Written by: Piers Anthony
Published by: Tor
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
Currant Events, by Piers Anthony, is the 28th installment in the Xanth series. I was a big fan of the Xanth series as a teenager; I read the first four installments before I moved on to other books and I loved them all. So it was with great joy that I discovered that Mr. Anthony was still writing about this magical land and was eager to return to its borders.
This latest installment follows the adventures of Clio, Xanth’s Muse of History. Clio has been writing the History and Future of Xanth for almost two hundred years, but when she sits down to write this next volume—the 28th volume—she finds that the book has already been written. Worse yet, it’s blurred so she can not read it. Seeking answers she goes to see that old failsafe, the Good Magician Humfrey for advice.
After enduring the standard Three Challenges, Humfrey, notoriously grumpy, tells her that he will answer her question only if she agrees to do a service for him. She agrees and he gives her a magic compass with two arrows, one arrow points to where she must go, the other tells her how much time she has left to get there. He then sends her to Dragon World, to replenish the waning dragon population and tells her that in order to find the mystery of the blurred volume of Xanth’s History, she must find the Currant—a magical red berry. Clio is reluctant to undertake this journey because she was cursed to face one danger every day and to die young, a curse that had been nullified so long as she lived in Mount Parnassus and served as Xanth’s Muse.
But replenishing the dragon stock isn’t the end of Clio’s adventures. The compass leads her from one encounter to another, solving problems and helping people along the way. The most notable of these encounters are Sherlock—a relative newcomer to Xanth with budding magical talent—Drew and Drusie Dragon—two tiny telepathic dragons that vowed to repay Clio for saving their lives—and Ciriana—a five year old orphan girl whose magical talent is being immune to the Adult Conspiracy. Clio’s adventures are made more complicated when she begins to fall in love with Sherlock, but fears that her curse will cause him to reject her.
Now while I thoroughly enjoyed reading the Xanth series both old and new, I was a little disappointed that this installment seemed to lack some of what I loved about the original novels. Mr. Anthony has abandoned description—however light—for a string of lighthearted puns. True, the puns were there in the original books, but they were practically a character in itself in this novel and, I suspect, have been for quite a few novels since I last visited Xanth.
Still, I really enjoyed Currant Events. It was fun and written in a very breeze style that a reader of any level could get into. That Mr. Anthony drew attention to the puns via Clio's abhorrence of them, almost made up for having to read them on almost every other page. I personally thought that her Danger of the Day curse was a clever way of justifying chapter after chapter of misfortune. So while Currant Events did not hold the same ‘magic’ as the first few volumes of the History of Xanth, I found my love of this world renewed. It also piqued my curiosity about the previous volumes, as several references were made to events and characters in past books as well as a few cameos. I’m sure to revisit Xanth in the future and I’d recommend anyone to do the same.