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The Source of Magic by Piers Anthony

The Source of Magic (1979)

by Piers Anthony

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Xanth (2)

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2,967262,944 (3.53)24
Ordered by King Trent to determine the source of Xanth's magic, Bink and his companions are harried by an unseen enemy determined to thwart them. When even their protector turns against them, Blink still manages to reach his goal and carry out the King's orders ... but the king does not expect Blink's next act--to destroy utterly the magic of Xanth!… (more)
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» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Even after my listed issues with the first of the Xanth series, I chose to return to the world of Xanth. This novel picks up about 1 year after the first book ends. Still has a strong chauvinistic feel to it. Mostly because the character of Chameleon is written from a rather chauvinistic mindset. But then you don't see her after the first few chapters.

Some of this I mildly agree with. Talents must be used or they atrophy. Some of it is just stupid. Men go on an adventure to get away from difficult mates? They've not learned to communicate? REALLY? *sigh*

For the first book, the puns were few and far between. This book started to show more of the puns that the rest of the series is known for, but that isn't helping the over the top ridiculousness of the story.

The last third of the book felt like one giant cliff dive. Like the author really didn't know where he was going then just took a gamble. Even the last chapter could be seen as a giant deus ex machina. The humor that I remember from the later books is seriously lacking in this book. I'm intending to read more of these early novels, if only to prove how much I've grown away from my old self. Then the books will depart the bookshelf. ( )
  gilroy | Dec 21, 2018 |
The sexism and blatant misogynist attitude I recall from other books I read in this series as a kid comes out more clearly in this book than in the first one. The story is good, and the magical world is creative and unique, but Anthony's treatment of female characters leaves much to be desired. ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
I originally reviewed the Source of Magic on the blog in 2009 here, and wrote a series review about Xanth as well.

I'm re-reading most of the Xanth series as part of my Read all the Books challenge: the reviews will be even shorter and pithier than my usual short pithy reviews :) and will serve more as a reminder and a placeholder for which books I've re-read and when.

I know I liked this book a lot before, but re-reading it again as an adult it falls way short. It's just too much sexism/constant dirty jokes/lame puns that aren't even trying to be funny/did I mention the constant sexual jokes?

The plot is really thin on this one, too, and the climax of the novel - a debate about setting a demon free - falls really short. I feel like I'm missing the point of the scene or perhaps the entire novel, but I don't think it's me, I think it's how the scene is written.

It's just lacking the something something that makes most of these books so magical and fun to read - even though there's the constant dirty jokes and the women bashing - and this one really just disappointed me.

The only good thing about these books are how ridiciously fast they are to read. ( )
  anastaciaknits | Oct 29, 2016 |
Bink's adventures begin again with his quest to find out where Xanth's magic originates from, but really, it's an excuse to get away from his pregnant wife, which is so problematic, I had a very difficult time enjoying the rest of the book. I just can't with Piers Anthony anymore. ( )
  EmScape | Oct 10, 2016 |
The second in the Xanth series, this story remains focused on Bink, the main character from the previous book. After his last adventure, Bink has found his place in the world. He is living at Castle Roogna with his pregnant wife Chameleon, and holds a respected position under powerful King Trent. However, Bink is not entirely happy. His wife, moody at the best of times thanks to her talent, is almost unbearable now that she is both pregnant and in her ugly-but-intelligent phase. And while Bink is the official researcher of Xanth, he hasn't done much research. His fortunes start to change in the very first chapter, however. While he is on his way to the masquerade ball Queen Iris is throwing, he is attacked by an enchanted sword. At first, he thinks this is part of Iris's twisted sense of humor, but when he talks to King Trent he realizes that it seems more like he is the target of a mysterious attack. Trent sends Bink on an official mission, both to fulfill his role as researcher and to give Bink a chance to locate the reason for these sudden attempts on his life. Trent requires Bink to find the source of magic for Xanth. Although Bink knows that his wife will not be pleased, he eagerly accepts the mission, and no small part of that is to get away from his nagging Chameleon.

Chester the Centaur and Crombie the soldier are ordered to accompany Bink, which makes for an awkward party. The centaur and soldier both like Bink, but can't stand each other, and are constantly squabbling. The trio immediately head for the Good Magician Humphrey's castle as the logical starting place for any quest that involves knowledge. To their surprise, Humfrey decides to join them, and they also meet Grundy the golem, who becomes the final member of their group. Grundy can translate any language, which is a helpful talent, since King Trent transformed Crombie into a griffin for this quest.

Now, in typical Xanth style, a journey filled with magical challenges and life-threatening obstacles begins. As they head south to uncharted territories, Bink and company must survive hunting dragons and nickelpedes, a sweet siren who accidentally lures all men to her Gorgon sister and their deaths, and a forest of madness where the celestial constellations violently assault them. Situations are often far different than what first appears on the surface - a terrifying ogre is a vegetarian and quite kind beneath his rude manners, his love interest is actually an actress pretending to be a troll, and so on. After they find the village that distributes magical dust to the winds of Xanth (a village filled with lonely and eager women, because their men have all been lured away), they are directed to the chasm from whence the dust proceeds, and they make their way underground. Here, things really go bad. Bink learns that the agent directing the attacks against him and his efforts is the Brain Coral, an ancient demon that lives in a lake in this underground region. Furthermore, Bink is informed that the reason the Brain Coral is after him is because if Bink discovers the source of magic, he could destroy all of Xanth. Bink is determined to see his mission to the end, even after Crombie, Humfrey, and Grundy are destroyed.

He and Chester continue on, meeting the beautiful nymph Jewel, with whom Bink falls instantly in love after drinking from a love spring. He is a noble enough person to not force himself on her, so now he is battling both the Brain Coral and his attraction to Jewel. Soon enough he is also fighting his friends, who were not destroyed after all, but coopted by the Brain Coral. He manages to defeat Humfrey, Grundy, and Crombie, and finally discovers the source of magic: an immensely powerful demon named X(A/N)th. The magic that saturates Xanth emanates from this creature, who has imprisoned himself on the planet as the result of a bet he lost with other immensely powerful beings like him. Bink realizes that if he frees the creature then it will leave, and the magic will be gone from Xanth. Yet Bink, dedicated to independence, frees the demon. And then he has to go back and try to renegotiate for it to stay and not destroy him or Xanth.

Of course Bink does manage to overcome this last, and most difficult, challenge, because Xanth books have happy endings. That sentence may sound cynical, but I actually like that I know what to expect when I read Anthony's farcical fantasy series. The books will involve a quest and magic, a group of unlikely characters that pull from a wide array of fantasy characters, there will be surprises and unveilings, the main characters will face death at least once, I will read puns and sexual innuendos, and the good guys will triumph in the end. I read Xanth books when I want some light fantasy escapism. However, as at the end of reading the first book, I am disturbed by his treatment of women. They continue to alternate between dumb and beautiful or smart and awful. This book is an improvement; Jewel is more intelligent than she first appears, and the deadly but good and beautiful gorgon looks promising. Also, Bink is freed of his enchanted love at the end, and realizes that he is happy to return to his wife, grouchy or not. The portrayal of women is still far from fair, but I do enjoy the other fluff in the story. If my memory is correct, the portrayal of women becomes less obnoxious later in the series. The books also become even more ridiculous and pun-filled, with less serious plots. I actually want to get to that place of nonsense and triviality, so I will keep reading and waiting for the real fun to begin. ( )
  nmhale | Jan 4, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony, PiersAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beekman, DougCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The magic-sniffer ambled toward Bink, its long limber snout snuffling industriously.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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As a ruler of a country steeped in enchantment, King Trent was naturally curious about the source of its magic. It made sense to order Bink, the only one of his subjects immune to supernatural harm, to undertake a quest to discover the wellspring of Xanth's uniqueness.

From the beginning, Bink and his companions Chester the centaur and Crombie, the solider transformed into a griffin, were harried by an unseen enemy determined to thwart them. Even the power of the Good Magician Humfrey, together with Bink's protective talent, scarcely saved their lives.

then when Humfrey and Crombie turned against him, all seemed lost. But Bink's ingenuity and luck prevailed, and he reached his goal. The King's orders had been carried out...

But the King had not expected Bink's next act - to destroy utterly the magic of Xanth!
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Average: (3.53)
1 6
1.5 7
2 47
2.5 17
3 208
3.5 25
4 167
4.5 14
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