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Book Review: A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth #1)

A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth, #1)Read the Goodreads summary here.

This is a pretty old fantasy series, so I feel like it deserves some explanation.  When I was younger, we used to visit my stepdad’s parents at the beach every summer.  I would always go to the library there and pick out several books to read during our week visiting.  One year (maybe during my tweens/early teens?) I stumbled upon an Xanth book.  I wish I could remember which one exactly it was, but I know it was a later one.  I enjoyed it so much that I went back and searched for the beginning of the series.  I read quite a few of them before my interest was grabbed by other books and the Xanth series went to the wayside.

I’ve always wanted to find this series again.  I just remembered loving the books so much.  So when I happened upon books 1-3 at a local mass book sale, I HAD to pick them up.

I really don’t think I had a proper appreciation for Anthony’s ability to work with words when I read several of his books the first time.  He’s truly a genius at it.  I loved the puns and play on words that make up the world of Xanth, such as a breadfruit tree:

This is what a real breadfruit tree looks like.

Literal breadfruit

This is what a breadfruit tree looks like in Xanth.

I’m also somewhat amazed at my comprehension levels way back then.  Anthony likes to use more obscure words that had me stopping to write them down or immediately look up, such as ignominy.  I suppose I probably just read over them and not really cared when I first found the series.

There were several sections of this book that really lagged and had me thinking, “Come on, get on with it already!”.  This was mainly during the times Bink was thinking something through, or having an inward conversation with himself about some issue.

Unfortunately, I wish I still had some of the naivety/ignorance of my youth to ignore the glaring issues of this book, particularly the blatant sexism.  Bink, the main character, seems to always be discussing a female’s body or arguing with himself about what’s more important, beauty or brains, despite what’s currently happening in the plot.  I ignored it at the beginning of the book when he was with his original love interest, Sabrina:

Bink looked at the girl beside him as she stepped through a slanting sunbeam.  He was no plant, but he too had needs, and even the most casual inspection of her made him aware of this.

Okay, whatever, I’m sure there are worse statements in romance novels, though this book is not supposed to be in that genre at all.  It only gets worse though, and at one point a particular statement really put me over the edge:

“Oh Bink!” she cried, turning to him with woeful relief.  Her homemade dress was in disarray, exposing her finely formed breasts above and her firm round thighs below.  What a difference a few days made!  She was not at the height of her loveliness, but she was quite adequate to the need.

What’s with constantly using the phrase “the need”?!?!  These kind of statements were prolific, and they really irritated me by the end.  Anthony just completely objectified women throughout the book, an entirely unnecessary thing in my opinion.

If you can manage to get past all that while reading the book (I’ve read that Anthony is apparently like this in real life, so perhaps it’s no surprise that it translates to his books), it’s a good story.  Unfortunately I just couldn’t get past it, and I think I’m going to have to relegate this series to the past, and try to remember how much I enjoyed them when I was younger and naive.  I went back and forth between 2 or 3 stars, but since I enjoyed the world building so much, I decided to give A Spell for Chameleon a 3.

3 out of 5

Have you ever had a book or series you enjoyed when you were younger, but upon later reading, realized you couldn’t stand it?


Is there a book you would have enjoyed more if the viewpoints in it weren’t so off-putting?


7 responses to “Book Review: A Spell for Chameleon (Xanth #1)

  1. Pingback: April 2014 Book Round-up - Books Are My Thing

  2. Pingback: April Book Round-up | Books Are My Thing

  3. nomoney4books April 3, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Oh those quotes are just difficult to read lol! It’s weird going back and reading books from when we were younger and seeing really obvious, disturbing things that we never caught as kids.


    • Bookjunkiekrystal April 3, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      The book was FULL of them. I was gritting my teeth the whole way through the book. It’s such a shame because Anthony really is great with words and world-building.

      We spent Christmas with my fiance’s family, and at one point we were talking about this very thing. They brought up the Dr. Seuss’s The Butter Battle Book. It used to be his sister’s favorite book, but is actually about the Cold War. Very amusing.


  4. Emily @ Oh Magic Hour April 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Gah – THE NEED!!! Too much. I have some similar issues with The Dresden Files books by Butcher… seems like every woman in those books ends up in some sort of sexualized situation and I’m like WHYYY. What does this add?


  5. missbookreader09 April 3, 2014 at 8:51 am

    It’s so hard when you just can’t agree with the view-points of a book. I enjoyed reading your review! I kind of want to revisit some of my favorite childhood books and review them now.


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