Off the Shelf
By Marcus Pan
Good ol Piers, as I said in my last
book review(1), returns us to Xanth. Actually I should say he not only returned
me to Xanth, but dumped me properly back a bunch of years in the past.
Its not his fault really, since until I read Dragon on a
Pedestal(2) I havent read much of it at all. This Xanth feature,
Centaur Aisle, has drooped me a back a few years to when Dor wasnt
yet king, Irene still hadnt fucked him and Ivy wasnt yet a glimmer
in her green plant-noodling eyes.
Ok, first off, I just went back and read my review of
Dragon on a Pedestal and it seems I liked it. Now Ive read
Centaur Isle and the only thing I can assume is because Pedestal
was written further along than the one I speak of now, its therefore
better. Centaur Aisle still retains the witty repartee that Piers has
become known for in his pun-filled fantasy world, but it just seemed so
pedantic here. Virtually childish and would probably make Harry Potter books
look like almost advanced reading.
First off, the story of Centaur Aisle isnt as
interesting. The current king of Xanth, King Trent, leaves Dor in charge as he
and his Queen go traipsing along to our world, Mundania, in an effort to
establish a trade route. Of course
as you can expect
return, and young Dor, along with another gaggle of strange friends, have to go
about after him and rescue him. Irenes magical talent, the control of
foliage, is still a little neat though it wasnt nearly as interesting as
it was in Pedestal probably because Dors here, and Dor is
Our Hero for this time around. His talent is to make inanimate things talk and
while occasionally the banter of the rocks, tables, grounds and belt buckles
are kind of cutesy, they get really annoying really fast almost like
Jazzy Jay at my dayjob, but enough about him.
Dragon on a Pedestal was whimsical where Centaur
Aisle was downright Barneyish. While I could certainly have enjoyed a nice
romp through weirdness following the more serious storyline of Essence,
Im not so sure I enjoyed being dumped right into Goofland. A very large
portion of this novel was dedicated to the vaguely veiled and teenager-ish
teasing love affair between Dor and Irene and it read in many areas more like a
Britney Spears romance novel than a fantasy featurette. The characters were
poorly executed and the puns and clichés that Anthony stung us with in
Pedestal werent nearly as unique. It also turns out that Dor is a
completely idiotic tart with the worst spelling in history resulting in
what began as the cutest homonym usage Ive read., but eventually dwindled
into an annoying fiasco. And that is about all I can say about it.
If youre a Xanth fan that hasnt yet read Centaur
Aisle, then by all means find yourself an old pulped copy of this one and have
at it. And while Piers is well known for whimsy(3), here he takes us on a
boorish journey that makes a hard left turn at Whimsy, waves as it drives on
past Absurd and keeps going straight through Comical, barrels on past Goofy,
misses the next turn near Zany, gasses up at Senseless and drives until it runs
out of fuel in Ridiculous. Oh, and by the way for this trip youre driving
a run down school bus filled with 5th graders high on sugar stix. Want to take
that ride? Up to you Mac
but dont say I didnt warn you when
you come out of it with a sugary headache and a hankering for brownies.
(1) Essence by Glenn Woods.
Reviewed in Legends #140.
(3) Prostho Plus comes to mind
reviewed in Legends
Centaur Aisle by Piers Anthony
Copyright © 1981 by Piers Anthony
A Del Rey Book
Library of Congress Catalog Card:
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