cover image Xone of Contention

Xone of Contention

Piers Anthony. Tor Books, $24.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86691-4

The newest volume in Anthony's most popular series (Zombie Lover, etc.) is for truly dedicated Xanthropologists only--for it's filled not only with horrendous puns but with a maze of references to past books in the saga. When an environmental disaster threatens Xanth, Edsel and Pia, earthling game designers with a shaky marriage, exchange bodies with the presiding demon of Xanth, Nimby, and his consort, Chlorine. Nimby and Chlorine face culture shock and the risk of being trapped on Mundania (aka Earth), while Edsel and Pia grapple with the more complex task of averting a catastrophe. Leaping from wordplay to wordplay and rapidly straining readers' patience with their marital troubles, the young couple eventually travel both in Xanth and in time to fulfill their quest. Occasionally a bright scene, such as Pia and Edsel's visit to the Isle of Talents, is handled cleverly, reminding us of Anthony's ability. But these moments are outnumbered by sophomoric jokes about the Adult Conspiracy to keep teenagers from having sex and the power of women's panties to disturb males. The novel won't alienate the faithful, but neither will it convert unbelievers. (Oct.)