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A Spell for Chameleon

(Xanth #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  41,175 ratings  ·  1,637 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
...more
Mass Market Paperback, 344 pages
Published September 1977 by Del Rey
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Brian Layman
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
R.S. Merritt I think in order makes the most sense for this series. Even though they almost could be standalone but they reference earlier works multiple times...

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  41,175 ratings  ·  1,637 reviews


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Renee
Dec 22, 2009 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?
...more
Azz Lunatic
Feb 03, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: never-again
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dirk Grobbelaar
Dec 13, 2012 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
...more
Lyn
Jul 31, 2011 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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Jill
Aug 26, 2010 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
Benedict Jones
Jul 14, 2013 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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Kevin
Jun 23, 2008 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
Matthew
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Xanth series and Piers Anthony are two things that were first recommended to me about 25 years ago. Why has it taken me this long to read any? Who knows!?

A Spell for Chameleon is a very basic and easily readable fantasy story. As many popular fantasy series are made up of hefty tomes that are full of excessive descriptions and questing, this book and series (from my first impressions of skimming descriptions of other books in this series) is not quite so daunting. It might be a good place fo
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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.
Julien V
Jun 25, 2013 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
...more
Scurra
Jul 22, 2008 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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Timothy Urges
Aug 30, 2020 rated it liked it
I am slightly embarrassed to admit it, but I enjoyed this. A Spell for Chameleon is light and fun with a lot of cleverness thrown in, but it is sexist as hell.

The sexism is so pervasive and absurd that I have to wonder if it is purposeful sexism or attempted satire. Either way, it left a weird taste in my mouth.

2.5
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. ...more
Catt
Nov 14, 2008 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 their lives searchin
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Jim
Dec 19, 2007 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
...more
Jesse
Jun 24, 2013 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
...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
R.S. Merritt
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the first series that really got me hooked on reading. i had to buy every one of these as soon as they came out (showing my age!) I recommend to anyone who enjoys reading Fantasy and is amused by PUNS.
deilann
Jun 10, 2015 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
...more
V.
Oct 18, 2012 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
...more
Stanley Townsend
Aug 26, 2011 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 h ...more
Love of Hopeless Causes
Aug 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: comedic fantasy might be thinly disguised sadness
Recommended to Love of Hopeless Causes by: no one
Shelves: fantasy
Surely one of the most despised books of all time. I could bash it for hours, so I'll try instead to say some nice things. I commend the author's bravery for sticking to his vision. At times it does portray the less than ideal state of male adolescence. It has lots of fantasy monsters. I abandoned this several times since middle school, and my instincts were correct: for most people it is best avoided. This listening was twenty years in the making, and only possible due to a cassette transferred ...more
Maggie Dore
Nov 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
Oh no, no, no..... this could not be it! WHY?! Why was this so bad? Oh, god. This review is GONNA BE TOUGH. This book was SO bad, I forgot I even read the thing!

I believe that in every book, there is at least ONE thing that I enjoy, no matter what the rating. So, I will start this review with the (few) things I enjoyed in this before bombarding the review with everything that has gone SO DARN WRONG.

So, I liked the cover. Yeah, I know, it is not really part of the story, but hey, at least one t
...more
Gary Sundell
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this as much as I did the original version when it came out in the late 1970s.
Marvin
May 24, 2011 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
Dominique
Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
2.5 stars
Andrew Crawford
Aug 09, 2013 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
...more
Richard
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: epic-fantasy, trash
This book is a classic, and by that I mean that I have seen copies of this book everywhere since I've been interested in reading fantasy. The cover art by Michael Whelan is almost iconic. Kudos to Mr. Anthony on this title staying in print all these years. I've always steered away from the Xanth series because I thought they were comedic fantasy, and I just don't see myself being a fan of it. Reservations aside I found this one and twelve of it's siblings in the library book room and...

Overall,
...more
Chris
Aug 08, 2007 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
...more
Daniel Clark
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a fun fantasy novel. It's not dull, but instead is a little too busy--Bink is always chasing off to the next scene, and there is always a giant or a sea serpent or a dragon around every corner. When the main character, Bink, finally finds out what his magic is (we all have at least one talent, you know...) it was kind of anticlimactic for me, but it gives you a chance to look back through the book and see where his magic was working and you didn't know it. I also thought he was too horn ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #18 - A Spell for Chameleon 1 6 Feb 08, 2017 01:36PM  

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3,608 followers
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

Other books in the series

Xanth (1 - 10 of 43 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: A Caustic Yarn (Xanth #8)
  • Golem in the Gears (Xanth, #9)
  • Vale of the Vole (Xanth #10)
  • Heaven Cent (Xanth #11)

News & Interviews

There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
27 likes · 5 comments
“One day you'll discover that the opinions of worthless people are worthless.” 51 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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