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Ancient Echoes Paperback – 10 Sep 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; 2009 edition (10 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575084189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575084186
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,417,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Book Description

A tale of ancient mythic wonder and a mesmerising psychological fantasy thriller by 'one of the finest living crafters of myth' (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY)

From the Back Cover

A mesmerizing psychological fantasy thriller.

Jack Chatwin has visions. Vivid experiences of a world in parallel to our own; brief encounters with a human couple, Greyface and Greenface, fleeing a terrible event in their own world. But is he witnessing events from the past? From the future? From a world in parallel to, or alien to his own?

Only when Greyface escapes into Jack’s reality does the startling truth of what Jack has been experiencing start to occur to him. But Greenface has failed to follow her partner: she is still lost and in danger in a world that Jack must start to understand and enter, a hunter himself in a magical illusory land – his task to reunite the runners.

And everything he loves depends upon his success.

“A mythmaker of originality.”
THE TIMES

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 31 Mar. 1999
Format: Paperback
Sitting here feeling astounded is perhaps the simplest way of describing how I feel after having read Ancient Echoes. This book is amazing and is the best example yet of the mythago novels that Holdstock has written. The ideas of being chased by a city that literally ploughs its way through the earth after you is simply fantastic (you have to read the book to understand this!).
Holdstock has an incredible way of describing the boundary that exists between reality and imagination and in Echoes this boundary is very flexible indeed. The story essentially concerns the visions that a young boy, Jack Chatwin has about two humans, Greyface and Greenface. As Jack grows older the dreams and visions that he has get more explicit and at times their effects cross over into the real world - or do they. And so once again we have the core of a Holdstock novel. The abstraction of imagination becoming reality is a concept that Holdstock is the master of.
Ancient Echoes drags you along at an excellent pace with an ending that is simply superb. Anyone who has seen and understood the film Brazil will love this book. Holdstock is the quintessential mythmaker I have no trouble in imagining that some of his ancient ancestors were shaman who sat around an open fire regaling the tribe with mythagos of their own. I look forward to his next work with baited breath.
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Format: Paperback
This book seems to have divided reviewers. It also divided me. Giving it a single rating is a compromise, because some elements are worthy of five stars, and some of two.

Other reviews give some idea of the plot, so I'll skip that. I found the first hundred pages or so, the story of the teenage Jack, brilliant and intriguing - I deliberately read it slowly, pausing often both to let its wonderfulness sink in, and to make sure I didn't finish it too quickly. This, I thought, was what English fantasy was truly about, a more adult version of the stories, such as Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising, that had gripped me as a child. I had my first doubt when I checked what page I was on, and how many were left, at about page 100. I had the sense then that the story should have been about halfway through, and I was a bit perturbed to find it only a quarter done. On the other hand, I thought, if the rest were told with the same skill, I would be happy.

Unfortunately, it wasn't, quite. For me, Jack as an adult didn't work half so well as he did as a teen. In his teenage years, the narrative felt like a much older man telling the story of a kid, but at least Holdstock makes an effort to get the feel of his age about right (though he gets the release date of "Elite" wrong by about four years - you can guess when I grew up!). When Jack is in his mid-twenties, however, Holdstock seems to lapse into his own voice, the voice of a man in late middle-age, and this feels especially wrong during the first-person sections.

There is also the problem of plot. Holdstock falls in love too much with his own creation (as does Jack, in the end), and seems to think that any section set in the prehistoric underworld will be fascinating in itself.
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I don't normally write reviews but feel compelled on this occasion seeing the mixed bag of reviews this book has already garnished. This book is extraordinary. I don't think I have ever read anything quite like it. I found it totally compelling and finished it in a couple of days. I wish I had the same depth of imagination that Robert Holdstock had to produce a work of fiction such as this. To describe it as "Sci-fi" or "Fantasy" really does this amazing book a disservice as it is so much more than just that.

The only other book I was reminded of whilst reading this was "That Hideous Strength" by C. S. Lewis not because of the similarity of the subject matter but in the sheer scope of the ideas both books try to tackle.

It's not the best book ever written and the prose is sometimes a bit clunky, I would like to have read a more literary writer's description of the city of Glanum rising from the earth as I don't think Holdstock sometimes gives his ideas the full justice they deserve, but for wonderful storytelling Holdstock is a master. From the reviews it is obvious this book is a bit marmite but I implore everyone to give it a go. You will never read anything else like it.
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Format: Paperback
I can't believe this book hasn't had more positive reviews??!! Its simple really; if you're into the kind of fantasy where people (usually dwarves or elves i suppose) are on a quest for a sword and plan to rid the world of evil or whatevers bothering them, then you're not going to like this. You're not going to like any of Robert Holdstocks books I wouldn't think. Dont let that put you off trying mind! Much like The FEtch and Merlins Wood and even Celtica etc.. there are elements of the Mythago novels in Ancient Echoes though its not directly linked. Not that it matters. If you like the Mythago novels then I cant see why you wouldnt like this. And no ones on a quest for a magic sword either. Thank god.
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Format: Paperback
It seems this book tends to divide people. I happen to love it. Like Mythago wood, its an epic blend of fantasy, psychology, and myth. There are romantic themes that are touching without being sentimental or overwrought. Characters are likeable and complex. A stunning and original book, highly recommended.
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