|Cover artist||Darrell K. Sweet|
|Publisher||Del Rey Books|
|Publication date||July 1979|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|Pages||329 (paperback 22nd printing)|
|Preceded by||The Source of Magic|
|Followed by||Centaur Aisle|
While his parents are away on a trip to Mundania, a young (12 year old) Dor leaves his house when Zombie Master Jonathan the zombie comes to visit Millie, the Ghost, the former ghost who servers as Dor's governess. With Grundy in tow, Dor runs afoul of some bigger and older boys, and gets into an argument with Irene, the daughter of King Trent and Quene Iris. Dor helps Crunch the ogre find his son Smash, and a grateful Crunch helps Dor deal with the older boys. Dor is happy the boys have been dealt with, but not that he had to rely on Crunch.
King Trent then sends Dor, his likely successor, on a quest. The goal of the quest is to find a way to restore Zombie Master Jonathan to full life. The purpose of the quest, however, is to build Dor's character and to start training the future king.
Dor travels to see Good Magician Humfrey and is forced to win entry to his castle. Once inside, Humfrey tells Dor the only person who knew the formula for the necessary elixir is the Zombie Master, who lived during the historical fifth (or forth?) wave of Mundane invasion into Xanth. Humfrey sends Dor back in time via the Roogna Tapestry, while the Brain Coral occupies Dor's body.
As Dor is pulled into the tapestry, a spider that happens to be on the tapestry is also pulled in with him. In the tapestry/past, Dor occupies the body of a mundane invader; a grown man. The small spider from Dor's time, Jumper, becomes a man-sized spider.
Dor and Jumper learn to communicate and work together. With no other information as to the whereabouts of the Zombie Master, their search begins as a search for King Roogna.
Along the way, Dor is captured by a large "Hoorah" bird, who collects many things, and adds Dor to its nest of collected items. The Hoorah also deposits a young female into the nest, who Dor laster learns is the young, pre-ghost version of Millie.
With Jumper's help, they escape the Hoorah bird, but Dor and Millie are captured by harpies, with the intention of having Dor mate with Helen Harpy. The harpies mate with humand and vultures in alternating generations in order to propagate their species owing to the fact that there are no more living male harpies and without one are only able to produce female harpies. The harpies blame the goblins for stealing away all their males. Again, Jumper is critical in their escape, but all three are immediately re-captured by goblins. Dor learns the goblin side of the ongoing goblin-harpy dispute. The goblins blame the harpies for cursing their females so that they select their male goblin mates using bad (goblin-ish) traits.
Again, the three escape and find their way to the yet incomplete Castle Roogna. There they learn that King Roogna and Magician Murphy are competing to shape two very different futures for Xanth. King Roogna is working toward the completion of a central seat of power, while Murphy is trying to thwart him. Though their contest had been non-violent, Murphy's power has arranged for the brewing goblin-harpy war to come to a head right on top of Castle Roogna, threatening to destroy it before it can even be completed.
With little time before the goblins and harpies arrive, Dor, Jumper and Millie are directed to the Zombie Master's Castle, but now with a double-purpose; to gain the zombie elixir, and to solicit the Zombie Master's help to defend Castle Roogna. A nearby wave of mundane invaders capture and torture the alien-looking Jumper. The Zombie Master identifies with Jumper for being different and aids in his rescue, but the rescue leads to a siege on Castle Zombie.
During the siege, Millie's sexual advances toward Dor are rebuffed (hey, he's still really only twelve) and the Zombie Master asks Millie to marry him instead. Millie accepts. The normally reclusive Zombie Master agrees to help King Roogna in order to please Millie. After the Mundane siege is repelled, a new zombie army is formed and mobilized.
By the time the zombie army arrives, Castle Roogna is under attack by both goblin and harpy armies. Dor uses a magic flute to lure many of the enemy forces away from the battle and toward the gap chasm, where he detonates a powerful forget spell.
The remaining harpies leave when Dor retrieves a long lost male harpy from stasis in the brain coral. The male harpy is released to the female harpies only on the condition that the curse on the goblin women is lifted. Unfortunately, lifting such a slow acting curse has no immediate effect on the goblin horde, but the zombie army is able to beat back the remaining goblins. The castle is saved.
In one final twist, Murphy's curse exerts itself. Neo-Sorceress Vadne, who is determined to marry a magician and jealous of Millie's relationship with the Zombie Master, betrays the group and transforms (re-shapes) Millie into a book and hides her. Despite their searching, Millie can not be found, but with Dor's magic, they are able to learn that Vadne was involved. Vadne refuses to tell where she has hidden Millie's transformed body and she is exiled to the brain coral.
Roogna is worried that the Zombie Master will withdraw his support and turn the zombie army against him, but the grief stricken Zombine Master takes the high road and leaves the zombies to stay and protect the castle. The Zombie Master then commits suicide; though not quite suicide. He turns himself into a zombie. The defeated Murphy voluntarily exiles himself to the brain coral.
Dor and Jumper leave the others, and in due course they are summoned back to their own time. Jumper is once again a small spider on the tapestry, and Dor gets his normal boyish body back.
Dor, matured by his adventure, confronts the mischeif that the brain coral has been causing in Dor's body, and makes up with (or should I say, makes out with) Irene. He ties up a few loose ends with quick visits to Magician Humfrey and the brain coral. He finally restores the zombie Jonathan to life, who is of course the Zombie Master himself.
Major Characters Edit
Supporting Characters Edit
- Castle Roogna
- Zombie Castle