- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (9 Nov. 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1857989376
- ISBN-13: 978-1857989373
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.3 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 186,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Pavane (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 9 Nov 2000
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The definitive alternate history - an engrossing future that never was.
About the Author
Keith Roberts (1935-2000) Keith Roberts was an English author and illustrator, who did more than most to define the look of UK Science fiction magazines in the sixties. He won four BFSA awards for his writing and his art, and edited the magazine Science Fantasy (later Impulse) for a time. He was also nominated for Hugo, Nebula (twice) and Arthur C. Clarke awards. He is perhaps best known for his seminal alternative history novel, Pavane, praised by George R. R. Martin: 'No alternate history novel of the past thirty years comes close to equalling Pavane'.
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel is told through a series of six 'Measures', vignettes of story and mood focusing on a different character each time. While each works separately, taken together they form a tapestry linking thematic and narrative concerns - producing, ultimately, a beautifully-conceived and wonderfully effective tale of twentieth century England stifled by an all-powerful, anti-progress Catholic Church.
The alternate England is a triumph of understated, economical world-building (something that many of today's fantasy novels could learn from, perhaps). It is filled with enduring images - the Signallers' towers, the steam engines, the land held in winter's icy grasp - made all the more striking and memorable because we are shown them through the eyes of convincing and distinctive characters.
My only criticism would be of the 'Coda', which feels superfluous, and far too neat. Otherwise, this is a moving story of a transforming world, all the more effective for being incompletely explained.
Keith Roberts's alternative world has many similarities with that imagined by Amis in "The Alteration". Roberts's point of departure occurs in 1588; Queen Elizabeth I is assassinated, resulting in a civil war and a successful invasion of England by the Spanish Armada. Protestantism is eventually destroyed, both in Britain and in Europe, and the Roman Catholic Church rules supreme over Western Christendom, including the European colonies in the New World. "The Alteration" also deals with a world where a reactionary, intolerant Catholicism has triumphed in Europe, although in Amis's world Protestantism still survives across the Atlantic in the "Republic of New England".
In the world of "Pavane", England remains a semi-feudal society, dominated by the Church and a powerful aristocracy.Read more ›
Roberts writes vivid, descriptive prose, with a poetic and almost romantic sensibility which many sci-fi writers should take note from. This book is wonderfully controlled, and its measures were paced beautifully, leaving me racing through the book whilst actuallly trying to hold myself back to appreciate at greater length the quality of Roberts' writing. The characters are full of life, yet are situated within a larger social context upon which their actions cause progressively greater ripples of disruption. One of the things I love about sci-fi is that good sci-fi novels so often comment upon the interaction between individuals and socio-cultural contexts on a huge scale, whether global, inter-planetary or truly cosmic in their scope (I definitely suggest reading Olaf Stapledon for the latter). The freedom that sci-fi gives its authors means that some really interesting and progressive ideas can be discussed and logically worked out to provide the reader with a really intriguing thought experiment.
Pavane fits that mould to some extent, but crucially never loses its interest in the concerns of the individual; concepts are fully worked out but never become overly sober or dominant because the prose is so passionately evocative. Whilst Pavane is a novel of revolution, the conflicts between religion, state and individual are never wrongly simplified, and the book left me wondering about what it really meant for some time afterwards.
My only complaint is that I wouldn't mind the book being longer, I would have happily read it for ages.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I chose this as I'm a fan of alternate history and what ifs, so its premise intrigued me and the reviews also seemed favourable. Read morePublished 11 months ago by DM London
Keith Roberts' most famous book, and justly so.
The Spanish Armada succeeded and in the mid 1960s England is still a theocracy ruled from Rome, where the church has... Read more
A must read alternative history especially if you live in Dorset. You will know all the locations.Published on 31 Jan. 2015 by Philip Gabe
Wonderful stuff, as is much of Keith Robert's work. Steampunk before anybody used the term perhaps, with fantastic detail, doomed romance and a dose of mysticism thrown in. Read morePublished on 3 Mar. 2014 by Jimnydriver
Other reviews have set out the scenario of this alternative history It is not, as others have observed, really a novel at all, but a series of stories, with a common setting in... Read morePublished on 27 Feb. 2014 by Amazon Customer
This was one of my old favourite books in my youth, re-read after a gap of about 30 years. On the whole it stands up well. Read morePublished on 21 Feb. 2014 by Brian Clegg