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Serpent, The: The Serpent Paperback – 24 Sep 1975


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tandem; n.e. edition (24 Sep 1975)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0426159314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0426159315
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 11.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,287,138 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By joan of arc on 25 Dec 2006
Format: Paperback
This is,quite simply,the best fantasy series ever written.Why haven't more people heard of Jane Gaskell? She was contoversial for writing her first novel at the age of fourteen,and the Atlan saga was completed whilst still only in her early twenties.

The serpant follows the story of the goddess Cija as she leaves the seclusion of her childhood tower and is forced out into a harsh and brutal world.She has been instructed by her mother to assassinate Zerd, the reptillian General whom she has been offered to as a hostage.All this sounds very ho-hum; believe me, it isn't!

Cija is one of the most original creations I have found in the fantasy genre.Immature,snobbish,frightened...yet at the same time brave, funny and utterly likeable.Because the book is writtten in the first person, you really live through Cija's eyes and Gaskell has an entrancing,vivid, poetic style which sits very comfortably with her often slangy, very modern heroine.

The world she describes is set in pre-history before the continents divided,when the earth had no moon.So you have soldiers riding Diatryma,the giant birds of the Pleistocene era, as well as dinosaurs;yet all this blends in seamlessly with the plot and her world is so wellimagined and conceived that you never once question some of the more fantastic elements.

Yes,it has its moments of extreme oddness.And Cija's relationship with Smahil turns out to be rather unsavoury.

Also, sometimes I felt that her use of metaphor could have been edited; some of her descriptions are a little long winded.But these are the minor flaws of a very youthful writer.Above all her world is consistant and her characters believable.Cija is not easily forgettable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By The dreamer on 14 Dec 2010
Format: Paperback
I first read the saga's by Jane Gaskell when they first came out and I was drawn into a world of fantasy, I even fell in love with Zerd. I completely lost myself in these books which at that time I borrowed from the library. Years went by but I never forgot Cija and her un-natural adventures. I never saw the books again as they disappeared. It wasn't until I recently was looking on Amazon that I saw one of the books on sale so I ordered "The Serpent" mainly to see if I could relive the excitement and the fantasies that hit me when I first read the series. I am now almost to the end of the first book and I can't put it down as it has completely captured me back into a world of escape. Jane Gaskell describes every incident and detail that you are alongside Cija, you can hear the noise of the soldiers, smell the street dirt and the scream of the giant birds. There are no pictures in this book but there again you conjure up your own idea of what the heroin looks like, the clothes, the houses etc. as Jane describes them so well.
For anyone who hasn't read the five Atlan books, then they are a must. I can't wait to read the next saga.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jan on 9 Jun 2009
Format: Paperback
So many years since I read these, and I was only about 16 myself - I lived in Jane Gaskell's freakish world, it was completely enchanting, and I obviously didn't notice the bad metaphors! I think for a teenager wanting escape from the mundane they offered the lot - romance, adventure, violence and suggested [but not very explicit] sex. But have ordered them all in used books, to see if they are as page-turning as I remember.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ross on 17 Nov 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book a few weeks ago and enjoyed it so much I have bought the rest of the books in this enjoyable romp through Cija's world.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is NOT a crime novel!! 27 Sep 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is Volume I of "The Atlan Saga," a science fiction/fantasy series. The Atlan Series (The Serpent, The Dragon, The City, Atlan, and Some Summer Lands) are a wonderful introduction to fantasy literature. Jane Gaskell's heroine, Cija, is both vulnerable and capable. The characters are clearly drawn, the locales are exotic (but still believable), and the action continual. Destined for one disaster after another, Cija is a memorable and ultimately likeable protagonist. So interested reader, get thee to a library or second-hand bookstore and buy the whole series!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Romance with reptile men and dinosaurs 7 Mar 2012
By Mitchell Glodek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Serpent by Jane Gaskell

I've never actually read a "historical romance" novel, but The Serpent is rather like what I imagine them to be, though The Serpent is set in a fantasy prehistory, when the Earth had no moon and dinosaurs, giant snails, and half-reptile people lived alongside ordinary humans.

Cija is a princess who has spent the first 17 years of her life locked up in a tower with her female servants, due to a curse and a prophecy. She has never even seen a man; in fact, she was told that men were extinct. When a foreign army takes over Cija's country, Cija's mother has to give Cija to the invading army's general as a hostage. Cija's mother tells Cija to seduce the general and stab him in the neck in his sleep. This is not so easy as Cija's countrymen might hope, because the army with which Cija now marches is full of beautiful girls who are all trying to seduce the general, who, despite the fact that he has scaly skin like a grey snake's, is a real hunk. Can Cija triumph over her rivals and get into the snakeman's bed? Can Cija bring herself to murder the hunk, even if she has the chance?

The pace is slow, and the plot is not resolved as this is the first volume (300 pages long) of a series. There are many characters, most of them involved in catty relationships based on envy and jealousy. The whole thing is kind of squalid and cynical. Neither Cija nor the snakeman general is interesting enough that I cared whether they fell in love or killed each other or whatever. At times I wondered if this book was meant to appeal to the S&M crowd; people get flogged, women get raped, there are lots of slave girls who get groped and beaten, etc. Gaskell throws in some jarring anachronisms; one of the characters talks about "sublimating" sexual desire, and the army's quartermaster demands that requests be made in "triplicate" and carries around a little notebook. (Aren't paper and ink expensive in this preindustrial society?) Gaskell also tosses in an impassioned plea for government regulation of chemical fertilizers and preservatives. There are also lots of "literary" descriptions of the weather, landscape, light playing on gilded columns and reflecting off panes of glass and so on.

I read the Pocket Books 1978 edition of this 1963 novel, the one with the Boris Vallejo cover and the Soho Weekly News blurb. ("A thrill a minute!" we are told.) I counted ten phallic symbols in Boris's cover painting; see how many you can spot!

Not really for me, but Gaskell is admirably ambitious and seems to have an extensive vision, so 2 stars.
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