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4.0 out of 5 stars46
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on 13 January 2013
I've been trying to get hold of a copy of this for my friend for ages! In doing so, I dug out my own copy and plunged back into the enchanted Ryhope Wood. There aren't many ancient woodlands left in Britain now but I reckon they would have some of its character, haunted by the spirits and denizens of the past. A magical book, in more ways than one and deserves to be better known.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 June 2015
After a couple of chapters I nearly stopped reading as it seemed like a teenage magic story. I continued (largely because I had the audio version with superb reading by Rupert Degas) and soon realised it is not a silly magic tale at all, rather a tale of deep psychological magic based on Jungian archetypes.

The story is quite well told but somehow it didn't fulfil the promise of the idea it is based upon. Overall I found it a reasonably enjoyable read but nearer to 3 stars for "ok" than 4 stars for "good".

The biggest weaknesses for me were the unconvincing ending and the foolish but honourable behaviour of the hero, which struck me as slightly ridiculous. I also wish the author had used the word "obsessed" less frequently. Every time someone was "obsessed" I thought of the old maxim that writers should "show and not tell". Last, and perhaps least, the story hinges on an incredible coincidence (without spoilers: the narrator meets someone who is probably the only person in the world with a certain history relevant to the story).
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on 27 August 1999
This is not the kind of book I would usually read but it was bought for me as a present and once I got round to reading it I couldn't put it down. The best book I've read in a very long time, just hope I can find the other books in the series somewhere.
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on 2 August 2008
My favourite book ever!! I borrowed it from my brother about 20 years ago now and read it during the summer holidays and must have re-read it once a year ever since. And each time i do i find something new. (Or have possibly forgotten!) Robert Holdstock's the real deal. It's heavy going sometimes especially in the brilliant sequel Lavondyss, but this stuff will stay with you forever. Filled with brilliant and original ideas and 3 dimensional characters. Arguably the best book in the Mythago series but if you like this then youre still going to crave the rest. If you read this and don't like it then there's really not much hope for you. Shame on you. Off you go and and read Moonheart by Charles de lint. zzzzzzzzzzzz
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on 3 January 2013
If you enjoy fantasy stories; ancient British mythology; that ability to step into other worlds and other times then this is the book for you. Utterly fascinating.
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on 26 April 2010
This is book is an amazing work in fantasy (and it can only be described as fantasy) which melds our world and history with that of dreams and the fruits they can bear. There are no magicical battles and dragons but there are amazingly penned characters and a twisting plot which at once enthralls, amazes and confuses and no shortage of fantasy imaging and creatures. The best alternative fantasy book I have ever read and possibly the best fantasy book full-stop.

RIP Robert Holdstock.
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on 24 April 2015
What a wonderful book. I first came across RH with the Night
Hunter series, but somehow managed to completely the Mythago Wood novels.

So now more than 30 years later, I've finally discovered one of the best fantasy works I've ever read.
Wildly imaginative, beautifully written and compelling, this book is an absolute joy.

I never discuss story lines in my reviews - that the book's
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One of my favourite "fantasy" books - "Mythago Wood" blends the modern day with a wonderful cast of English mythological characters. Sometimes hard to keep up with, this book repays a serious reader with a wonderful insight into how our forbears world was populated with gods and demons and magic. Utterly unique and utterly magical.
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on 24 July 2012
I loved the first part of this. I was all ready to give it five stars. I suspect it started life as a novella that the author decided he'd expand. This is possibly why I found the second part slightly less intriguing. By the final section, I was somewhat bemused. It read like it belonged in a completely different book! The wood, from being a local mystery, expands into a whole 'other' world, typical of the fantasy novels that the first part made such a refreshing change from.

I loved the low-key, domestic setting of the first half of the book, and the element of mystery that is built up by the encroaching wood. But when the two lead characters (an implausible and mis-matched pair) head into the wood to find its heartland, not to mention the equally unlikely love interest, well, it all went a bit awry for me. I started to become aware of the novel's inconsistencies, lack of logic (just because something's going to be a fantasy doesn't preclude it from consistency!) and generally poor characterisation. I never really felt the two leads gelled together as an adventuring pair. I felt that the author was already setting a scene for the inevitable, and I suspect interminable sequels. Hence the characters that pop up from nowhere, spout some expository back-story in the form of a confusing, but probably really very clever, myth, and disappear again. By the end, I was quite glad to see the back of it, especially since the final confrontation - on its way from the start of the final section - was just about the biggest anti-climax in any fantasy novel I've read.

I know there are a lot of people that love this book, and after that opening part I really wanted to be among them. But in the end it was just too muddled, too confusing, and quite a disappointment. Still, I give it three stars for the first two sections, which I enjoyed very much.
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on 3 June 2008
This book was highly recommended, and had a beautiful cover. I did enjoy the sense of mystery that envelopes the eponymous Ryhope Wood, and also the depiction of the wood's powers, and its hold upon Stephen's father, who leaves detailed notes about his discoveries of the wood, and gradually withdrawn into the dark shadow of the wood. The same power, which has also consumed Stephen's brother Christopher, then threatens Stephen himself. This was all quite interesting, as far as it goes. However, I found the focus on the female "archetype", Guiwenneth, a little lacking somehow. The weight given to the "allure" of this girl did not seem in proportion to the rest of the story. It dominated it and undercut what could otherwise have been quite an intriguing and dark story. This may well just be a personal quibble; admittedly I did not enjoy the character, which may have had an effect. In this connection, I found most of the characters unpleasant, with the possible exception of Stephen's father, himself a very flawed person. So as the story built up to the "climax", I was relatively uninterested in the outcome either way.

I think this story might appeal to those with a degree of interest in English mythology. That was an element which I did find enjoyable.

Overall, this was a quite unusual book, but one that I cannot personally recommend.
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