Piers Anthony’s “Xanth” series: Ogre, Ogre


Ogre, Ogre (1982)
Tandy is the daughter of Crombie the soldier and Jewel the nymph. (Crombie previously appeared in “A Spell for Chameleon” and “The Source of Magic”.  Jewel appeared in “The Source of Magic”.)  Tandy lives with her mother in the underground caverns.  Her father works at Castle Roogna, and only occasionally visits them.

Demon Fiant (D. Fiant = defiant) is expressing an unhealthy interest in Tandy.  Then he invades her bedroom, intending to rape her.  Tandy’s magic talent is the tantrum, which has physical force.  She throws a tantrum at Fiant, hitting him, and the demon departs.  But Tandy is afraid this will not work in future.

Tandy keeps being visited by nightmares – which are black female horses who deliver bad dreams. (In this book, “nightmare” is spelt as one word, in later books it appears as two words: “night mare”.)  While still being in a state of sleep, she jumps on one of the mares, and rides it to the surface world of Xanth.  She tells it to take her to Castle Roogna, but instead the mare delivers her to Good Magician Humfrey’s Castle.

Smash is an ogre.  Ogres are big, strong and violent, stupid and ugly, and proud of all these qualities.  They also speak in inane rhymes.  Smash’s father is Crunch Ogre, who appeared in “The Source of Magic”. His mother is actually one of the curse fiends, who are of human derivation, but Smash considers himself an ogre.  But he is half-civilised, having lived in the vicinity of Castle Roogna, and become friends with humans.

Smash feels there is something missing in his life.  He comes to the Good Magician’s castle, but then realises he can’t formulate his Question.  Tandy has been working as a servant there for a year, as payment for the Answer to her Question.  Humfrey gives them the Answer to both their Questions: Smash will find what he seeks with the Ancestral Ogres.  Smash and Tandy should travel together.

Magician Humfrey’s wife, the Gorgon, explains the Magician’s Answer: Tandy needs protection, so Smash will become her protector, as she searches for the solution to her problem. They should go to Lake Ogre-Chobee, where the Ancestral Ogres live.  She asks that on the way they take her greetings to her sister, the Siren.

There would be many dangers in the adventure that follows, but Smash’s strength and ferocity would generally solve the problem.

On the way, Smash gets tangled in an Eye-Queue vine, which sinks into his head, and suddenly makes him a lot smarter.  This state continues through most of the adventure, often making him clever enough to solve their problems, although he keeps wishing the Eye-Queue’s curse will leave him, to enable him to return to the normal stupidity of an ogre.

They visit the Magic Dust Village and then the Siren’s lake.  The Siren, hearing of the Gorgon’s life with Humfrey, wishes she also had a man, and decides to come with them to search for one.  (The Siren is a mermaid, but can change her tail into legs to walk on land, and her scales turn into a scale-sequined dress.)

They arrive at Lake Ogre-Chobee. The Siren and Smash explore the lake. When they return to Tandy, they find her in a trance, staring into the peephole of a hypnogourd.  They remove the gourd, but she remains in a trance-like state.

Smash looks into the peephole himself.  He finds himself in another place, the Realm of the Night, where the nightmares come from.  He has entered this realm in spirit form, while his body remains in a trance.  (This realm can be entered through any hypnogourd: for this reason, the Realm of the Night, or dream realm, is also referred to as “the gourd”.)  First he finds himself in a haunted house, then in a graveyard.  He hears a voice coming from a coffin.  Tandy’s soul has been claimed for her abuse of the nightmare.  Smash makes a deal: Tandy’s soul will be returned, but Smash’s soul will be taken in three months time, unless he can substitute another soul.  Or he can take the matter up with the ruler of this realm, the Night Stallion.

Back in normal Xanth, Smash realises there are no ogres at Lake Ogre-Chobee, and remembers they had moved to Ogre-Fen-Ogre Fen, in the far north of Xanth.  So they set off.

On the way Smash rescues a fairy from a group of monsters.  This female fairy’s name is John; she had received the wrong name.  She wants to find the male fairy who received her name, so they can exchange.  So she joins the group.  This sets the pattern for their travels; several female creatures would join their group in search of their goals.

Then they meet a hamadryad (a tree nymph) called Fireoak.  The villagers near her tree are threatening to cut the tree down.  Smash and his companions agree to go with her to defend the tree.

They come to the Gap Chasm.  They meet Chet Centaur and his sister Chem. Chem’s talent is to project maps.  She wants to map the uncharted sections of Xanth, and wishes to travel with them.  Chet leaves to take a message to King Trent asking for protection for Fireoak’s tree.  Smash and his companions use Chet’s rope to let themselves down into the chasm.  But they are attacked by the Gap Dragon.  There is a long and ferocious fight between Smash and the dragon; it is eventually Tandy’s tantrum that stuns it.  With difficulty they climb up the other side of the chasm.

Then they are captured by a tribe of goblins. The goblins let them go when they promise to take the chief’s daughter Goldy to another goblin tribe.  Goblins are exogamous; their girls must marry in other tribes. [This seems not to be a universal rule; there are examples in the other books where female goblins marry within their tribe.]

Smash has not recovered his strength after fighting the dragon.  He confesses to the others the deal he made in the gourd; he is losing his strength as part of his soul is taken from him.  Smash must go back into the gourd, and travel to all parts of it, because the Night Stallion will be in the last place he looks.  During the period that follows, Smash visits the gourd several times, and visits various locations within it: a plain where he is surrounded by the nightmares, the City of Brass, a shuttle to the moon, Paper world, a desert area with an ifrit in a bottle, Mirror world, and a room full of cakes. He accidentally brings a girl made of brass, called Blythe, out to the normal world, and she joins their group for a while, until Smash can return her to the City of Brass.

They arrive at Fireoak’s tree, and Smash scares off the villagers.  Then Prince Dor, Princess Irene, Chet Centaur and Grundy Golem arrive, and declare to the villagers that the King has proclaimed protection over Fireoak’s tree.  Then Prince Dor’s party departs.  Fireoak remains there when Smash and his companions travel on.

They continue on through the lands of the Flies and the Dragons, and the Regions of Air, Earth and Fire. (There are five major elemental regions in Xanth: Air, Earth, Fire, Water and the Void.)

Then they come to the land of the Goblins.  But when they meet the goblin chief, he refuses to accept Goldy into their tribe.  Tandy hits the chief with her tantrum, but the goblins punish her by stranding her on a sinking island. The island is in a bog, in which nasty finned creatures swim around. The goblins permit Smash to rescue her, and give him a magic wand; they haven’t discovered how to make it work.  But Smash works it out and rescues Tandy.  He gives the wand to Goldy, who is now sure to find a husband in the tribe, with such a powerful possession.

They continue on through the land of Griffins, and then into Birdland.  There they find a community of fairies, and John finds the male fairy Joan, who had received her name. She decides to stay there.

Then they come to the Region of Water, also called the water wing.  There is a community of merfolk there.  The Siren meets Morris the Merman, and decides to stay there.

The party is now down to Smash, Tandy and Chem.  They arrive at the Void and enter, but then discover they can’t back out.  They seem destined to be lost in the black hole in the centre.  Smash re-enters the gourd for his showdown with the Night Stallion.  He is faced with a number of terrible ordeals.  He hopes that if he wins, the nightmares will rescue his friends.

And if so, will Smash and Tandy find what they seek?