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A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth #1)

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  30,183 Ratings  ·  1,151 Reviews
Xanth was the enchanted land where magic ruled - where every citizen had a special spell only he could cast. It was a land of centaurs and dragons and basilisks.

For Bink of North Village, however, Xanth was no fairy tale. He alone had no magic. And unless he got some - and got some fast! - he would be exiled. Forever!

But the Good Magician Humfrey was convinced that Bink di
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Paperback, 344 pages
Published 1977 by Del Rey
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Brandon Howe The preference is to read them in order, since the later books either refer to people or places from previous books in the series. jumping from say 3…moreThe preference is to read them in order, since the later books either refer to people or places from previous books in the series. jumping from say 3 to 7 to 4 then to 9 could quite confuse you as you will not get the references. Technically they books could be stand alone content, a little look into the window of Xanth. As a reader of the series up to date as of this writing, i would suggest to follow the order of the books. Use the interwebs to find the full list of Xanth books (in order) and have fun immersing yourself. (less)
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Best Fantasy Series, Trilogies, and Duologies
63rd out of 1,506 books — 8,731 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Renee
Dec 10, 2014 Renee rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
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?
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Lyn
Oct 21, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it
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 magical quality.

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 g
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Dirk Grobbelaar
Jan 15, 2015 Dirk Grobbelaar rated it really liked it

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
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Azz Lunatic
Feb 03, 2009 Azz Lunatic rated it did not like it
Shelves: never-again
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kevin
Jun 23, 2008 Kevin rated it did not like it
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
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.
Jill
Mar 24, 2013 Jill rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Scurra
Jul 22, 2008 Scurra rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, humour
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
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Benedict Jones
Jul 14, 2013 Benedict Jones rated it did not like it
Shelves: summer-challenge
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
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Julien V
Jun 27, 2013 Julien V rated it did not like it
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
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Jim
Oct 23, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it
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
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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.
Catt
Dec 03, 2008 Catt rated it really liked it
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
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Stanley Townsend
Sep 15, 2011 Stanley Townsend rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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 ...more
Chris
Aug 08, 2007 Chris rated it really liked it
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
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Marvin
May 26, 2011 Marvin rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
V.
Oct 18, 2012 V. rated it liked it
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
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Jesse
Jun 27, 2013 Jesse rated it did not like it
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
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Jillian
Jul 03, 2008 Jillian rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, summer-2008
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, ...more
Andrew Crawford
Aug 09, 2013 Andrew Crawford rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
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
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Hannah
Jun 20, 2009 Hannah rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
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Irishgirl1247
Dec 21, 2010 Irishgirl1247 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
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
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 ...more
Seizure Romero
Apr 08, 2016 Seizure Romero rated it really liked it
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.
Michael
May 28, 2008 Michael rated it did not like it
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.
Jay
Aug 26, 2015 Jay rated it did not like it
I stayed away from Anthony in High School--maybe it was his halitosis--can't quite recall. Tried to give him another shot, it just doesn't grab me. Maybe I'll try the audiobook sometime.
Jeremy
May 02, 2008 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
I love the Xanth series, until the later ones. This one starts them all, and it is by far the best.
deilann
Jul 09, 2015 deilann rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted on SpecFic Junkie.

Usually I love ripping apart the books I hate. But no, I've been avoiding writing this review. Why? This is the most sexist fantasy book I've ever read. That's saying something. Merely thinking about this book makes my skin crawl. Below the cut, you'll hear more, there will be spoilers, there will be a lot of gross talk about rape culture, and a shitton of sexism will be unveiled.

So, there's a story behind why I read this book. One of my friends went with me t
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David Sarkies
Nov 22, 2015 David Sarkies rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Nobody really
Recommended to David by: Stewart Wymer
Shelves: fantasy
The First Xanth Book
22 August 2011

I read this book a very long time ago so my memory of it is very hazy. However, it is unlikely that I will read it again therefore I will write a brief commentary on it. Piers Anthony was one of the more popular authors of young adult fantasy and science-fiction back in the 80's and I suspect that he still writes even today. Apparently this book was going to be made into a film (Hollywood are looking at a lot of books to see if they can capitalise on the Lord o
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Tom
Sep 01, 2012 Tom rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy

This is the first in a series of fantasy novels by Piers Anthony set in the mythical world of Xanth where everyone has a magical power, except Bink.

When I read this as a teenage boy I loved the fantasy world Anthony created and the nature of Bink and his rival, Magician Trent.

The story begins with Bink ostracized by his village because he has no magical power and follows him on his quest to discover said power. He traverses the dangerous landscape of Xanth encountering a number of powerful foes

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I Don't Even Own ...: 017 — "A Spell For Chameleon" (W/ Jesse Dangerously) 1 1 Sep 25, 2016 04:42PM  
Silver Stag Book ...: A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth, book 1) by Piers Anthony 1 8 Jan 26, 2015 01:28PM  
Xanth series 27 136 Aug 06, 2014 09:20AM  
  • Myth Conceptions (Myth Adventures, #2)
  • The Black Unicorn (Magic Kingdom of Landover, #2)
  • Her Majesty's Wizard (Wizard in Rhyme, #1)
  • The Elric Saga Part I (Elric Saga, #1-3)
  • Sign of Chaos (The Chronicles of Amber #8)
  • Dragondrums (Harper Hall, #3)
  • The Illearth War (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #2)
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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
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More about Piers Anthony...

Other Books in the Series

Xanth (1 - 10 of 40 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)

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“One day you'll discover that the opinions of worthless people are worthless.” 39 likes
“Bink knew the dolphin only from old pictures; it was a kind of magic fish that breathed air instead of water.” 7 likes
More quotes…