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City of Saints and Madmen [Kindle Edition]

Jeff VanderMeer
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jeff VanderMeer has been acclaimed by authors such as Lauren Beukes, Richard Morgan, Michael Moorcock and more. By turns sensuous and terrifying, this collection of four linked novellas is the perfect introduction to VanderMeer’s vividly imagined worlds. ity of elegance and squalor. Of religious fervour and wanton lusts. And everywhere, on the walls of courtyards and churches, an incandescent fungus of mysterious and ominous origin. In Ambergris, a would-be suitor discovers that a sunlit street can become a killing ground in the blink of an eye. An artist receives an invitation to a beheading - and finds himself enchanted. And a patient in a mental institution is convinced he's made up a city called Ambergris, imagined its every last detail, and that he's really from a place called Chicago. Ambergris is a cruelly beautiful metropolis -- a haven for artists and thieves, for composers and murderers. And once there, anything can happen. City of Saints and Madmen includes the World Fantasy Award winning novella The Transformation of Martin Lake.

Product Description


A masterful novel. Complex and textured, decadent and decaying. A beautiful work of art, both as physical object and text. -- Locus Online, 2002

Beautifully written, virtually hallucinatory work. Connoisseurs of the finest in postmodern fantasy will find it enormously rewarding. -- Publishers Weekly, 2002

It is a rare treasure, to be tasted with both relish and respect. It's what you've been looking for. -- Michael Moorcock, intro to the book

[a] truly wonderful creation...startlingly nasty and/or beautiful revelations. -- Gahan Wilson, Realms of Fantasy, 2003

Book Description

Once upon a time, on the banks of the River Moth, a city sprang up like no other in or out of history. Founded on the blood of the original inhabitants after the defeat of the stealthy grey caps, and steeped for centuries in the aftermath of that struggle, Ambergris has become a cruelly beautiful metropolis -- a haven for artists and thieves, for composers and murderers. For anyone privileged to venture there, the name Ambergris conjures up one of the great and unforgettably fantastic cities of contemporary literature. Readers worldwide have become increasingly beguiled by Jeff VanderMeer's strange and ancient metropolis. And for those who have once visited this uniquely complex and comprehensive society, it will remain forever a favourite haunt -- a bustling, grotesque, magnificent, brilliantly realized community full of shocking and beautiful revelations. City of Saints & Madmen collects all of the Ambergris novellas (including the World Fantasy Award winner 'The Transformation of Martin Lake').

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 15269 KB
  • Print Length: 705 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1447265181
  • Publisher: Tor; New Edit/Cover edition (8 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00K7DBOM8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #89,995 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insanely Ambitious, Divinely Delicious 24 Mar. 2005
On the surface, City of Saints and Madmen is a collection of short stories set in the fantastic city of Ambergris, stories suffused with sorrow and wry humour, some of them straightforward, others told through various metafictional conceits and devices. On the surface, we have four novellas and an appendix of sundry shorter delights. But apart from the fact that each story is an absolute nugget in its own right, there's much more going on here in the way these tales relate to each other. As the novellas progress, various fake historical glossaries, academic footnotes and art history interpolations are used to make Ambergris far more rounded and real than most fantasy backdrops, building VanderMeer's city of musicians, poets and sinister mushroom-dwellers in the reader's imagination until in the last of the four novellas we are taken right through the looking glass. In an insanely ambitious move reminiscent of Alasdair Gray's Lanark, or a writer such as Borges, fact and fiction are flipped inside-out and the reader is plunged deep into a world all the truer because it is given to us through the artefacts of Ambergris --illustrated chapbooks, monograms, bibliographies, magazine clippings or lunatic's notes. Metafiction can be tricky in its tricksiness, but VanderMeer pulls it off wonderfully. In a way this becomes a novel with the reader himself as the protagonist, a traveller wandering through VanderMeer's strange, dark, literary vision. And, lit with flashes of sheer brilliance, VanderMeer's Ambergris is more than just worth a visit. This is a must-read book, a delightful treat for the fan of fantasy as a genre, for those who enjoy Angela Carter, Gabriel Garcia Marquez or any of the Magic Realists. In the end this book is for anyone who likes their books intelligent, playful, comic, tragic and with a vision just a wee bit skewed from the norm.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful yet darkly secretive Ambergris 8 April 2004
Come and see a city, one like no other, filled with more madmen than saints.
You'll find no farmboys possesing magic talents here, no buff warriors or mighty sorcerors... instead the beautiful yet darkly secretive Ambergris is populated by out-of-work missionaries, struggling artists, unhinged marinebiologists (and at least one slightly unhinged author) and other still more curious individuals. Each is led into the darkest corners of both the city and the human consciousness, and every tale is woven through with the silent question that no Ambergrisian can answer - the darkest of all the city's secrets.
Not only does VanderMeer present his readers with finely crafted, delicately sculpted prose on every turning page but as the readers are propelled into appendices and glossaries, footnotes, bibliographies they are continuously rewarded with the most imaginative and most fully-realised fiction being written today.
It may also be the most beautifully presented artifact of fiction you could hope to possess - painstakingly designed from cover to cover, filled with illustrations and diagrams, each designed to draw the reader further down the rabbit hole.
By turns darkly horrific, emotionally charged and hilariously comic, City of Saints and Madmen is a wonderfully clever, crazed and adventurous collection of experiences you cannot miss out on.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Fungi! 26 Jun. 2006
By Jane Aland VINE VOICE
This is a wonderful introduction to the fantasy city of Ambergris, combining the fantasy world-building of China Mieville with a healthy dose of humour, and a dark Lovecraftian underbelly of horror concerning the bizarre fungus-like `Mushroom Dwellers' that live beneath the city. Less a novel as such and more a collection of pieces, the main part of this book is comprised of 4 stunning novellas, while an equally long appendix provides numerous short stories and fragments to complement the whole. If I do have a slight quibble (and it's the only thing that prevented me from giving this full marks) it's that the book feels slightly lop-sided, as while the 350-odd page AppendiX (sic) does contain much entertainment it also shows a little repetition of theme and inevitably feels rather bitty compared to the main four novellas. Still, this is a brilliant fantasy novel, with Vandermeer displaying a real love of language with prose to match his bizarre ideas, while the post-modern unreliable narrative that creeps in with the story of `X' (a fictitious character or the creator of a fictitious world himself?) only makes things more interesting. This is also one of the best designed mass market paperbacks I've ever seen, with great layouts and differing fonts and illustrations giving the illusion of a bundle of various documents. Excellent stuff.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wondrous Escapism 27 Feb. 2005
By A Customer
The City of Saints and Madmen is an impressive work - a wonderful piece of escapism which I have thoroughly enjoyed.
The legendary city of Ambergris is a timeless and fascinating place with strange recurring motifs - grey caps, mushroom dwellers, squid, a firm called Hoegbottom and sons, and various fighting factions, poets, and artists - to name just a few. As I read I became totally absorbed in this fantastical world with its own rules and surreal history. Even though I know this place does not really exist I kept believing that it does: the stories are convincing, and the characters seem real even though they cannot be. I realise now that I have finished that everything must has been worked out with an extraordinary vision because there was not a single instance where I did not believe that what was happening could have happened, somewhere far away just beyond the limit of the world I know. The most decisive and chilling aspect of the history is the Silence. This haunts the book and it haunts me still - it is the fear of the unknown, only in part ever revealed, which makes the event powerful and disturbing. I thought I could see parallels with various aspects of human history, and the Silence could even be allegorical for certain many unexplained events that have really happened - which I think is always the case in the best Sci-Fi/fantasy writing.
The story of the city gradually evolves in a series of pieces - short stories, letters, papers, even a long and entertaining bibliography - a jigsaw which gradually builds up to something complete and satisfying. It begins very well, but ends especially wonderfully with some beautifully written and gripping stories.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars less "Weird" fiction, more "Essential" Fiction
This is an excellent collection of ideas
Published 2 days ago by Jamie
1.0 out of 5 stars Such promise
A stunning opening with some of the finest (and funniest ) literature I've read . Followed by pretentious over imagined nonsense .
Published 5 months ago by lee simmons
2.0 out of 5 stars Too clever by half and a generally hard read.
Having first encountered Jeff VanderMeer’s work in the splendidly odd ‘Annihilation’, it seemed that I may have found another favourite author. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Willy Eckerslike
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired surreal fiction
This is a grand tour of the warped mind of a deranged madman who has been locked for too long in a dark basement with only a stick, a freshly plastered wall and a vial of squid... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jamie Dainton
5.0 out of 5 stars A web of wonder
I'm a very difficult man to impress, but City of Saints and Madmen impressed me A LOT. It isn't so much a collection of short stories to be read, as an interconnected web of... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jonathon Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Is it a really frustrating, good book or a really good, frustrating...
By turns this book has delighted and annoyed me, which has compelled me to write this to try to understand why I have had this response. Read more
Published on 12 Oct. 2010 by Mike
5.0 out of 5 stars innovative fantasy
Enjoyed this immensely. It's wonderful to see an author experiment with new forms and ideas. Fantasy is an area of fiction that should be able to go anywhere, but hardly ever does. Read more
Published on 31 Oct. 2007 by David Martin
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes great, sometimes derivative and smug....
I was attracted to "City of Saints and Madmen" due to the other reviews on this site, and it is the first time I have read anything by Jeff VanderMeer. Read more
Published on 19 Mar. 2007 by J. Bloss
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
This is the first book that I have read by Jeff vandermeer and I am very impressed. This is writing and storytelling at it's highest level. Read more
Published on 1 Nov. 2006 by Jakabok Botch
5.0 out of 5 stars Shades of Zork??!
Having been a fan of the PC adventure-fantasy game Zork in the 90s, reading Vandermeer's wonderfully bizarre book brings back memories. Read more
Published on 19 Aug. 2006 by Amazon Customer
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