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on 14 October 2017
Cheaply printed, wretchedly designed. It's basically an almost A4 sized folio of text which appears to have been copied and pasted from Project Gutenberg. The text itself is left-aligned, tightly single spaced size 12 Times New Roman, with line breaks in place of paragraph indents, rendering the reading process genuinely painful. Awful.
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on 14 May 2017
Couldn't believe this was free. It also includes 'The Yellow Sign' which I had been looking for separately and some other stories. would definitely recommend
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on 26 July 2017
great book great price fast delivery .
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First published in 1895 this is a series of short stories that are interconnected by mainly a fictional play, ‘The King in Yellow’ or in others by a symbol called the Yellow Sign.

This has become something of a cult classic over the years and does have many hardcore fans. We can quite clearly here see some inspiration coming through from Ambrose Bierce’s writings, and from there we can see how this book has influenced many over the years; most notably H P Lovecraft springs to mind with his Cthulhu Mythos.

Before each story here we have a piece from the actual fictional play, which supposedly if you read in full will drive you mad and kill you. The first story here is arguably the best, and by the time you get to the last few the decadence, the macabre and the weirdness is much toned down or missing, as these latter tales are more in the way of what would have been called romance writing.

This won’t be for everyone, and if you are not a particular fan of weird fiction I would recommend that perhaps you give this a miss. Robert William Chambers is arguably these days remembered only really for this book, although he was a prolific writer. The problem with Chambers has always been that although he could come up with some really good ideas and plots he just wasn’t as good a writer as one would have expected, and if it hadn’t been for Lovecraft we would probably not even have heard of this book these days.

It may seem like I have a bit of a downer on this book, but that isn’t so it is just that others have come along and written much better, but this is still an important text as quite a few people do enjoy it, and it has been influential on novels and short stories up unto today.
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on 6 November 2016
I'd heard this influenced the first series of True Detective. That's why I bought the book. If you're doing the same, swerve it.

Fans of H P Lovecraft will find something to love but general or literary readers will likely be disappointed. My initial excitement faded and I got bored. Most of the stories have an unconvincing 'whiplash' ending and the overarching theme is weak. It doesn't develop the mystery of The King in Yellow: the fictional book at the seat of the collection. It just repeats the book's side effects on the stories' protagonists. I found this trying.

Chambers is skilled at showing his characters' declining mental states, and he can paint a vivid scene, but he's not great on plot or pace. I wanted to fall in love with this book. I didn't. Maybe you will. It's all a matter of taste.
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on 30 September 2017
The first half are gothic horror stories linked by the king in yellow, this is the better half of the novel in my opinion. The second half are Parisian Victorian romance stories, but written in a surreal arty way. It’s rather disjointed, but I think this is deliberate. You have to really concentrate on this, but I quite enjoyed looking for the links, which are sometimes obvious, sometimes less so. Fairly good, but it won’t be to everyone’s tastes
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on 18 May 2000
Robert W. Chambers' "The King in Yellow" is a book within a book. Or, more properly, it's a collection of macabre short stories with a common theme; a fictional two-act play that brings decadence, hallucinations, and madness to any reader. The stories within this collection, published in 1895, are set in a fictional militaristic 1920s in both the USA and Europe. The tales stand free of each other, and are told from a number of different perspectives, by socialites, soldiers, and artists. Each tells how the lives of the narrator and colleagues have been affected by reading "The King in Yellow", a controversial play that has been denounced by the church and suppressed by governments. After coming into contact with it, their lives are tragically affected. Some find themselves hounded by shadowy agents, while others become confused and delusional. Others are driven to act out the play's sad and decadent events, while some simply go insane.
The substance of the play itself is only alluded to, or hinted at in brief extracts. It is clearly a tragedy, but the motivations and actions of its central characters, including the mysterious King in Yellow himself, are not clear. Like many authors of macabre tales, Chambers was content for our imaginations to do the work, and this book is more powerful for it.
(And by the way, if the central theme of a forbidden book that induces insanity is familiar to you, you've probably read some of the Mythos tales of H.P.Lovecraft. In fact, I doubt that too many people come to read "The King in Yellow" by any other route; Chambers' book is clearly stated as a strong influence on Lovecraft's work.)
To be honest, I was shocked to find myself reading a book that was over a HUNDRED years old, an activity I had assumed was reserved for crusty academics and lovers of classical literature. But, more pointedly, I was surprised to find that "The King in Yellow" is a highly readable volume, full of entertaining, colourful and disturbing tales with a very modern feel to them.
The only downside I found was that the final few stories lose the central theme. I found myself wondering if these thinner, romantic tales, were more representative of Chambers' other work, and were, in effect, "fillers". But perhaps I missed the point? It is only this that stops me from awarding five stars to this impressive book.
Overall, if you've had a bellyful of today's crop of relentless gore and explicit sexuality, take a literary Alka Seltzer by checking out the "King in Yellow".
It's a classic, and I'm not talking Jane Austen.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 31 January 2015
Human beings are fascinated by that which causes madness in us. Why would the Internet have pretty much memeified Cthulhu if we weren't?

And one of the most tantalizing bringers of horror and madness is "The King in Yellow," a collection of Robert Chambers' short stories that are loosely tied together by a mysterious play of exquisite horror. The horror stories compiled here are some of the best classic horror that can be found, full of the tattered decay of the unseen and the spellbinding magic that mere words can only hint at... and the problem is that the second half of the collection is just not as interesting.

The first four stories are all tied together by "The King In Yellow," a play whose story and characters are never really explored beyond a few snatches of song and some descriptions of the world where it takes place ("... twin suns sink into the lake of Hali... I saw the towers of Carcosa behind the moon"). It speaks of horrors ("the Pallid Mask") that are hinted at more than explained, and the mysterious King In Yellow, a mysterious personage in "scolloped tatters." And it is written with exquisite beauty and horror -- one character laments: "Oh the sin of writing such words,--words which are clear as crystal, limpid and musical as bubbling springs, words which sparkle and glow like the poisoned diamonds of the Medicis!"

The brilliance of this conceit is that Chambers leaves almost everything to the reader's imagination. He plants a few hauntingly beautiful, unnerving images in the reader's mind ("Carcosa where black stars hang in the heavens"), and lets us imagine something so exquisite yet nightmarish that it could drive someone mad.

These four stories include:
*When young Hildred Castaigne is recovering from a severe head injury, he reads "The King In Yellow." As his sanity spirals out of control, he encounters a similarly crazy "Repairer of Reputations," and begins to believe he is the last scion of the Imperial Dynasty of America.
*Alec visits his old friend Boris (who is married to the woman Alec loves), who has discovered a mysterious liquid that can turn anything organic into a beautiful marble.
*A religious young man is pursued by a mysterious stalker, and haunted by the horrors he has seen in "The King In Yellow."
*An artist struggles with his affections for his lovely model and the pursuit of a grotesque watchman, only for the infamous play -- which he has on his bookshelf for some reason -- to seep into their minds and poison them.

These stories are absolute perfection, both horrifying and lyrically exquisite, especially since merely reading it can cause reactions from nightmares and illness to outright craziness (down to declaring oneself to be king of America). The problem is... well, the remaining stories do not have that quality. They're still good and often beautifully written ("The name of Sylvia troubles me like perfume from dead flowers"), but after Chambers horrified and mesmerized us, it's kind of a letdown to encounter stories that don't really do either.

These stories include a guy who falls in love with a beautiful young Breton noblewoman, little realizing why their love is impossible; a series of interconnected drabbles with personified abstracts like Love and Truth; an artist has some conversations with a scrawny cat, and eventually tries to take her back to her mistress, Sylvia Elven; a tale in the Franco-Prussian War, where an artist's life is wrecked by the impending German attack; and a pair of romances among young artists in Paris.

Chambers' writing is still sublimely lovely in these stories, and they do have some overarching themes that run through almost every story -- many of the protagonists are artists or close to artists, and there is a lot of yellow, a lot of flowers, and some names that keep recurring in different places (Sylvia, Hastur). But somehow the last two romantic stories just fall kind of flat, especially when death and horror aren't brought into them -- the prose is pretty, but a little too commonplace ("Her face was expressionless, yet the lips at times trembled almost imperceptibly").

Eerie, beautiful and ghastly, "The King In Yellow" collects stories that hint at beauty and horrors that the human mind can't even grasp -- and if he had filled the entire book with these, it would have been perfection. As it is, the first half is sublime, the second is merely okay.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 11 October 2005
This volume really comprises two parts. The first four stories are the ones featuring the eponymous King. These are excellent: moody, spooky and spine chilling. I would rate them four or five stars if presented alone. The rest, however - and the longer part of the book - deals with other themes and is very patchy. "The Demoiselle D'Ys" is a pretty good ghost story. "The Prophets' Paradise" is (to me) incomprehensible - it reads like a cross between "The Rubai'at of Omar Khyaam" and "A Lyke-Wake Dirge". "The Street of the Four Winds" has an intriguing climax while "The Street of the First Shell", describing the adventures of a group of American students in Paris during the Prussian siege, is of some interest (it reminded me of Hemingway) but much too long. The final two stories - concerning the loves of American art students in late 19th century Paris - are simply tedious.

Overall, it's a shame that the "King in Yellow" thread is so limited in this collection. I would be interested to know whether Chambers wrote more "King" stories, and if so, where they may be found.

A final point - this edition seems to have been OCR'd and proofread very patchily: the process gives itself away as there are typos throughout which are all real words but which don't make sense in context.
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on 14 May 2014
This book came to my attention because of the references to the Yellow King and Carcosa in HBO's True Detective. Firstly, for fans of that show, they are purely references. There is no other explicit link between the two works. That said, I am very glad my attention was drawn to this book regardless. I particularly enjoyed Chambers' opening four stories related to the King in Yellow, and the intrigue and horror around it, but the rest of the stories were also thoroughly enjoyable.
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