Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Book of Skulls ([Gollancz fantasy & macabre]) Hardcover – 14 Sep 1978

4.0 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
£21.40
Hardcover, 14 Sep 1978
£26.04
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
click to open popover

Special Offers and Product Promotions

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.




Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Littlehampton Book Services Ltd; 1st Edition edition (14 Sept. 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575025123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575025127
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,371,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

From 1967 to 1972, Robert Silverberg had a burst of extraordinary creativity during which he wrote most of his finest novels. The Book of Skulls (1972) is one of these. Following the cryptic manuscript which provides the title, four young men cross America in search of a forgotten Shangri-La in the cactus-ridden desert north of Phoenix, Arizona--a monastery whose adepts hold the keys of immortality and supposedly follow a tradition handed down since Atlantis.

Candidates for eternal life must present themselves at the "Skullhouse" as a foursome. The brothers are happy to provide training in their secrets (including tantric sex)--but there's a price. The Ninth Mystery in the Book of Skulls states: "Two of thee we undertake to admit to our fold. Two must go into darkness". One of those four college students must willingly commit suicide. One is fated to be murdered by his own friends.

The narrative shuttles between their viewpoints, each distinct and sharply characterised. Rich, handsome, upper-class Timothy doesn't believe in immortality and is just going along with the gag. Eli the Jewish intellectual believes passionately. Ned, who is openly gay, has his own agenda involving Oliver, a Midwestern farm boy with tortured depths who says the Skullhouse is his only hope. Each in turn undergoes an ordeal of dreadful self-knowledge, after which the impossible choice of who wins and who loses seems natural, even inevitable.

Though only marginally SF, The Book of Skulls is a fine, scarifying novel of character. Unforgettable. --David Langford --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

"[This] is Robert Silverberg at his very best, and when [he's] at his best, no one is better."
-George R.R. Martin
"This is, simply put, one of my favorite nightmare novels."
-Harlan Ellison, author of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
"Flawlessly written . . . as close to poetic beauty as any contemporary science fiction novel I've ever read."
-James Blish, Hugo Award--winning author of A Case of Conscience"
"
"The Book of Skulls is a revelation-it was a masterpiece when I first read it, and remains a masterpiece to this day."
-Greg Bear, New York Times bestselling author of Darwin's Radio
"Silverberg is a master writer in any genre-and now you're going to find out why they call them 'thrillers.' "
-John Shirley, author of Demons
"Where Silverberg goes today, science fiction will follow tomorrow."
-Isaac Asimov

[This] is Robert Silverberg at his very best, and when [he s] at his best, no one is better.
George R.R. Martin
This is, simply put, one of my favorite nightmare novels.
Harlan Ellison, author of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
Flawlessly written . . . as close to poetic beauty as any contemporary science fiction novel I ve ever read.
James Blish, Hugo Award winning author of A Case of Conscience"
"
The Book of Skulls is a revelation it was a masterpiece when I first read it, and remains a masterpiece to this day.
Greg Bear, New York Times bestselling author of Darwin s Radio
Silverberg is a master writer in any genre and now you re going to find out why they call them thrillers.
John Shirley, author of Demons
Where Silverberg goes today, science fiction will follow tomorrow.
Isaac Asimov" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

See all Product Description

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Four frat boys depart on a quest for immortality based on some old manuscript about a skull-worshipping cult: now, can we expect anything worthwhile from a premise so sophomoric? We can if it is Robert Silverberg writing, evidently.

With the right balance of wit, erudition, humour, and earnestness, Silverberg pulls it off. The House of Skulls exists: that is made plausible enough. And a proper dose of irony prevents this immortal-life-and-death mystery, with its Aztec and ancient symbology and mumbo jumbo, from ever veering into ridicule. Anyway, The Book of Skulls, though classified as science fiction, is actually a piece of social and private commentary. The point is in the relationship between the four students: an East Coast wasp scion, the overachieving son of poor Kansas farmers, a young Jewish New York philologist, and a flippant, gay, aspiring poet. Silverberg's desert classic is both extremely funny and penetrating, written with brio and truthfully told - and the trick of having all four main protagonists as narrators works especially well.

More than that, The Book of Skulls does not shrink from broader subjects: friendship, trust, mortality, atonement. In this sense, it belongs to a 1960s and 70s sci-fi tradition prepared to take on big themes. Think Stranger in a Strange Land, or some of Philip K Dick's novels. This is a metaphysical work. And it has a refreshing vitality, an optimism one fails to find in nowadays equivalents. It dares to be about something, unlike the shrivelled dystopias being churned out by more current authors, the meagre servings that are McCarthy's The Road, say. The Book of Skulls is not quite on a par with Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz, but almost.
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Eli, Timothy, Ned and Oliver are four students who are driving to the Arizona desert. According to a manuscript Eli found there's a sect there that can offer immortality to anyone who can complete its initiation process. However, possible members have to enter in groups of four and two of those must die in order for the other two to succeed.

This is a short, well written novel at 220 pages and the story is told alternately from the point of view of each of the students. The most interesting part of the novel for me was when they had to confess something they'd done to each other as part of the initiation.

I did enjoy reading it even though there are no big twists in the story, not sure if true SF fans would enjoy it though.
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
It's a pity this was released in the "SF Masterworks" series, as this has absolutely nothing to do with science fiction. SF freaks might be disappointed if they expect something else.
Still, this is an amazing novel. Not much happens, so this isn't for you if you are looking for an all-out adventure novel. It's an introspective story about the search for immortality, and the price people are willing to pay for it. It's also a novel about hope, morals and regrets. You get right into the minds of the four characters. Great stuff.
Comment 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
By A Customer on 16 April 2003
Format: Paperback
As i am sure you have read in other reviews,this is in part a liitle recognised masterpiece. A wonderfully crafted account of four students Journey into the unknown. Silverberg exersises more than subtle brilliance in his exploration of their interesting backrounds, and the way in which these affect their thoughts and motives. Subsequently, and for the most part, the book is absolutely captivating, and having read the first two thirds of the story this would probably mark the end of my review. However...
Having provided an excellent insight into the characters personalities throughout their journey, I felt that it was then time for Silverberg to dig into the expected Sci-Fi element as they reach the house of skulls. Instead he continues to pile on the tabboo, which increasingly becomes the central aspect of the storline. This, along with the graphical descriptions which are already verging on unduely disturbing, become repetetive and implausible. At the same time the caracters move from being controversial to, in my opinion implausibly outlandish. I certainly have no problem with this being a book of contemplation rather than events, but it seemingly has no climax and just wanders to a relatively twistless end. Perhaps i miss the point, probably Silverberg's subtle brilliance is beyond me. But I was not left with the great sense of revelation or enigma that i had expected.
Although this is for the most part an excellent book that will have a lasting impression on me.
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Robert Silverbergs novel defies a rigid classification into any one genre, and I would doubt that the Sci Fi label best suits it.
It is a sprawling "road movie" type of novel following four college boys on their quest to discover the truth about the book of skulls, and about the "Skullhouse", a monastery built in the deserts of Arizona where immortality awaits those who dare its challenges and trials.
The book is part psychological thriller, part male bonding tale, as we follow the four on their quest, see how their views and opinions differ, see how they interact and perceive what lies ahead.
What really turns the tension up a notch is the discovery that for every two who are accepted into the cult and granted immortality, then two must die. Certain assumptions seem to grow within the group as to who will perish, though this is never vocalised.
As they discover that the Skullhouse exists, then it becomes a macabre, gripping ride through to the end, to see who, if any, will survive the trials, and who will fall by the wayside. You will be gripped right through to the final resolution within the final few pages.
The characterisations are strong, and you will sympathise with each in turn. I was appalled that none of them gave a great deal of thought to what they were letting themselves in for, that although they had superficially thought about who might die in the quest, none of them had really thought through the repercussions. On one level then, it is a story about being careful what you wish for, as it may come true. It is about rushing into something without thinking about the consequences.
Buy this book now. An absolute gem.
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews


Look for similar items by category


Feedback