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Headscratchers: Xanth
  • So, one of Chameleon's facets is named Wynne, and another is named Dee. I'm positive there's a joke in there somewhere, but what the hell is it?
    • Wendy?
      • The third is named Fanchon, and that's weird enough that it can't be for the hell of it. But whatever Anthony is doing there, it has to involve the word "windy" somehow.
      • Really? I always assumed that "A Spell for Chameleon" was the one and only "before puns took over the series" book. And that's why there were so few, relatively speaking.
      • Fanchon. And no, A Sf C isn't the only book pre-puns. Up until about...Dragon on a Pedestal, I'd say. I actually want to re-read that one...
      • Well, ASFC had the nickelpedes, which are kind of punny. The pun takeover definitely happened before Night Mare (the one before Dragon on a Pedestal)
      • It also has the discussion about "sowing wild oats".
  • Why the hell isn't Grundy Golem considered a Magician? He can communicate fluently with any living thing, including those that logically have no ability to communicate, such as plants. Is talking to a tree really any less impressive than talking to a rock?
    • He can't make them communicate with anybody else. Or gain any influence over them.
    • This is addressed directly in one of the books. The reasoning is that you can eventually learn the language of a living thing but you can't learn how to make rocks talk.
      • You can eventually learn the language of a plant?
      • In Xanth, where any and every living thing is given a language due to magic, you can. You just need a lot of patience.
      • Not to mention, while anyone can learn one foreign language, no one could learn the languages of all living things, even if they all had languages. There simply aren't enough brain cells in a head to do that. By the above logic, King Roogna wasn't a Magician because people can learn how to breed animals and plants into variant forms.
      • Roogna was a magician because breeding takes time, but Roogna can do it instantly.
      • Well no, but Dor causes inanimate objects to take on the form of life, while Grundy simply accesses what intelligence is already there. While impressive, Dor's ability is much more powerful because it changes the fundamental nature of what he talks to.
    • I was under the impression that it wasn't a magician power because it comes from his being a golem. Like how Nagas aren't considered mages because they can shapeshift, that's just a natural talent for them.
      • But Mare Imbrium was considered Magician enough to be King of Xanth very briefly. Granted, everyone agreed on that by squinting so hard they walked into walls, but still...
      • You basically answered your own question there. They basically just completely bullshitted it in Mare Imbrium's case. Plus, let's face it, Mare Imbrium would probably be a much better King than Grundy, so declaring her qualified to be (theoretically) actually in line for the throne someday and not Grundy still makes sense. What if Castle Roogna blew up and they actually wound up crowning the little bastard?
      • At that point in the book they had already stated that due to the nature of the crisis at hand, people not actually considered Magicians could be appointed as a successor (Like Chameleon, whose talent is changing from dumb-pretty to smart-ugly).
    • Because the Council in charge of those things are highly prejudiced against either golems or individuals who practice being annoying as an art form.
  • Mighty warriors smash down evil monsters, outwit clever villains and save the day like nobody's business...but an admittedly attractive rear in a pair of panties make them turn into drooling idiots.
    • Magic.
    • Truth in Television. You've never met anyone male, have you?
      • Not everyone male is an ass-man. Besides, there was also that one guy from Mundania/Earth in Demons Don't Dream who was completely confused about everyone's obsession with panties (he was more interested in seeing Naga naked than in underwear). In other words...magic.
      • Not everyone male is a pervert, either, but try telling that to media. Or people who can't tell the difference between stereotypes and reality, for that matter.
      • This really bugs me because it only happens some way into the series, and actually grants absurd power to undergarments- during Night Mare, the attacking army could have been defeated by a well timed pantie display...
      • It's a spell that only happens partway through the series. It's not a Retcon. Although it does bother me how people tend to act later in the series like it's always been that way, except for the people involved.
      • This is eventually Justified as being a direct result of Ivy (whose power is to enhance what she perceives to be true to the point of Reality Warping) becoming 'aware' of it in Crewel Lye, where it gets its first mention in the series, and being doubly enforced by Ida (Whose power was that anything she believed to be true becomes true with limits on who can originate the idea) doing much the same with panty magic and the Adult Conspiracy during or after The Color of Her Panties, at which point the two gags really took off. This was apparently unintentional Fridge Brilliance, as the author credits the idea to a reader.
  • The lack of talent sorting. Everyone in Xanth can do something magical. Nobody seems to do a census. "Hmmm, the guy who can magically clean things should team up with the guy who can sense life forms, they'd be perfect as a search and rescue squad."
    • Well, Xanth isn't really an iron-fisted dictatorship. Most people generally live however they please and answer to no one unless they've done something bad or there is a national emergency. Castle Roogna does employ a few useful people, but most are just left to their own devices.
    • Good Magician Humphrey did this exact thing. His Big Book of Answers is an indexed collection of everything he's learned over the last few centuries. He is not a Magician due to power, but pure information and intelligence.
  • The reliance of Good Magician Humphrey. It did come back to bite them on the rear.
    • Of course, visiting Humphrey is iconic; every protagonist does it. Aside from that, it gives them an incentive to go out in the world (they know Humphrey's advice is spot on, after all) and it allows them to be sent on a quest that will improve their character and make them happy, because Humphrey is that good a Chess Master.
  • Nobody really DIES, except for the nameless mooks.
    • That's because they're the Main Characters, and therefore have extra luck and status. Aversion to dying seems to be one of the perks of being a Main Character.
      • It doesn't seem to be a perk, it's explicitly stated that Main Characters (Yes, with the caps) will never "die" (Just fade away, as in we see them less and less until they vanish entirely), things will always work out for them, and they will live happily ever after at the end of the book. It's part of the nature of Xanth- the same thing that makes all love eternal in Xanth, or makes everyone basically intelligent and comprehensible to each other, even if they don't speak the same language. A spider and a dragon could communicate fairly well after a few minutes trying at it.
      • Of course, the definition of "Die" may vary. We've had a zombie as a main character before.
      • Jumper the Spider is assuredly dead of old age by the time Centaur Aisle rolls around, but who mourns for a house spider (or can even find his dead body once he's back out of the tapestry)?
    • There are plenty of series that ensure that the main characters end up with happy endings, no matter how contrived. Xanth is just fond of lampshading this trope. If anything, you could argue that it's less obnoxious to poke fun at this by raising it up to the level of a universal law, than to just have it happen, like most authors would.
  • I think Piers screwed himself a bit when he made Xanth the size of Florida and showed the entire thing was traversable over the length of one book.
    • Considering all the magic inherent to the landscape itself, as well as the many, MANY different forces that can and do alter the land, I doubt it really is all that readily traveled. Not to mention, I doubt it actually IS the size of Florida given simply the sheer volume of stuff we've learned is...well, everywhere (it isn't actually bigger as of #31's ending, but I digress).
    • He's also written himself an infinite amount of space to set stories in thanks to Ida's moon(s). And a state is a pretty big place when you are mostly travelling on foot.
  • All the Lawful Stupid bugs me. It just does. The fact that it seems to be desirable is just...absolutely unfathomable. Blue and Orange Morality, I guess?
    • More a case of Author Tract, I'd think. Putting Honor Before Reason seems to be a common trait of Mr. Anthony's protagonists (and sympathethic antagonists as well) in general, not just those in his Xanth novels, and I seem to recall coming across a reply of his to criticism of a particularly heavy-handed case — Grey Murphy 'having' to honor his parents' promise to Com-Pewter, IIRC — which suggested that he does in fact believe that that's just how people of proper moral character should act. (Or at least that he did at the time. I've stopped buying his books quite a number of years ago now, in part due just to feeling increasingly irritated about that sort of thing, so I'm not the best person to ask if he still holds that position.)
      • It might also be that it just makes things easier to write (though I'm pretty sure there were some protagonists who were more tricksy and willing to cheat.)
  • Why did Grey have to honour the agreement his parents made with Com-Pewter? They had no authority to promise things on his behalf. I read The Authors answer to it in the back of Question Quest but that doesn't seem satisfactory. If someone is sold into slavery by their parents it is not dishonourable for them to get out of it. If they put themselves into it maybe but his parents had no authority to do it on his behalf.
    • Because Piers Anthony has very stringent and frankly unreasonable views on what constitutes honorable behavior. Honestly that's about as good as you're going to get. There is something to the idea of an honorable child choosing to fulfill debts that their parents were unable to repay, but the problem here is that a) the entire debt had been assigned to Grey, with no cost to his parents in the first place b) the debt was literally his entire life, with no possible endpoint and c) the debt was going to require him to hurt innocent people. There ought to come a point where you can say "Look, I'm sorry my parents cheated you, but I'm not doing this." But not in Xanth.
  • When people go to Magician Humfrey with a Question, since his answers are so often cryptic and hard to understand, why don't they, instead of asking say, Question X, ask something like "What would an accurate answer that I as of this moment would be able to understand to Question X be?"
    • Because he gives everyone, and is famous for doing so, the answer they need more often than the one they want, most of the time the service/quest he gives them leads them to what they want, just as he plans. His answers are only cryptic when it will help lead them to what they want and need, we just never see that because all the main characters either have complicated problems, or are needed to solve complicated problems.
    • Also it's extremely rare for anyone who's a protagonist in a Xanth novel to be smart enough to think of a verbal trap like that, and if they are smart enough they're such an asshole that they'd rather just berate Humfrey for his seemingly unhelpful answer instead.

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