Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Five Portraits (Xanth #39) by Piers Anthony | Fantasy Book Review

Mulluane | Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | Be the first to comment!

Release Day Review! 



Piers Anthony delivers another tale set in the bestselling world of Xanth, filled with magic, surprises, adventure, and a few puns. Here’s what the author has to say about his new book:

“Five Portraits is a kind of sequel to Board Stiff in that it picks up where the other leaves off, with the same characters. Apart from that, it’s one of my favorites within the series. There’s something about Astrid Basilisk that appeals to me: a very pretty girl whose very glance is deadly, yet she’s a nice person whose selfless effort to save five difficult children from future Xanth is thoroughly worthy. I also like the theme of the power of unlikely friendship. Not just Xanth, but Mundania, too, would be better if there were more such friendships.”

*Blurb source* Open Road Media
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Five Portraits (Xanth #39) by Piers Anthony | Fantasy Book Review

| Source: Publisher/Net Galley
| Author: Piers Anthony
| Series: Xanth (Book 39)
| Genre: Fantasy Humor
| Content: Satire, Puns, Alternate World
| ISBN-10: 1624672728
| ISBN-13: 9781624672729
| Publisher: Open Road Media (October 21, 2014)
| Paperback: 279 pages
| Rating: 5/5 Stars
| Affiliate Links:
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Five Portraits (Xanth, #39)



♥ Mini Review ♥
Can a soulless Demoness learn friendship? Can a basilisk, who can kill with a look, become a loving guardian for five orphans? And can those five orphans, each with dangerous gifts, find new homes?  Alot is at stake as the very future of Xanth rests on the shoulders of five frightened children.

Fantasy Book Review by Mulluane


♦ The Story. The same characters from Board Stiff continue their stories in this new Xanth installment. This is a bit unusual for a Xanth novel. There are plenty of characters that cross over and play bit parts in new books but an entire cast rarely makes a subsequent appearance.

However, this tale may contain familiar characters, but it is a much different story and I have to say -- a better one.
Piers Anthony has outdone himself with Five Portraits! via @mulluane

♦ What I Liked. Friendship, love, and relationships are explored from numerous perspectives and when I say explored I mean deeply.

As an added plus, some of the "cuteness" of his early novels is back, resulting in some great feel-good scenes. Piers Anthony has once again outdone himself with Five Portraits!

This is also a thought provoking story. Board Stiff was pretty much about a group of people all trying to find their perfect mate. There was a common goal of saving Xanth but there were lots of individual goals to go with it. In this book however, the main goal (again saving Xanth but from a different threat) felt more urgent and less certain. The plight of the orphans added an emotional connection that was lacking in Board Stiff and having a central protagonist made things more personal. All of this resulted in a much tighter story and led to me giving it a five star rating as opposed to the four stars I gave Board Stiff.

Sadly there were also fewer puns but I barely noticed. The story itself was all the entertainment I could ask for and more. It is full of fun, adventure, danger, and uncertainty. There are monsters to defeat, puzzles to solve, personal demons to deal with and real demons interfering every step of the way. There is alot of personal growth and character development. It was easy to get sucked in and hard to put down. And of course it has its silly moments too.

♦ What I didn't like. There was some profanity that slipped past the "Bleep" censor. (Profanity used around or by children usually comes out as "Bleep!" or if they are very young, "Blip!") The slips were by design of course, along with explanations on when a word is being used clinically and when it is used as a curse word. In other situations the cussing fit the innate proclivities of some of Xanth's more violent residents. Along the same lines, there were a few too many potential rape scenes to suit me, but since this is satirical exaggeration it is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable on occasion. In these books you will find pure evil, extreme good and creatures simply being true to their natures. It all fits, even when things are particularly nasty.

♦ My Thoughts. There is a priceless afterword at the conclusion of this book where Piers Anthony explains his use of parody and apologizes for the lack of a profusion of puns. He also explains the writing process behind this book and of course credits the puns he did use. This addendum to the book alone was almost worth the price of admission. 

I did have a technical issue with him calling his writing a series of parodies, while I consider them to be satirical➚, but it is his book. If he says he employes parodies, well then parodies it is. I don't care what they are called; they explore the dark depths of mankind's less endearing qualities while providing laugh out loud comic relief. 

I call it genius!

♦ Conclusion. You can read this book without reading Board Stiff first. There are enough "what has gone before" scenes to bring you up to speed but I recommend reading #38 anyway. That way you'll experience the full flavor of the characters involved. Be aware that while this book may feature young children with coming of age issues, it addresses some very adult subjects along the way. Be prepared to squirm at times but also be prepared for sudden urges to laugh or to hug the people you love. This novel is a gem of diversity and a lesson in the true meaning of friendship. Easily one of the best comedic fantasies ever written.

Ratings, Reviews, Similar Reads, Buy Books, Affiliate Links




Librarything 5.0 / 5.0

Amazon: 4.4/5
(72 customer Reviews)

What Should I Read Next?
Kindle: Five Portraits (Xanth Book 39)

Audible: Not Available

Buy Book: Books-A-Million 

Book Depository

Amazon: US ~ UK ~ Canada
About the Author:

Photo of Piers Anthony, source: hipiers.comPiers Anthony has written dozens of bestselling science fiction and fantasy novels. Perhaps best-known for his long-running Magic of Xanth series, many of which appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List, he has also had great success with The Incarnations of Immortality series and the Cluster series as well as Bio of a Space Tyrant and others.


Piers Anthony on the Web:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Website ~ Blog
Already read the book? Please share your own opinion!

Fantasy Book Review of Five Portraits (Xanth #39) by Piers Anthony - Reviewed by Mulluane - on October 21 2013 - Rating: 5 of 5 Stars



Mulluane is a 55-year-old proud grandmother of 4, who is passionate about her pets, blogging, traditional fantasy, and tinkering with webdesign. She is obssesively photo shy but she uses an avatar that accurately represents her dreams. ♥ You can also find her on:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest
Dragons, Heroes and Wizards

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