February 18, 1999
By: Piers Anthony
Harpy Thyme is a novel written by Piers Anthony, a well-known Science fiction / Fantasy writer. Harpy Thyme is a fantasy novel that takes place in the magical land of Xanth (pronounced zanth). This is 17th book in a series of about twenty-two. The Xanth series is very close knit and characters from previous books tend to play important parts in later stories.
The main character in this story is Golha, the female offspring of a rare harpy/goblin mating. She is about two-thirds the size of a human, has the beauty of a female goblin, and the lovely wings of a male harpy. Due to the fact that she has wings, she is known throughout Xanth as a winged monster. The problem in this story is that Golha is the only known creature of her kind, her mother being a goblin and her father a harpy. Golha is nineteen years of age and is worried she will never find a husband. So she sets off to find the perfect mate. She asks the Good Magician Humfrey, the magician of knowledge, what to do and he sends her on the quest for a husband.
The land of Xanth is a land of magic. To people whom have read previous books; this adventure will be neither easy nor quick. Aside from having to survive the hazards of Xanth, Golha meets various people. Among the many she interacts with, she learns she needs not endure all the dangers alone. Magician Trent, formerly the Evil Magician and then later King Trent, was to help her on her way. For reasons unknown to any of them they begin their journey. The only drawback is that Magician Trent is ninety-six years old. However, after a few sips of youth water, he takes on the physical age of a man on twenty or so. Thus the true adventure begins.
Along the way Golha will also encounter a female winged centaur, a walking skeleton, a visible invisible giant, and a demon. The winged centaur is looking for a mate, being a rare creature as well, and finds one. She leaves the group. The other three stay with Golha and Trent for the rest of the story.
One dramatic scene in this book was in the very beginning when Golha had to travel to the Good Magician Humfrey to ask him a question. In order to ask the Good Magician a question you must first pass three challenges. The first challenge she faced is the dreaded Cumulo Fracto Nimbus, a storm cloud with an evil mind of its own. Fracto has one sole purpose, to rain on the parades of others. Is this instance he is to keep Golha away from the castle. He starts to snow very hard and halts her flying. After a few attempts she makes it to a cave, where her next challenge begins. The next problem is getting past a Thyme plant, which slows time around it. After some thought she passes this challenge. And her final challenge is to clean and package a Glyph, part horse, part dragon. But in a moment of sorrow for the animal she does not crate it up. Her kindness is what causes her to pass the last challenge and begin her journey.
Another scene worth mentioning is when the party of travelers pass through the region of madness. While trapped in its ongoing waves of madness a person's deepest concerns emerge into life. Golha has to endure her past along with the others in the group. She finds this is most unpleasant and decides to see if anothers past can somehow be invoked. By stepping behind Trent, his past is prodded into. The only way to pass through the madness is to refrain from going mad whilst passing through.
The most dramatic scene in the book is close to the final scene. This scene consists of a great search for a plant. The visible invisible giant, Greaboe, is dying and needs a blood transPlant. Combined forces of Giants, Goblins, Harpies, and Skeletons have joined to rescue the Golha. However she does not need to be rescued and the others have not been told this yet. To keep the groups form fighting each other they are given the task of finding the transPlant. Thus the end of the story begins with the beginning of a search.
The main turning point of the story was dangerously close to the end of the book. While Greaboe lay dying, Golha has a conversation with the Magician Trent, it is only then she learns that she has found the perfect husband. The only thing is he is of a different species, that of a giant! She realizes she has been fooling herself by trying to find a male winged goblin and that she really does love Greaboe. Once she tells him this Greaboe does not feel as week from blood loss as he did and agrees that he loves her as well. In the end of the novel the only possible way for the two to be together is for one of them to change. Greaboe finds he would rather be a winged goblin than to live without her and accepts the fate of becoming one. This is possible solely because Magician Trents magic talent is that of transforming others. This is the reason Trent was supposed to join Golha in her adventure. Nobody knew, but he was to change Greaboe onto a winged goblin. It is, therefore, possible for Golha to find a perfect mate and for Greaboe to be happy.
This book, as stated earlier, takes place in the magical land of Xanth where there is no kept time. However in earthly terms the setting would seem to take place in the dark ages due to the castles and use of swords. Things being the way they are, it is unlikely that this book could take place elsewhere. As for the lack of time, in Xanth this adventure could have happened at anytime.
The Title is called Harpy Time because it is the Time of the Harpy/Goblin (or winged goblin) Golha. Thyme being the play on words used often in the book. One major trait in the writings of Piers Anthony is the use of puns. His entire Xanth series revolves around such use. This is what makes the series unique. A Xanth novel would be incomplete without the use of play on words and at least a dozen puns.
This book was written for an audience of kids age ten to ninety-nine. Most anyone who reads it will like it in one way or another and may wish to read another book by Piers Anthony. I thinks it is a good opportunity to escape from the pressures of life every once and a while. It gives a person the opportunity to believe in magic and such, even if it is just temporarily. I would personally recommend this book to anyone at all. People should be able to enjoy this sort of thing all the time.
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