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4.5 out of 5 stars
Warlock
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2001
Once again the indomitable Wilbur Smith captivates both old and new readers. Even those unfamiliar with River God will find this adventure captivating. I read it in two days, and I'm not normally a fast reader. All the classic elements for an adventure are here, and Smith makes the most of them, thrilling with the action, building up the tension and weaving plots within plots. If the character of Taita was enigmatic before, now he is the very essence of mystery, and the reader can never take anything for granted. Just when you think you know what's going to happen - bamm! - the plot twists like the cobra that is symbolic to the characters. With every turn of the page a new puzzle, who killed Pharaoh and why? Can the House of Lostris possibly survive against seemingly overwhelming odds? Of course the reader knows it will all turn out right in the end, but not before a great deal of pain and suffering all around (not to mention murder, war, love and sex). Whether a fan of Smith, of adventure, or just a passing interest in Egypt, Warlock is sure to have you hooked.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2004
the original in this trio of books, river god, without a doubt makes my favourite read in the history of my favourite reads. Part 2 , the seventh scroll - flashing forward a few millennia also was fantastic (maybe even top 10). Warlock, going back to ancient Egypt, should have followed in the same success... however as strong as it was, it failed to meet the high bar of its predecessors. I would put it down to the formula being changed. Where as it needed a fresh approach & a new concept to make it a novel in its own rights, I am not entirely convinced that this was the recipe for success. the formula in question is the introduction of magic / wizardry / sorcerous powers / the force (?!). The book is set a few decades after the 1st novel (overlook the fact that taita is probably outlived ancient Egyptian life expectancy many times over!). Queen Lostris is dead, her bloodline is in danger of ending, new powers are emerging in the political arena, and Taita, well taita the hero from river god has left the house of lostris and now is a hermit in the wilderness, studying, praying and doing all things mystical to become a warlock. note the similarities with a character from a well loved series of films? cough! old Ben kenobi, star wars cough! further case study comparisons include a not-so-unique escape from an enemy palace within the novel. "these aren't the droids your looking for..."
Despite being the title character, taita surprisingly takes more of a back seat role. for this I was glad - as a favourite character in river god - his warlocky abilities in this book didn't grip me or allow me to 'believe' in the tale as much. I preferred the action to remain on the 'down to earth' characters. saying that, however, it was refreshing to have taita's presence, as with him, you kinda knew things couldn't go too wrong - especially with those powers...
A big change from river god - is the switch from 1st person narrative to 3rd person. I think I prefer the former option - it adds a lot more personality and opportunity for emotive description. with the tale following many different stories & characters it would have been hard to have a single narrator. Again, a change in the formula from original, possibly taking some of the charm away. However the characterisation, storylines and wilbur's trademark 'romance' remain strong and make up for some of the losses as such. to touch upon the romance, some would describe as too in-your-face and over powering. I disagree. I will say that the encounters seemingly come out of nowhere, are very graphic (in quite a tasteful way), and then disappear just as fast. a number of times whilst reading (as a self-confessed skim reader), I would end a page and question 'did I just read that?' and would have to flick back and re-read just to make sure. its good to be shocked now and again. There are some great character cameos from 1st novel - which I loved even if they were brief. I soon forgot their lack of presence outside the first few chapters as the story gripped me again in true wilbur smith style.
I'm glad I read it, I think the Egyptian series has now brought itself to a well deserved end. For those devotee river god fans - I think its unavoidable to get another taste of taita's tales - although beware, it is a completely different concept / formula from that of #1. still a 'gripper' and a 'hard-to-put-downer' but definitely not river god returns. Any one picking this book up afresh, would suggest getting the background flavour and taste for the series by reading river god & seventh scroll first.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2001
I stop reading Smith when he stepped out of old Africa and into near modern time, his writing was the same but to me the books lost their charm. Now he is back where his writing works magic. I read this book on the train trip to work and home, it's amazing how the 3/4 hour trips seem like minutes. However it is annoying that the most interesting part always seem to come up as the journey ends, nearly missed my stop on a number of occasions !!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2001
Smith has certainly done it again with this fast paced ancient Egyptian thriller. Impossible to put down from the first page to the last, it carries you off to another world, another time altogether. The descriptions are so vivid you could swear you had seen everything he describes with your own eyes, and the storyline is, as always, utterly engrossing. His obvious love of ancient Egypt and his vast knowledge of the subject give the story such a realistic tone that you want to believe every word he has written to be the truth. A master story teller indeed, telling another riveting tale. Definately one to buy to read again and again and again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 28 April 2001
Oh, dear, Dick Francis syndrome! Where an accomplished writer of tautly-plotted thrillers succumbs in old(er) age to waffle and syrup. River God was an immensely exciting and moving book, one in which details of Egyptian life, culture, science never intruded into the plot but just made it more interesting. Big mistake on Smith's part to introduce 'magic powers' into the world he's created- why? It just makes the book so much less believable. Suspension of disbelief is a wonderful thing, but you can only do so much! Coming from anyone else, this would have been maybe 3-4 stars, but as a sequel to 'River God' it pales in comparison.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2001
Oh my God! I was expecting so much from this book. We all loved the adventures of Taita in the River God - an enthralling piece of literature. However here, the plot is endlessly predictable, with the young hero vanquishing every obstacle in his path. I have read several Wilbur Smith's novel and this always seems to be the main weakness: there are no gray area.
However my biggest cause for disappointment lays somewhere else: as a River God lover, I was expecting a bit more continuity from this novel: where are Queen Lostris' daughters (Nefer's aunts)? Wouldn't they have influence enough to protect their nephew? Worst of all: were is Nefer's mother, Pharaoh Tamose's Ethiopian wife? She is never even mentioned in name or presence in the book -- Odd when you consider the huge part she played in the previous installment.
Finally Taita himself only remotely reminds you of his former self, he sometimes seems to intervene with mystical powers only to resolve an otherwise blocked situation. And we dearly miss his own comments over the course of event.
Despite this the book is pleasant enough and isn't a bore - but still, one might have expected much more from such a veteran as Smith.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2002
This book could have been so much more. This is the feeling that I was left with , after finishing reading "Warlock". Of course, it is a very good novel with a fine plot and excellent descriptions of characters and places.
But I would somehow expect something more from the specific writer. Something that would make me read the novel again and again, as I did with "River God" (and with "Sunbird" ).
Regretfully, at some points the writer seems to utilize scenes from other novels or even plays, in order to come up with the desired result on his plot.(The most dissapointing scene was when Taita, the warlock, escapes from the Iksos palace by using the same technique that Obi-wan Kenobi used in Star Wars IV: Using the Force!)
Nevertheless, it is still a good book, that deserves a good position in my personnal library. And I certainly look forward for a sequel on this one.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 7 June 2001
Having read River God, and The seventh scroll, this story continues the Egyptian theme, but is slotted between the two. The seventh scroll was a fantastic read to follow on from River God, and a masterly stroke by Mr Smith. Warlock continues on from River god and tells the story of Taita guardian and protector over the Pharo's child, and tells the story of his rise to maturity and the struggles after his birthright is usurped by pretenders to the double crown of Egypt. A must for wilbur smith fans. but I would reccomend that you read river god first before warlock as there are many references in warlock to the first book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 August 2002
This tale of a grief stricken man pushed to harsh Egyptian desert through his pain after losing his beloved Lostris; the queen and goddess of Egypt.
Here in the desert he learns many skills, but the most valuable of these talents is the power of sorcery, the ability to read the minds of those who he is close to. He uses this magic to tear away those who threaten the child he has been sent to protect from the treachery of this very Egypt. The heart of his power lies in a gift from his missed Lostris and the task set by him by his dear goddess; This task is that to see her mear baby of a grandson to power to become an immortal such as she is.
This book gripped me I found myself walking around shops reading it, walking the dog reading it, and I even found myself in the bath reading. I could not bear to tear away and have to wait to read the next bit of this epic tale.
The detail of this book is amazing, Wilbur Smith adds an edge to an already intelectial story.
Ashley Longman (13)
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2008
After the somewhat disappointing The Seventh Scroll, I feared the series is deteriorating. Fortunately, Warlock is no disappointment. In fact, in some aspects it's even better than River God! I know is hard to believe, but its true.

Wilbur Smith is a master story-teller, and continues a great epic in superb fashion with his exquisite prose, fascinating characters and captivating story. It is masterfully written and the story's unfolding will surprise the most readers with its twists and turns. It will keep you hooked from start to finish.

It will make to laugh, it will make you cry, it will give you goose-bumps, it will leave you gaping with amazement... Read this book!
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