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Earth, Air, Fire and Custard by Tom Holt
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Earth, Air, Fire and Custard (edition 2005)

by Tom Holt

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Member:sarah1
Title:Earth, Air, Fire and Custard
Authors:Tom Holt
Info:Little, Brown Book Group (2005), Paperback, 416 pages
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Earth, Air, Fire and Custard by Tom Holt

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
'I have a feeling that it won't take me very long at all to get settled in here. If I may say so, Mr Tanner, you run a tight ship.'
(What did that mean, exactly? A ship that never bought a round? A ship that kept getting wedged in the entrances to small harbours?)


The third book in the series that started with "The Portable Door", in which Paul Carpenter has numerous problems at work, dies several more times, and continues his love-hate relationship with his colleague and ex-girlfriend Sophie Pettingell.

The story seemed to take rather a long time to get going and I felt that possibly this series was running out of steam. ( )
  isabelx | Apr 22, 2011 |
The covers of this book are too far apart --Ambrose Bierce

I avoid reading dreary books--no matter how classic or well-written, they just bring my mood down. I never really thought to think that about a Tom Holt book. I don't mean that a book necessarily has to be sweetness and light, or have a happy ending, or be the best of all possible worlds. If I did, I wouldn't be quoting Ambrose Bierce, or consider his The Devil's Dictionary to be one of the joys of my life. But Paul and Sophie, especially Sophie, are just too hapless and whiny. Sophie seems to seek out things to be unhappy about.

I wonder if the J.W. Wells books grew out of a rough patch in Tom Holt's life. The ending of In Your Dreams was so sad and bitter that I was a bit worried about his marriage. But still, I was eager to read this next installment, but I was disappointed and kept wishing the end of the book was closer. The bitterness undercuts any attempts at wit. This was just a constant recycling of scenes, with clunky rewrites of things that Holt apparently wished he had done differently. Oh no, I'd be thinking, not the land of the dead again! Can't Holt think of something new? Well, there is the Custard space, but Holt's usual crazy, whimsical humor fails, and I get very tired of the motif of the characters struggling to get out of it again by a new method every time. Despite having learned how to use magic to make his milk fresh, Paul still constantly has curdled milk, the Portable Door no longer works as it used to, and so on. (I don't want to give away too much of the plot.) There is a lengthy explanation at the end, but it still leaves a few things out, and frankly I don't care anyway. The story after the big explanation is just more dragging out of the plot, and not all of the loose ends are tied up. Paul and Sophie have gotten very wearing, and if that's supposed to be a happy ending for them, I don't care, and I'm sure they'll mess it up somehow.

I just hope this series is an anomaly and his recent stand-alone books are more along the lines of [[ASIN:1857231813 Expecting Someone Taller]]. ( )
  juglicerr | Apr 12, 2011 |
Fantasy/humour book which follows Paul Carpenter, a clerk, and unlikely hero in a book with many twists, although at times it is not always clear what is happening, the main character is also a little bit irritating after a while. The book does however have a few good moments. On the whole though I would say it was a little bit too long with the last 50-70 pages taken up with tying up the plot and explaining what had happened in the past 300 odd pages. ( )
  tonyblair | Jun 25, 2009 |
I've *finally* finished a book! Its taken me months to read this novel, but I've made it to the end...But don't take the fact that its taken me so long as a critique on the book itself. The reality is that my life has been taken over by becoming a Dad to an adorable little girl. She's taken far more of my time than books have! The fact that I persisted in fact should show that its worthwhile keeping going with the text!The story itself concerns a put upon loser, Paul Carpenter. His parents have funded their retirement to sunny Florida by selling Paul into indentured servitude at J.W. Wells. The company specialise in using magic to help their clients for handsome fees, and it seems that Paul has an innate skill that they treasure.Featuring a range of characters from Colin the Goblin, God and Mr Dao the teller at the bank of the Dead, this is a strange book. At first the story is a simple fantasy, but this changes as the life of Colin becomes more complex and entwined as his purpose as a pawn in a cosmic battle becomes clear. At several points the book makes references to previous stories, so it may have been helpful to read the appropriate prequels, but it certainly wasn't essential. Overall, good, weird fun. If you do read it, try and make sure that you read the later sections in good sizeable chunks otherwise you'll find keeping abreast with what is happening to whom, and when! ( )
  fieldri1 | May 8, 2009 |
Tom Holt continues to crank out creative ideas and clever turns of phrase in this satisfying continuation to the story of Paul Carpenter and Sophie Pettingell. I enjoyed this more than the second book (In Your Dreams). If you enjoyed the first two books in the series, I recommend reading this one too. ( )
  espertus | Oct 19, 2008 |
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Paul Carpenter and Sophie Pettingell are back to work at the London office of J. W. Wells.   Paul is assigned to work with a new partner, Mr. Laertides, who keeps sending him on odd assignments.   It is also time for him to take up his new duty a godfather to Rosie the goblin's new baby.   Meanwhile, Paul is also working with Professor Van Spee and has taken the opportunity to steal a few crystals to create a potion that will prevent him from falling in love.   It turns out that Van Spee has invented a new basic element in addition to the standard four (custard) and possible new universes to torment Paul and Sophie.
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H.W. Wells seems a respectable establishment, but the company now paying Paul Carpenter's salary is in fact a deeply sinister organisation with a mighty peculiar agenda. Since he graduated from office junior to clerk, he has wrestled with goblins and travelled hundreds of miles in the blink of an eye.… (more)

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