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The Spellsinger series is a fantasy series written by Alan Dean Foster, which has been described on this wiki's This Is Your Premise on Drugs page as "Narnia on an unholy combination of pot and Viagra".

In the first book, Spellsinger, the hero Jonathan Thomas Meriweather, also known as Jon-Tom, is a prelaw student with pretentions to rock stardom, who is innocently smoking pot when he's abruptly transported from the University of California at Los Angeles to a weird world in which animals talk, wear clothing, and live alongside humans by the turtle wizard Clothahump, who was searching for a great wizardly "En'geeniar" (meaning an engineer, as he was under the impression that this is the name our world gives to wizards). Unfortunately, he caught Jon-Tom, who works part-time as a janitor and on his pay stubs is called a "sanitation engineer"[1].

It all works out for the best, though, as Jon-Tom soon discovers that in the magical world he has the power of a spellsinger: a wizard who can make powerful magic through music. Using this new-found power, he and a cast of creatures set out to do battle with the evil anthropomorphic insects known as the Plated Folk.


Spellsinger provides examples of:

  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Flores, whom Jon-Tom had a crush on back at UCLA. Turns out she's not a ditzy Cheerleader, but an Action Girl.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Averted with the Plated Folk.
  • Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: Accidentally applied to a village full of wading birds in Chorus Skating, when Jon-Tom magically re-grows their lost feathers by revising the lyrics of songs about custom auto paint jobs. Luckily, the altered birds get a real kick out of their new makeovers.
  • And Call Him George
  • And I Must Scream: Jon-Tom when he's captured by the underwater Plated Folk colony in the fourth book. His captors need to carry him back alive and whole to their homeland to answer for his crimes, but they don't dare give him the slightest chance to work his magic. Enter "The Ruze"...
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Or possibly Animorphic Personification. Or something in between. Either way, Gyrnaught is evidently the Personification of the Nazi Iron Eagle symbol.
  • Bug War: The periodic wars against the Plated Folk.
  • Canon Welding: Chorus Skating, the last novel, includes repeated cameo appearances by a dimension-hopping thranx.
  • Carnivore Confusion: Solved via the inclusion of many non-sapient reptile species.
    • Although there was one brief scene where an owl (Clothahump's drunken assistant Sorbl) is seen quickly gulping down a mouse; whether or not it was someone's father was never addressed.
    • Likely a continuity error when he just wasn't thinking, as mice are considered quite sentient and the suggestion of eating any sentient being fills anyone but the most evil with disgust and horror. So 'well the owl ought to be eating a mouse because owls eat mice' and totally forgetting he wrote mice as sentient and far larger than the non-sentient variety.
      • Or maybe Jon-Tom only caught a glimpse of something mouse-sized with a long tail in the frying pan, and subconsciously assumed it was a mouse for the same reason. In which case, it was probably a small long-tailed lizard. Indeed, a mouse from the Warmlands would probably be much too big for Sorbl to swallow.
    • Son of Spellsinger suggests that even the now-civilized Warmlander carnivores used to prey on the others, but gave that up around the dawn of history, at the same time they started walking upright. Throughout the series, many Wacky Wayside Tribe encounters involve throwbacks that have backslid into such cannibalism.
  • Changing of the Guard: Subverted. The 7th book hands off the story to Jon-Tom's son and Mudge's kids, but the original duo take back the spotlight for the 8th and final novel.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The large amount of money that Jon-Tom wins by gambling in the first book is used to pay a boatman to take them into Plated Folk lands when no one else has any money.
  • Contemptible Cover: Most of the early editions' covers seem to have nothing to do with the actual contents.
  • Cosmic Horror: M'nemaxa. Also, Massawrath, Mother of Nightmares, but she lives under a mountain.
  • Crazy Awesome
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Jon-Tom
  • Dirty Communists: Averted with the local communist, the dragon Falameezar, who is quite heroic if a bit of a Knight Templar.
  • Dirty Coward: Mudge likes to pretend he's one of these, probably so that others won't expect anything from him. The degree of competence he reveals when his help is truly needed makes him more of a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass.
  • Dreadful Musician: Jon-Tom can play well, but his singing is appalling. This actually gets him and Mudge into a bar fight in the first book with a wolverine and his associates.
    • The villain from the eighth book takes this trope Up to Eleven, singing so horribly that merely being on the same island as him kills plants.
  • Dual-Wielding: Roseroar. Although when dealing with Corroboc at the end of the third book she doesn't even bother with her swords.
    • Corroboc himself could allegedly throw four knives at once: one with each wing, one with his beak, and one with his good foot while perching on his peg leg.
  • Everythings Better With Bunnies: Played straight with Caz. Subverted to all hell in the seventh book. There's a group of rabbits who are so sick of being regarded as cute and harmless that they went insane and started messing around with The Dark Arts / Mad Science in order to take over the world.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: Several bears turn up as elite Mooks for villains, and occasionally as The Dragon.
  • Everythings Wetter With Otters: Mudge most prominently, but any given otter also qualifies, particularly since otters as a rule tend to be Crazy Awesome.
  • Fantastic Racism: Rats and mice are treated as inferior and have to cope with jobs like janitor, though they get a Crowning Moment of Awesome during the Battle of the Jo-Troom Gate when Falameezar rallies them to drive back the Plated Folk, which boosts them into near-respectability from then on.
  • Fantasy World Map
  • Feather Fingers: The birds, to the extent that they can play stringed instruments and use weapons with specially-designed hollow grips.
  • Fiery Redhead: Talea
  • First Girl Wins: Talea again.
  • Floating Water: Sloomaz-ayor-le-Weentli, the literal Double River.
  • Flowery Insults: In Paths of the Perambulator, the group are trapped in a magical cage made of "gratuitous insults".
  • Frogs and Toads: The boatman from The Hour Of The Gate
  • Functional Magic: Indeed, their wizard's speech is our technical language, and mention is made of working with transuranic elements. If Clothahump had succeeded in capturing a real engineer, he'd have been pretty powerful.
  • Funetik Aksent: For a number of Talking Animal characters, including Mudge's rural-British speech and Roseroar's Southern drawl.
  • Funny Animal
  • Genius Loci: The Brulumpus.
  • God Save Us From the Queen: Empress Skrritch
  • Groin Attack: Mudge does this in the first book during a fight.
  • Hellish Horse: M'nemaxa
  • Hidden Elf Village: the spider folk and the owl/lemur town.
    • A more literal one in the third book. With fat man-eating elves.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Subverted in the second book when the heroes find the Plated Folk are fighting with intelligent tactics, which are supplied by a military computer from Earth. This is an Oh Crap moment by Clothahump who notes that magic items or great beasts he can counter, but there is no simple way to deal with what an enemy knows.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Talea is actually fairly tall for a human in her native land, but she's a good foot shorter than Jon-Tom.
  • Humanity Ensues: Clothahump threatens Mudge with it when the otter initially refuses to help Jon-Tom. Also happens to Jon-Tom's group in Perambulator.
  • I Choose to Stay: At the end of sixth book, Jon-Tom finds a stable portal to return to his home dimension, but he's grown so comfortable to the fantasy world, he returns home on a tentative basis and decides to return to the fantasy for good, taking as many goodies from Earth such as songbooks as he can with him.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: Lampshaded in book eight, when Mudge finds a chest of treasure and Jon-Tom ponders that, for all many their adventures, it's the first time they've ever found any.
  • I Resemble That Remark

 Mudge: I'll have you know, me elephantine kitten, that my language is as fucking refined as anyone's!

  • Inept Mage: Jon-Tom's spellsinging is variable, to say the least.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Four waterfalls actually, at the Helldrink in the second book.
  • In the Doldrums: The Muddletup Moors.
  • Interspecies Romance: Normal in the warmlands to the point that Jon-Tom gives offense by refusing the advances of a lupine female.
    • Roseroar briefly muses about a dalliance with Jon-Tom but quickly decides he's much too fragile.
      • That's what she tells herself to keep her obvious jealousy under control.
    • Flor is infatuated with Caz, a rabbit.
    • Pog the bat is in love with a falcon.
  • Kangaroo Pouch Ride: Snooth keeps an uber-powerful genie in her pouch.
  • Language of Magic: here it equals Techno Babble.
  • Like a Fish Takes to Water: Flor assimilates much more quickly than Jon-Tom does.
  • Lions and Tigers and Humans, Oh My!
  • Loads and Loads of Races: Possibly the record-holder for this, as every species of mammal, bird, amphibian or turtle known to Earth is a sentient race. Also an unspecified number of insects and spiders, plus assorted mythical creatures and unique creations.
  • Loveable Rogue: Mudge, for a certain definition of "loveable".
  • Magicians Are Wizards: Markle Kratzmeier Markus the Ineluctable, a two-bit Stage Magician on Earth who finds his tricks work for real after he gets into the Spellsinger world.
  • Magic Music
  • Meaningful Name / Stealth Pun: M'nemaxa's name, when Jon-Tom sounds it out, sounds like "Omni-maxa". M'nemaxa is described by Clothahump as the supreme gestalt embodiment of all beings, and "omni" means "all", while "max" means "most" or "greatest".
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Considering the moments, when Jon-Tom was unable to recognize that the animal before him is female, before hearing her voice/paying attention to her makeup, this is decisively averted.
  • Nuke'Em: Apparently a last resort of the Plated Folk in the second book's final battle. It's actually a very clean bomb, as there is nothing described about the radiation affecting anyone.
  • One Head Taller: Jon-Tom (over six feet tall) and pretty much any human in the other world (even the males top out at five-and-a-half).
  • Orphanage of Fear: The Friends of the Street.
  • Overly Long Name: Mudge accuses Jon-Tom of having one and insists on shortening it. Ironic since he knows someone named "Caspar di Lorca di l'Omollia di los Enansas Giterxos", but then he shortens that to Caz.
    • The hummingbird Councilor in Polistrindu is named Millevoddevareen.
  • Pirate Parrot: Corroboc and Kamaulk. In this case, the parrots are the pirates.
  • The Power of Rock: Literally.
  • Reality Warper: The perambulator in the fifth book.
  • Really Gets Around: Mudge likes to insinuate this about Talea... then turn it into Innocent Innuendo whenever she overhears.
  • Retcon: In the first book, Jon-Tom is told that hoofed mammals aren't intelligent, but later books have him converse with talking camels and horses, and hire a talking mule hinny to accompany his group.
  • Rule of Funny: What generally determines the effects of Jon-Tom magic whenever he's not fighting a Big Bad.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: Subverted; in a world where every species of mammal or bird is intelligent, dolphins are essentially a bunch of slackers, whose only interest in land-goers is the chance to swap dirty jokes.
  • Seen It All: After their encounter with the Queen of Nightmares in book two, the main cast is simply not scared of anything, since they've basically stared into the face of the anthropomorphic personification of fear itself.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The Day Of The Dissonance
  • Simple Staff: Jon-Tom's backup weapon when he's unable to use his spellsinging. Justified due to his lack of weapons training and long reach compared to almost everyone/thing else. A series of four or five "decorative" studs on the staff release a concealed spearpoint from the butt end of said "simple" staff, however...
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Jon-Tom is almost an Anthropomorphic Personification of this trope. The results of his spellsinging are not very predictable and range from cosmically powerful to hilariously pathetic. But in the final confrontations and other important moments it always works perfectly, or far better than expected.
  • Techno Babble: doubles as the Language of Magic.
  • The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer
  • This Is Your Premise on Drugs: See above.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Raptors(birds of prey), led by the one from the Nazi emblem.
  • To Serve Man: Played straight with the cannibal fairies; inverted with Kamaulk, who's mistaken for a chicken and eaten by homeless men from our own Earth.
  • Trapped in Another World
  • Tribal Carry: When the Ogres capture Jon-Tom and his friends.
  • Trickster Mentor: Although Clothahump does his best to save the world, when it needs saving, otherwise he's quite a dick, not above tricking Jon-Tom into going on highly dangerous quests because he feels like it. Unlike many fantasy mentors, though, he's at least aware of his own dickishness.
  • True Beauty Is on the Inside
  • Tsundere: Talea.
  • Turtle Power: Clothahump
  • Ugly Cute: Baby Weavers in Hour of the Gate.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Jon Tom
  • The Unpronounceable: The Brulumpus' real name.
  • Virgin Power: Doesn't quite work on this particular Unicorn.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: The standard dynamic between Jon-Tom and Mudge.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: Everywhere.
  • Wandering Minstrel: Jon Tom
  • What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?: The premise sounds cute until you realise the books are full of graphic violence, foul language, drug use, and references to furry sex.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the fourth book, Oplode's apprentice Flute is never mentioned again after hiring a messenger to contact Clothahump and his ultimate fate remains unknown.
    • Similarly, Drom and Roseroar indicate a desire to return to the Bellwoods with Jon-Tom and Mudge at the end of the third book, as did the group of otters from the fourth, but aside from a few passing references to Roseroar, none of them are ever seen or mentioned again.
    • The fate of Flor and Caz from the first two books is also left unstated, though you'd think Jon-Tom would want to inform the former about the gateway home that he eventually discovers.
    • Prickett, Mudge's daughter from Transference, seems to have vanished without trace during the hiatus between it and Son of.
  • Who's on First?: Sorbl's fear of "nothing" in the basement.
  • Working for a Body Upgrade: Pog wants Clothahump to transform him from bat to falcon. Jon-Tom eventually gives him an even better upgrade, to phoenix.
  • You Can Leave Your Hat On: The dancing ermine at the Pearl Possum. Jon-Tom is squicked at finding himself as aroused as the various other species of patrons.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Averted in that in The Time of the Transference, Jon-Tom discovers a passage that allowed him to go back. He did go back to his own world, but returned to Clothahump's, because he liked it there better.
    • The last two books suggest he's made the trip back and forth a few more times, to sample our world's new music and stay in touch with his parents.
  • Your Universe or Mine?

Notes

  1. and his mind was "the most receptive" at the moment, which might have had to do with that joint he smoked
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