Man from Mundania (Xanth, No. 12)

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9780812574975: Man from Mundania (Xanth, No. 12)

For a bored, young princess of Xanth, there's nothing more exciting than a Quest. Especially when all you do is sit around Castle Roogna. But when Ivy uses the Heaven Cent, it takes her not to the top of Mount Rushmost, where the winged monsters gather, not to the sea where the merfolk swim--but to Mundania, a world much like out own (that is, boring). It is here that she meets a young college student so dull that he doesn't even believe in magic, or princesses, or Xanth!

Does he have a lot to learn.

The thrilling climax to the trilogy started in Vale of the Vole and continued in Heaven Cent.

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About the Author:

Piers Anthony is one of the world's most popular fantasy authors, and a New York Times bestseller twenty-one times over. His Xanth novels have been read and loved by millions of readers around the world, and he daily receives hundreds of letters from his devoted fans.

In addition to the Xanth series, Anthony is the author of many other best-selling works. Piers Anthony lives in Inverness, Florida.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Man From Mundania
1 HEAVEN CENT Ivy woke, stretched, and opened her eyes. It was dawn; the sun had not yet quite dared show its round face, because darkness made it nervous, but soon it would get up its nerve. She looked at the Tapestry, with its ever changing picture of Xanth. She never really tired of watching it, though her interest waxed and waned. It waxed when it rained outside because it was more fun to remain inside where it was dry, and it waned when Zora Zombie was waxing the stairs and the smell of the wax got chokingly thick. Thus, as she put it, it waxed when it waned, and waned when it waxed. It was her private joke with Dolph; the adults didn't understand. Adults were chronically slow about such things. Sure enough, Zora was waxing today; the smell was just starting. Ivy had only minutes to find a pretext to go far away, several days if possible, until the wax settled down. But she was running out of pretexts; what was left? She jumped out of bed so suddenly she frightened the monster under it--Grabraham; she heard his honk as he shrank away. He was a young monster, replacing Snortimer, who haddeparted long ago; he tended to be timid. She was also reaching the age when folk started not believing in Bed Monsters, and that made it that much worse. When she turned eighteen she would stop believing entirely, and the poor thing would fade away. Grabby was quite upset over the prospect, for some reason. She was sorry about that, but there was really no alternative; she couldn't stop herself from getting older. She ran barefoot to the next room where Princess Nada slept. Nada had moved in three years before when Dolph brought her home, and the two had become great friends, because they were the same age and rank and similarly pretty. Nada was only half human, but she kept her human form when staying at Castle Roogna, just from courtesy. Princesses had to learn courtesy early, because princes certainly didn't. "Nada!" she cried. "I need a pretext in a hurry." Nada sat up in bed, wrinkling her nose. "I know; I smell it too. I'll go with you." "Of course! But where?" Nada concentrated. "Have we used the mirror yet?" "We don't have the magic mirror!" Ivy reminded her. "Com-Pewter got it last year, and won't give it back!" "Yes. So--" Ivy caught on. "So we'll just have to go and fetch it! Because I'll need it when I use the Heaven Cent!" "Exactly. Except--" "I know. Except that Com-Pewter isn't going to let us have it without a fight, and he fights dirty. Still, it's a perfect excuse, if we can only figure out a way." "Maybe Electra--" "That's right! She could shock Pewter into letting it go!" Electra appeared in the doorway. "Did someone say my name?" she asked sleepily. She was a freckled child whose hair was a bit frizzy; her eyes were the color of wonder, and there were smile lines around her button nose. No one would think, to look at her, that she was tragically in love. "Zora's waxing the stairs! Come help us get the magic mirror from Com-Pewter!" "Is that what I smelled! Just let me get dressed!" There was a scramble as the three of them dived into proper clothing. In a moment they were together again; the two princesses in dresses, glancing jealously at Electra in her rainbow jeans. She was of common stock, so could get away with practical clothing. She was also slender enough to wear it without attracting stray male eyes or female frowns. Quickly they trooped down the hall to the farther stairway, avoiding the wax. Unfortunately this led them past Dolph's room, and he heard them. He had ears like those of a werewolf, perhaps because he commonly assumed wolf form to snooze. His door banged open. "Hey, where're you going?" he cried. "Are you sneaking out again?" Nada and Electra paused: Nada because she didn't want to hurt his feelings, Electra because she was in love with him. Both were betrothed to him, of course, though he was only twelve. In a moment Electra would invite him along, because she always wanted to be close to him. To prevent that, Ivy dived in. "We're going to get the magic mirror from Com-Pewter so I can have it when I use the Heaven Cent," she said. "So we can find out where Good Magician Humfrey is and finally complete your Quest." "But Mother won't let you--" he started, reasonably. "So you'll have to cover for us!" Ivy finished. "'ye!" He still looked doubtful. But Nada stepped in and kissed him, not saying a word. "Uh, sure," he said. He was Silly Putty in her hands, of course, even though he knew she didn't love him. It was the mirror image of his association with Electra. He changed into zombie form and walked back the way they had come. Zombies didn't mind the smell of wax, so he would be able to brave those stairs despite Zora's mischief. They completed their escape. Whatever Dolph had done must have been sufficient, because no one tried to intercept them. Ivy whistled for Stanley, and in a moment the dragon whomped around the castle and joined them. He was almost grown now and soon would have to depart for the Gap because guarding it was his job. Ivy would be sad when he left, but knew it was the same as it was with her: age had itsburdens. Meanwhile, he was excellent protection; they had no fear of wild monsters while in the company of the tame one. They snatched fruits from the orchard as they passed through it, eating on the run. Then they reached the main path going north. Every so often Com-Pewter arranged to set up a D-tour, and then King Dor would send out someone to shut it down because it was a public nuisance. Ivy happened to know that there was a D-tour currently in force, and this time they meant to take it. It was the easiest way to reach the evil machine. They were supposed to stay clear of the infernal contraption, of course, which was part of what made him so intriguing. Stanley would be no protection against him, but Electra would. Sure enough, there was the D-tour. They veered onto it. Now they could relax, because even if it got shut down, they wouldn't lose it. They stopped for the night near the unlevel playing field where the Bulls and the Bears charged back and forth. Grundy Golem had discovered this during his Quest to locate the missing pet dragon. It was called the Market, and the Bulls and Bears were the Stock. Almost every day the foolish animals resumed their pointless activity, reacting dramatically to insignificant events and ignoring major events. There were many strange things in Xanth, but this business was too strange for even the craziest folk to understand. What did those Bulls and Bears find so fascinating about that Stock Market? Stanley whomped off into the thickest wilderness to catch a bite to eat, while the three girls harvested pies from a pie tree near the path. It wasn't much of a tree, but Ivy used her talent to enhance it, and then the pies became so healthy that they steamed. There were many more such trees along all the paths than in years of yore, because Ivy's mother, Irene, had seeded them in and made them grow, and Ivy had enhanced them. While they ate, they talked, for it was always fun to talk when there were no adults to listen in. Inevitably the subjectfound its way to Romance, for that was the most fascinating concept ever to approach teenage girls. "When are you going to Find a Boy, Ivy?" Nada inquired. "I mean, you're well into seventeen, and when your mother was that age she had already landed your father and trussed him up." "And by the time my little brother was nine, he had already landed two fiancées," Ivy agreed. "I confess to being retarded." Nada and Electra grinned ruefully. Nada had been fourteen when the young Prince Dolph had come to her father, the King of the Naga, for help, and because the naga needed an alliance with the humans, the King had agreed to help if Dolph married his daughter. Nada had had to pretend she was Dolph's age, nine, knowing that her real age would freak him out. It was only a betrothal, of course; they would have to wait until Dolph came of age for the actual ceremony of marriage. But meanwhile the alliance was valid, and Nada had kept company with Dolph while her folk received sundry items from the Castle Roogna arsenal to fight off the encroaching goblins. There seemed to be more goblins in Xanth than there used to be; no one was quite sure why, but it did make for trouble. Then the Heaven Cent had brought Electra to Dolph. She had to marry him or die, so Dolph agreed to be betrothed to her too. That had happened at about the time Dolph discovered that Nada was five years older than he, so it might have been an easy decision for him to make. But in the end he had realized that he loved Nada, so that betrothal had remained. Thus their quandary: they all knew that Dolph had to choose between the two girls before he came of age. If he chose Nada, he would honor his word to the naga folk, and as a prince he was bound to keep his word. But Electra would die. None of them wanted that. Three years had passed while Electra used her talent to charge the Heaven Cent. The three girls had become fast friends. So they accepted the situation as it was: unresolved. Electra loved Dolph, and Dolph loved Nada. Nada didn't loveDolph, and Dolph didn't love Electra. How was this picklement to be settled? No one knew, but it remained a favorite topic for conjecture. Fortunately it would be several more years before Dolph Came of Age, so the matter wasn't pressing yet. "Didn't you know a boy, once?" Electra asked. She had been born more than eight hundred years before--maybe closer to nine hundred--and had slept through all those centuries until Dolph kissed her awake. So her physical age was fifteen, and she looked twelve; indeed, she was still a child in all the ways that counted, ex...

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