cover image Harpy Thyme

Harpy Thyme

Piers Anthony. Tor Books, $21.95 (318pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85390-7

With this fairly predictable but nevertheless amusing tale, Anthony ( Alien Plot ) returns to the magical world of Xanth, a place where ``appearance counts for most of reality'' and nearly everyone has some magical talent, even if it is only the ability to change the color of popcorn. In this installment, Gloha, the only goblin-harpy crossbreed in Xanth, attempts to find a male goblin-harpy to mate with and thus become a member of the Adult Conspiracy. After seeking advice from the Good Magician Humfrey from whom she receives a non-commital answer, she embarks on her quest alone, eventually joining up with a rejuvenated magician, a sultry demoness, a walking skeleton and a formerly invisible giant, among others. The magician Trent finally solves her quest by effecting a transformation. Trent surely could have come up with this solution at the beginning of the tale, but then Gloha would never have learned the meaning of true love nor would Anthony have been able to string out all his puns and jokes (he tells of a painter in the Mundane world who killed himself; named Van Go, he was one of the few there who actually believed in Trent). Fans of the author's trademark humor will relish this latest jaunt through the wacky world of Xanth; new readers too will enjoy the fun. (Jan.)