Golem in the Gears by Piers Anthony
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
A few years ago I bought several of the oldest of the Piers Anthony Xanth series at a used book store, and after reading a few I was enjoying them enough, despite misgivings about the author's blatant sexism, to buy more (at fifty cents a pop) and to begin entertaining the idea of reading the entire series (there are about 38 of them as of 2014). The early books gained popularity to the point of becoming New York Times bestsellers. I think this particular one, ninth in the series, started the steady decline. It was nowhere near as good as the previous.
The story follows a quest undertaken by Grundy the Golem, a one-foot-tall one-of-a-kind being who, based on the cover illustration by Darrell K. Sweet, looks like a miniature human. He has an inferiority complex because of his size, and this provides the arc of his personal journey through the book. Both this and the physical quest are shallowly realized and linear, even more so than in the preceding books of the series. This book lacks any of the interweaving themes and layers that the others do, and that's saying something, since none of the books have a great deal of depth.
The book has the distinct feel of being hastily produced. Anthony almost seems to apologize for it by declaring that this was the first book he had used a computer to write. What? It is almost as if he let this Mundane (lacking magic) mechanical device substitute for his imagination - or perhaps he had a deadline to complete the book and used most of his time and energy getting up to speed with the new technology and thus had less to devote to the story itself. In either case, it was a significant mistake to allow something this inferior to go public.
Bottom line: not a lot good to say about this book. Anthony's target audience seems to be teenage males who lived in the 1950's. His perspective on women and relationships is positively Neanderthal (wait, perhaps I'm being unkind to the Neanderthals). After reading Golem in the Gears, I no longer have interest in reading this series through to the end. I'll read the ones I already own--half a dozen or so--and unless something changes, I'm done.
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