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Gatherer of Clouds (Daw science fiction)

4 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 604 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton / Signet; Reissue edition (26 Nov. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0886775361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0886775360
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 4.1 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 805,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I came to read this Duology having been impressed by the Russell's work on his Swan's War trilogy. In that series I really enjoyed his characterisation and mythical element, as well as his fluid, uncomplicated writing style.

Although a duology, compared to the Swan's trilogy, this seems much more ambitious. The scale of the story is more epic, the characters broader and more numerous, but whereas the Swan's War is a classic understatement of fantasy this left an opposite effect on me. Overblown and at times convoluted this struck me as one of those cases of "more is less." I was left to wonder whether with some editing this would not have been a fantastic stand alone book.

There is much to like and admire. Russell certainly has a good hold of his "alternate history" and is faithful to the oriental setting - whether the Bothanist Monks are Buddhist or not a more educated man than myself will say - but the parallels are clear enough. That means there is a lot of endless poor mimicry of oriental proverbs, poetry with a touch of Confucius and Sun Tsu thrown in for good measure. The problem is that although memorable it begins to detract from the story. I love the time and care Russell spends on his characters - as another reviewer notes - there is no "little person who comes to power" cliche here as that character - Shuyun - is marked from the very beginning as someone extraordinary. The main characters are all important and impressive people - I like that. But there are so many all trying to do important things that it again detracts from where the interest really lies - Lord Shonto, Nishima, Shuyun and Komawara are genuinely interesting BUT strangely Shuyun and Komawar and Katta are all done a disservice in the second books by being overrun by the other character threads.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This author has completely captured my heart. i will read anything he writes. The main thing is, you are completely transported into the story - never ripped out of the story by incongruent language, or bad writing. The characters are excellent; the descriptions rich but not overwrought; the story is epic in style, but never out of the author's control. It's a wonderful, wonderful read - be prepared to laugh and weep.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
the ending of the duology...very good, a bit slow in the first two thirds, and then a bit too rapidly paced in the last third, but interesting, thoughtful, well good as when i read it when it first appeared...recommended!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you've stumbled onto this review and haven't read the first book, then by all means, look that one up first!

Sean Russell continues this unique story that barely qualifies as fantasy and dips deeply into the historic fiction genre. Still, if you're going to pick a fantasy novel out at random, you could scarcely do better than this book, an excellent read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9a72c744) out of 5 stars 16 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a7752dc) out of 5 stars Moving conclusion to "The Initiate Brother". 5 Feb. 2001
By Patrick McCormack - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This two volume story is elegant, moving, and fun. The monk, Shuyun, comes to be spiritual advisor to the Shonto family. From there, we have intrigue with the emperor, a barbarian invasion, complex politics, wild battles, and an elegant fictionalized China, complete with lovely poetry. In this volume, we have a running battle with a huge barbarian army, as the Shonto family is caught between the emperor and the barbarians. The brother Shuyun is caught between his duties and a woman, in a very satisfying love story. Excellent story.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a775330) out of 5 stars Wonderful! 5 May 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of the finest books I have ever read. Make sure to start with the first one first, and then go on the sequel.
Just to warn/entice those who may have read some of Russell's other works first -- these two books are written by a warm inviting Russell, while his other books are written by a cold, cynical, sarcastic person. (Guess which I prefer.) So even if you did not care for Russell's other works, please give these a try.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9acea270) out of 5 stars Equally as engaging as The Initiate Brother 12 Jan. 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Initiate Brother left readers on a cliffhanger, making it obvious that these two books are really just one giant novel under separate covers. Thus, the reader doesn't have to worry about the quality of the sequel, which is as entrancing as the first book. Both are engrossing stories of love, war, religion, politics, and intrigue, certainly one of the best series of this type in the fantasy genre, right up there with Frank Herbert's Dune.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9acc5708) out of 5 stars Audio version 4 Aug. 2011
By Kat Hooper - Published on
Format: MP3 CD
Gatherer of Clouds is the sequel to Sean Russell's The Initiate Brother, a story which is not so much about the Initiate Brother Shuyun, spiritual advisor to Lord Shonto, as it is about the entire Shonto household -- a household that is seen as a threat by an insecure emperor. And with good reason, for Lord Shonto is an honorable, intelligent, and insightful man who has raised his children to be his equals and who has surrounded himself with a competent and loyal staff and several clever allies.

As the story opens, Shonto, governor of the northern province of She, is preparing for a massive barbarian invasion that the emperor refuses to believe in (since he only paid for a small invasion in order to get rid of Shonto). Should Shonto stay in the north, as ordered, and be wiped out by the barbarian horde? Or should he let his province fall and retreat toward the capital to raise an army that may have a chance to defeat the invaders? This latter option seems the only way to save the empire of Wa, but the emperor will certainly declare treason if Shonto starts recruiting soldiers. There are hard choices and harder sacrifices to make, not just for Shonto, but for everyone involved.

While reading Gatherer of Clouds, I was completely immersed in the lives of Lord Shonto, Brother Shuyun, Lady Nishima, Lord Komawara, and the Jaku brothers, as well as the beauty and elegance of their lifestyles. Each of Sean Russell's diverse set of characters is vivid, unique, and realistic, and they all learn much about themselves and each other as the stress ramps up. Because we spend so much time with them, and because they feel so real, their inner struggles become our inner struggles. Would we be willing to sacrifice love for duty? When is it right to disobey (or murder!) a sovereign ruler? Are there times when it is better to kill than to heal? What is true religion and how do we recognize when it has become corrupt? When does loyalty become dishonorable? When principles conflict, how do we know which principle is highest? I found myself considering each of these questions as I read Gatherer of Clouds.

In addition to making us think about some tough ideas, Russell also shows us how legends are made. Every one of his characters has the potential to become either a hero or a villain, and Russell shows us that it's our daily choices that add up to determine our destiny and how we'll be perceived by history.

If you enjoy character-centered epic fantasy with lots of political intrigue, Sean Russell's The Initiate Brother is a great choice. I listened to Blackstone Audio's version and can recommend this format. This was my first experience with Sean Russell's writing, but I'll definitely be exploring more of his work in the future.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a775738) out of 5 stars More with each re-reading 26 Mar. 2006
By M. Lorenzo Warby - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Along with Initiate Brother, Gatherer of Clouds is a book I regularly re-read. It gives me joy each time. Vivid characters, great story, memorable vignettes and more than a little wisdom make it a great read.

The central religion of Wa, Botahism, is obviously based on Buddhism. The more my knowledge of Buddhism increases, the more soundly based Sean Russell's depiction seems.
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