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The Compass of the Soul (River into the darkness) Hardcover – 25 Jun 1998


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Putnam Inc (25 Jun 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0886777925
  • ISBN-13: 978-0886777920
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,327,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Synopsis

In his quest to destroy all the magic in the world, Lord Eldrich sends Erasmus Flattery to eliminate Anna, leader of the Tellerites, a group eager to preserve the key to immortality, but as Erasmus becomes resentful of Eldrich and strangely loyal to Anna, he questions all he had believed to be true.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 Jun 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have eagerly awaited the second half of this set, only to suffer the same frustration as before. Sean Russell paints his Georgian-Victorian world with much detail, a world where magic is slowly, inexorably dying. His fault is that he almost never shows that magic. Eldritch, the last true mage--ever distinct from mundane humans--is quite long lived, has disturbing dreams, yet this appears to be the extent of anything we the reader can tell. Much of the book is taken with Erasmus Flattery, Eldritch*s former student, in pursuing Anna, who would resurrect the magical arts, and in Eldritch*s pursuit of him. The undercurrent of *other worlds* runs thru the book; as in Sea Without a Shore, there is a brief glimpse of that realm, along with one of a Hiroshiman cataclysm. What's difficult is that up unto the very end, the magic arts are firmly kept *offstage*, it is difficult to understand what everyone is seeking for, or warning against. A map would have been useful as well.
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Format: Hardcover
I, for one, eagerly awaited the release of this book. Russel does a workman like job drawing this preqel to a conclusion in his usual and enjoyable style. While an excellent book, I found that this was more formulaic, as if he was somehow hampered by having both the beginning and the ending predetermined by his previous works. There was less of the mystery and intrigue we have become accustomed to: the reader actually knows what is going to happen! However, Russell certainly provides some additional answers and background on the world, characters, and mages he has created.
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Format: Hardcover
Russell's fictional world feels a lot like the 19th century England of Sherlock Holmes. It feels familiar rather than fantastical, yet great and deep mysteries lie just below the surface. Russell draws characters with depth and breadth, people we care about. Even his villains are real people for whom we have sympathy. Indeed, it is difficult to decide which side you are on in this centuries-old struggle. I have diffculty putting any Sean Russell book down. If you like his others, you will like this one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The reserved and mysterious Tristam Flattery is an interesting and honorable character. There are also lots of other wonderful characters in the story, which the author treats with great respect and fidelity. Great storytelling and world building.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Chasing the Fox that isn*t...... 27 Jun 1999
By Ann W. Unemori - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I have eagerly awaited the second half of this set, only to suffer the same frustration as before. Sean Russell paints his Georgian-Victorian world with much detail, a world where magic is slowly, inexorably dying. His fault is that he almost never shows that magic. Eldritch, the last true mage--ever distinct from mundane humans--is quite long lived, has disturbing dreams, yet this appears to be the extent of anything we the reader can tell. Much of the book is taken with Erasmus Flattery, Eldritch*s former student, in pursuing Anna, who would resurrect the magical arts, and in Eldritch*s pursuit of him. The undercurrent of *other worlds* runs thru the book; as in Sea Without a Shore, there is a brief glimpse of that realm, along with one of a Hiroshiman cataclysm. What's difficult is that up unto the very end, the magic arts are firmly kept *offstage*, it is difficult to understand what everyone is seeking for, or warning against. A map would have been useful as well.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An Excellent Conclusion 15 Mar 2001
By "kalisti23" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This second 'book' in the River into Darkness series would not rightly be called a sequel. The two books are in truth one, split most likely for some reason of publication. They are both exceptional books, but in no way are they stand-alone. I recommend them enthusiastically, but buy both.
They are as one 'book' the sequel to the Moontide and Magic Rising series (World Without End/Sea Without Shore), and are completely stand-alone from that other series.
This second book grabs the mystery right where the first left off, and for those who felt the first book lacked enough 'magic' to make it fantasy, this book attempts to add more--though just a pinch. As in the Moontide and Magic Rising series, this book delves more into the idea of 'other worlds close at hand yet infinitely far away', and even gives us a glimpse of these worlds.
The characters become more ambiguous; much to the appreciation of this reviewer, who found an entirely new and realistic depth lent to them. The villain is given even more humanity, and more justification for his 'evil', one of the heroines has more suspicion cast upon her own motives, and the entire plot thickens.
I believe Russell is something of an original in the contemporary fantasy scene; I read a review somewhere comparing his world to the world of Sherlock Holmes. I think this a very apt comparison. Russell's Europe is a slightly dark and gothic Europe, with the pomp and manners of the court spread throughout society, yet also with mysteries beyond mortal ken springing up in the most unlikely of places, and strange ties binding everything together.
I would recommend this book whole-heartedly to anyone who enjoys a good mystery, with twists and turns perpetrated by believable and passionate characters. There is something of a dearth of action in these books, and the 'magic' is incredibly subtle, but to me this merely adds to the flavor of the world, in a wonderfully pleasing manner.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Excellent, but not up to Russell's previous level 24 Aug 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I, for one, eagerly awaited the release of this book. Russel does a workman like job drawing this preqel to a conclusion in his usual and enjoyable style. While an excellent book, I found that this was more formulaic, as if he was somehow hampered by having both the beginning and the ending predetermined by his previous works. There was less of the mystery and intrigue we have become accustomed to: the reader actually knows what is going to happen! However, Russell certainly provides some additional answers and background on the world, characters, and mages he has created.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good writing, characters you care about, a page-turner 30 Oct 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Russell's fictional world feels a lot like the 19th century England of Sherlock Holmes. It feels familiar rather than fantastical, yet great and deep mysteries lie just below the surface. Russell draws characters with depth and breadth, people we care about. Even his villains are real people for whom we have sympathy. Indeed, it is difficult to decide which side you are on in this centuries-old struggle. I have diffculty putting any Sean Russell book down. If you like his others, you will like this one.
Thoroughly enjoyable book... 12 Feb 2000
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I read the Compass of the Soul and its predecessor in under four days. This story was more important to me than sleep, as I stayed up late each night to find out what would happen. The characters were layered and believable; their motivations complex. I will disagree with a previous reviewer, just a difference of opinion on one point I liked her review, I appreciated the way magic was portrayed in this book. Eldrich was shown to be powerful through others' deference, through subtle aspects of light and shadow, in essence through his intense presence. If magic would have been displayed more openly, I think it would have detracted from the mood that the author was trying to set--the sense of mystery. I believe this choice was made to underscore the fact that magic was soon to pass out of the world. Or to use an illustration in the book...the tide of magic was ebbing. Ultimately, I enjoyed reading a book where the author didn't write to the lowest common denominator, and assumed his readers could think.
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