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Orphans of Chaos Hardcover – 25 Nov 2005

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (25 Nov. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765311313
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765311313
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.7 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,423,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Wright can approach the true uncanny unease, fearful ugliness, and lucent beauty of dream... wings forward with inventive impulse, genuinely captivating... [it] is b turns ingenious, absurd, disturbing, elevated, and even moving." - LOCUS on THE LAST GUARDIAN OF EVERNESS."

About the Author

JOHN C. WRIGHT, an attorney turned SF and fantasy writer, has published short fiction in "Asimovs SF" and elsewhere. This is his second fantasy novel, after "The Last Guardian of Everness "and the SF trilogy, The Golden Age.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Oh dear, an "X of Y" book. Such titles are usually a sign of bad fantasy, and combined with the bad cover art, I'd put off reading this for quite some time after getting it as a free download from Tor. Turns out that it's actually quite good. The orphans in question are the children of Titans, held as hostages to prevent their people from going to war again and overthrowing the Olympian gods. They are kept in what is ostensibly a strict (and cruel) British residential home (the author tries hard to make the setting really British, and mostly succeeds, but his roots show through in a few places where he's left in some American idiom, and those are terribly jarring - I wish authors wouldn't try so hard to hide themselves like this. By all means write about somewhere you're not a native of, but don't try to pretend to be a native. Grrr) where the staff are all supernatural beings - drawn primarily from Classical mythology, but a handful of British myths are also touched on and I may have missed some others. The story centres around an attempt by the children to escape from their captivity and their exploration of their own suppressed supernatural powers.

The setting is imaginative and is a good compromise between the supernatural magic of mythology and a rational, mechanistic worldview, and is actually part of the story instead of just backdrop; characters have motivations and feelings. This is one I can recommend. Sci-fi fans will find it inventive and new, classicists will enjoy a different take on their chosen field.

Incidentally, the author attended St John's College in Maryland which teaches a "Great Books Program". From what I've read of this, it has some resemblances to that taught to the characters of this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roald Andresen on 31 Oct. 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a refreshing alternative to the run-og-the-mill fantasy books that floods the market. Fantasy is successfully mixed with both science and mythology.

This, the first book in the triology, is a bit slow in the beginning, but gathers speed and momentum after a while.

As a Norwegian, I find it disappointing that Wright hasn't got his facts right. First he gravely misspells the name of Roald Amundsen. Next, he manages to indicate that Oslo is the capitol of Sweden. Go stand in the corner, John!
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By Robert on 27 Dec. 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed a couple of John C Wrights short stories, but was less than enthused with his novels. So I did not have high hopes for this one. What a pleasant surprise! If you like Neil Gaiman's work, especially Smoke and Mirrors, then I think you will like this. The hint of ancient myth mixed with modern life was slightly like Michael Scott Rohan. But it is the uncovering of the true background of four children in a remote boarding school or orphanage that kept me engrossed. Well done John.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 61 reviews
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Another weird and excellent story from John C. Wright 20 Nov. 2005
By Elisabeth Carey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Wright continues to amaze. This book is not really anything like any of his previous ones, except that it's wonderfully written.

Somewhere in rural England, there's an orphage. The orphanage houses only five children-Victor, Amelia, Vanity, Colin, and Quentin. They're significantly outnumbered by the staff, and despite receiving an excellent education, they're kept in almost prison-like conditions of discipline and restriction of movements. They've never made even an unsupervised visit to the nearby village.

Oh, and they all have unusual powers-different and apparently incompatible powers. Quentin's a warlock, Victor can change the molecular arrangement of matter, Amelia can see in four dimensions. If the physical laws of the universe are such that Quentin's powers can work, how can Victor's also work under the same set of laws?

There's also some mystery about their exact ages, and the larger mystery of where they come from. And now that they're approximately in their late teens, or perhaps early teens, or, just possibly, early twenties, curiosity and determination are overcoming deference to the adults they increasing regard as jailers. When Amelia and Quentin manage to eavesdrop on a midnight meeting of the Governors and Visitors of the school, all bets are off and they're in active rebellion against their captors.

But they still know only tiny pieces of what's going on.

This is truly excellent, although I need to mention that it's the first half, or possibly the first third, of the novel, not the whole thing. This volume doesn't end; it stops at a crucial point. Part Two will apparently be entitled Fugitives of Chaos. (That's less of a spoiler for this book than it might seem.) Nevertheless, Wright has delivered before, and I do highly recommend this one.
18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Well Written but Disappointing 13 Jun. 2008
By Raj - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
On the one hand, I found the author's writing style to be very mature and easy to read. The story was narrated by the main character, a teenage girl, and she lent a very charming voice to the novel.

On the other hand, every character was one-dimensional, there was no character development or maturity, the plot didn't develop much (in 300-some pages!), and the almost constant dominant/submissive sexual play with our youthful heroine was both annoying and off-putting.

The cast of characters was another disappointment. It began as a small, intimate group of friends, which I rather liked, but then quite suddenly grew into a huge gaggle of oddballs with multiple names, intertwining relationships, and even flatter personalities than our main characters.

The magic system was an interesting concept -- It used hyperspace physics as a form of magic -- but I don't feel that it worked very well in practice. The lengthy explanations in the middle of the action sequences were a little annoying. It was also silly because the physics babble was really just a thin veneer for whatever struck the author's fancy.

The ending was abrupt and unresolved, but I wouldn't exactly call it a cliffhanger. Generally a cliffhanger leaves you in suspense, excited to read on. This book just left me shrugging and thinking, "Well... that went absolutely nowhere."

So there you have it. This review is one part praise and four parts criticism, and that seems like just the right ratio for this book. Not without its charm, but I certainly won't be reading the rest of the series.

Your mileage may vary.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An excellent introduction to a remarkable fantasy 16 Nov. 2007
By Veronica, just an average reader, you know? - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While I admit I had some trouble understanding some of the concepts introduced in this book (sometimes the philosophic/technical monologues of each of the characters, as well as their confusing name changes become rather hard to follow), once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. John C Wright is an extraordinary writer, it's been a long time since I've enjoyed a series this much. I really cared for each of the main characters (despite their flaws), and my appreciation for them and their radically different personalities and quirks only grew in the following books, which are even better than the first one... I strongly suggest giving these series a chance, it only gets better and better.

The first book of this trilogy introduces us to 5 special teens, who are held prisoners in a severe British institution/orphanage for reasons that aren't entirely clear to them at first, but that they slowly begin to understand as the special powers each of them posess start to appear, and they find out clues of what their true identities are. Having at least a basic knowledge of Roman and Greek mythology helps a great deal in getting the most enjoyment out of the series, but it's not absolutely required either. Wonderful series overall, my only complaint was that I was sad to see it end!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating, if sometimes strange and bewildering 24 Jan. 2006
By W. Eisenberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This was an enjoyable book to read--really interesting concept. It was difficult for me to understand however, and I wish I was more up on my mythology--I found the cast of characters a bit bewildering and overwhelming because I wasn't familiar with the Greek gods' backstories, and I got lost with all the stuff about "dimensions", hyperspace, etc. I just had to let myself get lost in the words and get a general "picture" of what he was talking about. But the book was very well written and moving, and the students were compelling (Though I wish we'd gotten to know the other students besides Amelia a bit more.) I am looking forward to the sequel, and plan to do a little quick reading of Greek mythology before I approach the series again.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
brainy yet casual 30 Oct. 2013
By RJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
Tried to get a friend into these, but they didn't take. Not that he isn't a sharp fellow,but it asks for more understanding from the reader than the average fantasy novel. Think slightly above Clark and Gaiman. My friends that like Tolkien's works beyond The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy usually like these books.

Great story. Interesting concept. Just like the old myths, these are a good blend of tragedy, comedy, violence, and naughtiness of all kinds. But you can't read just one; it's pointless. If you pick up one, you should pick up all three (Orphans, Fugitives, and Titans). If you want some fun but are tired of the force-fed stuff that populates the majority of fantasy novels these days, you should make the investment.
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