A Spell For Chameleon, by Piers Anthony
Rating: really not very good (read my update at the bottom)
In a magical land, every human has a magic talent or must be exiled. Bink seems to be one such person, and leaves on a quest to discover his talent. He learns that he does have a talent, although it is undetectable. He is then exiled to the mundane world, and meets the Evil Magician Trent, who desires to return to Xanth and become King. There is also a woman named Chameleon, who shifts with the Moon cycle between beautiful yet mentally disabled (yes), and ugly yet extremely intelligent. Bink and Chameleon conspire to stop Trent in exchange for survival in Xanth, eventually discovering that Bink’s magical power is that he can never be harmed by magical means. Trent is the only one to understand that Xanth’s magic is becoming stagnant because the Humans have built a barrier keeping fresh mundane blood out for generations, and once he is crowned King of Xanth his first act is to remove the barrier and institute a liberal immigration policy.
I guess there is a tongue-in-cheeck nod to progressivism over reactionarism, although I’m not sure how hard Piers Anthony was thinking in those terms. I think that the biggest statements here are to recognize the potential in all people.
In Chapter 2, Bink sits in on a “rape trial” which is a really uncomfortable scene. (he considers the two sides: that she was assaulted, but that she was asking for it). Three of the women he meets are actually the same person, and the intention is that he learns to realize that it is foolish to fall in love with a woman for a single quality and scorn women who possess other strengths… But it is terribly executed and just comes off sexist (to say the least).
[update:] while looking up information about various authors, I learned about some terrible stories that Piers Anthony wrote even after he had “matured” as a writer. He is almost definitely a pedophile, and considering how bad his books are, I don’t think that they are worth reading.