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on 22 January 2010
This book stands out in its conceptual uniqueness. It reads a bit like a classical novel, if Johnathon Strange and Mr Norrell was a love story it might turn out like this.
The complex narrative is slow to build but as each layer is revealled becomes more and more engrossing until it builds to a stunning climax. Readers of Gaiman, Le Guin and Wolfe will appreciate as well as lovers of the classics.
If you believe in the REAL fairies read this book!
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on 21 July 1999
One of the saddest days of my life was the day I lent my copy of this magnificent novel to a "friend" that promptly lost it. I have scoured second hand bookshops for 2 years trying to replace it. When last I looked on Amazon it was out of print. But, ever the optimist, I had another look tonight.
They've got it!!!
I have read this book more times than I can remember and never failed to be mesmerised by it. It effortlessly leads one into a fantasy world that defies easy description. This is no formulaic D&D romp; you won't find invincible heroes and stalwart dwarves singing about gold, you won't see fragile maidens swooning over a stout swordarm, you most certainly won't reach a happy ending, with all the loose ends tied and all the bad guys eating their just desserts while the good guys pair off and ride into the sunset. What you will find, should you dare to enter, is a world where faery magic seems commonplace and mundane matters take on the air of the fantastic.
There is no way to describe this book in any less words than John Crowley used to write it, so I won't try. If you haven't read it, you are truly blessed, because you you have the opportunity to experience for the first time, pure, undiluted magic. If you have read it already, why are you reading this? You know already, go read the book!!
Any other fans out there, please feel free to E-mail me.
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on 28 July 2000
Forget the usual trappings of fantasy, this is a modern masterpiece centering on two of the greatest themes in world literature: faith and remembrance. It is a story of one family's messy struggle to retain wonder, fidelity and a type of ancient, earthy consciousness as the shadow of a cold, sterile modernity creeps over their world. The Drinkwaters' resistance is both resoundingly heroic and deeply tragic. The passage of time eventually disorients the younger generations of the family, whose members must find a way to believe in something they each knew instinctively as children but that becomes less vivid and more difficult to remember as they (and the family's history) grow. In a very real sense, it is the story of all our lives and Crowley is a master Sorcerer to have conjured up a Tale that serves us so well. This book is a wonder.
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on 26 November 2000
I first read 'Little, Big' in the dark days of the early '80s, and it was a shining light. Wise, sad, funny, poetic, this is the most truthful 'fantasy' I've read, getting right to the core of human nature, our dreams and follies, and our attempts to find meaning in a world we don't understand. As in all Crowley's books, the world is much stranger than we expect. This present version of the world is ending, and the novel traces one family's involvement with this process in an almost unbearably moving way. Their destiny links them to the fairy realm - a world within ours, yet much larger - manipulated by 'them' in typically amoral and callous ways, yet retaining free will, loving and sorrowing and bringing up kids like anyone else, but with magic oddly intersecting with their lives.
Crowley writes such beautiful prose. His writing reaches in and grabs your soul. He is never sentimental, because always truthful. He knows his magic, and lightly slips it over us like a net. And he writes so powerfully about love and longing. 'Little, Big' has at its heart a gripping and devastating love story.
I've read this book many times, and never get tired of it. It's rich and full of wonders. 'The further in you go, the bigger it gets'. One of those books that will change your life.
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on 8 December 1998
Little Big is a long and charming book of the kind now rarely written, gently paced, sensuously descriptive and beatifully narrated and plotted. In density it compares to Lord of the Rings or Gormenghast, which may be the reason for it's relative lack of success.
It is not a conventional fantasty, eschewing the cod-Tolkienesque props of much more conventional and imitative work. It is a much more ambitious novel; more in the style of a family saga than an epic quest or coming of age.
It proves that there is a vitality in fantasy and it may be re-invented from generation to generation.
If you like fantasty - good fantasy, like LeGuin, Peake, Cordwainer Smith, or Geoff Ryman, then this is a book you should not pass up. The closing chapters have some of the most moving passages I have read, comparing to Gawain's death in Le Morte D'Arthur or Fuchia's suicide in Gormenghast. Yet this is not a sad book, too much joy and love are in it for it to be that.
Read it. The things that make us happy make us wise :-)
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on 4 September 2002
I first picked up this book in the mid eighties, and selected it purely on a value for money basis ie. Big fat paperback, dirt cheap. Well, i read it and found it a truly immersive experience. I enjoyed the development of the characters especially Smokey, the novel settings and concepts like Old Law Farm or the many houses within Edgewood. And the circular references kept me flipping back and forth to remind myself where i had spotted characters or names before(ie Church of All Streets which is mentioned in passing in the first chapter, then becomes a major plot feature in the last section of the story).
But most of all is the fine quality of the writing which at times can make you catch you're breath at the originality and pure vividness of a phrase or a metaphor.
I realise that this may sound OTT, i even thought that that i could be mistaken at one point, however i re-read it every couple of years and it still has the power to stun me. And i spot details that i have missed every time. This is a dense and time consuming read which requires some commitment, but i feel it is one of the most well realised and complete novels i have ever read.
happy to see it in print again because my two copies have been thumbed to destruction.
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VINE VOICEon 23 October 2000
It's a masterpiece. Genius! My favourite book of all time. Beautiful, elegaic, intricate, audacious, unique - add your own superlatives. This is a quiet, thoughtful, even gentle fantasy - seekers after sword and sorcery look elsewhere - about the world, and the people in it, growing old. It's full of suppressed sorrow, and its magic leaks out like tears. It will put down roots in your heart and you will never be rid of it. Read it, and then read every other word Crowley's ever written.
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on 7 April 2000
Little, Big is a beautifully written story which chronicles the journey of Smoky Barnable from the City to the enchantment of Edgewood and the extraordinary people who live there. The reader is gently led, along with Smoky, to a place where cards foretell the future and fairies do exist. The scope of the book is huge, weaving dozens of strands into a stunning tapestry. The book is a masterpiece of imagination which draws the reader in from the first paragraph. All the characters in the book are well observed, but Smoky in particular is a delight, having enough human frailties to drive the story to an unpredictable conclusion. The mood evoked is similar to Seventh son by Orson Scott Card - a world almost like ours, with just a little magic and a counterbalancing threat. I have read a lot of fantasy novels, but this remains my favourite; I cannot praise this book highly enough - I wish I could award it more than five stars!.
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on 8 October 2004
Crowley spins a wonderful yarn, based on many popular myths and legends but taking an altogether fresh look at them, incorporating them wonderfully into his Tale. His point of departure is the theosophistic belief in Faerie during the beginning of the 20th century, which surprisingly enough was shared by many intellectuals (Arthur Conan Doyle comes to mind). The previous reviewer called the book "dull". Well, if you don't have any imagination, and you prefer reading law books, then this book might seem "dull" to you. To the rest of us, this is one of those rare books that once read will accompany you for the rest of your life; Little, Big is simply unforgettable!
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on 20 May 1999
Books don't come better. This is what you read FOR! Buy it and love yourself.
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