Isis Orb, the 40th installment in Piers Anthony’s wildly successful Xanth series, is a comfort novel. Filled with the types of characters and puns we’ve all grown to love, Isis Orb is like a warm hug from an old friend.
It is a story Anthony has told several times, that of a bit of a bumbler who has a wish, who goes to visit the Good Magician, and sets out on a quest. It’s a tried and true plot for Anthony, but it holds up to the the new characters and situations. With characters like Cylla Cybin, who has the power of causing hallucinations (Psilocybin, a chemical that causes hallucinations), to Faro Heights, a winged centaur who is afraid to fly, Anthony doesn’t disappoint his readers.
The story focuses on Hapless and his party trying to take a magical orb from Isis. Yes, that Isis, the Egyptian Goddess. They meet interesting characters along their way, driven by Hapless and his magic box. The box is a reminder to him to “think outside the box”, which he does in order to meet the other five members of his party. Each party member is introduces separately, which gives readers a chance to get to know each new member before the next one arrives, which is nice. The confrontation with Isis was rather interesting. Rather than direct confrontation, the encounter took an educational bent, allowing the reader to see a side of a mis-remembered deity.
The puns are plentiful, as anyone who has read an Xanth novel will tell you. This is no different. There are ones that will make you groan, and ones that will give you a moment’s pause until you decipher what it is. And the “Adult Conspiracy” is alive and well here too. The Adult Conspiracy is a natural feature in Xanth to “protect” all characters under the age of 18 from “knowledge that could being them great harm”. It’s another continuing theme in all the Xanth books.
It’s another Xanth novel, one that I highly enjoyed reading, and that will get talked about and passed around in some circles. I’ve been a fan of them since the mid 80’s, so picking up Isis Orb wasn’t a stretch, it was a bit of a comfort back to my formative years of just starting to read fantasy novels. It’s not the best Xanth I’ve read, it’s not the worst either. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, it reads fast, and it’ll make you smile and groan. Give it a shot, it’s a fun little story.
Series: The Xanth Novels
Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (October 18, 2016)