SELECT * FROM uv_BookReviewRollup WHERE recordnum = 1741 Spellsinger, by Alan Dean Foster Book Review | SFReader.com

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Spellsinger, by Alan Dean Foster
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Warner Books
Published: 1983
Review Posted: 2/27/2015
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 9 out of 10

Spellsinger, by Alan Dean Foster

Book Review by David L. Felts

Have you read this book?

In high school I read a lot. I was a mediocre student, despite always having a test book in my hands, sitting quietly at the back of the class. Alas, behind the screen of the text book was some science fiction or fantasy novel. I spent most of my high school class time reading fiction. 

I came across Spellsinger poking through used book in a flea market stall. Was it worth the $1 I paid? Too me it was. Spellsinger was originally published in 1983, my senior year of high school. Indeed, it was one of the many stealth novels I worked my way through during my long days shuffling along the halls and rooms of my high school. 

So I snagged it for $1 and spent the next week or so working my way back through it. Some 30+ years had dimmed my recollection -- I recalled the basics of the story, but was able to enjoy the details as though they were new. 

Jonathan Thomas Meriweather (Jon-Tom) is a college student and amateur musician, and fond of indulging in copious amounts of wacky weed. One wacky weed filled evening, he begins to experience a hallucination: he's no longer in his comfortable room with its posters of musicians, but instead seems to be in some sort of field surround by a forest. 

Even more surprising, he's being confronted by a five-foot tall talking otter who's wearing cloths and sporting a sword, which he promptly sticks into Jon-Tom's side. The otter, Mudge, takes pity on him (after stabbing him) and accompanies him to the abode of the powerful wizard Clothahump -- who happens to be a 200 years old turtle with a man-sized bat familiar named Pog. 

Turn out Clothahump was casting about the dimension for another wizard who could help him fight a "growing evil" and Jon-Tom was the find. Only Jon-Tom isn't a wizard. Unfortunately, the energy required cast the spell to send Jon-Tom back is too great to perform again so soon. In fact, it might be years before Clothahump can send Jon-Tom back. 

Under threat of transmutation to a human, Clothahump charges Mudge to be Jon-Tom's guide, and the reluctant otter and gangling human set out into the world for various adventures, including meeting a fellow human, a woman by the name of Talea, who also happens to be a thief and con artist. 

In the course of their journey, they stumble upon a large bag of merchant goods, among which is a duar (a guitar-like instrument). Jon-Tom longingly begins to strum it -- it's not too different from his old guitar back home—when lo' and behold, magic stuff starts to happen! 
Turns out Jon-Tom is a Spellsinger, a special type of wizard who manifest magic through music. Except he's not very good at controlling it. Still, excited by his newfound abilities, and thinking he might be able to offer some assistance to Clothahump as far as sending him home, the trio sets out back to Clothahump's place with the news, and, obviously even more adventures. Adventures, alas, that don't' end with Jon-Tom back on his native Earth.  

Spellsinger is the first book of eight in the Spellsinger series by Alan Dean Foster. It has all the elements of a young adult fantasy, although I don't think the specific genre was isolated back in 1983 the way it is now. It's a story about a young man discovering himself and his role in the world. It just happens to be a world full of anthropomorphic animals. 

I enjoyed the trip down memory lane. However, the book lacks a resolution to the greater problem confronting Clothahump, Jon-Tom and company. Reading further volume is required to find out how the adventure ultimately ends. 

Despite the occasional (and unnecessary) profanity, as well as marijuana use, this is a worthy book to introduce to a kid beginning to cut his teeth on speculative fiction. Because of the aforementioned profanity, I'd recommend 14-15+ as the age group, and, of course, 50 year-olds wanting to feel young again. 
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