by Piers Anthony
Ah, Piers Anthony. Now see, I know him as the author of the oh-so-punny Xanth books. And so this one, the first of the Apprentice Adept trilogy set on the worlds of Proton and Phaze, confused me. It was published in 1980, and is like much other fantasy of that era. I do not mention this as a good thing or a bad thing. It is just the way it’s written.
Now, the basic premise (which doesn’t get found out until quite a ways into the book) is that there are two alternate worlds, and you have an alternate self living in the other world. You can’t, however, cross between these worlds – unless your alternate self dies. And so Stile, our hero, finds himself able to cross the curtain (between the worlds) and gets into Phaze – where magic works.
All in all, a good premise and an enjoyable book. There were some things that weren’t ideal to me, though. First was the way magic works. It is different for everyone, which I like. It needs a different spell to work each and every time, which I find amusing and a nice twist. Stile uses music to do magic, which I am not enchanted with. I like the premise of music being magic, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I’ve read multiple books that use that idea, and this wasn’t the best executed one of those. (I liked Christopher Stashef’s Her Majesty’s Wizard much better for the execution of music-magic.)
The other thing that really bugged me was the flashbacks. I agree that we don’t need to start at the beginning of Stile’s career. But the flashbacks really bogged down the story for me.
I did enjoy the book enough to continue in the trilogy, but not enough that I’m going to go out and buy the next book today. I’m going to read something else in between, and get back to Stile and his problems (for there are many, only some of which get resolved in book one) on another day.