Anyway, I'm still working my way through the Xanth books. They're all quick reads, and I've gotten through four of them recently. Here are a few thoughts on those four.
Isle of View - Although the title appears to be a rip-off of L. Frank Baum's Isle of Yew, this is an enjoyable book, focusing largely on new characters. One of them is Jenny Elf, who comes from another world based on the ElfQuest graphic novels. I've never read any of those (I understand that therealtavie is a big fan), but I think it's a well-executed crossover that accentuates some of the differences between different fantasy universes (Jenny is taller than Xanthian elves, and isn't tied to an elm tree). She was actually named after a girl who had been hit by a drunk driver and become paralyzed. Also, we finally wrap up Prince Dolph's marriage dilemma, although the fact that the dilemma even exists shows that Dolph isn't all that bright. The other characters seem to be aware of this, though, and Dolph does make the obvious decision in the end. Really, though, I'm not sure why Dolph COULDN'T marry two women. I mean, this is a land where nymphs run around naked and people breed with animals, but polygamy is apparently out. I wonder what Queen Irene would think of gay marriage. Or does Xanth even have any homosexuals? Finally, I do appreciate that Gwendolyn Goblin and Che Centaur's problem is resolved through compromise, which seems to be a major theme in the series.
Question Quest - The Good Magician Humfrey, who had been missing from Xanth for some time, relates his life history. I appreciate the historical backdrop for the novel, and the fact that we finally get to see Humfrey as a viewpoint character. We see the events of the earlier Xanth books from his point of view, and while I've seen a review that says the recapping gets tedious, I like getting a different perspective on old plots. Besides, it's been a while since I've read most of those books, so it helped to jog my memory. It's a noble attempt to get everything established about Xanth to fit together, which sometimes requires Anthony to come up with a convoluted explanation for an apparent contradiction, but I guess that's pretty much inevitable in a series that had been running for so many volumes. I do think it didn't really work to have Lacuna announce her plan to reprogram Com-Pewter at the beginning, though, as it made the actual confrontation anti-climactic. That's a minor complaint, though, and I found this to be one of the better Xanth books I've read so far.
The Color of Her Panties - A somewhat embarrassing title to be caught reading in public, but I never had anyone say anything about it. This book focuses on the Adult Conspiracy, which is basically a combination of knowledge about sex and all the things adults tell kids without explaining why. The panties come in because, for some reason, seeing a woman in panties is more forbidden than seeing one totally starkers (as they say in the United Kingdom). Actually, I can kind of see that. Regardless, pretty much every Xanth book after Anthony started using child protagonists (all the main characters in the first two books were adults, which makes it kind of weird that it eventually morphed into such an adolescent-themed fantasy land) incorporates the Adult Conspiracy, and it gets a bit tedious. Still, this book isn't bad, although it seems like Anthony stopped even making an effort to make each book work as a self-contained story. I mean, yes, it has a beginning and an ending and all that, but most of it is devoted to tying up loose ends from earlier books, and introducing some that would come into play in future volumes.
Demons Don't Dream - I didn't much care for the setup of this novel. It was largely intended to promote a computer game that came out around the same time (and, based on what I've seen in online reviews, isn't anywhere near as good as the book makes it sound, but that's only to be expected), so the plot focuses on two American teenagers who get into Xanth by means of the game. Within the book, the game is being run by demons, and actual people and places in the country are modified to provide challenges for the players. While a clever explanation in a way, the fact that Anthony is trying to make it the real Xanth AND a game at the same time makes for some awkward writing and explanations. That said, once the plot actually gets going, it's not a bad story, and there are some quite clever parts. The introduction of a multiracial human society into Xanth is done in a rather heavy-handed manner, but I do like Sherlock as a character.
The next volume in the series, Harpy Thyme, does not appear to be available at the local library. Maybe I'll see if I can find a cheap copy on eBay. There are a few other things I might want to read before continuing with Xanth, though.