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Air Apparent: Xanth    by Piers Anthony Amazon.com order for
Air Apparent
by Piers Anthony
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover

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* *   Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai

The world of Xanth is a strange and unusual place, and Air Apparent is a continuation of Piers Anthony's Xanth chronicles, of which this is the thirty-first. Readers who know the books will remember many of the characters, particularly Wira, the blind wife of Hugo and daughter-in-law of the Good Magician Humfrey. Unfortunately, Hugo has just vanished, and Wira must find him but how to do this when you have no ability to see in the conventional sense? Wira's sensitivity cannot help her in this time of need, so she turns to a young supplicant, Debra, who wants the Good Magician to answer her burning question why do all men want to de-bra her? - and to find out whether he can reverse this spell.

Along the way, Wira and Debra get assistance in their quest from unlikely folks: Fray, a young cloud; Ilene, daughter of Magician Trent and Sorceress Iris; Nimbus, son of human woman Chlorine and the Demon Xanth; Sim, an intelligent talking bird each more fantastic and fabulous than the previous!

While Wira hunts for Hugo, he finds himself imprisoned in the dungeon of the Castle Maidragon, a victim of the strange magic of Random Factor, who can randomly switch places with people and things when in a tight situation. This ability has its drawbacks since he's never sure where he'll end up after each switch, or what form he'll take. However, he has discovered that he can always revert to his normal form, but only for a random number of tries per day even his greatest ability is reliant on randomness.

This book is filled with word-puns, some amusing and some very weak. Take for example the reason that Hugo's magical talent was never up to par: he had lodged in his ear 'a seed of the mediocritree. It makes things mediocre' - once this seed was removed Hugo's talent blossomed. Or the twins, Katydid and Katydidn't, the farm-assist plants that produce many magic pills ... the list goes on!

I was completely unprepared for my first foray into the world of Xanth, and found the initial chapters fresh and interesting. However, by the middle of the book my patience with the pun-ish style had become jaded, and I was quite relieved to finally finish the book. I personally cannot imagine reading thirty others in the same genre! However, Piers Anthony's style is unique and he clearly has a slew of followers for his works.

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