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A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth #1)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  26,262 ratings  ·  961 reviews
Xanth was the enchanted land where magic ruled--where every citizen had a special spell only he could cast. That is, except for Bink of North Village. He was sure he possessed no magic, and knew that if he didn't find some soon, he would be exiled. According to the Good Magician Humfrey, the charts said that Bink was as powerful as the King or even the Evil Magician Trent. ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 344 pages
Published February 12th 1977 by Del Rey (first published 1976)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Renee
I saw A Spell for Chameleon on a shelving cart the other day and realized two things. First, that I'd read it before and enjoyed it, but had forgotten it completely. Second, that the author was Piers Anthony, who's been described as an outrageous sexist even among sci-fi/fantasy writers. So I picked up a copy, for nostalgia's sake but also to see if Anthony was so bad (he couldn't be, right? I mean, I liked this before...). And after reading it again, all I can say is...

HOW DID I MISS THIS? HOW?
...more
Dirk Grobbelaar

Xanth. Where nothing is quite as it seems, and even inanimate objects can cast spells; where even puns aren’t so much puns, as something else…

He remembered the wild oats he had planted as an adolescent. Sea oats were restless, but their cousins the wild oats were hyperactive. They had fought him savagely, their stems slashing across his wrists as he tried to harvest a ripe ear.

Despite the lightheartedness of the story there is a perilous undertone. Xanth is a magical place, but it can be pretty
...more
Kevin
Jun 23, 2008 Kevin rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nobody.
Shelves: fantasy, ya-fiction
I wish I could give this book a higher review. The storytelling is tight, the magic is interesting, and it can be occasionally funny. But the characters are mostly two-dimensional, with maybe an extra half dimension added to The Evil Magician Trent and to Chameleon of the book's title. And oh my god is this thing sexist. Chameleon herself could be a truly great character if Anthony had much interest in watch she thinks of her condition, of how her thinking changes as she changes, or in any other ...more
Azz Lunatic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scurra
This is a stand-in for the entire Xanth sequence, since it is currently running at 30-odd books and counting. And I love all of them.

Ultimately, this is a series that you either "get" or you don't. And if you don't, then nothing I (or anyone else!) can say here will make any difference.

I don't like them for the writing quality. Even after all this time, Anthony still has trouble putting a sentence together, or making his dialogue sparkle or creating a convincing character (either male or female
...more
Jill
This book follows Bink as he undertakes an Odyssey-like series of adventures in a search to discover his magical talent. It's set in the land of Xanth, a Florida-shaped land of magic and literal puns reminiscent of Wonderland, or Oz perhaps. I thought Xanth was a pretty fun, quirky world. I particularly liked the history and Anthony's unique take on magic as being an evolutionary biological trait. Really, I would have enjoyed the book thoroughly (even in spite of Anthony's weird love affair with ...more
Stephen
2.5 stars. First in the Xanth series of books. Took me a while to get around to reading this as it has been on my "to read" list for a while. A decently written, fun book with a good system of magic and interesting world-building. Definitely on the lighter side, but I enjoyed the puns and the tone of the book. Not as good as some of Anthony's other books (most notably On a Pale Horse), but still a good read.
Jim
I got book 2 of this series first, read it a couple of times before I finally got the first. I think the first 4 books are well worth reading - a must read for anyone into fantasy books. I think the series is up in the 20 odd count somewhere now. The first 3 or 4 are excellent. After that, I just couldn't get too into it any more. Might just be me.

When this came out, it was unlike any series before it AND was funny on top of that. Humor in this sort of fiction is hard to pull off, but Anthony d
...more
Julien V
So, Piers Anthony is a pervert, a sexist pervert. That this particular book was written in 1977 is no excuse.

That out of the way, what we have here is a classic light fantasy full of nice ideas and concepts. But the story lacks direction, a bit like a badly planned Dungeon and Dragons session: "an encounter! another encounter! a fight! you fall in a hole! Oh, look, a dragon! a sexy babe! another fight!"

What also annoyed me was the constant rationalization. Characters talk all the time about th
...more
mark monday
read this in junior high while staying at my aunt's house. read it on an ugly couch covered in plastic. read it cover to cover, realized I loved it, then read it again. jacked off to it too. my aunt's house was next to a smelly sewage plant so it was sort of a struggle at that. but I soldiered on! read it a third time years later but the magic was gone. years after that, when I was living in a punk rock flophouse, the couch was donated to us. oh the memories on that couch.
Benedict Jones
A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony, first in the Xanth series, was to be my quickie 49th book on my list. It proceeded to keep me delayed for days.

This book is toxic.

From a scene where it's explained how horrible it is for men to be convicted of rape and how women make up accusations, to two scenes where the main character is sexually attracted to fourteen year olds, and the fact that the main character could not think or look at a woman without thinking about their fuckability factor, the c
...more
Catt
Wow.

i began reading the Xanth series somewhere around the 15th or 16th book many years ago. It was filled with light-hearted drama, action and puns that made me laugh out loud.

But this first book was such an original idea & filled with an amazing amount of tension, thoughts, morals, as well as the drama & etc. that will come to follow.

Bink not only takes an amazing journey through Xanth, into Mundania & back, but also inside & outside himself.


"How many people similarly spent thei
...more
Stanley Townsend
This 1st Xanth book held my interest. I was reluctant to get into the series based on the many charges of sexism raised by reviewers. A female friend discounted these and I jumped in. Glad I did. Lots of themes in this one pertaining to characteristics and traits of the female gender - intrinsic to the plot - but this did not strike me as denigration. I'm sure some zealot could quote me line and verse in attempt to prove me wrong. I just don't see it. I thought the ending was a bit weak - like h ...more
Chris
Piers Anthony is an author who is more conceptually innovative than literary. His writing is like puff pastry and not very substantive, but his characters are likable and the plots engaging. He has moments of preachiness mixed in, and sometimes a puerile sense of humor, but if you don't mind these things (or indeed, revel in them) you should give him a try. None of Anthony's books takes long to read, and you'll be able to tell by the first 100 pages of a series whether you're into his concept.

Xa
...more
Marvin
This was a re-read. I originally read it around 1980. I remembered it being a lot of fun and read about 6 more in the series. After that, they started to feel like they were factory manufactured. Someone told me there are now about 30 books in the series. On this second read of the first Xanth book, I still thought they were fun but the puns didn't seem as clever as when I was younger. I was also more annoyed with the author's obvious sexism. But hey! A Spell for Chameleon is still cute and wort ...more
Jesse
The land of Xanth is a land of magic. Everyone has a magical talent, even some of the animals of the forest. Everyone, that is, except for Bink. And now that he's approaching adulthood, he has to find his magic...or face exile.

I struggled with this one, but I read the first sixty pages before I finally gave up. The writing is entertaining, and the descriptions are vivid. At first, all the thinly-veiled innuendo was amusing, but it quickly went from amusing to annoying. When it began to seem like
...more
Hannah
Awesome read, and so much fun!

I loved the main characters; they were all so quirky in their own ways, intelligent and straightforward without being whiny and know-it-all. Bink made a great lead; for once, a fantasy hero who isn't invincible OR a whiny, angsty loser! He's tall, young and good-looking, but he's also flawed. He has issues with them, but then he faces them head-on and deals with them with minimal fuss. Same goes for Trent and Chameleon, and the three make an extremely likeable trio
...more
Jillian
I turned to the Xanth series because I wanted an enjoyable summer read that would remind me of my childhood instead of my thesis. Though I'd somehow never read him, I assumed Piers Anthony would be an excellent choice, what with all of the praise and awards lavished on him, but I must say I'm somewhat disappointed. He certainly creates an intriguing alternate world and is an undeniably clever writer, especially skilled at word games and puns. (I imagine he would be an ideal video game writer, th ...more
V.
Despite what people say about the author's sexism, his fondness for puns (a greater crime in some people's eyes) and the juvenile nature of some of the storytelling, this book has many good qualities, most of which reviewers haven't really talked about.

The central premise here is this: which is preferable, a very beautiful, very dumb woman, or a super smart, wise but ugly woman?

You can probably tell from this that a) the book is aimed at young men, and b) women might find the question, never mi
...more
Irishgirl1247
I like many other reviewers read these books when I was rather young.My dad started me on them when I was about 11 and was breezing through children books so fast it was damaging his credit card with trips to borders and gas to the library. I loved them. As a child a read horse books, Nancy Drew and a few fairy tales, but this opened up a whole new world to me. What I find most interesting is how the sexism/sex went completely over my head. I actually kinda of worked out nicely, my brain simply ...more
Andrew Crawford
I have to credit this book as being the book that really introduced me to reading as a fun pastime. I originally read this in my early preteen years and I loved the way it awakened my imagination. I was able to immerse myself in the land of Xanth. I found it to be a good easy read that had colorful characters and an extremely well put together world of magic that I have never seen duplicated.

Now I've read all the reviews about Anthony being sexist, but I've found that I have to put this in pers
...more
Michael
Within the book's original context of the late seventies, perhaps this seemed more clever than it does now. But, now we have Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, who are much funnier. And don't rely on the cheapest possible puns, and don't write stories geared toward horny middle-school boys. One of the strangest phenomenons in fantasy, and perhaps in all of reality, is that Piers Anthony still sells tons of books. If anyone can shed some light on why, I'd love to hear it.
Seizure Romero
I read this when I was 15-16 years old, which I now think is the target market for Anthony (at least with this series). I think it's easy for teenagers to identify with Bink: he's an outcast, he doesn't fit in. But then there comes a point where actual plot is required-- writing entire novels around puns just isn't enough to maintain my interest. I enjoyed The Source of Magic as well, but I was unable to finish Castle Roogna.
Jeremy
I love the Xanth series, until the later ones. This one starts them all, and it is by far the best.
Dan Debono
This was/is one of my favorite fantasy books of all time. I sued to live in Michigan and moved to Florida in 1993. Much to my surprise, I moved a few miles from Piers (near Inverness, Florida)!

I started a brief stint as a feature writer and columnist at the newspaper his daughter later worked at. So, I figured I had an "in" (and I later turned out to be right!), so I wrote him. We started a many-year, very occasional letter-writing relationship. At the time, I was mainly writing comics and short
...more
Wanda
Am I alone in finding Piers Anthony's work more than a little creepy? This is an adult man writing really adolescent stuff, obsessed with women's breasts (his characters notice them even in life-and-death situations) and really emotionally shallow. I really dislike his portrayal of female characters--to me they all just seem like assemblies of body parts that speak. Its all about how attractive they are or aren't. I find that odd, since I believe the author has daughters and no sons. You would t ...more
Kat
Apr 18, 2008 Kat rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fantasy
I have read more of these books than I'm currently willing to admit. The first few were interesting; all the puns were amusing to my middle-school brain. By the time I reached high school, though, I got really bored with the formulaic plots and puns that were really getting stretched thin. Plus there's the RAMPANT sexism in the series. This book was interesting, and not as sexist as the others. The main character's predicament was quite unique and he was a sympathetic character. I'd definitely r ...more
Lyn
Very original and with good storytelling, this is a good fantasy by an excellent writer. Bink is at first banished from Xanth for apparently not having a magical talent until it is revealed that he does have a very unique talent.

The element of this book that I still remember today ( I read this in HS more than 25 years ago) is the magical characteristics of Chameleon. Her beauty and charisma runs inversely to her intelligence, similar to a menstrual cycle. So as the month goes on, she gets more
...more
Steph
3.5

Bink is in danger of being exiled from his homeland, Xanth, b/c he has no magic talent. Xanth is a land where magic is the norm, and the King requires that every citizen have a magic talent. Naturally Bink wants to discover his talent so he can stay in his homeland and marry his girlfriend, so he heads off to the Good Magician for help.

Definitely a nice change from the horror & PNR I've been reading recently, but I don't think I'll read all 30 books of this series. I get committed to the
...more
Brianne
I started reading this since my sister has read almost the whole series and I have to say it's a little scary to see just how long the series is.

The book starts off with a boy that just doesn't' belong in his own world. The story continues to tell the struggles of the boy as he tries to find the place where he does belong.

Finishing this book you can see a different side to people. The characters are very complicated and double sided. It shows that sometimes the villain isn't all that bad, there
...more
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Silver Stag Book ...: A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth, book 1) by Piers Anthony 1 5 Jan 26, 2015 01:28PM  
Xanth series 27 133 Aug 06, 2014 09:20AM  
  • Another Fine Myth (Myth Adventures, #1)
  • Her Majesty's Wizard (Wizard in Rhyme #1)
  • Magic Kingdom For Sale/Sold (Magic Kingdom of Landover, #1)
  • The Sailor on the Seas of Fate (Elric, #2)
  • Dragonquest (Pern, #2)
  • Saint Camber (The Legends of Camber of Culdi, #2)
8516
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
More about Piers Anthony...

Other Books in the Series

Xanth (1 - 10 of 39 books)
  • The Source of Magic (Xanth, #2)
  • 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)
On a Pale Horse (Incarnations of Immortality, #1) Castle Roogna (Xanth, #3) Bearing An Hourglass (Incarnations of Immortality, #2) The Source of Magic (Xanth, #2) With a Tangled Skein (Incarnations of Immortality, #3)

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“One day you'll discover that the opinions of worthless people are worthless.” 25 likes
“Bink knew the dolphin only from old pictures; it was a kind of magic fish that breathed air instead of water.” 8 likes
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