Aegypt (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 10 Oct 2013
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The acclaimed first novel in the Aegypt sequence.
About the Author
John Crowley was born in Maine in 1942 and grew up in Vermont, Kentucky and Indiana before moving to New York and taking up work in documentary films - an occupation he still pursues alongside his writing. THE DEEP, his first science fiction novel, was published in 1975 and was followed by BEASTS, ENGINE SUMMER and GREAT WORK OF TIME. With the publication of LITTLE, BIG in 1981 he won the WORLD FANTASY AWARD and was shortlisted for the HUGO, NEBULA and BSFA AWARDs.
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Top customer reviews
I was very impressed with the scope of Aegypt. Crowley has clearly read widely and worked what he has discovered - chiefly about the occult- into a carefully crafted fusion of story lines which require reflection by the reader in order to understand how they are linked. It is important to remember that this book is only a quarter of the whole, so a large part is simply setting the stage for the other three books.
In particular, for me - and why I disagree with Archy - the story surrounding Pierce Moffett is much less interesting than the segments from Fellowes Kraft's books about Dr John Dee, William Shakespeare and Giordano Bruno, which I found totally fascinating!
I've taken one star off because I do think that Aegypt would benefit from significant editing since Crowley does have a bit of a tendency to waffle on. Don't let that put you off though, it's a great, thought-provoking read!
One of the problems I had with the book, and one of the things I hated, was the way it kept drifting off into other half-completed stories from the middle ages. There's a writer, Fellowes Kraft, who has written novels set in this 'other' world, and which relate the adventures of various historical figures. So indulgent is John Crowley with this idea he beats the reader over the head with it, and so we get interminably dull passages featuring extracts from Kraft's novels - usually when they're being read by one of the characters of this novel.
The actual story of Pierce and the transferring of his life to a country town is rather slight, but very entertaining; the town's characters are vividly drawn. Unfortunately, in another rather ham-fisted attempt to demonstrate the world's alternatives, there are two characters with the same name. Confused? You will be.
Every time I thought I was getting the point I became bored with the many interruptions and frustrated by the author's demonstration of his own erudition, at the expense of clarity. But every time I was ready to chuck the thing across the room in frustration something would leap out and grip me and keep me reading, so I got to the end. Whether I'll move on to Book Two I don't know. There's a nugget of gold somewhere in this novel. Unfortunately, you have to wade through endless verbiage and pretentious musings to get to it. Shame really.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The narrative occurs in two time periods, 20th Century America and the Renaissance. Stylistically it is elegant and philosophically self-reflexive. The bent of the novel, though ostensibly a fantasy, is heavily toward literary fiction where character, style, and ideas trump story, plot, and action. This is an intellectual work and just as slow moving as this implies.
However, if the reader sticks with it they will be rewarded with beautiful writing, complex characters, and, perhaps, spiritual enlightenment. Aegypt is a book about academics and academia—be prepared for that when reading it. There are also heavy doses of hermeticism, philosophy, literary allusions, and wildly interpreted history.
This book is not for everyone, but for those drawn to the literary end of the reading spectrum this will be a very rewarding read.
Highly Recommended for readers of literary/philosophical fiction who also have an interest in fantasy and the fantastic.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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