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Pavane (S.F. MASTERWORKS) [Paperback]

Keith Roberts
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
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Book Description


1588: Queen Elizabeth is felled by an assassin¿s bullet. Within the week, the Spanish Armada had set sail, and its victory changed the course of history.

1968: England is still dominated by the Church of Rome. There are no telephones, no television, no nuclear power. AS Catholicism and the Inquisition tighten their grip, rebellion is growing.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (9 Nov 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857989376
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857989373
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 232,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

The definitive alternate history ¿ an engrossing future that never was.

About the Author

SALES POINTS * #35 in the Millennium SF Masterworks series, a library of the finest science fiction ever written. * ¿A striking work of the imagination¿ Anthony Burgess * ¿Keith Roberts¿s evocative prose, sharply drawn characters, and unique concepts make him, to my mind, the finest British SF writer of his generation. No alternate history novel of the past thirty years comes close to equalling Pavane¿ George R. R. Martin * ¿Robert¿s gift in Pavane is to make us see both the delights and the horrors of this simpler alternative; to see this alternate world as a complex, functioning reality¿ Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove, Trillion Year Spree.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I first read this book in 1972 or thereabouts and was immediately entranced by the author's beautiful style and the story which is, at once, gripping and romantic. It is a novel made up of shorter stories held together by a common thread. The technology of the stories is of course "retro" and is created for an England which has a very different history from the one we know. The Church has controlled the development of the sciences in the world of Pavane and technology has progressed at an uneven and majestic pace. But the reader can immediately relate because Roberts paints such a realistic picture of a world ensnared in time, caught in the web of the Church's authority. The characters in Pavane are exquisitely drawn and their roles played out to perfection. Their world is created so perfectly that you will immediately be caught up in it and greatly regret when you must leave it, having finished reading the book. If you have a shred of romance in your soul, you must read Pavane. Unlike most other books I have read, I have had to experience Pavane several times since 1972 and it never fails to please me, no matter how many times I read it. I am about to read it again, for the umpteenth time. Join me?
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting alternate history 16 Sep 2003
I can really only echo the sentiments of the other five-star reviews here. This is simply a beautiful work; another gem from Gollancz' Masterworks series, although one which reads more like fantasy or historical fiction than SF.
The novel is told through a series of six 'Measures', vignettes of story and mood focusing on a different character each time. While each works separately, taken together they form a tapestry linking thematic and narrative concerns - producing, ultimately, a beautifully-conceived and wonderfully effective tale of twentieth century England stifled by an all-powerful, anti-progress Catholic Church.
The alternate England is a triumph of understated, economical world-building (something that many of today's fantasy novels could learn from, perhaps). It is filled with enduring images - the Signallers' towers, the steam engines, the land held in winter's icy grasp - made all the more striking and memorable because we are shown them through the eyes of convincing and distinctive characters.
My only criticism would be of the 'Coda', which feels superfluous, and far too neat. Otherwise, this is a moving story of a transforming world, all the more effective for being incompletely explained.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
The late lamented novelist and illustrator Keith Roberts had several claims on the attention of posterity but none better than this book. 'Pavane' has to be one of the most painstaking and convincing alternative history stories ever written. (It also won plaudits from Brian Aldiss and was selected by Anthony Burgess as one of his '99 Novels: The Best in English Since 1939'.) The prologue to the book neatly introduces Roberts' other world, describing the bloody aftermath of Elizabeth I falling to an assassin's bullet in 1588. In the ensuing chaos, the Armada successfully invade and suppress the forces of the English Reformation. Thereafter, England remains within the Catholic fold. Most of 'Pavane' is a series of (often beautifully-written) episodes in the history of this alter-England from 1968 until sometime early in the 21st century. Roberts' chronicle deftly shows the Church hierarchy and the forces of revolt struggling through decades of uneasy truce. As the years pass, the power of the Church comes under attack and an older wisdom begins to re-assert itself. Just when you think you can see where Roberts' alternative world is going, the ending of the book throws a very different and thought-provoking slant on this subtly changed history. Rather unusually for an SF author, Keith Roberts combined a clear and unpretentious style with a firm grasp of writerly virtues like characterisation and plot, and, believe me, this unusual combination pays off. (I hate to disagree with any of the previous reviews, but anybody with an aversion to fantasy who reads this review might like to note that there aren't actually any fairies or pixies in 'Pavane' at all - without giving anything away, the 'People of the Heath' referred to near the end of the book are entirely human. Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful... 15 April 2001
By A Customer
...I first read this some half-a-dozen years ago, borrowing it from a library. In succeeding years, it remained in my mind, though I could not remember author or title. Fortunately, on describing it to a friend, hugely knowledgeable in SF, he instantly identified it. Imagine my delight when I discovered it had been recently re-published!
It's a moot point as to whether this should be included in the SF or Fantasy series. Whichever you class it as, it is a beatifully written, hugely atmospheric, thoroughly consistent & convincing view of an alternate history. Comprising half-a-dozen or so short stories (that I suspect were originally published as such in magazines), this is a work that deserves a place on anyone's bookshelf. It starts & ends with stories linked by the same steam traction engine, separated by the passage of a number of years. More than that, I shall not say for fear of spoiling your enjoyment, except to add - go buy this!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing else like it
Wonderful stuff, as is much of Keith Robert's work. Steampunk before anybody used the term perhaps, with fantastic detail, doomed romance and a dose of mysticism thrown in. Read more
Published 6 months ago by D. SWATMAN
4.0 out of 5 stars The tyranny of religion
Other reviews have set out the scenario of this alternative history It is not, as others have observed, really a novel at all, but a series of stories, with a common setting in... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Steamdreamer
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterly, if rather coldly manipulative, alternative history
This was one of my old favourite books in my youth, re-read after a gap of about 30 years. On the whole it stands up well. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Brian Clegg
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. Re-read after 45 years
This is the first counter factual / alternative history book I ever recall reading. I came across it and decided to re-read it after about 45 years. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Kingsman
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dorset story...
I have always loved Pavane - this imprint is more complete than the 1971 (ish) Pan paperback that is falling apart in my bookshelf (Acid paper strikes again). Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ben Mottram
3.0 out of 5 stars An alternative future
This is a series of six short stories set in an alternative England in the 1960's where Elizabeth I had been assassinated and the Spanish had taken over the country. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Half Man, Half Book
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical realist steampunk alternative history
This is published in the SF masterworks series, but it can only be described as science fiction in the very loosest sense. Read more
Published 10 months ago by P. G. Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction
I am not a lover of science fiction, but loved this book as it was so different and thought provoking. Read more
Published 18 months ago by lindo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stories
Re-visited after 50 years ! Still as wonderful as they were all those long years back. "What might have been" stories, stories of a very different England had the Spanish... Read more
Published 19 months ago by D. Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Magical
I first read this book over thirty years ago so It is wonderful to see that it has lost nothing of its magic over the years. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Wiccawoman
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