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Spellsinger is a series of fantasy novels written by Alan Dean Foster. At present the series consists of eight books and, although there was a significant gap between the writing of book six and book seven, it seems unlikely that any more will be written.
These volumes are:
- Spellsinger (1983)
- The Hour of the Gate (1984)
- The Day of the Dissonance (1984)
- The Moment of the Magician (1984)
- The Paths of the Perambulator (1985)
- The Time of the Transference (1987)
- Son of Spellsinger (1993)
- Chorus Skating (1994)
The story initially deals with the characters of Jonathan Thomas Meriweather, referred to by the locals as Jon-Tom, when he is unwillingly pulled into a fantasy world by the turtle wizard Clothahump. Having been, at the moment of his transportation, high on cannabis, Jon-Tom initially thinks it is all a dream brought on by the drugs. He soon finds out differently: he is in an unfamiliar world with little prospect of returning home anytime soon.
The world of Spellsinger is largely inhabited by animals that are similar to those found on Earth, but are anthropomorphic: generally bipedal, they are intelligent, able to wear clothing and handle tools, generally closer to human-sized than their Earth counterparts, and are capable of speech. Humans, far from being the dominant species, here are equal to others.
The threat to the Western areas are from the Plated Folk, larger versions of insects and other arthropods who periodically mount assaults on the Western areas. Spiders are not included in the main society, which has centipedes and various insects like beetles. Spiders have their own society known as The Weavers, and are highly isolationist.
Many of the primary characters in each of the books only appear for that volume; however, there are a number of characters who appear in the majority of the series.
Jonathan Thomas Meriweather, called 'Jon-Tom,' is a student in law at UCLA who is pulled through to this world from Earth by the wizard Clothahump. Since Jon-Tom is high on hallucinogenic drugs at the time, he initially believes that he is dreaming. This belief is soon dispelled when Mudge the Otter stabs him. Mudge, who considers Jonathon Thomas' full name to be too long-winded, nicknames him Jon-Tom. Jon-Tom is an easygoing person, a bit naive, and also someone who seems to look for the best in people. His social skills seem a bit awkward, especially in Mudge's world, and he initially makes a few faux-pas.
His main advantage is that he discovers he is able to wield the power of a spellsinger, a mage who can use songs to cast spells. Unfortunately, he has considerable difficulty learning to control the magic and the results are somewhat unpredictable, but usually still useful. For instance, in a duel with another spellsinger, Jon-Tom sings "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap," expecting a horde of minions to attack his opponent, but his opponent comments how he barely warded off getting his throat cut instead.
Mudge is an otter, a womanizer, a thief and a gambler. He also does not take life seriously at all. These traits seem to be common to the otter species in the Spellsinger world, but Mudge takes it to the extreme. He initially encounters Jon-Tom after more or less colliding with him. It is Mudge who convinces Jon-Tom that he is not dreaming by stabbing him with a sword.
Talea is an old acquaintance of Mudge and also happens to have the same profession. She is a human with red hair and green eyes. While she can tolerate Mudge, she finds his lecherous attitude disgusting. She is quick with sword and tongue. She often disagrees with Jon-Tom due to his naïve outlook; this leads to a number of fights between them.
The old turtle wizard Clothahump brings Jon-Tom to his world while casting a spell seeking an otherworldly wizard to help save his own world. His magic sought to bring an "engineer" to his world, and he got what he was seeking in Jon-Tom: a part-time janitor or "Sanitation Engineer." He is notoriously manipulative of his associates, albeit in the service of benign intentions.
These characters appear in only one or two volumes, though they do play major parts in those stories.
Falameezar is a Marxist dragon originally enlisted to aid Jon-Tom and the others get to Polastrindu after a close encounter where they were nearly eaten. Appears in Books One, Two, and Four.
Roseroar the Tiger
Roseroar is a massive humanoid white Siberian Tiger who is very skilled at fighting with swords as well as her own claws. She seems to speak with a pronounced Southern drawl. There was a suggestion of a possible romance between her and Jon-Tom in the series but it was never explored. Appears in Book Three.
Caz the Rabbit
Caz is a savvy and gentlemanly gambler, somewhat more experienced in cheating in cards than in dice. Extremely polite, even to the point of apologizing to enemies during a fight, Caz is as adept at manipulating words as cards, and often serves as the group's diplomat during his appearances in Books One and Two.
Pog the Bat
Pog is Clothahump's first famulus. He has no respect for Clothahump's powers and often directs derisory remarks at him. He indentured himself into service with Clothahump as he wished to attract the attentions of a female peregrine falcon and wanted to make himself more attractive. Clothahump has the means to transform him into a more pleasing form, but ultimately it is his friendship with Jon-Tom that sees his dreams realized... though not in a way anyone expected. Appears in Books One and Two.
Sorbl is an owl and Clothahump's second famulus. Unfortunately, he is extremely unreliable due to his alcoholism. First appears in Book Three, joining the main cast.