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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-constructed comedy of poorly-constructed fences!
Magnus Mills' has crafted a particularly well-written black comedy around the unlikely theme of fence construction. In 'The Restraint of Beasts', the English narrator receives the dubious honour of being appointed supervisor of two Scottish fence-builders: the bone idle Richie and his even lazier offsider Tam. Both Richie and Tam are live for the day - or at least a few...
Published on 3 May 2005 by gavinrob2001

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was going so well until the end
I can't give this book the 5 stars others have awarded, even though I would agree with most of the other comments; the book is a good read, an excellent black comedy.
The only problem is the way it is finished off - the story has been carefully crafted and the possibility of some more delicious moments meticulously set up. And then .... nothing! As I was reading...
Published on 15 Jan 1999


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-constructed comedy of poorly-constructed fences!, 3 May 2005
Magnus Mills' has crafted a particularly well-written black comedy around the unlikely theme of fence construction. In 'The Restraint of Beasts', the English narrator receives the dubious honour of being appointed supervisor of two Scottish fence-builders: the bone idle Richie and his even lazier offsider Tam. Both Richie and Tam are live for the day - or at least a few pints at night - and never seem to have two pennies to rub together. The novel faithfully captures the sheer drudgery of repetitive and mundane physical labour, as well as the humour that can occur in such workplaces. The work of this team as they construct supposedly high-tensile fences comes under a great deal of scrutiny from management, clients and rivals - with darkly funny consequences. Suffice it to say that there are many laughs in this quirky novel that has resonances of classic English comedies such as 'Withnail and I' and 'The League of Gentlemen'.
Magnus Mills' debut novel would have been a possible 5-star contender for most of the journey. However, the novel becomes significantly blacker and less humourous in the final stages with no apparently good reason, ending most abruptly in an annoying and unsatisfying manner. Nevertheless, 'The Restraint of Beasts' is a highly entertaining, off-beat black comedy that accurately portrays the lifestyle of workers fenced in by economic forces.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was going so well until the end, 15 Jan 1999
By A Customer
I can't give this book the 5 stars others have awarded, even though I would agree with most of the other comments; the book is a good read, an excellent black comedy.
The only problem is the way it is finished off - the story has been carefully crafted and the possibility of some more delicious moments meticulously set up. And then .... nothing! As I was reading it I was thinking, "this is good, how is it going to be resolved?" It wasn't, much to my annoyance.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Effortless genius, 8 Aug 2008
How is it possible to write such a beautiful, engaging and un-put-downable book without any discernible plot? Mills does, and it is a work of genius; one that deserves to become a classic.

Some guys build a fence. That's about it. But what characters! Mills has an ability to write character and scene in a way that makes you love even the most unlovable of them. No author since Steinbeck has managed it so convincingly. His prose is clean, clear and full of life, never seeking to impress, but doing so time after time.

This book is not for everyone - but everyone should give it a go. It's fresh, unusual, and never to be forgotten!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How bizarre, 13 Sep 2003
By A Customer
What a great book! Everything is written with superb understatement to the point where you eventually come to think that every strange occurence in this book is completely normal.

There isn't much else you can say about it. All I would say is, don't expect an in-depth character study or a deeply moving novel. Relax before you read it, then laugh your head off when you do read it - I did.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious!, 16 Oct 2004
By 
David Powell (Wales - UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I first read this book on my mother's recomendation, however the recomendation comming from a parent meant that it couldn't be good. We never agree about books. But she was so entusiastic about this book that we entered a pact, she would read Terry Pratchet's Small Gods and I would read Magnus Mills' Restraint Of Beasts.
As she read Small Gods there was a noticable amount of giggling and sniggering. However after reading it she of course denied it, she would never concede to liking a fantasy book!
I on the other hand loved the story telling of Magnus Mills, reading the book felt like listening to a good story around a camp fire, albeit a bit of a sureal story. I'm not going to spoil the book but I can say that after reading it you wll never look at the countryside in the same light again.
This book would certainly suit those of you who like TV comedies like Monty Python, League Of Gentlemen and Black Books. I now own the majority of Magnus' books.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny and skillfully crafted, 17 July 2000
By A Customer
This is one of the few books I've ever read that really made me laugh out loud. The synopsis describes what the book is about accurately enough, but it takes real skill to make fence-making interesting and amusing (no offence to fence-makers). The style of the book is also wonderful. The end confused me for a while, but without wishing to give too much away, makes perfect sense when you think about it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Will someone please tell us what happened at the end!?, 17 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Great read, thoroughly enjoyed it, loved the deadpan humour, but, oh, the last page. Am I missing something? Did the final chapter not make it to the printers? I thought maybe my copy had been bound wrongly (honest!), so I went back and re-read the finale, but still couldn't make any sense of it. A fantastic debut spoiled by, well, THAT ending. What a shame. Up to page 214 and a half it's a 5 crown book, but those last few paragraphs drag it down to 3. A bit like scoring an own goal in the last minute. You know the feeling.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully plot-less book mirroring plot-less lives., 8 Feb 2001
By 
Mr. K. Dawson "KFD" (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Some previous reviewers seem to have held it against the book that it `seems' to be plot-less, that it simply meanders. Well in one sense it does, but in doing that it's mirroring precisely the relatively `plot-less' lives of the two central characters, Tam and Richie.
I was taken straight back to my days as a student, labouring in the holidays building golf courses. I met, sadly, many `Tam and Richie's' - always skint (or, more often, in continual debt), always ready for an excuse to stop work, never looking any further forward than Friday night.
Think about it, it's a crushing life to look forward too - monotonous, back-breaking, with nothing to show for it at the end. Magnus Mills captures that hopelessness perfectly. The answers to most questions ARE "dunno", "nothing.." or "forgot".
Having just read another debut novel that was lauded for its `evocative and mesmeric' writing but which I found over-written and too clever-by-half I'd recommend "The Restraint of Beasts" every time. Writing clean, understated prose is a far harder job than its opposite. Call it a bonus that the book is also very dark and funny.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Much ado about fences and sausages., 22 Oct 2012
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Until recently I knew nothing of Magnus Mills - a situation which, sadly, no longer obtains. This long-winded shaggy dog story seems to have taken in many, though none that I have yet encountered are able to explain precisely what this book achieves. Yes, there are all the fashionable references to black comedy but to what end? None of the characters develop and the droll, matter-of - fact tone soon palls. This reminds me very much of the occasion when people went round banging musical instruments at random in a BBC music studio. What inevitably followed was all manner of critiques in the broadsheets finding this to be a highly original piece of work pushing forward the boundaries of our musical experience etc. At best this novel might have made a passable Monty Python five minute sketch. I've little doubt it will return to oblivion if it is not already in secure possession of that state.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly entertaining, 22 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Restraint of Beasts (Kindle Edition)
Read this as part of a book club - so not something I would have necessarily picked myself. It was enjoyable - in a very weird way..!
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