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Fantasy’s Finest: Piers Anthony’s Apprentice Adept Series

Published on February 1, 2010 by in Books, Fantasy


There aren’t many series that I can read and reread without ever tiring of, but Piers Anthony’s Apprentice Adept series is one of them. Seven glorius books tell the story of Proton, a technologically advanced planet, and its twin Phaze, a world of traditional fantasy. Both Proton and Phaze occupy the same space, being separated only by a dimensional veil that few have learned to cross. In effect, we have a world that is both science fiction and fantasy, a literary playground with high potential, but this isn’t what enamored me with the series.

The society of Proton functions as a sort of Feudalistic lottery. Those arriving on the planet are serfs and must be employed by Citizens; a select group of wealthy and powerful individuals. After playing servant for twenty years, they must leave the planet, but the wages earned are enough to set them up for life. If a serf plays and win The Game, which encompasses all sports, board games, or any otherconceivable challenge, they can win the right to stay on Proton and become a Citizen themselves.

The dimension of Phaze is mostly unknown to the people of Proton, because each has a doppelganger on the other side. Only those that do not can travel between the two dimensions. Phaze is everything there is to love about fantasy. Werewolves run along side unicorns, vampires and trolls lurk in the shadows, and the very best of all is the Adepts. Counterparts to the Citizens of Proton, the Adepts are equally influential, but their power comes from magic rather than wealth.

This is what I love most about the series. Each Adept is known by a different color, and each has a different way of executing their magic. For instance, the Yellow Adept deals in potions. The icy White Adept uses runes to work her magic, and the Blue Adept must play music to summon his power. I adored this concept, and loved discovering the strange and wonderful personalities that Anthony gave to each of these strange characters. The plots of these books are wonderful, full of adventure and intrigue, but the strange world of the Adepts is what has always held my rapt attention.

So enamored was I by this concept, that I borrowed heavily from it for my own book, The Cat in the Cradle. My story is strictly fantasy, but it’s no coincidence that the ten powerful Oligarchs that rule the Five Lands are each designated by a different color and magical ability. I’m very proud to be inspired by Piers Anthony, and was thrilled when he agreed to read my book. I feel a bit embarrassed now, since The Cat in the Cradle wasn’t professionally edited at the time, but the feedback and comments he gave me were very encouraging and kind. Most of all, it just felt good to hand him something that proved what a massive influince his books have had on me.

I’ve barely touched on the characters that fill the Apprentice Adept series, but they are as varied as a multi-genre novel should be. Robots, harpies, androids, shape shifting amoebas, ice demons, bug eyed aliens, and humans all have their role to play, and as hard is it might be to imagine all these elements working together, Anthony pulls it off with style. Piers is best known for his Xanth series, but anyone that hasn’t discovered the Apprentice Adept books is missing out on a truly enjoyable world. To me, this series will always be the very best of Piers Anthony’s creations, and the one closest to my heart.

Books in the series:
1. Split Infinity (1980) ISBN 978-0345354914
2. Blue Adept (1981) ISBN 978-0345352453
3. Juxtaposition (1982) ISBN 978-0345349347
4. Out of Phaze (1987) ISBN 978-0441644650
5. Robot Adept (1988) ISBN 978-0441731183
6. Unicorn Point (1989) ISBN 978-0441845637
7. Phaze Doubt (1990) ISBN 978-0441662630

 
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8 Comments  comments 

8 Responses

  1. great post as usual!

  2. ikemon11

    Will we ever see a movie or series been waiting forever?

    • You mean a Piers Anthony movie? I know Hollywood studios optioned a few of his series already, but sadly nothing ever seems to come of it.

  3. Jon

    I would love to see any of Piers Anthony’s books made into movies. He’s been one of my favorite authors for nearly 30 years. I’m kind of sad that he spent more time devoted to Xanth than he did to Apprentice Adept though. I could totally see his Incarnations of immortality being made into a series of movies along the lines of Terry Pratchet’s Hogfather. If that ever happened they would instantly become part of my collection to share with my kids, regardless of the maturity rating given.

    • I agree about the Xanth books. Maybe he was more motivated to write them because they were more successful. My two favorite series of his have always been Incarnations of Immortality and Apprentice Adept. I even wrote him as a kid begging him to continue the Adept series and threw some ideas his way, hoping to inspire him. LOL Ah well. We can always reread them for the ninetieth time. :)

  4. […] the color spectrum was a definite influence, and I know my lifelong love of Pier’s Anthony’s Apprentice Adept series was a definite inspiration. Aside from that, the process was much different than with my later […]

  5. AMR

    I’ve always loved this series,I first discovered it as a book with a badly torn cover I found on the train (Out of Phaze); I quickly picked up the following books, but it took me several years to find the 1st 3 in the series. The final book always felt disppointing to me, but all in all I loved the series & the interpretations of the individual charactors was the best part. I am actually currently re-reading the series; it’s a series that always seems new & exciting every time you read it.

    • Cabby Donkey

      I think it would be an interesting project to write about the settling of Proton/Phaze and the subsequent creation of the split world concept. His creation of the split-world concept was brilliant and it might be fun to explore it, from an author’s perspective. Just a thought.

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