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The Well at the World's End: Volume I: 1 Paperback – 20 Mar 2000

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: Borgo Press (20 Mar. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587150883
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587150883
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,482,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this as a young man obsessed with Tolkien and it paled by comparison 50 years later i enjoyed it rather more this is a traditional quest with a mythical goal,the Well that gives wisdom health long life and happiness Our hero Ralph ,the traditional youngest son ,is suitably heroic and brave and also extremely attracted to and loved by more than one beauty After numerous perils are overcome Ralph and the eventual love of his life reach the Well taste the water and reap the benefits The return to his homeland is reminescent of the Scouring of the Shire as Ralph with the aid of the friends he has made on his travels defeat the country's invaders A long satisfying read which I'm sure influenced Tolkien i'm sure it should be better known
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Format: Paperback
Prince Ralph, youngest of four and apple of the king and queen's eye, steals himself away, against their will, on a quest to find adventure and see some of the world beyond the land of Upmeads. He finds adventure, love and honour, performs brave deeds, drinks from The Well at the World's End (which extends life and youth) and finally, comes home to rescue his kingdom from foreign invaders.

As with all the William Morris stories I've read so far, there is no character development of the conscious, deliberate sort that we've come to expect from modern fantasy writers. The characters are delineated by their deeds, by the difficult and dangerous situations they have to overcome and the terrible tyrants they have to deal with or fight. So in some ways the tale is related almost like a television news story, just telling what happened without going into any depth about the reasons for the events or how those involved felt about them, but perhaps giving a brief description of their reactions to the things that happened. It's clear that Ralph is a good lad and his main faults seem to be a shortish fuse and a lack humour. Both the women he falls in love with are brave and kind. Even though the author hasn't furnished us with their deep and complicated inner workings, we know enough about them to care when bad things happen to them and their lives are in danger.

Morris had a wonderful imagination and I'm glad he shared it with us. When he started writing these fantasy stories, he had no pattern to follow (being the first) and I wouldn't criticise him for not putting in all the ingredients that the fans of modern fantasy have come to expect. The criticism of the previous reviewer, that the story is full of references to Jesus seems quite unfair.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a story about life that is full of lessons that are still relevant today. A story that could be an amazing film. Although written long ago and in an archaic english it is well worth sticking with it to get used to the language and fully enjoy the experience of a superb story by an author whose imagination has probably never been equalled.
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Format: Paperback
I used to think William Morris was just an artist - his paintings beautiful pre-raphealite masterpieces, but his only artistic output. However, it turns out he was also a poet and an author, and possibly (according to the introduction to my copy of the book, at least) the first real fantasy writer, the one who Tolkien looked to for inspiration.
When Ralph runs away from his home in Upmeads in search of adventures, little does he realise what awaits him. No sooner has Ralph stepped outside the borders of his father's kingdom than he first hears mention of the WELL AT THE WORLD'S END (capitalised throughout, for no obvious reason), and gradually he comes to see that there his journey will inevitably lead. From escaping danger in the Burg of Four Friths to finding love in the wilderness with the Lady of the Land of Abundance; from travelling with chapmen (traders) to thralldom (slavery) in Utterbol; no amount of hitherfores and meseemeths can keep Ralph from his quest.
'The Well at the World's End' was William Morris' second novel, and apparently both longer and better than the first ('The Wood Beyond the Worlds'). It's set in a different world (which is nevertheless full of references to Jesus and other recognisable Earth beings that no modern fantasy writer could get away with) and tells the story of a young prince named Ralph. In true fairytale style it's very difficult to feel at all attached to the characters (it uses such fancy language you spend half your time translating, and doesn't bother really trying to get inside their heads) but it's still a good adventure, and anyone who can manage the language of Lord of the Rings without a problem should read it, just for the challenge.
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