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Xanth #3

Castle Roogna

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Millie, a ghost for 800 years wants only one man--Jonathan, and he's a zombie. To prove himself, Magician Dor volunteers to get the potion that can restore Jonathan to full life. But he has to go back through time to do it, to a peril-haunted, ancient Xanth, where danger lurks at every turn....

336 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1979

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About the author

Piers Anthony

553 books3,941 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 environmentalist and lives on a tree farm in Florida with his wife. They have two grown daughters.

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5 stars
7,391 (29%)
4 stars
8,910 (35%)
3 stars
7,152 (28%)
2 stars
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183 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 329 reviews
Profile Image for Carolynn Markey.
295 reviews1 follower
August 31, 2014
One of my favorites in the series! I love how Dor tells Irene it's okay to be a women and that nothing is wrong it it. I Iove how many male characters recognize the neo sorcerous' power as fully Magician status while others won't. While this book does have some sexist characters it's not sexist, it's just funny. On to the 4th installment! Loving this silly trope on fantasy literature.
Profile Image for Dave.
558 reviews14 followers
April 8, 2023
Focus shifts from Bink to his 12 year old son Dor,who has the magical ability to make inanimate objects speak which naturally comes in super handy throughout the course of Anthony’s third Xanth novel.
In this one, Dor’s mission is to find an elixir by entering an 800 year old wall tapestry of Xanth but not in a 12 year old’s body.
Entertaining and funny both. Jumper the large spider is worth the time alone.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Liz.
368 reviews1 follower
September 10, 2016
I lied. I haven't finished this book. I'm not even halfway through. But there are far too many brilliantly written life-changing novels out there for me to continue to waste time on Piers Anthony's fantastical drivel.

It's not unexpected. Books that are loved in childhood rarely stand up the second time around. There are a few exceptions, Harry Potter being one that springs to mind. But with the Xanth series it has just got the point where I cannot justify carrying on, and also I'm not masochistic enough. Reading this book has been nothing short of literary torture and I have soldiered on with a mantra of: "the ones further on in the series are better; I just have to keep going". But I'm out now.

Not only are they AWFULLY written, they are incredibly sexist and misinformed. Every female character is portrayed as weak and simpering, and the strength of the male characters is measured purely through physical power. As an example, I was highlighting particularly sexist sentences and I came across this little gem (context: main character has just killed humanoid creatures for first time in his life):

"He had heard of girls getting upset when they lose their virginities, and now he had an inkling what it felt like."


These books were written in the late seventies/early eighties, but even for this time are still appallingly ill-informed. Piers Anthony clearly thinks very little of women, believing them to be weak-willed and only existing to be ogled and impregnated. Well, Piers, I don't think much of your mediocre writing style and one-dimensional characters. You are a terrible writer/person and I'm embarrassed to have wasted so much time on you in my youth.

Profile Image for Mary Davis.
156 reviews10 followers
June 13, 2012
B&N Synopsis:

Millie, a ghost for 800 years wants only one man--Jonathan, and he's a zombie. To prove himself, Magician Dor volunteers to get the potion that can restore Jonathan to full life. But he has to go back through time to do it, to a peril-haunted, ancient Xanth, where danger lurks at every turn....

OK, let me just say, I am terrified of spiders. And what lurks on the cover of this one? A GIANT spider! It's amazing that I read this one - but I did when I was a teen - and I am so glad I did! This was the first Xanth book I ever read, because I didn't realize at the time that this was a continuing series, or that this was the third book in the series. I found myself fascinated with Xanth, with the characters, and I fell in love with Dor! Then, as the book went on, and Dor was presented with his quest, and Jumper was magically brought into the past with him - everytime I start this book, I cannot put it down until I finish! If that is not a good endorsement to read this series, I don't know what is. Highly recommend it, and the fact that it is the third one did not detract from my enjoyment the first time, so it is not necessary to read the books in order.

If you love magical fantasy - YOU NEED TO BE READING PIERS ANTHONY!
Profile Image for Chan.
18 reviews1 follower
February 5, 2015
Binks son Dor is sent on a mission to find an elixir for Millie the Ghost. He has to go back in time, 800 years, to do this. His adventure starts by going through a tapestry, and finding himself in a barbarians body. He teams up with a huge spider by the name of Jumper. The elixir he is to find will bring Jonathan the Zombie, back to life, for Millie the Ghost. In all this is a fun story, and Dor's magic talent of making inanimate objects talk brings a lot of humor to this book.
Profile Image for Angel.
17 reviews2 followers
October 8, 2013
Xanth is what inspired me to read as a young adult, and continues to deliver the same with ever new book! I love em all.
Profile Image for Megan.
151 reviews6 followers
April 21, 2014
I'm going to miss Bink's misadventures, but Dor's are definitely at least as good. Like father, like son.
Profile Image for David.
190 reviews8 followers
November 25, 2013
These books continue to be air headed fun. Three stars because they lack anything that resembles social importance, but Five Stars for fun. I love the fact that Anthony seems to share Heinlein's attitudes toward sex and nudity but with an underlying sense of moral responsibility.
Bink, the hero of the first two books, was forever being tempted but turned away to remain true to his fiancé in book one. When that fiancé turned from him, Bink fell in love with and finally married the mysterious Camelion. In book 2, The Source of Magic, we find Bink married but still running from temptation. Now we have Bink's son, Dor, who travels back in time as a lusty 12 year old in a man's body, wanting to succumb to temptation with the various women who come his way, yet standing firm in his denial, saying that he just can't because he is only 12. Dor has magician class magic-he can talk to inanimate objects-and he knows that he will be King someday. So Dor has adventures and prevails over all obstacles with the help of his boon companion, Jumper the giant spider. What's not to like about a plot like that?
Profile Image for Malum.
2,222 reviews128 followers
June 5, 2021
Anthony continues to flesh out Xanth. In the last volume he delved into where Xanth's magic comes from, and in this volume he goes into some of Xanth's history.

Fun characters (Jumper the spider and the monster Gerrymander are a few notable mentions), big battles, and a more interesting main character than Bink from the previous two volumes make this the most entertaining novel of the three so far.
Profile Image for J Austill.
46 reviews15 followers
December 24, 2016
This is one of my favorite Xanth books. It is the first to have Dor as the protagonist.

One of the major appeals of this novel has always been the age of the protagonist. I first read it when I was 11 (the second time at 13), so Dor was easy to relate to.

The story is this:

Dor has just reached the age where he does not need a nanny anymore and yet he cares deeply about his nanny and wants to do something nice for her. As she is a Ghost, he decides that the best thing to do would be to bring her back to life. That is actually quite easy to do in Xanth. However to do so he would need her body and nobody knows where Millie's body is. What's more, nobody knows how she died.

So using Magic, Dor travels back in time to when Millie was alive in order to find out. This is done by Magic which places him into the body of an adult Barbarian in the past (like Quantum Leap, though this predates that TV series by nearly a decade). This also produces an interesting dynamic like that seen in Back to the Future (Part 1, though the story also predates that) as Dor is (apparently) an adult who is introduced to a young and very much alive Millie, who has always been a maternal figure to him.

The mystery and it's resolution really make this book great. Even at 11, I figured it out before the end but that doesn't make it any less fun. This book also sets up the dynamic between Dor and Irene which is important to Book 4: Centaur Isle.
Profile Image for Emilee Powell.
364 reviews31 followers
January 28, 2018
While I am willing to put up with a wide range of literary misogyny (rather inherent in the genre when you read older fantasy,) the constant sexual thoughts of the twelve year old boy in this book is a little awkward. As usual, I love the world and the plot, I just have a hard time forgiving Millie the Maid for being an entirely useless character and Dor's incessant internal manhood monologues too.
Profile Image for Tina.
756 reviews40 followers
November 13, 2019
Whew, this novel. I got this novel for free and that was the only acceptable price. I don’t “hate read” novels, but I knew from the back cover that this one would give me some interesting things to write about!

First, I’ll get into what I enjoyed. It’s jam-packed with a ton of fantasy and mythological tropes/characters, which was kind of fun. Despite his lack of depth, I did like the main character, Dor, as he was a good kid wrestling with the societal conceptions of “manhood” that oppress him (I mean, not as much as the patriarchy holds down other people in the novel, but for scrawny kid, I get his angst). The book is a coming-of-age story for him where he does learn that his integrity, compassion and brains are what make him a man, not his muscles or sex drive. That was nice.

Unfortunately, all the other characters are so shallow. Jumper, the Spider, was interesting because he was a giant spider and pretty much carried the team, but everyone else, especially Millie, was flat as a sheet of drywall.

The story moves quickly but at the same time is a little dull. Some scenarios could have been removed entirely and the plot would have stayed the same. It’s supposed to be a little funny, I guess, or at least not as serious as “high” fantasy tends to be, but most of the humour was situational or based on old stereotypes.

Overall, without what I’m going to talk about next, I’d give it a 3.5, but the utterly insane amount of sexism in the novel brings it down a full 1.5 stars to 2/5.

There are five female characters in the novel. Millie is hypersexualized and stereotypical - I initially assumed it was poking fun at the depiction of women in older fantasy stories, but she does nothing in the novel to subvert her characterization as simply a sex object. It’s possible she was designed as a joke, but it must have missed the mark with me because I found myself wishing she would just disappear out of the story. Other than being the impetus for the quest, she contributes nothing to the story whatsoever.

There’s also Medusa, who suffers a half-page-long leering male gaze description from her ankles to her breasts. Not her face, because, she has no face! Her inclusion in the story as a domestic servant is frustrating. There’s nothing wrong with being a domestic servant unless that has nothing to do with your existing mythology!

There’s Vadne, the only woman who isn’t objectified because she’s “old” (like 30). And of course, because she’s old, she’s a crazy spinster who will murder to get a husband. We also have her counterpart, Helen the Harpy Queen, the only sexy harpy. She is also obsessed with getting a man. She only gets points because she was in a position of power as the harpy leader and doesn’t statutorily rape a 12-year-old (shows you how low the bar was set here).

Lastly there’s Irene, an 11-year-old girl who is pissed at Dor (reasonably so) because he will be King simply because he’s male, though they both have powerful magic. The novel would have been much improved if they had been slightly older and both forced to travel back in time and work together to complete the quest. Then they would have had character arcs! But, instead, there’s a bizarre about-face regarding their previous antagonism that felt very forced. We learn nothing about Irene – she is in the story as a learning curve for Dor, nothing else.

The men? Other than Dor, no one has any real personality. They all have one defining feature or they are antagonists. But, of course, they fare fine in this society because they are dudes. It's very frustrating the way gender is handled in this novel. It's a FANTASY. That means you don't have to adhere to the same societal constraints around gender or race (not like there are any people of colour in this book) that exist in the real world. But, instead, we have hyper-sexualized, uselses women, jealous spinsters, literal harpies, and a domesticated Medusa who is now no longer a threat to men. Wonderful.

The love story in the novel is useless because we are given no scenes with the couple interacting without Dor present, nor do either of them have any personality upon which to forge a bond. And the “twist” was so obvious I almost couldn’t believe it.

Basically, this novel is a horrendous blob of sexism that is not redeemed by the plot or anything else.
Profile Image for Melina.
Author 1 book11 followers
July 4, 2013
Loved it.

As it was ending. xD

The adventure lagged a lot due to heavy detail, but it makes sense. Considering that Xanth is based on a certain peninsula (Florida, I think?), yeaaaah. I do think that the world building was interesting, as always. I love how the writer wrote about Xanth as it was 800-ish years before Dor's time. It was enjoyable reading about evolution and how it easily explains the change of the land and its species under the influence of magic. :B Well, that's something I love about Xanth xD

I'm not sure where Mundania stands, though, in its own timeline. There's hardly anything about that and I think there should be more. Because, after the 800 year mark of Dor's adventure in the past, maaaayyyyybe there's some sort equivalent as to the technology there? I read about barbarians and warriors with swords, so... I am sort of at a loss. Perhaps Xanth's background could involve the first navigators of the world to reach Greenland? Like, that would be the equivalent of the change of time outside of Xanth in comparison with where King Trent was during his exile? And I don't know how that explains the modern vernacular and modern idioms used (as well as the puns) in the writing style.

But this was a great read, and it got published :) which is saying something. BUT YEAH. I love where the writer took all these mythological creatures (especially that King Dragon of the Jungle!!!!) and how he phrased most of the themes in the novel. I do not approve of the mentions (or interjections) of sex, especially from the 11 year-old-character's narrative, but I did love how Dor and Irene were brought together at the end. The theme of Dor realizing that he's getting older and that he is slowly filling the shoes necessary for the next King of Xanth. Yes. That was a good one :) Not exactly coming of age, but about the means of maturity. That was far better than reading about sex or lack thereof from such a character.
1,869 reviews13 followers
October 22, 2018
Bink and Chameleon's twelve year old son Dor is getting restless. His parents are away on a mission and he's crushing big time on his nurse maid Millie the ex-ghost who is inexplicably to Dor, in love with zombie Johnathan. He goes to the king who sends him on a mission to de-zombify Johnathan. He goes to find Good Magician Humphrey who sends him back in time 800 years to get the elixir from the long dead Zombie Master with the added mission to chronicle his adventure and thus add to the history of Xanth.

He time travels through a magic tapestry along with a spider Jumper, who grows in size and becomes his trusty companion. He sees the construction of Castle Roogna, explains the origin of the forget spell on the Gap as well as getting embroiled in a vicious goblin/harpy war and survives the siege of two castles.

Enjoyed this one as much as all the other Xanth novels - Adore the universe peopled with such a marvellous array of hybrids and monsters - centaurs, harpies, goblins, fauns, nymphs, dragons, zombies, orgres, gorgons, golems.... I also love the humour. This one's still relatively early in the series, later you'll find the puns come so thick and fast sometimes they eclipse the story - but here we're still old skool high fantasy (wizards and dragons) with a nice dose of light hearted humour.

Didn't find this one to misogynistic either - 800 years ago Millie is a bit useless, but the other women are quite strong. Harpy Helen, brat princess Irene, neo sorceress Vadane and the lady Gorgon. I liked how Dor treated Irene once he returns from his quest.

Xanth novels are wonderful escapism and just great fun, when I need a little light relief these are the go to books. Casle Roogna is a classic example.
Profile Image for Don LaFountaine.
467 reviews9 followers
June 8, 2014
Book 3 of the Xanth series takes place 12 years after book 2. Dor, Bink and Chameleon's child, is twelve years old, with a Magician level talent that makes others uncomfortable. In addition to that, he is now starting to notice the physical features of the female sex, specifically Millie, the former ghost brought back to life. As Millie is now Dor's nanny, he is closer to her than others, and is thereby more effected by her magical talent.

So, to help him learn about life, as well as prepare him to be able to take the throne of Xanth in the future, Dor is sent on a journey to the past. His goal, to get a magic elixir from the Zombie King that will allow him to bring a zombie, Jonathan, back to life for Millie. Along the way, he meets King Roogna, his nemesis Magician Murphy, and a host of other people and creatures, including a giant jumping spider named Jumper.

This is a fun book that continues the magic and fun of the Xanth series. Some of the original characters are only mentioned and some are part of the story, but this is really about the next generation of Xanth characters.
Profile Image for Anastaciaknits.
Author 3 books41 followers
October 29, 2016
So this was another of my favorites as a kid. I just loved the fact that the Castle had, in its own way, a personality and mind of its own. Dor is kind of a brat in the beginning of the book, but turns out to be a likable kid, and the other characters are a lot of fun. There's Anthony's usual amount of smut-treating women as objects/inferior creatures - but not as much as in most of his books, by a long short.

It definitely wasn't as enjoyable as when I was in the forth grade, let me tell you I loved those books then. Even though the books are written for adults, they really are written for juvenile males, and as an adult female, I really notice that now.

(note for goodreads: I'm leaving the five star rating for old time's sake; but in honesty, I can only give it three stars as an adult)
Profile Image for Natalie.
237 reviews
October 19, 2012
Castle Roogna is about a boy named Dor(who is the child of Bink)and how he goes on a quest to see the Zombie Master so he can get a restorative potion to restore Millie the former ghost's love Johnathan. However the Zombie Master lived eight centuries ago. So now Dor must go back in time, to the fourth wave when the king was King Roogna. On his quest he encounters many thing that are not in his time such as a wool plant(a sheep which is a plant)which is extinct.

My favorite part is when he incounters Jumper, a giant spider who helps him all along his quest. This is by far my favorite book in this entire series. It made me laugh for some of the book and go into shock at other parts. It provides a balance to the book.
22 reviews
August 2, 2010
The end of the first Xanth trilogy provides a certain completeness to the series thus far. One could stop reading here and achieve a great deal of satisfaction.

Personally, I plan to read the entire series...
Profile Image for Kristen.
37 reviews2 followers
December 26, 2013
This is one of my favorites. Who can resist a giant heroic spider!
Profile Image for Shay.
79 reviews16 followers
March 9, 2015
Dor is an IDIOT! I had predicted who Jonathon was by page 158! It was confirmed for me by 173. I remember being so frustrated with the dramatic irony that it made this book all the better!
Profile Image for Jenniffer.
112 reviews
May 20, 2014
Much better than the last book! I'm enjoying re-reading the series.
Profile Image for Brian.
273 reviews64 followers
January 18, 2020
Every year for the past 3 years I have tried to finish the year (or beginning of the new year) by reading the series of fantasy books I enjoyed as a young boy. I always remembered reading 'Castle Roogna' several times when I was young, because I enjoyed the story so much. Maybe it was that it was a story that mostly took place 800 years earlier in Xanth and my love of history allowed me to appreciate it better.

I also think Piers Anthony had a better handle on his storytelling and characters by this point. While the characters in the first two Xanth books are memorable, they just didn't seem as lovable. Whereas the newer characters in this book do seem more humorous and better written.

There's still the stilted dialogue that seem characteristic in young adult fantasy fiction of the 70s and 80s. I haven't read many of the later novels written decades later, so I cannot make a fair comparison.

After finishing this one for the first time in probably 30+ years, I do realize why I loved reading it as a young teen so many times. The adventure is fast paced and the characters are simply fun and unique. The main character, Dor, (son of Bink from the first 2 books) is 12 years old, so probably close to my age when I first read it. I likely related to a lot of the feelings and changes he was. Having him be in an adult body gave it a "Big" quality I liked, even before that movie had been made.

I also found the time-traveling aspect unique since it was via a magic tapestry that people can view. I am sure as a kid, that I likely thought that was a fun way to "time-travel".

Very enjoyable.
Profile Image for Shelby.
2,669 reviews79 followers
February 24, 2020
4.5 Stars

I wasn't sure that I would love this story, little boy's first crush on his nanny...yikes. But then it really became a coming of age story for Dor as he figured out the magician that he has the potential to become. His experiences inside the tapestry really help him to learn just how much he doesn't know and that that's ok. The reveal with Millie and Jonathan was pretty expected, but it was still fun. I love the humor in this series. Dor's adventure inside the tapestry and within the history of Xanth was just such fun. I enjoyed watching Dor figure out how to handle himself now that he wasn't a weak little boy, but instead finds himself in the body of a sword wielding barbarian. And best of all was his relationship with his new best friend. I LOVED his spider companion! Such a quirky idea and so much fun.
Profile Image for DarkHeraldMage.
180 reviews54 followers
March 30, 2021
I think this third book definitely improved from the second, but it still felt overly full of so much rampant sexism and over-sexualization that by the end what could've been a fun and magical adventure just felt mediocre instead of good. I enjoyed seeing Dor get to really use his talent in ways that I might not have thought of, showing how something so innocuous truly could be considered a Magician caliber Talent, and there were multiple top tier puns that actually made me smile.

By the end of the book I wasp leased with how some storylines seamlessly tied in with the first two books, giving callbacks to those who read them without leaving out anyone who might've started on this one - and this is one of the things I love about Xanth. Anyone can join at any time and still have a decent time reading about whatever character gets to be the focus of the novel.
Profile Image for Angela.
4,329 reviews54 followers
August 26, 2019
4 Stars

Castle Roogna is the third book in the Xanth series by Piers Anthony. Millie the Ghost loves Johnathan the zombie. Magician Dor finds things aren't quite so simple when he decides to help by finding a potion that will solve their problem. This means going back in time to find it, which leads to some danger, and an epic adventure.
The Xanth Series is quite a really long series that has spanned many decades. I remember reading the first few books back in the very early 1980’s and was totally captivated by the epic fantasy that unfolded before my eyes. I collected all the books as each new one was released and have revisited them a few times over the years. Recently I had been reorganising my bookshelves, because eight book cases have become insufficient to house all my books (#bookwhoredilemma)- and it came to the point where I was going to have to get rid of some of my older books/series in order to make way for new favourites. I looked at all the larger/longer series first and this is one of the larger series that I have, it came under scrutiny. I decided to reread all the books I was considering getting rid of first- before making a final decision. I can honestly say that although I these books didn’t blow me away as they once did- I still really enjoyed all the adventure, magic, swords & sorcery like epic fantasy that Mr. Anthony is renowned for. He has imbued his stories with plenty of humour, a playfulness, lots of fun, action, some history, conspiracies, secrets, surprising developments, and much, much more. We meet so many varied and original characters along the way- the books are full of wonderful fictional beasts and paranormal creatures/beasts. From centaurs, to demons, dragons, fauns, gargoyles, goblins, golems, harpies, merfolk, elves, nymphs, ogres, zombies, and curse fiends- and a few more I am sure I have missed.
The world of Xanth is wonderfully rich and vividly descriptive. It is really well written and is so easy to imagine, it came to life before my eyes. Each ‘person’ in Xanth is born with their own unique magical ability, which is called a ‘talent’. We follow along on many epic adventures and explore the world as the story unfolds.
I have many fond memories of reading this book/series- and in the end I can’t cull any of my collection. So I decided to just purchase a couple of extra bookcases instead. #myprecious
A series worth exploring- especially for any epic fantasy lover who loves some fun and humour served with their adventure.

Thank you, Mr. Anthony!
Profile Image for Michael Otto.
243 reviews15 followers
August 10, 2020
Read this awhile back, the 3rd book in the Xanth series. Laid background down as the characters introduced here would be used again in later books as well as being referred to in later books also.
Profile Image for SciFiOne.
2,010 reviews27 followers
December 3, 2022
1979 Grade A-
2022 Grade B+

Xanth books are more about exploring the world of Xanth and all the odd pun based magical plants and animals than about the primary story arc. Each character has a magical talent. The protagonist's talent in this book is he makes inanimate objects talk to him. His quest is to go back to the past and retrieve a potion. The exploration tends to go from predicament and solution over and over and in Great detail. Because of that repetition, it only held my attention for about 35 minutes at a time. I did start speed reading eventually although not much because it is a little hard to do. Still, it is a good book.
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