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Spirit: The Princess of Bois Dormant (Gollancz) Paperback – 10 Dec 2009

3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (10 Dec. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575084448
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575084445
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,344,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gwyneth Jones grew up in Manchester UK and lives in Sussex. Among other honours she's won the James Tiptree award, two World Fantasy awards, the Children of the Night award, the Philip K Dick award, the BSFA award, the Pilgrim award for Science Fiction criticism, and the Arthur C Clarke award; for Bold As Love, first episode of a techno-green Utopian "near future fantasy" series. She's a volunteer for Amnesty International, a member of the Soil Association, keeps a blog and lives in Brighton. Hobbies include playing fantasy games and staring out of the window.

Product Description


The bones of this story are familiar from The Count of Monte Cristo yet it is very effective, re-imagined as a fantastic space opera. Spirit is a memorable combination of cutting-edge science with old-fashioned, swash-buckling romance from one of the most intelligent and unsettling of modern science-fiction writers." (Lisa Tuttle THE TIMES)

Part Count(ess) of Monte-Cristo in space, part space opera, and part sociological/gender SF, 'Spirit: The Princess Du Bois Dormant' is a wonderful, wonderful novel that instantly made me a huge fan of Gwyneth Jones and has vaulted into my Top Five Science Fiction novels of 2008 (Robert Thompson FANTASY BOOK CRITIC)

A serious, grown-up novel that riffs on current concerns by, for example, casting as its outsider heroine a woman born into a fundamentalist, tribal society. (BBC FOCUS)

The reader picks up a sprawling space opera with certain expectations: a fast pace, exotic settings, mysterious aliens, badly behaved (and also much-abused) nobility, plenty of off-world adventure and intrigue. In her new book, Spirit, Gwyneth Jones delivers all these and more. Because Jones is arguably among the very smartest people writing within the genre of science fiction (or anywhere else), the reader is left quite happily with much to think about after the final page has been turned. (Karen Joy Fowler THE GUARDIAN)

There are strong femal protagonists and Jones is clever with her constant referencing to literary history. I could not stop turnign the pages to the end, marvelling at this futuristic world Jones has created with such human characters, human voices and human worries. Jones' beautifully drawn characters are testament to her skill. The best sci-fi book I've ever read. (Martha Lane MSLEXIA)

A well-written piece of space opera, stuffed with thought-provoking characterisation, themes and a fantastic galactic tapestry that all feels real. An epic you'll be thinking about long after finishing it. (DEATHRAY) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A high-octane retelling of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO in space: a tale of derring-do, honour, treachery, betrayal and vengeance.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By bethnoir on 21 April 2009
Format: Paperback
The complexity of the worlds, characters and stories within this book is almost staggering, in retrospect. Yet because of the depth of the relationships and the skill with which the author expresses herself, I didn't feel overwhelmed by it, the characters were distinctive and individual whether human or otherwise. So, it's a long book, but don't let that put you off, the time flew by for me and it was time well spent.

In one way, this book is a retelling of the Count of Monte Cristo story, but that summary doesn't reveal the whole tale. It is also an exploration of growing up, sexuality, motherhood, madness, cruelty, resilience, love and friendship in a convincing and interesting scifi/fantasy setting. It avoided cliche at all turns and I became so attached to the characters that I actually missed them when I'd finished the book. I highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Poulter on 17 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
I found this novel very unusual. On one hand there is plenty here to enjoy and even to marvel at. On the other I should admit I nearly gave up on it about a third of the way in.

According to the cover summary, the core plot is based upon The Count of Monte Christo, which I have not read. On a future Earth, Bibi is the only one left alive after her parent's faction is wiped out by General Yu. She joins Yu's retinue as a servant and works her way up, by dint of ability. Later she is part of Yu's mission to a string of alien worlds, all of which are populated by variants on the pattern of a bipedal hominoid, leading to theories of parallel evolution or a 'missing' common ancestor. On Sigurt's World, the Sigurtians (bat people who exchange blood) ambush the mission and capture Bibi.

After appalling treatment by the Sigurtians, and terrible deprivation in prison Bibi escapes, with a secret vouchsafed to her by the Lady Nef, Yu's consort, who was also imprisoned. This secret provides Bibi with ample means of revenge.

The period of inprisonment and escape is by far the strongest part of the novel, because the limited range of characters and situations force economy and concentration on the writing. But elsewhere, I got lost in a flurry of characters, of differently shaped types of human, some with special abilities (like immortality through inherited memory), of glittering social events and bizarre happenings in strange locales, with hinted undertows of intrigue, of instant travel between worlds by the 'information transfer' provided by the 'Buonarotti' device (a sort of interstellar Star Trek transporter) that plays fast and loose with memory and perception. While it is all inventive and very alien, it does overwhelm and nonplus.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. L. Rutter on 16 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
Taking The Count of Monte Cristo as her inspiration, in Spirit Gwyneth Jones writes a novel of betrayal and revenge. The novel follows the story of Gwibiwr, known as Bibi - daughter of one of the rebel chieftains of White Rocks - as she is offered the choice to either become a concubine or a servant within the household of Lady Nef. The first half of the novel deals with the political machinations and plotting of General Yu and Lady Nef, as they head on a delicate mission to Sigurt's World, and the 20-year imprisonment of Bibi; while the second half of the novel shows her path as she takes her revenge on those who caused her incarceration.

I confess that I have not read The Count of Monte Cristo, so I cannot comment on the faithfulness of Spirit to the source material - from comments I have read, it allegedly closely follows that tale of Edmond Dantes. The Count of Monte Cristo is known to be a story of blockbusting adventure and derring-do, but unfortunately I did not find Spirit to be the same.

There was elements of Spirit that I enjoyed. The worldbuilding was rich and imaginative, with aliens that were suitably bizarre and beyond human comprehension. I liked the ambiguity of sexuality and gender - especially given that in this version of The Count of Monte Cristo our protagonist is female, which enables the opportunity to highlight gender differences.

Gwyneth Jones manages to show a culture which has gone through many changes, thanks to the existence of alien species and the invention of the Buonarotti travel system. There is a dark underbelly, and a rich upper echelon of society, and both of these are given a strong identity.

With all that said, I found Spirit a challenge to read.
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