Crewel Lye: A Caustic Yarn  
Crewel Lye cover.jpg
Author(s) Piers Anthony
Cover artist Darrell K. Sweet
Country United States
Language English
Series Xanth series
Genre(s) Fantasy
Publisher Del Rey Books
Publication date December 12th 1984 (first edition) / January 1985 (Mass publication)
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 303 pp (paperback 9th printing)
ISBN 0-345-34599-1
OCLC Number 27954032
Preceded by Dragon on a Pedestal
Followed by Golem in the Gears

Crewel Lye: A Caustic Yarn is the eighth book of the Xanth series by Piers Anthony. It is a story within a story as one of Castle Roogna's ghosts, Jordan the Barbarian, tells Princess Ivy his story of betrayal and death via the magical medium of the Tapestry.


Princess Ivy, who is now a 5 year old in this book, asks one of Castle Roogna's ghosts to tell her how he became a ghost. Ivy uses her talent of enhancement - and some caustic Crewel Lye to strip off centuries of accrued grime - to improve the range and clarity of Castle Roogna's magical Tapestry. The Tapestry is a woven hanging which allows anyone to view recent or historical events (although it cannot violate the Adult Conspiracy, nor does it include sound). The ghost, known as Jordan the Barbarian when he was alive 400 years ago, begins his story by recounting how he set off on an adventure with his horse Pook.

Jordan had the magical talent of self-healing — which came in handy as he was cut, stabbed, and dismembered during his travels. In one case, a woman finds him gravely injured and hauls him to her cottage, not knowing of his talent. Jordan ends up falling in love with this woman, Threnody. Unfortunately, the evil magician Yin-Yang had already claimed Threnody to be his wife, and was willing to do anything to have her.

Intending to keep Jordan safe from Yin-Yang, Threnody makes it appear that she has betrayed Jordan. She cuts him into pieces and buries each piece in a different remote location — knowing that if the pieces were reattached, he would be able to heal himself. However, she is never able to break free of Yin-Yang long enough to collect Jordan's dismembered body and eventually kills herself.

After hearing Jordan's story, Ivy decides to gather his body parts herself. Once placed near each other, the pieces mend together and cover back up with muscle and skin (greatly sped up due to Ivy's enhancement). Jordan is alive again — but he wants his new love, the ghost Renee, to be brought to life again too. When Ivy and Jordan use a regenerating potion on Renee's remains (after accidentally teleporting Stanley Steamer the baby Gap Dragon away), Threnody emerges from her grave.

Threnody explains that her "cruel lie" had been done to protect Jordan. After some time, he forgives her and they get married.


Major Characters[]

Minor Characters[]



  • The Tapistry