Board Stiff is another pun-filled adventure in the strange world of Xanth. I’ve been reading Piers Anthony’s Xanth novels for a long time, but as I get older I find myself picking them up less and less which leads me to wonder… were the earlier books as mature as this one? While there is still no sex in the Xanth books (thanks to the Adult Conspiracy) there is getting to be more and more nudity and panties flashing in the books. In this book, especially, I noticed it. For unknown reasons, after Kandy turns into a board she is naked, and remains so for the rest of the novel. Which would be fine if she stayed a board, but she doesn’t. There are some dreadful puns, and one that shocked me (Miss Carry, who is unable to summon the stork… little bit inappropriate to joke about that one!).
Story wise… let’s be honest. A Xanth novel isn’t generally the highest form of literature. It does, however, give you what you expect. Board Stiff is a as full of puns as you would expect, and the story is just as amusing, too. My main issue with the story is the Sequins of Events that meant that there wasn’t a lot of traveling, nor was there much in the way of challenges. Instead there were events that happened, we jumped to the next one, and most of the time they weren’t really interconnected at all.
While Kandy and Ease were our main characters, they were joined by Astrid (a basalisk in human form), Tiara (a young woman with unruly, gravity-defying hair), Mitch (unruly hair with the ability to send thoughts), and Com Pewter in an android form. Ease isn’t very bright, so having Kandy as his board who can send him thoughts saves him on more than one occasion, but they both seem like two halves of a whole. Ease isn’t bright, but Kandy is, and since Kandy just wants someone to love her and not herself then the situation works out well.
Com Pewter is the one who stole the book, in my opinion. He’s matured a lot since the first Xanth novel I read, and while he’s still not the nicest guy, the fact is that he’s learning about friendship in this novel. He saves Kandy, kisses a girl, travels along on the quest, and stays helpful and, dare I say it, friendly! And he does it all with that dry sense of humour that I love about him. All of this is a huge change from before, and it made him out to be my favourite character in this book.
Honestly, I give this book three stars. The plot isn’t the greatest, and some of the characters are… not well-developed. But, again, this is a Xanth novel. It’s like candy for the mind, as opposed to a five course meal. It’s fun, irrelevant, and a guilty pleasure. Don’t start reading this book if you’re looking for something serious. But if you want a good laugh, and to maybe groan at some of the “tearable puns” then this is the book for you.