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The Harlequin's Dance: First Book of the Orokon (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Paperback – 5 Sep 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New edition edition (5 Sep 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575074752
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575074750
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 14.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 722,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

The Harlequin's Dance is the first book in a sweeping fantasy epic of highwaymen and high society balls, battles and bandits, enchantments and evil.

About the Author

Tom Arden is an Australian now living with his partner in Brighton. He is the author of The Orokon, the critically acclaimed five-book fantasy sequence of which THE HARLEQUIN'S DANCE is the first novel.

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First Sentence
In the time before the earth was brought forth from Unbeing, there was great warmaking in the realm of The Vast, which is home to the gods. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 8 Oct 2003
Format: Paperback
I've just finished reading through this whole series and this is certainly the most brilliant new fantasy series I've read in years. It's also one of the weirdest. It's really dark and perverse in places, pure comedy in others. Considered on its own the story sounds naff: a boy on a quest for five magic crystals (he finds one at the end of each book). But the characterisation is brilliant (particularly the villains -- Aunt Umbecca, the town bully Polty, and the mad doctor Goodman Waxwell, who wants to amputate the hero's legs), the atmosphere of rising menace is stunningly buiilt up, and after a slow start the whole thing rises to the most stunning climax. And it all just gets better in the next volumes. (The ending of the whole series is totally unexpected, by the way.) Magnificent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book is intriguing, not simply because the plot is good and well paced, pulling the reader along, but it works by taking a new direction for fantasy, setting the book not in the usual fantasy world one would expect from the prologue, but in a world whihc is mixed with characteristics of fantasy novels (Gods, gypsies (Vagas), castles), but with elements of 18th century novels. At first I thought such introductions as muskets and novels would take away from the enjoyment of the plot, but instead it made the book more interesting. Arden has pulled it all together making the magic work with a society which comes closer to ours in terms of technological advance and social mores. A great book which could be read by fans of novels and fantasy alike.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie Noverraz on 25 Oct 2013
Format: Paperback
This is the first book of The Orokon pentalogy (before The King and Queen of Swords, Sultan of the Moon and Stars, Sisterhood of the Blue Storm, and Empress of the Endless Sun).

The events of this book take place in an 18th-Century setting, in the isolated village of Irion, a remote place still mostly unconcerned by the civil war of Ejland: the usurper Ejard Blue has overthrown his brother Ejard Red's government, the rightful heir.

Catayane is a young Vaga girl who lives in the Wildwood with her blind father Silas, the village's former Lector, now an apostate. She can understand Nature and communicate with animals.

Jemany is a cripple, a bastard son of the Archduke of Ixiter's family. He is confined in the decrepit castle of Irion with his pharisaic great-aunt Umbecca who, with the help of apothecary Waxwell, likes to keep his addict mother Ela in a drugged stupor, until his new companion, the mysterious dwarf Barnabas, teaches him to walk with crutches. This, of course, is not to Waxwell's taste: he will try and exorcise Jem by amputating his ill-shapen legs!

I found this first volume a little slow to start. It takes about half the book for Jem to meet Cata, and the other half for him to learn about his destiny. And even though the book is divided in numerous chapters and subchapters, Arden's tendency to switch POV between paragraphs is sometimes distracting.

However, I fairly enjoyed The Harlequin's Dance. Its setting reminded me much of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, with Aunt Becca's bigotry and Waxwell's creepy methods. I also found the fat redheaded bully Poltiss, Waxwell's cruel adoptive son, particularly despicable. And of course, the Ejlanders' persecution of the Vagas echoes today's xenophobia against the Romani.
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By A Customer on 20 Mar 2001
Format: Paperback
Most fantasies send you on a meandering quest with a pre-defined end point ala David Eddings. The secret with this book is that everything happens to the one location rather than is directed by the character's actions. This leads to an intense setting where the characters are more a reflection of the land about them than an influence upon it - much like passages in Tess of the D'Urbevilles. The 18th century setting doesn't appear to be strictly adhered to but does this matter? At the end of the day this is not supposed to be an analogy of Earth. The second book continues the theme with a setting reminiscent to Jane Austen's Bath but doesn't quite match the success of the first book and the third book was frankly disappointing. Will Arden regain the plot with his latest offering?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 April 2001
Format: Paperback
Mini-masterpiece, so why three stars? My over-riding feeling is that somewhere within the tangled plot threads was a jem (pardon the pun)of a story. There are too many characters - most of them inconsequential - and incidents -unnecessary - crammed in, obscuring the simple mythic story. Other critics believe the author did it deliberately and I think I agree. The middle part is almost entirely waffle. This is wasted space as at the end the characters come together in a frankly unbelievable way. It is perhaps unfair singling Arden out for this. Almost all current fantasy novels fail in this respect. It's a shame because this book is different. Arden conjures wonderful names for his characters e.g. Umbecca, Waxwell, Veeldrop etc and places e.g. Orandy, Mid-Lexion etc. His depiction of time and place are beautiful. He captures and dwells on the grotesque elements brilliantly.
If he had stuck to the essential characters and plot I genuinely think this would have been a mini-masterpiece.
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