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on 20 October 2002
This story is closely related to Holdstocks World Fantasy Award winning "Mythago Wood", possibly the most original fantasy book of the last 20 years. This is a prequel to that novel, but it is also a strong story of it's own; rich and full of of the deep research and deep mythology that is the heart of Holdstock's work. Here we trace the tale of Christian Huxley, the twisted and destructive elder brother from Mythago Wood, and follow the events that lead him towards that point.
Perhaps more than any of the other books in the Mythago sequence this one is bursting with interesting characters- the heroes who have populated 10000 years of story and legend awaking from their own stories to join the impossible hunt from the Mabinogion's tale of Culhwch and Olwen.
Packed with psychological and mythic resonance, this book stands alone, head and shoulders above the crowd of fantasy literature. But it is also an iteration, another layer on the story of Mythago Wood and after reading it, you can go back to that book and you will find it has changed as well.
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on 7 March 1999
In fact, I didn't really expect Robert Holdstock to come up with this kind of a prequel to his older stories. I thought that stuff was reserved for serial fantasy writers like Eddings & co. Of course it' s interesting to learn about Christian Huxley's doings before the adventures described in the original Mythago Wood, but it's also disturbing, since by now it's clear that Holdstock has lost whatever inspiration used to drive him on. Merlin's Wood was a sorry excuse for a book, and this is not much better, even though it's subject matter leaves space for something much more brilliant. The book doesn't have any intensity, not much emotion either. It's so uninteresting that I had to make myself read it through. Good then that in the end things got somewhat better, and the final conflict even offers an acceptable reason for Christian's transforming into a brother-slaying monster.
It just seems to me that Holdstock didn't have enough ideas, and he didn't ever really paid mind to the book himself. If this is all he can do, he should either quit or change the setting. Haven't we had enough Mythago Wood books? The Hollowing was still good, but now it seems to me that this is not a way to go.
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on 7 January 1998
The (currently) latest book in the Mythago cycle tells the story of Christian Huxley, whom we first met in the role of ruthless killer in "Mythago Wood". This book provides a sympathetic treatment of Christian, explaining his history with the barbarian princess Guiwenneth, and giving startling insight into the tragic end of Jennifer Huxley, his mother. The book focuses on Christian's early career in Ryhope Wood, showing us the events which eventually led to his decline, but omitting the decline itself. I liked the book, but was a bit disappointed with the ending; it seemed to me that his impasse with both Jennifer and Guiwenneth at the end could have been negotiated to a more satisfactory conclusion - in fact, it's a bit unbelievable to me that Christian wasn't able to do so. Also, the book just didn't "grab" me as strongly as the previous books (which I would have rated as 10's). However, fans of the Mythago cycle will not want to pass this one up, because it expands our understanding of events around Ryhope significantly further. I do appreciate the fact that Mr. Holdstock is going back to tie up some of the numerous loose ends that the previous books leave dangling, and I hope he will continue this trend.
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on 12 November 2006
Gate of Ivory goes back in time in the Mythago Wood sequence to tell us the story of Christian Huxley.

Steven's brother, who has never recovered from his mother's suicide after an terrible attack by a band of Mythago warriors when he was only a small boy, is now a grown man and goes exploring into the Wood. There he joins the Long Person, a makeshift group of forgotten figures from past legends, among which Guiwenneth, with whom he'll deeply fall in love. After living with them for a while, he learns that they're here to help the warrior Kylhuk's Legion in his quests, and soon Christian discovers he has a role to play too.

What I enjoyed in this fifth volume is the diversity of interesting characters and their stories. It was also great to read Christian's side of the story. Indeed in this tome he appears as a much less barbaric and more humane person than in the first one.
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on 4 December 2013
Robert Holdstock's Mythago series are among the very best fantasy novels ever written. If you love fantasy/sci-fi I strongly recommend these in fact, all of his books, he was a fantastic writer.
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on 27 December 2016
Addition to collection.
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on 16 November 2011
Great book. Thanks
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