.
At first I thought it was a book destined to kids or young adults, but I quickly found out that the world depicted by the author was actually quite violent and unforgiving.
I also liked the way 'humans' are considered to be just another animal species, and how the people of the world seem, at least for most of them, oblivious to differences.
I liked the characterization, though some characters are a bit shallow
Todd Mulholland
Apr 14, 2014 Todd Mulholland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A reread of a book I read a long time ago, Spellsinger is the beginning of a series. In fact, much like Lord of the Rings (but far far lighter), it is not a complete story at all. The book ends right at a scene change, with nothing resolved. So - fair warning on that (and the main reason for the loss of a star).

The story is a good one, although light. The main character is likeable, although he spends too much time in self-doubt. The other characters, from the roguish otter, Mudge, to the marxis
elizabeth tobey
Dec 17, 2014 elizabeth tobey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book could have gotten two or three stars: it had a decent world and story. But you know what's the worst fucking thing a book can do?


The book ended with a soap opera GO READ THE NEXT BOOK with the main characters in the clutches of death. The entire thing was set up for the series.

I get series books. I do. I love them. But if you can't figure out a way to wrap each novel in such a way that it can stand on its own while still wanting people to read more in the future, yo
Mar 22, 2016 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun little world. Cheesy and juvenile but, you know, in a charming way. The morality lessons are not subtle, but neither are they beat into your skull with a stick. They're just laid out for you to take or leave.

Looking forward to the whole series, though I don't think I'll read them sequentially. The story is (blissfully, compared to some knotty storylines) simple, so I'll be able to dive into the next book after taking a break without worry that I'll miss something. Reading this because of men
Aaron Coleman
May 20, 2015 Aaron Coleman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Among all the sentient animals, there's also a Marxist river dragon. That should give you enough of a frame of reference. This book is some silly fantasy - vaguely discworld-esque. I haven't yet decided if it's worth reading the other books in the series - the book is part of a series and doesn't end with any sort of conclusion.

Also, all the animals seem to have few qualms about having sex with other species. I'm not sure if I should accuse the author of being into bestiality, or just being part
Sep 16, 2014 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really good time! Thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy adventure. Simple and effective, this easy read was a pleasure to get through and makes me want to follow through on the entire series. i must admit I think this book is really well suited for the YA crowd but still well suited for the rest of us who just enjoy a good yarn. Endearing characters, simple plot and fun situations makes for an uplifting and plain humorous read, at times. Not a comedy in itself, this book packs plenty of laughs and n ...more
Иван Величков
Какво по дяволите прочетох току що? - Мисъл, която ми се въртя из главата поне два часа след като "слайднах" последната страничка на четеца.
Алън Дийн Фостър ни е нарисувал една Нарния, ако в Нарния приказните герои бяха вманиачени на тема секс и насилие пияници обичащи да изпадат във филосовски съждения (както всички пияници).
Когато разбира, че вселената му е застрашена, магьосникът Клотакъмп (екскюз ми инглиш) призовава могъщ магьосник инжинер от нашата вселена, но поради сенилност докарва Йон-
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in March 2000.

My memory of reading Spellsinger the first time, in my early teens, has left me with an impression of a rather better novel than is really the case. It is enjoyable, but distinctly unchallenging. It has one of the more annoying central characters in a fantasy novel (and, indeed, series) and though it sets up some potentially interesting situations, doesn't really resolve them or even use the tension which could quite easily be generated (for exa
Jul 13, 2013 Shelli rated it it was amazing
While I can't say this story doesn't feel dated as I read it in 2013, I wouldn't necessarily call that a negative note against the story. It's a charming fantasy tale set firmly in the '80's, from the music selection to the liberal mentioning of weed. Reading it is like a trip down memory lane (no, not the weed part lol!), especially with such classics as "Yellow Submarine" in the main character's singing repertoire.

Elements in this story have become fantasy tropes by today, and might make you t
Jul 16, 2010 Tobey rated it liked it
I've been reading a lot of recently released books lately, so I grabbed a worn paperback off my "Fantasy Books I Haven't Read Yet" shelf for a change. Spellsinger was a pleasant surprise.

This epic fantasy tale about law student Jonathan Thomas Meriweather (part-time janitor, full-time stoner) was published the year I was born. Jon-Tom is pulled from his drug induced haze into to a magical world by a wizard's spell. This kind of thing seemed to happen a lot in '80s fantasies. Apparently back the
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Bestselling science fiction writer Alan Dean Foster was born in New York City in 1946, but raised mainly in California. He received a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA in 1968, and a M.F.A. in 1969. Foster lives in Arizona with his wife, but he enjoys traveling because it gives him opportunities to meet new people and explore new places and cultures. This interest is carried over to his writing, ...more
More about Alan Dean Foster...

Other Books in the Series

Spellsinger (8 books)
  • The Hour of the Gate (Spellsinger, #2)
  • The Day of the Dissonance (Spellsinger, #3)
  • The Moment of the Magician (Spellsinger, #4)
  • The Paths of the Perambulator (Spellsinger, #5)
  • The Time of the Transference (Spellsinger, #6)
  • Son of Spellsinger (Spellsinger, #7)
  • Chorus Skating (Spellsinger, #8)

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