In an effort to breathe new life into old books, here is a series of book reviews I wrote in the 1990’s. Piers Anthony is quite the prolific and versatile writer. He has written 17 more Xanth novels since this review. In total, to date (up to 2007), Piers Anthony has published 137 books. (Editor’s note: “Demons Don’t Dream” can be found in many used books stores or online at Amazon, eBay or other online used book dealers. Click here to find out more about Mr. Anthony.)
I’d like to welcome back Mr. Anthony to the realm of enjoyable fiction, at least as far as the Xanth novels go. The last few attempts at this pun-ish pursuit have been, shall we say, rather sour. It was just a chore to get through The Colour of Her Panties. The story was dry and uninteresting. At the very least, it didn’t say anything new, which is important if you are writing a series of books that has reached the double digits.
Now Mr. Anthony has given us Demons Don’t Dream, by the way of Tor Books. The first thing we notice right off the bat, is the publisher. Tor gives the Xanth stories more color, by literally incorporating more color both on the cover and the first two pages. This should raise a subtle “hmmmmmm” from most (seasoned) readers (of the Xanth novels). But, you say, that’s just window dressing. True. And it is also true that covers come after the completed literary work. (Ed. Note – not always true these days.) But the idea of a new publisher generally flows hand in hand with a fresh breeze, which is what we have in Demons.
It’s a delightful tale about a couple of Mundanes who, for differing reasons, end up playing a game about Xanth, and in doing so, interact with the actual citizenry of this mystical isthmus of fantasy magics.
For those of you not already familiar with Xanth, it is a magical place that exists alongside our own dreary existence. Within, each person has a magical talent, something uniquely magical about them. Throughout the series, Mr. Anthony has given us a wonderful history of the place. Now we have afresh look at Xanth and its denizens through the eyes of a Mundane teenage boy who knows nothing of Xanth and a Mundane girl who has read all the books. Their goal, via a computer game, is to traverse the challenges put before them and win the prize. What they don’t know is that larger forces are watching the game closer for altogether higher stakes. As Dug and Kim travel the scenery, treachery and deceit lie in wait in unsuspecting places.
Once again, Piers Anthony has captured the beauty, allure, and yes, the puns of the original tales. It’s a roller coaster ride of belly whomps and guffaws, a mad dash in a Habi-trail ball. It seems that changing publishers, for whatever reason, has done a whirlwind of good for Mr. Anthony and Xanth.
A hearty thumbs up (although how one gets a thumb to eat, I’ll never know) for Piers Anthony, Tor Books and Demons Don’t Dream.
Publisher: TOR Books (1994)