on 3 February 2015
I feel obliged to write this review since I almost completely disagree with the review posted by "Archy" !
I was very impressed with the scope of Aegypt. Crowley has clearly read widely and worked what he has discovered - chiefly about the occult- into a carefully crafted fusion of story lines which require reflection by the reader in order to understand how they are linked. It is important to remember that this book is only a quarter of the whole, so a large part is simply setting the stage for the other three books.
In particular, for me - and why I disagree with Archy - the story surrounding Pierce Moffett is much less interesting than the segments from Fellowes Kraft's books about Dr John Dee, William Shakespeare and Giordano Bruno, which I found totally fascinating!
I've taken one star off because I do think that Aegypt would benefit from significant editing since Crowley does have a bit of a tendency to waffle on. Don't let that put you off though, it's a great, thought-provoking read!
on 27 June 2014
Sometimes I loved it; sometimes I hated it. It's certainly unusual, not so much about an alternate world but about the idea of an alternate world. There are some great characters, the main one being Pierce Moffett, a somewhat confused (and confusing) history teacher who believes he has stumbled onto a great secret: the world is not as it always has been... once it was different, with different laws and a different history. Unfortunately, this admittedly intriguing idea is done in such a confusing, muddled and generally infuriating way that it's difficult to maintain interest.
One of the problems I had with the book, and one of the things I hated, was the way it kept drifting off into other half-completed stories from the middle ages. There's a writer, Fellowes Kraft, who has written novels set in this 'other' world, and which relate the adventures of various historical figures. So indulgent is John Crowley with this idea he beats the reader over the head with it, and so we get interminably dull passages featuring extracts from Kraft's novels - usually when they're being read by one of the characters of this novel.
The actual story of Pierce and the transferring of his life to a country town is rather slight, but very entertaining; the town's characters are vividly drawn. Unfortunately, in another rather ham-fisted attempt to demonstrate the world's alternatives, there are two characters with the same name. Confused? You will be.
Every time I thought I was getting the point I became bored with the many interruptions and frustrated by the author's demonstration of his own erudition, at the expense of clarity. But every time I was ready to chuck the thing across the room in frustration something would leap out and grip me and keep me reading, so I got to the end. Whether I'll move on to Book Two I don't know. There's a nugget of gold somewhere in this novel. Unfortunately, you have to wade through endless verbiage and pretentious musings to get to it. Shame really.
on 9 June 2014
This is a marvellous book. Well written, well researched and based on the most intriguing historical facts. I have read it now and again, and every time discovering something new to revel in as this is a book to be devoured in one sitting if possible. In my library I do have the sequels for the Ægypt quartet, but it is this first volume that I keep on returning to and rereading ever so often. The story has many levels and depths and will require your concentration as a reader but once started and understood for what it is this is one of the best fantasy books written in the 20th century.