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What do you get when you take a rather witty (and long-running) American author, create a Fictional Counterpart of the entire state of Florida, give everyone in it magical powers (or "talents") to make a Magic Kingdom, if you will (...geddit?), fill it with various deconstructive parodies of fantasy tropes and top it all off with literally hundreds of reader-submitted puns?

In a nutshell... you get Xanth.

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The Xanth series takes place in a small Florida-shaped realm of a dimension other than Earth. In Xanth, magic is real, with its own physical laws, often based on reader-submitted (and credited) puns. Billions, and billions of puns. For example — Pineapples are explosive (aka pineapple fragmentation grenade). Cherries (Cherry bombs) are smaller, but still dangerous. Tulips (two lips) will kiss you if you get too close. Boot Rear is a fizzy soda that, when drunk, causes you to feel a swift kick to your bottom. And beware the Catastrophe — a plaque with the back half of a cat stuck into it (a Cat-ass-trophy).

Yes, you're allowed to groan after reading some of those.

One important rule for Xanth is that every single native-born Xanth human has a unique "talent" — a magical quirk that only they can do. This can be anything from changing their hair color, to being able to talk to certain animals, to being able to "enhance" whatever is in front of you temporarily (whether that is to "enhance" someone's muscles, "enhance" a car's engine, etc.), to being able to rewind time or warp reality in their nearby vicinity. Talents are unique to the person who has them — no two talents are the same, but some are so similar that they are more or less identical; "turn stuff blue" versus "turn stuff azure", for example.

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The first book, A Spell for Chameleon, was written in 1977, and the series continues to this day (with #41 releasing in 2017 and more just waiting for publication), recently entering its 2nd trilogy. In typical Piers Anthony fashion, he declared the first trilogy over after the 27th book (3 Cubed, or 3^3, is 27) Cube Route. Xanth has even inspired a "fan book", a novel-length work of collaborative fiction that Piers Anthony has mentioned positively in his official newsletter.


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The Xanth novels contain examples of:

  • Abdicate the Throne: At least some of Xanth's Kings abdicated after a time, including Jonathan (sixth; felt the job had gotten too rotten), Humfrey (seventeenth; only kept the job until he could find a successor and go back to seeking out knowledge), Trent (nineteenth; retired after the Nextwave crisis) and Dor (twentieth; retired around age 64 in favor of his daughter).
    • Night Mare features a whole chain of Kings who are explicitly king pro tempore (because of an evil sorcerer who was somehow able to target and take out whoever was king at the time).
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • In Ogre, Ogre, Blyght Brassie introduces herself, but almost immediately, the Siren accidentally calls her "Blythe" instead. Blyght decides she likes the new name better and goes by it from then on.
    • In Golem in the Gears, Grundy Golem meets Stacey Steamer, the female Gap Dragon (and mate of Stanley Steamer), but accidentally calls her Stella instead. She angrily corrects him, but then decides she likes the new name better, and goes by Stella from then on.
  • Ain't No Rule: Xanth's laws appeared to deny the throne to women because the King must be a Magician. Eventually someone realized that a Sorceress is just a female Magician, and the rules of succession were changed to allow women to hold the title of King.
  • All Men Are Perverts: An unquestioned assumption of the setting.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: "Coloured" people, Immigrants from Earth circa the civil rights movement, whose kids (due to the rule of pun) grew up with every skintone under the sun.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Adult Conspiracy (to keep interesting stuff away from children).
    • The Adult Conspiracy is taken so seriously that children who manage to break it gain incredible power — one of the books has a whole miniplot before the main plot even starts where the main character has to drag her brother to a magic spring to make him forget how to swear, because it's a colony of goblins. She has to remove those words from his mind because he's a child and that sort of thing being repeated to the other goblin children will make them the worst generation ever, and since their goal is to improve the goblins as a species, he has to be stopped.
    • In Xanth, as in South Park, curse words really do invoke curses; saying them can do things like set the roof of your house on fire. So swearing is Serious Business.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: As revealed in Question Quest, after Muerte A. Fid became the twelfth King of Xanth, he tried to force Rose Pax Bliss to marry him, "to secure his seeming legitimacy", since she was the granddaughter of the late King Yang. She managed to escape instead, and was protected (and kept from aging) by Castle Roogna, until Humfrey found her and, after getting his degree in magic from the Demon's University of Magic, took her as his third wife.
  • Art Initiates Life: Neytron, the eighth King of Xanth, could bring paintings to life. He used this talent to create women for himself, furnishings for Castle Roogna, and food for the populace in lean times.
  • Attractive Zombie: Zora gradually becomes this due to Xavier giving her The Power of Love.
  • Author Appeal: Many people have accused Piers Anthony of enjoying having his younger female characters end up naked more than would be considered healthy.
    • Lampshaded: The Adult Conspiracy is a magical censorship spell that prevents anyone under 18 from hearing curse words, seeing panties (nudity is still fine, however), or generally figuring out anything about sexuality. Added after a reviewer complained about nudity and sexuality in Xanth.
    • Two to the Fifth takes this and just runs with it — the hero gets a 12 year old girl princess chasing after him, so he tries to let her down easy. Mistake! She's a sorceress, so she artificially ages herself long enough to force him into a love spring and er, seduce him before the artificial age magic wears off. Love springs have the side effect of forcing the two people affected by it to mate, and making it guaranteed to work. This leaves him stuck in love with her, just in time for the stork to deliver their new child... oh, and the Adult Conspiracy makes an appearance as well, a few hours too late — his new "wife" forgets all the details right after the age magic wears off.
  • Author Filibuster: A variant — Piers Anthony includes a chapter's long Author's Note after the end of every novel he writes, in which he talks about whatever was on his mind while he was writing the novel. If he doesn't people accuse him of being dead.
  • All Myths Are True: Lots of mythology references, including some silly ones — for example, Summoning the Stork, which is literally how babies are made in Xanth: after a certain ritual, the Storks fly in a baby to the new parents.
  • Badass Normal:
    • A truly epic subversion in Bink. Despite having a godlike talent with a very intelligent mind of its own, combining Plot Armor with Gambit Roulette and Xanatos Speed Chess, Bink spent years unaware he had a talent, forced to learn to survive without one in Xanth, which was much more of a Death World in the early books. Thus, he was forced to develop the skill set of a Badass Normal and learned empathy for the disadvantaged, gaining the Power of Friendship. Since Lawful Stupid carries certain advantages in Xanth and Magnificent Bastard status has them everywhere, he can essentially have his cake and eat it too, allowing him to sway even the Demon XaNTH. The Badass Normal skill set his talent forced him to develop paid off when the demon reversed his talent, causing it to seek Bink's destruction: the Badass Normal ability to protect himself from magic it forced him to develop was powerful enough to defend himself against that very same talent, which also goes to show the extremely long game played by Bink's talent.
    • It should be noted that Bink's plot armor is actually justified in universe!
  • Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: "Evil Magician Trent" who, when he becomes the only known possible choice for king, proves himself such a capable ruler he becomes known as "Good King Trent".
  • Baleful Polymorph: Trent's talent is to transform any living creature in line of sight into any other creature. This includes turning soldiers sent to attack his army into fish and leaving them there to die according to the history books, anyway. Eventually he figures out "creature" doesn't have to mean "animal" and starts turning all his enemies into trees.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: A recurring theme is women who need to be "tamed" (or at least seriously need to grow up).
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: Oddly averted, if not outright defied. Due to the magic of Xanth, virtually any two creatures can breed together as long as they can make the parts fit (and if they don't fit, you can always get an accommodation spell). So while beings tend to be attracted to their own species, there is very little stigma with Interspecies Romance. Lots of Mix-and-Match Critters and Half-Human Hybrids originate this way, especially with the prevalence of Love Springs. Centaurs, for example, came about when a man and his mare both drank from the same spring.
  • Big, Friendly Dog: Stanley Steamer is the most powerful and dangerous dragon in Xanth, but this trope applies with him and Princess Ivy, who raised him back to adulthood after he had an accident with water from the Fountain of Youth. They're best friends, and Stanley will do anything for her. It's well known that any friend of Ivy's is a friend of Stanley's. It's also well known that the opposite is true as well...
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • Bink's talent is immunity to harm by magic, including indirect harmnote . As there is very little in Xanth that is not in some way magical, the talent becomes "he can only be harmed by completely mundane things". Thus, it further protects him by disguising its own existence, making is seem he avoids harm through clumsiness, luck, or freak accidents, so that this weak point in his magic will not harm him, which would technically be harm by (a failure of) magic!. The price of this is that it constantly makes him the Butt-Monkey of any situation- humiliation does not count as injury, as he has a humble and resilient personality. Minor scrapes and bruises apparently do not count, either.
      • However, due to how subtle it is, Trent regards Bink's talent as extremely dangerous to anyone who is or may become a threat to Bink. In the first book, the senile and ill King who insisted Bink be exiled to Mundania (where there is no magic and therefore his talent could not protect him) sickened and died, allowing Trent (who was Bink's friend, knew about his talent, and was no threat to Bink) to assume the throne. This allowed Trent to decree that Bink could stay in Xanth, made Bink a member of the Royal Court so that making an enemy of Bink also meant that King Trent would be your enemy, and allowed Bink to be with Chameleon, whom he'd fallen in love with. All these events happening just by coincidence? Perhaps, but Trent had seen very well how Bink's talent used coincidence and happenstance to Bink's benefit, and therefore knew it could end up being very bad for anyone that Bink's talent came to regard as a threat.
    • A number of characters have talents that could qualify as this. The title character of The Dastard, for example, had the amazing talent of coming up with bad ideas. He ended up selling his soul for a better talent, but since the idea to do so came to him when he had his original talent, it was of course itself a bad idea.
    • Then there's beings like the Gorgon, who must cover her face or turn anyone who sees her into stone. Absent Mindedness has also appeared as a Talent. And Dishonesty. And Bad Luck. And Making Mistakes. And Mispronunciation. And having nobody ever get your name right.
    • And being able to make any wish and get half of what you wanted. Doesn't sound so bad, right? You'd settle for half a fortune (or just wish for two of them). Well, it sucks if your first wish was to be a Wit.
    • Bink's wife, Chameleon's, talent is that her physical beauty and intelligence go through a high/low monthly cycle, but cycle in opposite directions, so that she's a beautiful dolt (subject to being taken advantage of by the village louts) on one end and a genius hag no one can stand to be around on the other.
    • Esk Ogre has to deal with disadvantages gained from his half-human parents: He has occasional bouts of ill-tempered stupidity (his half-ogre dad) and empty-headed vapidity (his half-nymph mother).
  • Blue and Orange Morality:
    • Centaurs view reproduction as natural, but someone possessing a magical talent is deeply obscene (they only barely tolerate it in humans because they see humans as a "lesser species"); ditto for crossbreeding and mentioning their non-centaur heritage.
    • The greater demons, such as X(A/N)th: explaining the concept that cooperation produces the best results over time to him is important in one of the earlier books, and he eventually adopts that strategy.
    • Ogres take pride in their stupidity, and view intelligence as a shameful stigma. Smash Ogre becomes an outcast after he's afflicted by the Eye Queue Vine and becomes smart, and seeks help ridding himself of it so he can go back to his old life (though he eventually accepts it as part of his human heritage).
  • Body Surf: The Sea Hag's talent, in a nutshell. But she can only do it after her current body dies, so she typically picks out a new host and spirits them away before killing her current body so she can take over theirs. Also, they have to willingly let her take over.
  • Born Lucky: How Bink's magic talent seems to manifest itself to observers.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Over the course of the series, the Fourth Wall slowly deteriorates; by the fourteenth book, it's pretty much dissipated completely, probably so that Piers can use more Visual Puns...
  • Butt Biter: During Heaven Cent, Prince Dolph and Marrow Bones enter the cave of Draco Dragon, and discover that it includes an underwater tunnel that's home to a swarm of piranha. Later, when a group of goblins try to rob Draco's nest of the jewel collection he's amassed, Marrow throws it into the water. A trio of goblins hop in after the jewels... and promptly re-emerge, each with a fish chomped onto his rear.
  • Changing of the Guard: Save for the first four books (with Bink as the star of the first two, and his son Dor as the star of the next two), no two volumes in a row have the same main character. (Main characters can certainly repeat, they just take breaks between the books they feature in.)
  • Children Are Innocent: This is invoked by the "adult conspiracy" where children are deliberately not told about sex, swearing, and other family unfriendly things.
  • Color Motif: Irene, having a plant based talent, has green as her main color. Her hair is green (specifically black with magically made green tints). Her clothes are green (even her panties, seen when her skirt once flares up), and when the centaurs give her a fur garments it's hinted to be green (as it's the natural color for fur trees).
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Com Pewter is a sentient computer who likes to do this in its games, at first.
  • Combo Platter Powers: Some hybrids, especially hybrids of human stock, inherit some form of their non-human parents' abilities plus a magic talent. One example is Esk Ogre (ogre/human father, nymph/human mother). Along with his magic talent of "the protest"note , he can summon ogre-level strength when angry enough. The winged centaurs share the magical ability make things — including themselves — temporarily lighter, allowing their massive centaur bodies to take flight. This is despite all the Winged Centaurs thus far having different originsnote 
  • Contemptible Cover:
    • One book has the awkward title The Color of Her Panties. (This one was Lampshaded before the book even appeared in print, which is a pretty good trick to pull off.)
    • A number of the early books sported half to fully naked women on the cover, so the actual artwork had its own issues.
  • Continuity Drift: In the second book, Chameleon is pregnant. In later books, babies in Xanth are brought by the stork. (However, Crewel Lye notes that Irene got very fat in the months before Dolph was dropped off, and the weight vanished when he arrived, reflecting physical signs of pregnancy while still having a stork do the delivery.)
  • Contractual Immortality: Lampshaded In-Universe. Being a Main Character of a Xanth novel (see Literary Agent Hypothesis below) ensures that one will eventually get a happy ending, because that's how magic works.
  • Cosmic Chess Game: The World Demons are always playing one of these, with the winner gaining status or territory from the loser.
  • Crapsack World: The first book goes into quite a bit of detail, generally via Trent, about how fragile human existence in Xanth is. The third and seventh books, as well as the sixth, go into more detail about what happens when there aren't Deus ex Machina popping up all over the place, and the book focusing on Magician Humfrey is about how much work went into creating the sort-of stability that Bink grew up in.
  • Creepy Centipedes: The dreaded nickelpedes. They have 500 legs and their bite can gouge out a slice of flesh the size of a U.S. nickel coin, hence the name. There are also dimepedes, which are smaller but twice as vicious, and quarterpedes, which gouge out two bits of flesh with every pinch.
    • Taken to the extreme with the dollarpedes, slow moving creatures that have lost most of their power over time.
    • Subverted with the harmless pennypedes.
  • Crossover:
    • Jenny Elf is not native to Xanth, she's actually an elf from the world of ElfQuest.
    • Good Magician Humfrey is aware of other worlds, as demonstrated in Question Quest, when he references characters from Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality and Apprentice Adept series.
    • During the events of Cube Route, the protagonists actually cross into Phaze (from Apprentice Adept) to find a Xanthian dragon who had previously crossed over and whose aid was vital to their quest.
  • Crouching Moron Hidden Bad Ass: Grundy the Golem is easy to dismiss, being a six-inch high smart-ass with a tendency to insult everyone around him. However, he's also highly intelligent, very good at thinking on his feet, and his ability to talk to any living creature means he can gather information very quickly. He's demonstrated several times that while insects, birds, and small animals are pretty insignificant when taken alone, get a few million of them together and motivated and they become a force to be reckoned with.
  • Cure Your Gays: With a pun-made-literal straightjacket.
  • Curse: Repeatedly. The Curse Fiends (or Curse Friends, as they prefer to be called) are humans with the magic talent of cursing, which can devastate whole regions if powerful enough. Numerous times throughout the series, the characters must figure out how to overcome or avoid a curse.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Almost every non-human female is considered vastly more attractive than her male counterpart. Except for Ogres. Ogre women are ugly. They prefer it that way; they work at being ugly the way human women work at being beautiful. An average ogress can "curdle milk with half a glance"; a Curse Fiend imitating one proved able to curdle water. They're just as hideous and almost as strong as the male ogres.
    • Harpies are a partial aversion, and also take pride in their ugliness and go out of their way to make themselves disgusting; young harpies, however, are capable of being beautiful and seductive (especially if they're trying to get a human man to mate with them. The only male harpies we see are handsome.
    • For goblins this was actually justified, as the women were cursed to prefer nasty, ugly men, which after generations bred those traits into the species for the male goblins.
      • And the curse was lifted during the "time of no magic", so there are a few male harpies and handsome goblin men now.
    • Technically, Chameleon. Well, two-thirds of the time, anyway. Her cycle is not a talent, but a magical mutation (for example, note Wynne's resemblance to nymphs, both physically and psychologically).
  • Death World: Xanth, especially in the early books. Multiple varieties of carnivorous trees and a multitude of other reasons not to wander off the enchanted paths. And if anything goes wrong with those enchantments...
  • Dem Bones: Living skeletons were created to reside in the Gourd, performing in bad dreams. A handful have emerged into the physical realm of Xanth, including Marrow Bones and his eventual wife Grace'l Ossein. Skeletons are also capable of reproduction both in and out of the gourd; the male skeleton, in a process known as "knocking her up", kicks the female skeleton in the rear so she falls apart, then assembles baby skeletons from her smaller bones (per the nature of skeletons, the bones used in reproduction apparently grow back afterward). This is how Marrow and Grace'l's children, Picka Bone and Joy'nt, came into being.
  • Disney Villain Death: It happens off-screen in Night Mare, but Mare Imbri follows the trail of then-King Bink and Hasbinbad, leader of the Punic Nextwavers and The Dragon to the Horseman, and discovers that their sword fight ended when Hasbinbad fell to his death in the Gap Chasm.
  • Dispel Magic: Magician Grey Murphy can cancel out any magic, but only one target at a time (and can actually make magic stronger by leaning hard on his null effect, then removing it).
  • The Dragon: Stanley Steamer is a literal dragon, the strongest, toughest, and most formidable dragon in all of Xanth. No creature in its right mind messes with him. He's also completely loyal to Ivy, and basically turns into a large, affectionate puppy dog around her. Any friend of Ivy's is a friend of his. Anyone Ivy doesn't like...well, if you're lucky Ivy will be able to stop him from killing you.
  • Dumb Is Good: While there are a number of smart "good guys" in the Xanth novels, they're also almost all kind of snotty about it. For example, even the nicest of the centaurs (who are, as a race, intellectuals) is generally an unrepentant Grammar Nazi.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The greater demons, such as X(A/N)th: the second book goes into some detail, as does Swell Foop.
  • Elemental Plane: The Five Forbidden Regions: the void, the region of water, the region of fire, the region of earth, and the region of air. Each region is filled with terrain and weather that represent it: the region of water, for example, contains a lot of lakes and it rains often. The story of how they were created is given in book 16.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Well, the definition of "evil" is stretched a bit for Trent, but he notes that even during his rebellion, he would never intentionally transform someone in a way that would kill them. (e.g. turning them into fish while they are still on land.)
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In A Spell For Chameleon. Trent's willingness to trust Bink with his sword while he sleeps convinces Bink and Chameleon that he is not really evil; an untrustworthy man would not have trusted them in turn.
  • Evil Overlord:
    • Muerte A. Fid, the twelfth King and Magician of Alchemy, is said to be by far the worst King that Xanth ever had (and he was bad from the very beginning - the stork had to hold its nose while delivering him).
    • Yin-yang, the eleventh King who created invokable spells, was said to be pretty bad himself, but his dormant good side kept him well above Fid's level.
    • Aeolus, the eighteenth King and Magician of Storms/Storm King, was also pretty bad, but more of a spoiled self-centered brat than actively malicious (and some of this was due to his not having his soul in him at all times). Four years into his reign, he instituted a law that required every human to show a magical talent or be banished, which kicked off the plot of the first book (Bink's quest to prove he had a talent).
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: Centaurs take pride in being nude, they see it as having Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions and generally confirming their superiority to the rest of the world. One character has to take on this attitude after having gone through a transformation in order to be with her Centaur boyfriend, with limited success.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Inverted with King Aeolus' law that banished all humans lacking magical talents from Xanth and required them to publicly demonstrate it (though in the case of one man whose talent was changing the color of his urine, they accepted an affidavit instead).
    • Zombies are one of the most disliked species in Xanth by people; Dragon on a Pedestal and Zombie Lover both have a character learning to appreciate them as part of the plot.
    • Dragon on a Pedestal notes that Iris "was not too partial to centaurs", but changed her opinion after Arnolde Centaur, during his time as king in Night Mare, declared Irene's talent made her a full Sorceress.
    • The centaurs of Centaur Isle have no tolerance for other centaurs who manifest talents, or for crossbreeds other than their own kind, refusing to allow Chex, a winged centaur, onto their island simply because of her species, and even talking about such relations is discouraged, regardless of the speaker's species. The northern centaurs are only a little better, and don't accept Chex either; her mother Chem also ceases to be welcome there after bearing a child to a non-centaur. Even their own family members will reject centaurs who display magic or breed with non-centaurs - both Chet and Chem Centaur are effectively disowned by their mother for breeding outside their race (even if it was because of a love spring in Chet's case).
  • Fauns and Satyrs: Fauns love chasing nymphs and simulating summoning the stork with them. Since it's not a legitimate summons, the storks don't answer and in fact find it highly annoying.
  • Feet of Clay: Literally in Crewel Lye - Jordan is affected by a Taken for Granite spell, but his talent of self-healing causes it to wear off over time. For the last stages, his feet are still made of stone.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: In A Roc and a Hard Place, Roxanne Roc is brought to trial under the charges of "obscenity against a minor". She's bewildered as to how this could have happened, as she has dedicated her life to hatching the egg of the Simurgh, the oldest and wisest creature in all of Xanth. (As it turns out, she'd uttered an extremely mild epithet, when she thought the egg was about to be broken due to a set of circumstances beyond her control, and the as yet to hatch chick was sentient enough to have heard it.) After much agonizing and handwringing, a jury finds her guilty by one vote. As it turns out, the entire thing was a Secret Test of Character over To Be Lawful or Good where the Demon X(A/N)th had bet with the Demon V(E/N)us that no jury would ever find Roxanne guilty. The Simurgh then "punishes" Roxanne with functional immortality.
  • Fetish: Rhythm enjoys being spanked. So much so to put subliminal messages into her boyfriends mind to make him bring it up.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Characters fall in love and marry shockingly quickly — and Word of God asserts that these marriages are always happy and never end in divorce. (That's magic for you.)
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: That evil dragon? He's actually a nice guy who breathes steam and is trying to keep you from falling to your doom. The damsel in distress? Only staying captured cause she's hoping to attract a nice prince to marry her. The "evil magician"? He's a nice guy, just happens to be from the opposite political party from the current king.
  • Funetik Aksent: Volev vpeak with a livp (Voles speak with a lisp). They, however, hear othersss asss having hissssing accsentsss.
  • Fun with Homophones: Spelling bees can spell things accurately, but the person has to specify which word they mean. Otherwise, the user ends up trying to write something like "My tale is done" and gets "My tail is dun", as Dor learned in Centaur Aisle.
  • Gambit Roulette: Just about everything the Good Magician Humfrey does counts as this. He is the Magician of Information, after all.
  • Genius Bruiser: Chester Centaur — although all centaurs are scholars as well as pretty big and strong, Chester is particularly aggressive.
    • Smash the Ogre becomes this in Ogre, Ogre when he gets infected by the Eye Queue, adding its curse of intelligence to his natural strength.
  • Gentle Giant: Lampshaded with Smash Ogre, with Tandy saying she and the other girls don't find him scary at all.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Piers has long held that kids don't talk to their folks about sex to a full extent. This (like so much else in Xanth) has a parodic complement in the form of the Adult Conspiracy.
  • Give Me a Sword: In Centaur Aisle, King Omen demands a sword to fight his Evil Uncle; this is shot down because on one hand, the sword is magical giving him an unfair advantage, and on the other hand, if the magic is not used, the king is wounded and so his uncle has an unfair advantage.
  • Glowing Flora: In The Source Of Magic, sunflower blossoms are tiny glowing suns. They give off light equal to daylight that's capable of blinding others. When a sunflower goes to seed, the light fades.
  • Golem: A species in Xanth.
    • The first one seen is Grundy the Golem, who debuts in The Source of Magic and was created from wood, rag, string and clay by Good Magician Humfrey; he was later made flesh by the actions of the Demon X(A/N)th, and is a recurring character.
    • Roc and a Hard Place identifies Nero, the ninth King of Xanth, as having the power of bringing golems to life; under his command, they planted a much larger orchard around Castle Roogna to prevent future food shortages.
    • Xone of Contention introduces Robota, a metal golem created by Com Pewter, designed to help him learn about weather.
  • Good Is Dumb: The Dastard, the genius villain who carefully calculates his every move, turns good upon getting his soul back. His talent is to have stupid ideas, making him an idiot.
    • He made a Deal With A Demon for the talent of Time Travel, which he used to Retcon away events that made other people more interesting so that he looked better in comparison. (For example, when he met a man with a Laser-Guided Amnesia talent, who met somebody who suggested erasing Princess Ida's knowledge of her own "it only works for people who don't know about it" talent, the Dastard RetConned that meeting.) Obviously, a better use of the Dastard's talent would be to cause these people to be interesting in the first second first place, so that they're indebted to him and tell other people about him and stuff like that.
    • On the one hand, Bink releasing the demon X(A/N)th is called this in-story. Of course, since this results in all of his descendants having magician-level talents instead of carrying Chameleon's mutation among with more and more benefits over time, it seems to be one of Anthony's occasional Aesops about why the Power of Trust is awesome and Lawful Stupid isn't necessarily.
  • G-Rated Sex: "Summoning the Stork" is actually just hugging and kissing, naked, until the "..." appears.
    • In two books, it's mentioned that it's more than this. In The Color of Her Panties, when Gwenny Goblin, Che Centaur and Jenny Elf figure out the Adult Conspiracy, they mention that other contact is required, though they don't specify. In Xone of Contention, Chlorine and Nimby summon the stork the mundane way, and mention that it's the same, only slightly messier.
    • Storks at the dispatch literally get a ... on their receivers. Fauns and nymphs annoy the hell out of them, because they still receive the signal, but it just comes through as .. and is a waste of everyone's valuable time.
  • Green Thumb: Irene's talent is making plants grow at hyper speed.
  • Grows on Trees: Fur pelts grow on fur trees. As a consequence, the fur is naturally green.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Many. There's centaurs (half-horse), nagas (half-snake), harpies (half-vulture), mermaids (half-fish), and probably several others, too. Some of them have magic that allows them to transform into fully human and fully animal forms in addition to their normal hybrid shape. The Ida on Torus has the moon of Cone, which is full of hybrids of pretty much any variety, including its own Ida, who is human with a horse's head.
  • Hammered into the Ground: In Ogre Ogre, the ogres have a fighting technique called "the nail", which consists of repeatedly pounding your opponent on the head until he is driven into the ground.
  • Happily Ever After: Lampshaded. Being a Main Character of a Xanth novel (see Literary Agent Hypothesis below) ensures that one will eventually get a happy ending, because that's how magic works.
  • Healing Factor: Jordan the Barbarian has regeneration as his magical talent, allowing him to recover from anything (anything) up to and including death... so long as his body parts are fairly close to each other. However, after being reunited with himself at the end of a 400-year period of being sliced up and scattered, he did need a lot of food to fully recover.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Several supposedly weak talents, when used with a clever mind, are downright deadly.
    • Take Dor, for example. His talent is making inanimate objects talk, and he doesn't consider it very powerful compared to, say, Trent, who can transform any living creature into any other. However, it's considered a Magician-level talent.note  Why? Well, inanimate objects remember everything, which means that, if he so chooses, Dor can know anything about anybody by questioning their possessions. Similarly, his granddaughter Eve can tell anything about any inanimate object, including living beings that it's encountered.
    • Dor and Irene's daughter Ivy's talent is enhancement. That is, her presence makes others' magical talents (or other attributes) more powerful. But once she figures out how to focus it, her talent becomes "Rewrite reality according to Ivy's will". For example, her friend Hugo is borderline mentally disabled, but when Ivy's around he becomes a genius, simply because Ivy believes he is smart.
    • Chlorine's talent is making water poisonous, which she doesn't like very much. Her companion observes that she could just as easily purify water by turning it poisonous to kill off harmful organisms, then turning it back to normal. Another, minor character has a literal "spot on the wall" talent of making... spots on the wall, but can use it for creating detailed images and accurate maps.
  • Human Mom Nonhuman Dad: Crossbreeds with this combination generally result in a were-beast, such as the Horseman, the werehorse lead villain of Night Mare, or Becka Weredragon. The other way around results in a creature with a human front and animal back or lower half, such as centaurs and mermaids.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Considering their frequency, Great Red Spot of Puns might be more accurate. As the series progresses, an increasing number are reader submitted (and credited in an afterword).
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: In Crewel Lye, Jordan and Threnody swap bodies temporarily and gain a greater understanding of what the other deals with. Threnody, after experiencing a male sex drive, is amazed that men can keep their lust under control at all.
  • I'm Not Hungry: In A Spell For Chameleon, Bink and Fanchon turn down Magician Trent's offers for accommodations in general. Then he gives them cake and wine anyway, just to screw with their heads.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun / Stealth Pun: The series thrives on these, however, they are mostly submitted by young readers, which Mr. Anthony thanks at the end of every book at the end of his author notes (which takes an entire chapter).
  • Inertia Is a Harsh Mistress: Che Centaur and his family can remove the weight from things for a short period of time, but they cannot remove inertia, and at one point he warns a female not to bounce off the walls since it will still hurt.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl:
    • Most of the Half Human Hybrids don't wear clothing, and as a whole, nudity isn't treated as a big deal in the setting. Lampshaded by a woman who chose to become a Centaur to live with her beau: She's still getting used to the whole "no shirt" thing, but she's doing her best to fit in — with the Centaurs, that is. Most of the main female characters end up naked at least once in any given book, with little emotion given to it other than annoyance.
    • Panties on a woman will Freak Out any male who sees them, even if the only thing they know is that they're supposed to wear clothes.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title:
    • The Color of Her Panties, which he used as a bit of foreshadowing in an earlier book.
    • Isle of View has Anthony warning about the possible awkwardness of saying it out loud to strangers in the Author's Note.
  • Interspecies Romance: All over the place! This is how most of the Half-Human Hybrids come about. When you drink from a Love Spring, you immediately fall in love with the next creature of the opposite sex you lay eyes on. When a man and his mare unwittingly get a drink from the same spring, well, the result is a Centaur. These actually come in several varieties, some cause actual romantic bonds but most just cause immediate mating with guaranteed pregnancy.
  • In the Doldrums: The Neverglades. An infinite expanse of featureless marsh that traps people within it for all eternity unless you can overcome the spell in some way.
  • I Want Grandkids: The witch Xanthippe claims this in Dragon on a Pedestal, stating that her son Xavier spends all his time flying around on his hippogryph Xap, and feels that a wife and child will help him settle down. She ultimately gets her wish, but not as she expected when she said it (he marries Zora Zombie instead of Queen Irene, and their human-zombie crossbreed son Xeth plays a major role in Zombie Lover).
  • Jury of the Damned: Prince Dolph has to protect the skeleton Grace'l Ossein from one of these in Heaven Cent, though it's less a jury of the damned and more a jury of characters met earlier in the book.
  • Kaleidoscope Hair: One established possible talent is changing your hair color.
  • Kangaroo Court: In Dragon on a Pedestal, a goblin chief intends to put a harpy man through one of these to justify his execution for romancing his daughter. The trial doesn't even have a prosecution or defense to begin with, consisting only of judge and jury, and it's only when the protagonists kick up a fuss that he grudgingly allows for lawyers.
  • Kill Me Now, or Forever Stay Your Hand: Trent with Bink and Chameleon in A Spell For Chameleon.
  • Knowledge Broker: Good Magician Humfrey. He'll give you the answer to any one question, for the price of one year's indentured servitude or a really good return favour.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Karia Centaur, first featured in Cube Route, hates puns because of how her name is one (pronounced "Carry-a", and causing her to get "carried away" whenever spoken) and tends to let out a disgusted "Ugh!" whenever she encounters one of Xanth's magical puns.
  • Lawful Stupid: Most of his heroes are this. Trick one into giving his word not to oppose you and he will just watch as you commit atrocities.
    • Piers Anthony believes it's right to be Lawful Stupid, as he explains in his Author's Notes.
    • Cheiron, at least, points out that oaths sworn under duress are not binding, which differs from some other Piers Anthony works.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Metria's son Ted and Nada and Vore's daughter Monica. But no one knows for how long.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: The Xanth novels are written by one of the Muses of Greek myth, and a certain writer has been sneaking copies of them to Mundania.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Mostly a result of the series simply being so long and spanning multiple generations of the same royal family. He also (usually) comes up with ways to keep the older characters from dying of old age.
  • Long-Running Book Series: 41 books in 39 years, with another three completed but not yet published as of 2018, with #45 is in development. And he has no intention of stopping.
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: Dug makes a bet with his friend Edsel that the latter won't be able to find a game that Dug would be interested in, with the stakes being Ed's motorcycle and Dug's girlfriend Pia. When Dug tells Pia about the bet, she is fine with it, and hints that she wouldn't mind becoming Edsel's girlfriend. Dug finds himself really getting into the Companions of Xanth computer game, and ends up losing the bet. At that point, he doesn't care about losing, and by the completion of the game, he has fallen for Kim, the other person that was competing in the game.
  • Love Potion:
    • Mostly subverted. If you drink from a "love" spring, you will be compelled to summon the stork with with the next compatible mate you see. That wouldn't be too bad in itself, except that next compatible mate means "whatever creature happens to be in front of you". Centaurs, for example, were the result of the first explorers of Xanth leading their horses to drink, the magic of the spring made it work.
    • More traditional love potions, which cause love instead of lust, also exist, but are less common.
    • As revealed in Zombie Lover, the love springs do have standards - if one of the people involved is underage, the springs induce parental love in the adult partner instead.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Bink causes this in the book The Source of Magic when he allows the aforementioned source — the Demon X(A/N)th — to leave. He also causes it to return by getting the demon to come back. While the magic was gone, though, most of Xanth suffered weird aftereffects and many people were distraught to find their talents unusable. This is referred to as "The Time of No Magic". It's later explained in The Dastard that the magic was never really gone: each of the World Demons have their own magic ambiance, and thus when the Demon X(A/N)th left, the magic he'd left behind was not eliminated outright, but merely suppressed by the ambiance of the Demon E(A/R)th's own magic from his neighboring realm. When X(A/N)th returned, so did his ambiance, allowing the Xanthian magic to return to full strength.
  • Magitek: Magical Items tend to react in very specific, predictable ways, on which civilization in Xanth has come to depend. For example, in lieu of hospitals, Xanthians keep a few healing potions in their homes.
  • Male Gaze: Female characters are always evaluated by how attractive the male characters find them.
  • Malicious Slander: Trent got this in the Back Story before A Spell For Chameleon.
  • Marry Them All:
    • Nine-year-old Dolph initially wants to in Heaven Cent, as he falls for Princess Nada Naga, but is required to marry Electra due to a curse that will kill her unless she marries the prince who kissed her awake. His mother won't let him marry both, giving him until he's sixteen (though this is later changed so he has to decide before Electra turns sixteen, which is sooner, as her curse will kill her on her sixteenth birthday unless abated) to work it out.
    • This decree that a man can only have one wife causes complications for Good Magician Humfrey later, since he's gone to Hell to rescue his third wife Rose but won't be allowed to be married to both she and his current wife, the Gorgon, when he returns. He winds up working out a deal with Demon X(A/N)th, wherein all four and a half of his wives (including MareAnn, his first love) who've ended up in Hell, plus the Gorgon, work out a rotating schedule in which they each spend a month with him before switching for the next, therefore giving him only one wife at a time.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In Castle Roogna, a ring claims to be magical, a wishing ring. When Dor makes a wish on it, it answers, "I'm working on it." Every wish made on it comes true through outside factors — except that every wish made on it does come true, and it never claimed that it could pull off instantaneous wish granting.
  • Meaningful Name: Many, and they're usually a Punny Name as well. For example, there's Evil Magician Murphy, whose talent is making things go wrong.
  • Medium Awareness: One character is aware she was meant to be a protagonist (she was bumped to make room for Jenny Elf) and spends most of her own novel trying to become a Main Character and gain Plot Immunity.
  • Mermaid Problem: Just how do mermaids summon the stork anyway? The same way everyone else does.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Particularly in evidence with Trent's transformational magic, which causes anyone hit with it to obtain the nature and instincts of the new form along with the physical attributes.
    • Also (especially) Chameleon, whose cyclic changes of form carry her personality along for the ride.
  • Moral Dissonance: Chameleon's attempt to prosecute the man who essentially raped her (he should have known that Wynne was not able to give informed consent) in the first book. Bink's response, hearing the story presented at the trial by the judge (not her), which wasn't what was going on at all and was incredibly biased against her, is that it's understandable: what was a man going to do with a beautiful woman asking him to sleep with her? Since, at the time, he didn't know about the consent issue and thought that since she'd said yes at the time and 'changed her mind later' it was unfair to accuse the man of rape. The first time Bink encounters Chameleon in Wynne-phase knowing what's going on, however her attempts to seduce him occasionally edge into molestation, and to a modern reader it's a pretty clear analogue for someone given a date rape drug. Keep in mind that Wynne-mode Chameleon is essentially a nymph, and it's made clear in the first book that young men are encouraged by older men to use nymphs for guilt-free sex, as opposed to real women. Since nymphs, like Chameleon herself, are magically mutated humans... And then, just to bring things full circle, Bink has sex with Wynne-mode Chameleon, despite her having the intelligence of a child. He briefly feels bad about this, the key word being "briefly".
  • Ms. Fanservice: Several, but Demoness Metria stands out even among the others — and she knows it.
  • Murphy's Law: Magician Murphy, introduced in book 3, has this as his talent. Anything he wants to go wrong will, and while he initially tried to use it to become King of Xanth, he later used it to benefit the sitting King (Dor) as a condition of his return from exile.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: In a strange example, Bink's magical talent, which is that he can't be harmed by magic, appears to twice deliberately have Bink end up in places where there is no magic, not even itself. At first it seems like this is obvious, because without magic his talent wins, until you remember his magic keeps itself secret so he won't be harmed by other means, which means that his talent includes itself among the magic that cannot harm him. And in both cases, without magic, he's in mortal danger. So it was all a plan of his talent, to set things up so that he returned to magic safely, and much better off. That's right, an inanimate magical talent erased itself twice, secure in the knowledge it had set things up so Bink would end up back somewhere magical so it could exist again.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jordan had a revelation along these lines when he realized he'd been the Unwitting Pawn, bringing about Xanth's dark age.
  • National Geographic Nudity: Mermaids are nudists, as are pretty much any Half Human Hybrids as a rule. In one novel the heroine — a Mermaid who turns human — spends a significant amount of time in the book naked before she gets any clothing. The most intelligent race, Centaurs, go topless except for utility and mate in the open, on the grounds that natural functions are, well, natural.
  • New Technology Is Evil: After the writer got annoyed by automated spell-checkers and a PC crash destroyed an entire novel, the evil Com-Pewter appeared in Xanth. (Amusingly, he famously switched to Linux after the crash.)
  • Noble Demon: Trent. His designation as the "Evil Magician" in the first book proves to be largely untrue. He never used his talent in a way that killed or physically harmed anyone and some of his transformations were even done with the well-being of the one transformed in mind. (For example, when he changed Cynthia Centaur, his decision to give her wings wasn't made out of malice, but because he didn't want her to join the centaurs, as he knew how critical and judgmental they could be.) It's later explained that he was largely only ever called "Evil" because he was opposed to the rightful King of Xanth. In A Spell for Chameleon he admits that he was at least untrustworthy, but his traits were exaggerated. His stay in Mundania cures him of a lot of his faults.
  • No-Sell:
    • In Dragon on a Pedestal, Xap Hippogryff drinks from a love spring, but is apparently unaffected. It's explained by the fact that love springs force the drinker to fall in love with the first creature of the opposite gender they see... and the first female he saw was Chem Centaur, whom he was already in love with at that point.
    • In Heaven Cent, Electra is woken by Prince Dolph and, due to the magic on her, falls in love with him and must marry him or die. In Isle of View, Dolph initially plans to marry her in order to save her life, then divorce her and marry Nada Naga, whom he's loved since before he met Electra. As part of this plan, the morning after their wedding, Electra takes a potion to rid her of her magic-induced love for Dolph. It doesn't work, because the magic-induced love has already faded and been replaced with natural love in the four years they've known one another. Fortunately, Dolph has also developed natural love for her by this point, and they stay married.
    • This is how Grey Murphy's talent manifests in Man from Mundania (at first no one realizes it's his talent; they think it's coincidence or his inherent skepticism about magic somehow pulling a reverse-Clap Your Hands If You Believe.)
  • Not Completely Worthless: Lacuna has a magic talent that allows her to alter printed text, or make printed words appear. It's not very useful in most cases, except the occasional prank at a wedding ceremony, but then she has a run-in with the evil Com-Pewter, who can alter local reality with the words printed on his screen. She gives him a Heel–Face Brainwashing by making "I will be good instead of evil. Save and compile." appear on his screen.
    • Spot-on-the-wall talents are magical abilities so minimal as to be useless. One character actually gets the ability to make a spot on the wall — and then realizes that a whole bunch of little spots together are pixels.
  • Offered the Crown:
    • Evil Magician Trent, at the end of A Spell for Chameleon is told that his exile will be rescinded on two conditions. First, he must marry; second, he must accept the crown.
    • Zombie Master Jonathan, a zombie at the time, was offered the crown after King Rune died in the Seventh Wave invasion, and agreed to become Xanth's sixth king; he abdicated after a century due to finding the job too rotten. He also held the post of King pro-tem twice during Trent's reign, since Trent's successor Dor had to leave and rescue Trent the first time and had been magically disabled the second time.
    • Like Jonathan, Humfrey was the only available option when King Ebnez was dying, and reluctantly accepted; he eventually abdicated, but was offered the crown again when his successor died. This time, he refused (with Trent assuming the throne instead).
    • During the Nextwave invasion in Night Mare, when Trent was suddenly incapacitated, nine new Kings (starting with Dor, Jonathan and Humfrey, who had all served before, though neither Jonathan nor Humfrey's status as a former King was revealed to readers at the time - Humfrey's status was revealed in Question Quest, and Jonathan being a former King only came out in Roc and a Hard Place) were chosen as their predecessors suffered the same fate. The tenth king, Mare Imbri, was the one to finally defeat the person who'd incapacitated her nine predecessors, and subsequently freed them all from the prison their minds were being held in.
  • Offstage Villainy: "Evil" Magician Trent did many bad things as a young man, before the start of the series, but he has already reformed by the time of the first book (and some of it was Malicious Slander).
  • One-Gender Race: Male harpies are extremely rare (and were in fact extinct for the longest time); female harpies reproduce by mating with males of other species, which always produces female offspring.
  • One-Word Title: The series is named Xanth, which is also the setting, making it an example of The Place.
  • Once per Episode: In every book, at least one character will go to Good Magician Humfrey's castle, where they must win through three challenges in order to be able to ask him a question. (Which they must then pay for with some sort of significant service; the Good Magician's time ain't cheap.) This pattern was maintained even during a period of time when Humfrey had mysteriously vanished from Xanth.
  • Opposites Theme Naming: The princesses Dawn and Eve.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: They're a race of scholars and researchers who consider magic to be an obscenity.
    • Fully justified in that they are well aware of the crossbreeding effect of life in Xanth, and know their entire race is originally descended from soldiers and Mundane mares. This has led them to strive to better the mind and to outright loathe magic.
  • Our Nudity Is Different: A man seeing a woman wearing only a bra and panties is more erotic than if she were naked.
  • Our Souls Are Different: Souls can be removed, divided or traded with some ease in Xanth. If a mortal gives up part of their soul, the rest of what they have can regenerate; having only a partial soul weakens their magic.
    • Demons are effectively souls rather than physical bodies, and as such tend to lack morality, but can gain souls or half souls via getting married or other means. However, if they have a mortal child, they can easily lose that soul to the child unless they take precautions.
    • Souls or half souls can be lost to beings of the Gourd in payment (and are usually quickly handed in to the Night Stallion for storage so as not to dull their effectiveness in dreams), as seen in Ogre, Ogre, in which Tandy Nymph gets a lien on her soul from a Night Mare, which gets called in the next time she enters a Gourd; Smash wagers his own to get it back. Later, Chem Centaur, Tandy Nymph and Smash Ogre all trade half their souls to Night Mares in order to receive rides out of the Void region, and by shoving a demon into the gourd, his full soul is traded for Smash and Tandy's previously traded half souls, which are returned to them. (Demon Fiant's soul is noted as having been given to the Night Stallion for storage in Night Mare.)
    • Aeolus the Storm King discovered and used a Soular Cell, which he could store his soul in and thus prevent himself from aging as long as it was in storage.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different:
    • Werebeasts of various kinds exist in Xanth, usually born from a human mother and a non-human father (the other way around results in a straight hybrid, such as a centaur or harpy), who can go from human to animal or vice-versa at will. Known examples include a were-horse in Night Mare and a were-dragon in The Dastard.
    • Though never referred to as one, Smash Ogre is technically a were-ogre (born to an ogre father and a human mother who was a really good actress, playing an ogre in one performance and really getting into her part, especially after Crunch found her). By the end of Ogre, Ogre, he learns to accept that he is both human and ogre and thus how to change between forms by focusing on one side or the other.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They're much closer to the Voodoo "magically reanimated slave" version than the Night of the Living Dead (1968) "flesh eating aggressive horde" version. Created by and (theoretically) under the control of the (not evil) Zombie Master Jonathan, they are sentient and retain memories of their lives, though they are typically dull witted due to brain rot. They can retain their magical talents, like Zora's ability to age others. And they have the supernatural ability to always have more flesh to rot away, no matter how much they have already lost. In the seventh book, however, it's "revealed" that if you show a Zombie love and affection, the decaying process begins to reverse, until they look like people who have been dead a couple of minutes instead of several years — nearly indistinguishable from a living human.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: In book 39, it's revealed that Jenny Elf and Jeremy Werewolf have had a second child (their firstborn, son Jerry Welf - and no, that's not a typo - was introduced in book 29), a daughter named Jone. She's introduced by means of Jenny visiting her grave, revealing that she died in an accident. It's later revealed that Astrid, a basilisk/cockatrice who was introduced in book 38 and changed to human form in book 39, inherited Jone's soul when it was dropped by the night mare who was carrying it to the afterlife, and rolled into the burrow where Astrid was asleep, entering her body. The end result was that Astrid inherited Jone's destiny of saving Xanth.
  • Papa Wolf: Bink in Night Mare, who battles the Punic leader Hasbinbad one-on-one after angrily informing him of his personal reasons for fighting: "One of those Kings you had eliminated by the Horseman was my son." Hasbinbad is surprised but now very understanding of his motive.
  • Parental Bonus: Quite a bit, actually. Lots of the puns in Xanth are likely to go over the primary audiences' head. Some of the somewhat adult situations (characters losing clothing etc.) are shrugged off by the characters, since they're too young to realize the connotations. Having said that, there's a huge amount of Childhood Bonus — lots of these books are much more of a Guilty Pleasure than they appear at first glance. Mr. Anthony definitely knows his target audience.
  • The Phoenix: The legendary Simurgh — a giant bird who lives on Mount Parnassus. She has seen the universe remade three times and lived through it. There are other types of phoenix too, such as the kind Bink is temporarily turned into late in A Spell For Chameleon.
  • The Place: The series is named Xanth, which is also the setting. Also an example of One-Word Title.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: Originally, magicians were rare enough that the Council had to accept the Evil Magician as King: they didn't have a choice not when Bink's talent was determined to remain a secret. Time-travel confirms that there tended to be two or three magicians at most at any given time, and they often kept the competition for the crown down by eliminating the competition. However, after Bink's meeting with the demon XaNTH, it ensured that all of Bink's descendants would have magician-level talents. Since then, other magicians have come out of the woodwork like a centaur whose talent would likely never have been noticed if it wasn't needed to rescue Trent and people involved with the family like Irene have gained power-ups. Quite a lot of people that are not acknowledged as magicians in the later books have talents that in previous eras would have qualified them not just as magicians, but as the most dangerous and powerful type of magician, those who could control the magic of other people and artifacts, multiplying their power like the creator of the Deathstone and Bink.
    • Some of the newer Magicians/Sorceresses, like Irene and Vadne, didn't receive power-ups, but rather had their status re-evaluated, then upgraded.
  • Power of Friendship: Practically weaponized by Bink. Saves his life at the end of the first book, among other examples.
  • Power of Trust: Trent giving Bink and Chameleon his sword as he slept in the first book convinced them that he wasn't evil. In the same way, Bink released Xanth because it was the right thing to do, hoping that the demon wouldn't just leave and destroy Xanth's way of life. X(A/N)th does return because of this, and blesses Bink's descendants with magician-level talents, changing Xanth forever.
  • Power Perversion Potential:
    • Hypnosis, reality warping, scrying, shapeshifting, control over your own clothing. If you can't think of any use for those, you haven't been reading the books closely enough. Then there are talents like undressing women with your eyes or making people bare. Barring an attack by evil garments, it's very unlikely these talents will get much legitimate use.
    • Millie the Maid's canonical magic talent is "Sex Appeal". After she's restored, Queen Iris pops an illusion of a French maid outfit on her.
  • Pretty in Mink: In the fourth book, Irene is given a fur garment, with a silver lining sewn in.
  • Psychometry: This is the magical talent of Gromden, the tenth King of Xanth, which he demonstrates to Jordan in Crewel Lye.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot, Tuckerization:
    • Jenny Elf, as noted in the introduction.
    • Good Magician Humfrey and his wife the Gorgon were modeled after Lester and Judy Lynn del Rey; after Judy Lynn died and Anthony left Del Rey Books, the Magician and his family disappeared from Xanth for a while because Anthony felt awkward writing them.
  • Recursive Reality: Princess Ida of Faun And Games has a baseball-sized moon orbiting her, which has another Princess Ida with her own moon, and so on.
    • Which eventually returns to Xanth itself. So Xanth is ultimately orbiting itself. It's one big Escher reality.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: The Region of Madness
  • Reality Warper: Princess Ida could be considered this, although her talent is a passive one: She can make any stated idea come true, but only if the idea comes from someone who doesn't know about her talent.
  • Retcon:
    • Lacuna is permitted to retcon her own life, provided she can do it before the statue of limitations runs out (that's not a typo, by the way).
    • The "Adult Conspiracy" isn't entirely consistent with some of the earlier books.
    • Geis of the Gargoyle was written specifically because so much that had been laid down wasn't consistent with earlier/later books and it all needed straightening out.
    • Dragon on a Pedestal retcons some of the swearing from Castle Roogna into transcription errors on the Muses' part (namely, Dor saying "Hell" in the book when he really said "Well").
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: The early books depicted a Xanth that was a Death World outside of the 'safe' areas, and a humanity that was doomed to descend into mindless hybrid animals without periodic invasions of the genocidal or looting and raping varieties. Of course, this was no match for Bink's talent. When an Eldritch Abomination and sending him outside of Xanth, where theoretically his talent shouldn't have been able to send all those Deus ex Machina to protect him couldn't pose a challenge either, it's no wonder Anthony gave up the pretense that there was some possibility characters could lose as the ripple effect of Bink's effect on Xanth spread.
  • Rewriting Reality: Com-Pewter's shtick is that anything he types becomes real.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Becka's 'talent', the awareness she was given by Humfrey.
  • Rule of Funny: More like Rule of Punny. The only rule that really matters in Xanth.
  • Rummage Fail:
    • Good Magician Humfrey during the climactic battle in The Source of Magic. A few of the vials he opens are useful in combat, but most of them contain random and completely worthless items like spoiled yogurt, a poncho, a pack of cough drops...
    • During the events of Night Mare, Bink uses some of Humfrey's vials to defend himself against the Mundane Nextwavers, but doesn't know what's in them. One turns out to hold a bean sandwich that Humfrey was saving for his lunch.
  • Sapient Steed:
    • Any Night Mare who gives a person a ride, as seen in Ogre, Ogre. Mare Imbrium extensively serves as one to Chameleon and others in Night Mare.
    • The Day Horse in Night Mare, who seems to be a normal Mundane horse but is very intelligent to Imbri. He turns out to be their enemy the Horseman, a werehorse from Xanth.
    • Demon X(A/N)th in Yon Ill Wind, a dragon with the head of a donkey that a girl named Chlorine rides.
  • Scare 'em Straight: As revealed in Ogre, Ogre, this is the purpose of the Night Mares, who deliver bad dreams that show "the consequence of evil, a timely warning that all thinking creatures require". Trojan the Night Stallion himself explains that they are a guard against spiritual degradation, the inherent corruption of the soul caused by evil.
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: During Heaven Cent, Dolph (in the form of a dragonfly) needs an alias, quickly, while attending the wedding of Chex Centaur and Cheiron Centaur. He comes up with "Phlod Firefly", a mostly backwards version of his own name that he uses in games with his sister, and briefly recalls similar names that were used by or to refer to other people in these games.
  • Secret Test of Character: More than a few over the course of the series.
    • In Heaven Cent, Grace'l Ossein is a kindly skeleton who messes up a bad dream that was meant to torment a troll who'd acted un-trollish, saving a human child instead of letting his fellow trolls eat her, and is put on trial for it. The trial is really an excuse to test whether her actions were caused by laziness, carelessness or confusion; since she constantly acted nice and proved herself a good person during the trial, she's found guilty of being "too nice" to work in nightmares and is "punished" by being permanently barred from that job, instead being transferred to only work in good dreams. And since there's little call for animated skeletons in such, she's placed on leave in Xanth until such time as they need her for one, allowing her to reunite with her love Marrow Bones.
    • Roxanne Roc's trial in Roc and a Hard Place is one, and ends with her being "punished" with functional immortality and a lifetime of caring for the Simurgh's chick.
  • Semantic Superpower: Many of the best magical talents allow for quite a bit of rules lawyering. At one point Ivy uses her magic talent of enhancement to enhance the empty space between molecules in a solid wall, making a hole in it.
  • Shapeshifting Seducer:
    • This is why the Demoness Metria is Ms. Fanservice.
    • To some degree, Iris, although in her case it's all illusion. She can still look however you want.
    • Averted with Dolph- while his talent includes the ability to become a more attractive version of himself (or anything else he can think of), that doesn't help the fact that he's filed under Adorkable on a good day.
  • She Is the King:
    • The King of Xanth is defined as its ruler (at least among the human inhabitants) while The Queen of Xanth is defined as the King's spouse. Turns out, they never explicitly defined the King as being male, that had just been assumed to be the case for centuries due to the requirement that the office (which is not hereditary) has to go to a Magician. Since females with powerful magic were called Sorceresses, it was believed that they didn't qualify. Until somebody pointed out that a Sorceress is defined as a female Magician, and thus is also a Magician.
    • Which not only paved the way for this trope, but for its inversion: a female King of Xanth's spouse is a male Queen.
    • Not that it necessarily would have been impossible to just change the rule, but in the book where they figured this out, they had to replace the king regularly and quickly until they could defeat the villain who kept putting the kings into enchanted sleep, some of the most qualified successors were female, and this way was less headache.
    • Prior to this, the third King (Rana, Sorceress of Creation) and fourteenth King (Elona, Sorceress of Longevity) had also been female, but the records of this had been lost. It was rediscovered in Roc and a Hard Place.
    • King Dor retired in favor of his daughter Ivy, who became King about 1107 (after Air Apparent and before Two to the Fifth), making her Xanth's first long-term female King in almost two hundred years (it's not known exactly when Elona's reign ended, but her successor King Warren took the throne in 909).
  • She's Got Legs: Irene is repeatedly stated to have some of the most beautiful legs in the land (even without magical enhancement).
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Xanthippe the witch tries to set up her son Xavier with Irene, Queen of Xanth, in Dragon on a Pedestal, despite knowing that Irene is married (they met because Irene is looking for her daughter). Xavier isn't interested, explaining later that he's looking for a permanent relationship and not just picking a woman offhandedly.
    • Xanthippe also wants Xavier's hippogryph friend Xap to breed with Chem Centaur. The two do indeed fall in love on their own, resulting in a daughter, Chex Centaur, who is one of the first winged centaurs (and one of the few naturally born in that way).
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man:
    • Most of the women in this series. Mela Merwoman gets an entire book dedicated to her search for a new husband (her first husband had been killed by a dragon a few years before).
    • Gender-flipped with Xavier, who's a single man seeking a good woman (despite what his mother believes; she doesn't realize that he wants a permanent wife and not just some fling). He finds one in Zora Zombie.
  • Skeleton Key: Discussed in Heaven Cent, and played with in a big way - it's not a literal skeleton key that's needed, but a musical key played on Grace'l (a female skeleton)'s extra rib, that triggers the path to where Electra and the incomplete Heaven Cent are resting.
  • Skirts and Ladders: Not exactly ladders, but don't wear a skirt if you're planning to use the invisible bridge to cross the Gap Chasm. Unless you want to risk someone walking below looking up and finding out what color your panties are.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The series started out somewhere in the middle, and steadily got more and more idealistic.
  • Sliding Scale of Undead Regeneration: Type III. The zombies continually rot, but they always have more flesh to shed. Some can even be restored to near-normality and hardly rot at all (becoming Type II).
  • Slow Transformation: Threnody, introduced in Crewel Lye, has this as her talent as a result of her demon heritage. She can change shape, size and density, but only one at a time, and it takes a while for each, even after her eventual husband figures out how to speed up the process somewhat.
  • Smart Ball: The Eye-Queue vines literally have this effect, making even the dumbest characters, such as barbarians and ogres, smarter. (Although with the exception of special, magically enhanced ones, the increased intelligence is only an illusion.)
  • Soul Jar: During the events of Xone of Contention, Grey and the golem Robota travel back in time to the events of A Spell for Chameleon, where they learn that Aeolus keeps his soul in a soular cell that was created centuries before by Magician Yin/Yang, which prevents the user's aging and death as long as it's occupied (but cannot undo aging that occurred before the soul was stored). Since Aeolus' magic resides with his soul, he only removes his soul from the cell when he needs to use it, claiming he does not need his soul for day-to-day living and that he feigns senility in order to avoid mundane tasks. Eventually, the last time he removes his soul from the soular cell, he dies of old age before he can put it back.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Grundy, whose talent is translating the speech of any living being. He also speaks fluent plant.
  • Speech Impediment:
    • All the zombies have slurred speech, the degree of this varies depending on their physical state. Zora is restored by the Power of Love to an almost-normal state in which she looks like a beautiful woman... but she still speaks with a slight slurring, giving away the fact that she is undead nonetheless.
    • Metria has one in which she has a hard time using the right word at first until someone questions her on it, leading to her rattling off a string of words that eventually results in what she really meant. This, along with her multiple personality disorder, is apparently a result of her being stepped on by a sphinx when she was new.
  • Spin-Offspring: The first Xanth books starred Bink. Most of the next few starred Bink's son, Dor. After that it was Dor's daughter, Ivy, then his son, Dolph. A few involved Good Magician Humfrey's line, but that wasn't shown until after the fact.
  • Species Surname: Most non-humans. Tend to be Alliterative Names as well (e.g. Che Centaur, Glory Goblin).
  • Spock Speak: Centaurs, who are much more educated than your average human peasant.
  • Square-Cube Law: Played straight and averted at the same time. Many of the creatures in Xanth are huge, but it's magic that makes it possible. In the first book, Trent deduces from the size of a giant's footprints that the giant must be at least sixty feet tall. He observes that in Mundania, where there is no magic, such a size would not be possible.
  • Succession Crisis: There've been a few in Xanth's history, since only a Magician can become King. Cases include:
    • When Xanth's first King, King Merlin (Magician of Knowledge), died, there were three Magicians who could take the throne. One, his son Jonathan (AKA the Zombie Master) wasn't interested, so Magicians Roogna (Magician of Adapting Living Magic) and Murphey (Magician Who Makes Things Go Wrong) had to compete against one another for the kingship; Roogna won and married Merlin's daughter Taplin.
    • When King Rune (Magician of Evocation) died, the only known option was Jonathan, who was a zombie by then, and reluctantly became Xanth's sixth king, reigning for a hundred years until abdicating in disgust at the job.
    • When the tenth King Gromden was dying, he required Magician Yin and Magician Yang (actually two personalities of the same man) to compete against one another to succeed him. Yang won and became the eleventh King, Magician of Invokable Spells.
    • King Ebnez (Magician of Adapting Inanimate Magic), the sixteenth King, died with no true Magicians to succeed him, but declared Humfrey's talent of finding information to be Magician-level and named him as his successor.
    • Humfrey's successor, King Aeolus (Magician of Storms) died with three living Magicians (and Jonathan the Zombie) to succeed him, but Bink's talent wasn't publicly known to be Magician-level, Humfrey didn't want the job back, Jonathan was hanging out around Castle Roogna (which had only just been rediscovered, and nobody really knew about him at the time), and the only other option had tried to seize the throne from Aeolus earlier in life. Still, he was a Magician, and so Trent (Magician of Transformation) was Offered the Crown and became one of Xanth's best kings.
    • During the Nextwave (or Fourteenth Wave) invasion of 1067, their ally the Horseman managed to nullify King Trent, trapping his mind in the Gourd realm. Consequently, Dor (Magician of Inanimate Communication) took the throne, and after he was nullified in the same manner, was succeeded by each of Xanth's other Magicians in turn: Jonathan, Humfrey, Bink, Arnolde Centaur (generates an aisle of magic around him), Iris (Sorceress of Illusion), and Ivy (Sorceress of Plant-growing). Ivy names a non-Magician, her mother-in-law Chameleon, as her successor, and Chameleon names Mare Imbri as the tenth King of the chain, with Imbri finally defeating the Horseman and freeing her predecessors. Afterward, Trent retakes the throne, but only until he can abdicate and pass it to Dor.
  • Super Empowering: Ivy's ability can selectively supercharge people's properties, including their magical talents. Her husband Grey can do the same thing by canceling out magical properties, when they're turned back on the built-up energy causes their talents to come back by multiple times. And the Demon X(A/N)th can do this both at will (as he did to Breanna of the Black Wave) and by simply existing, as he is the source of magic that saturates Xanth and causes people to develop their own magic.
    • This is the weakest level of Ivy's Talent. At higher levels, it can also act as a Care-Bear Stare (why Stanley didn't just kill her despite being rejuvenated to a baby) and approach Reality Warping.
  • Superpower Lottery:
    • Every human (born in Xanth) has a special, unique talent, and people with particularly powerful magical talents are Magicians and are able to serve as king (or Sorceress, the female equivalent). There are weak but useful abilities, for example determining the direction of anything (including 'Source of Magic'), or speak any language. The relatively few useless talents are called 'Spot on the Wall' talents. Magician levels are Illusion (at a range, that you can see through, that encompass all five senses), the ability to turn anyone but yourself into any other living creature, the ability to turn yourself into any other living creature, making things true by agreeing with them (only barely avoiding Story-Breaker Power status by the fact that the thing agreed with has to come from someone unaware of her talent), knowing damn near everything, enhancement (of anything, without apparent limit, and including "enhancement" of negative traits), nullification of magic (no matter how powerful), and being immune to magical harm.
    • The "immune to magical harm" talent hides itself as well, so that people don't wise up and try to hurt him by mundane means either. Not there are very many entirely mundane means available; Xanth is so thoroughly infused with magic that even the simplest objects are probably at least a little bit magical. The talent also stops indirect magical harm in its protections, so something like magically hiding the edge of a cliff from him and trying to get him to fall off wouldn't work either. It's even theorized in-universe that when the omnipotent demon that's the source of all magic in Xanth left, shutting all the magic down, the talent made him come back very shortly afterward, as removing magic and leaving nothing but nonmagical danger could be considered indirect magical harm. That's right, it's so powerful that it can even affect its own omnipotent source.
    • Bink even (without trying to) makes winning the Superpower Lottery a hereditary trait; he impressed the above-mentioned omnipotent demon, who decided that all of the character's descendants would also be Magicians/Sorceresses. The demon never told him about this reward, though.
    • Surprise Golem, perhaps the ultimate winner of the Superpower Lottery, has the talent of having whatever talent she wants. Each talent can only be used once but eventually regenerates. However, using minor variations can easily overcome that flaw, and a little creativity can produce an almost infinite number of variations on any given talent. Unaddressed is what would happen if she simply picked "omnipotence" as her current talent and never switched to a different one.
  • Taken for Granite: The Gorgon's power. Also caused by one of Magician Yin-Yang's spells, which turned Jordan the Barbarian to stone (fortunately, his Healing Factor fixed it within a day or so).
  • Theme Naming: The Baldwin family pets are Woofer (a dog), Tweeter (a parakeet) and Midrange (a cat), who are all named after different types of loudspeakers.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: No matter how obscure or specialized a main character's talent is, you can bet they'll get a chance to use it to save the day- justified in that many of the tales begin with someone getting an Answer to their Question from Humfrey, who gets rid of the annoying morons — er, enables the querent to discover their own answer by sending them on a quest they are perfect for.
  • Transflormation: Eventually becomes Trent's go-to Baleful Polymorph. One of the major examples is Justin Tree, who becomes a fixture of the North Village for seventy-six years (Trent finally turns him back at his request, after his adventure with Breanna in Zombie Lover).
  • Triang Relations: In Heaven Cent, Dolph becomes engaged to two girls: Nada, who he loves, and Electra, who loves him. Both girls have external reasons why they need to marry him, and Dolph decides to maintain both betrothals until they can come up with a solution; the tangle is resolved two books later in Isle of View.
  • Un-Sorcerer:
    • Bink appears to be one of these at the beginning of the first book. He later learns that he does have a talent, one that's extremely powerful, but nobody can figure out what it is — and, as far as the law is concerned, if he can't demonstrate it, it's the same as not having one and he'll be exiled anyway. Eventually, someone figures out exactly what his talent is: he cannot be harmed by magic. Furthermore, because the talent itself is magic, it has to protect him from itself, too — which means keeping itself secret so that other people don't try to hurt him using non-magical means. As a result, it only acts via Contrived Coincidence; it winds up blowing its cover when Bink ends up in so much danger that the coincidences needed to save him become so contrived that they couldn't possibly have happened naturally.
    • Aside from Bink, anyone from Mundania who ends up living in Xanth is effectively one of these.
  • Unwitting Pawn: In the eighth book, there's Jordan, who not only blundered into a journey being promised as a prophesied hero. The whole thing was an Evil Plan by Magician Ying-yang to bring Threnody to him to marry so he could become king. This brings Xanth into its Dark Age for four hundred years, until Trent shows up.
  • Utility Magic: A lot of the magic has mundane purposes. For example, the Gorgon's face, when exposed, can turn people to stone. However, after her marriage to Humfrey, she mainly uses its stiffening effects on a certain type of food to create Gorgon-zola cheese.
  • Vanity Is Feminine: Becoming vain is often seen as a positive sign of female growth. Of course, there are downsides....
  • Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: Pretty much any mammalian species with wings, including winged centaurs (who have four legs, two arms and two wings) and winged goblins. There are also dragons, which tend to have a minimum of four legs plus wings. The Gap Dragons take things up a notch by having six legs and vestigial wings.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Notably and almost universally averted throughout the series, beginning with the first book, in which the villain, Trent, turns out to have lots of redeeming qualities and is essentially convinced to become the Big Good. Occasional exceptions include Castle Roogna and Night Mare.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Were-creatures, demons, certain crossbreeds (like nagas, who go from human to snake and have an in-between form as well, or merfolk, some of whom can switch from having a tail to having legs, or even Smash Ogre, an ogre/human who learns to switch between his two aspects), and Prince Dolph are notorious for this.
  • Watching the Reflection Undress: In Demons Don't Dream, Nada Naga insists to Dug that he must not try to see her naked. When she changes in one scene, he attempts to sneak a peek at her anyway with his belt buckle, and the "computer game" that he's playing to connect him to the world of Xanth ends up booting him out because of it.
  • Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: Since Xanth runs on puns, curse words function as actual curses. Part of the reason the Adult Conspiracy (To Keep Interesting Things From Children) exists is that children knowing these words actually makes them dangerous. Dealing with a goblin child who's learned the forbidden words makes up a major part of the plot in The Color of Her Panties.
  • Weird Weather: It experiences Madness Storms near the source of the realm's magic. These usually result in the temporary enhancement or derangement of existing magic and perceptions, but stronger storms can cause temporary World of Chaos conditions in the area as the line between hallucination, illusion, and reality blurs.
  • Welcome to the Real World: Mundania, the world outside of Xanth in which magic does not exist, is supposed to be the same place that the reader lives in. Characters sometimes travel between Mundania and Xanth. (The nature of the border between Xanth and Mundania is complicated, but you can get there by entering just about any peninsula in Mundania.)
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Referred to in-story as "Spot-On-The-Wall talents".
    • Heart Is an Awesome Power: A lame talent used efficiently and with intelligence often is just as useful as a Magician-level talent.
  • When Trees Attack: The carnivorous Tangle Trees, which attack and eat people.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Except for the opening and ending chapters, Crewel Lye and Question Quest. The former tells the story of Jordan the Barbarian and how he met Threnody, and the latter covers the life of Good Magician Humfrey.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: At least some goblins have names that seem odd by human standards (and elf standards, and centaur standards). When Moron, Idiot and Imbecile (and Stupid, who is mentioned only) are introduced in Isle of View, Jenny Elf doesn't realize they're being called by their names until Che Centaur explains it, and once she understands, she comments that "Goblins have funny names!"
  • World of Pun: There's been a steady increase in puns throughout the series. The first two books had only a handful of puns. After that, Piers Anthony started making the series more comedic, and adding more puns as part of the process. Then he started accepting reader-submitted puns and it and got completely out of control. Naturally, a great many Xanth fans were thrilled by this opportunity to actually be a part of their favorite series, even if only in a small way, so the puns flooded in ever-greater numbers, to the point that Anthony frequently has several books' worth of pun backlog.
  • Writer on Board: When the "Colored People" accidentally arrived in Xanth they were specifically treated as equals, and several pages are spent talking about this. (They're still called "colored people" — but now those colors include blue, green, red, yellow, pink, etc., etc...)
    • Mr. Anthony's views on sexuality (it's not bad, and it springs into our minds a lot sooner than 18 or even 16 years old) and nudity ("Some time we'll have to discuss why the sight of a naked woman as God made her should be considered to harm a child, but that's another issue") appear as a subtext in nearly every book. Even "worse" with the nonhuman characters, who, almost as a rule, have little or no nudity taboo.
      • A further writer on board thing deals with how his centaurs reject magic as obscene. This is then directly compared to humans rejecting nudity and bodily functions as obscene. (In Book 2 — The Source of Magic — for those who are about to say "WHEN?")
  • You Can't Fight Fate: This is essentially how Bink's talent works — no matter how you try to use magic against him, bizarre circumstances will prevent him from being hurt.
  • Your Magic's No Good Here: Isle of View introduces Jenny Elf from ElfQuest's World of Two Moons. When she arrives on Xanth, her telepathy no longer seems to work. But she develops another ability never shown in her home environment; singing daydreams and trapping the unaware within them.

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