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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 19 September 2001
The person who said this book reads like a trip on acid was spot on which is a bit daft of me to say since I've never tried acid but anyway...
This book was my introduction to Robert Rankin. I read it for the first time in '96 and I recently re-read it. And it was just as enjoyable as the first time.
Due to a reality fracture the world leaves the age of science and enters the time of legends and myths where the formerly chronically unemployed (and for some mysterious reason recipient of the Queen's Award for Industry award) Maxwell Karrion finds himself Max Carrion, Imagineer. Carrion has to set out on a quest to do the bidding of an evil magician and here he encounters such things as traveling TVs, a bus whorshipping cult, news crumpets and barrack-room smut dressed up as arcane knight-speak.
I've only read two other books by Rankin and they were rather disappointing compared to this one ('The Greatest Show off Earth', 'Apocalypso'). I have high hopes for the Brentford books, however. Anyway, my advice is that if you haven't read anything by Robert Rankin before you could do a lot worse than starting with this one.
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VINE VOICEon 6 December 2004
Robert Rankin's 12th novel, and only his second (after The Greatest Show Off Earth) that isn't part of a series, The Garden of Unearthly Delights is a perfect introduction to this comedy genius. Normally Rankin keeps one foot in reality (or at least Brentford), but this novel finds him tackling the sort of pure fantasy satire of early Terry Pratchett (though obviously rather more unhinged). The novel doesn't start particularly strongly however, as the initial pages of hero Max Karrien waking up a century in the future in a world that has shifted out of a scientific age into a fantasy age are very rambling. Max gets into some amusing scrapes with a bunch of On The Buses cultists and has a disastrous attempt to re-introduce advertising via electricity-free man-sized 'live action' TV's, but these seem to be sketches in search of a plot. Unlike his previous 'double-team' novels (Cornelius & Tuppe, Omally & Pooley, Raymond & Simon etc) Rankin also only has one hero here, so the novel sticks with Max Karrien on every page in a very linear fashion, and with no cutaways his aimless wanderings start to become a little boring.
Thankfully after a hundred pages of this the plot finally kicks into gear, as Max has his soul stolen by a magician, and is sent on a quest to recover a mechanical woman to save his life. From here on in The Garden of Unearthly Delights is pretty much flawless, as Max encounters such various threats as the rat-like Skaven (freely nicked by Rankin from the Warhammer games) and a very Monty Python-ish section where a bunch of effete knights use such impenetrable vernacular as "Me thinks Lord Percy has a swidgen for a billydock". Rankin wraps his plot up with some fantastic twists, as the true nature of this new fantasy world is revealed, and Max's vital contribution in the books early chapters makes for a clever dénouement as Rankin reveals just what is going on.
The early aimlessness of the novel just stops it from getting the full five stars, but The Garden of Unearthly Delights is still a treat - one of Rankin's best book, and a perfect one for new-comers to try out, especially Pratchett fans looking for something smuttier, more inventive, and funnier...
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on 20 January 2014
I bought this book because the title appealed to me, so it was a bit of a surprise package for me.


The author’s style of writing is spectacular. So spectacular that I find it difficult to put into words, though I’m going to try.

He writes how you and I speak. For example, when trying to dismount someone from a horse, a character shouts “toss him off!”, to which the main character, Maxwell, responds with not wanting any silly willy jokes in a moment of battle. He makes remarks like “on the tippiest of tip-toes” which, in an instant, we can all see in our minds.

The book is fantasy / adventure, not a book I would normally read and yet I can’t put this one down. The story, for Maxwell, is one struggle to another, with a hopeful resolution. This book is for both male and female from sixteen years onwards.

I wish I could write like this.

Well done, Mr. Rankin.
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on 14 March 2014
Typically Rankin, this starts of really weird and just keeps on being weird, which to me makes the book all the more interesting. Lets be honest you wouldnt read Robert Rankin if you didnt want strange. Go delve into this book and see where it takes you!
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on 20 November 1999
This is an incredible book, in that it appears to re-write itself every time you read it, and reads like a fantastical trip on acid. This is probably not for the Rankin virgin, but is a true tour-de-force for afficionados. A great example of his uniqueness in the world of fiction - marvellous.
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on 3 January 2013
If you enjoy Robert Rankin you will enjoy this one. This type of humour is not to everyones taste but if you like watching Monty Python you will certainly like this author. As always the hero of the piece has a hard time against the evil villans.
If you were at the Panto you would be shouting he's behind you.But as alway good always defeats evil
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on 8 February 2014
I've read quite a few Robert Rankin books now, they keep me amused and are intelligently written. This was a surreal adventure where you're never quite certain to the answers to the questions, and if you do get any they are probably what you make of it. I loved it!
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on 14 February 2014
As a huge fan of The Brentford Triangle and a few others, was really looking forward to this, but I did find it laboured, and now, a couple of weeks on, struggle to remember anything other than my disappointment. Sad.
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on 1 August 2000
After reading this book i continued on and am now reading my seventh robert rankin book. It is a great plot with great characters, the beginning, middle and ending and are all brilliant. A tale where Earth leaves the time of science and goes into the magical age, where you follow the main character. Once i had started the book i couldn't stop. Easily FIVE STARS *****
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on 26 May 2014
Great book, excellent continuity loop hole tie ups... One of his best in this regard
If you haven't read Robert Rankin, don't start here, try the cornelious Murphy trilogy or the Brentford triology or "hollow chocolate bunnies of the apocalypse" (the latter if you want a one book intro

But try him.
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