cover image Roc and a Hard Place

Roc and a Hard Place

Piers Anthony. Tor Books, $23.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85392-1

The 19th novel in this lighthearted series, popular for its puns and its innocent naughtiness, is again set in the fantasy land of Xanth (Demons Don't Dream ). Here, Anthony tells the story of the Demoness Metria and her other selves, the crazy D. Mentia and the waif Woe Betide, as they carry on a mission for the Good Magician Humfrey: Metria and company must assemble a court and jury to try Roxanne Roc, under unspecified charges from another magical Xanth bird, the Simurgh. On this loose structure are hung many outlandish characters, adventures, jokes and plays on words-such as the quarter horse that splits into four one-legged creatures, or the twins Ordinate and Abscissa, who can travel ``by geometry.'' The mentions of Xanth's enforced ``Adult Conspiracy to keep Interesting Things from Children,'' the youth of some of the characters and the euphemistic presentation of sex may appeal to younger readers. A concluding author's note adds a more somber touch, as Anthony explains how deceased friends and fans have made their way into his ever-evolving vision of Xanth. (Oct.)