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The Vorrh by Brian Catling

The Vorrh (original 2007; edition 2015)

by Brian Catling (Author)

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5301529,632 (3.45)9
"The Vorrh follows a brilliant cast of characters through a parallel Africa where fact, fiction, and fantasy collide. Tsungali, a native marksman conscripted by the colonial authorities--against whom he once led a revolt--is on the hunt for an English bowman named Williams. Williams has made it his mission to become the first human to traverse the Vorrh, a vast forest at the edge of the colonial city of Essenwald. The Vorrh is endless, eternal; a place of demons and angels. Sentient, oppressive, and magical, the Vorrh can bend time and wipe a person's memory. Between the hunter and the hunted are Ishmael, a curious and noble Cyclops raised by Bakelite robots; the evil Dr. Hoffman, who punishes the son of a servant by surgically inverting his hands; and the slave owner MacLeish, who drives his workers to insanity, only to pay the ultimate price. Along with these fictional creations, Brian Catling mixes in historical figures, including surrealist Raymond Roussel and photographer and Edward Muybridge. In this author's hands none of this seems exotic or fantastical. It all simply is"--… (more)
Title:The Vorrh
Authors:Brian Catling (Author)
Info:Vintage (2015), 512 pages
Collections:Ebooks, Your library

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The Vorrh by Brian Catling (2007)

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» See also 9 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
I got almost the way through the book, and than I just lost interest. A meandering plot, unlikable characters, and a weird setting, all contributed to my dislike of the book. Its solidly written, I just didn't like the subject matter.
  TheDivineOomba | Mar 22, 2019 |
This was a real struggle to get through. One of my difficulties was that the book is probably over 95% exposition, with very little dialogue. I always find this slows any book down to a crawl. The other thing was that out of the four seemingly unconnected plot-lines that flow through the novel, only two were ones I found of any interest. So for the other half of the book I felt like I was trudging through the endless forest myself. Trudge trudge trudge. Catling's actual writing is good, and I liked the grittiness of certain scenes, but mostly it was not a pleasant time and I couldn't wait to finish. Also, because it is the first part of a trilogy (I did not know it when I bought the book a few years ago), there is no satisfaction at the end. No reward for persistence at all. ( )
  chaosfox | Feb 22, 2019 |
I admit to liking fantasy with a strong narrative; then I can put up with any amount of weirdness. The Vorrh has lots of narrative - some of it quite compelling - but the problem is that there are rather too many different narratives, and most of them are rather too loosely connected - by the Vorrh, the great primeval forest that sits somewhere in Africa. The idea of the Vorrh - which contains the Garden of Eden itself, and where Adam and the angels still hang out - is fascinating; as is the effect it has on people who spend too much time there, loosing their memories and eventually their whole personalities. The Germanic town of Essenwald, which has been built on the edge of the forest and has even imported some European weather into Africa, is an appropriately weird idea. I loved the character of Gertrude, whose persistent curiosity leads her to discover the secrets of the house at 4 Kuhler Brunnen. Her growing relationship with Ishmael, the young cyclops she discovers there, and the mystery of his guardians are the strongest narrative thread in the book - but have very little to do with the Vhorr itself.

The writing is fluid and allusive; the problem I have is that, while allusive writing can be very effective when it alludes to familiar concepts, when it is used in the description of ideas and concepts that are the pure product of the author's imagination, it compounds fantasy on top of fantasy and gets a little too weird. I know that this a trilogy - I bought the first two books, but I will not be reading the second for a while - but I think some at least partial resolution should be achieved in each of the individual books. ( )
1 vote maimonedes | Jan 16, 2019 |
I may not be smart enough to get it. Maybe it hasn't sunk in yet. This is definitely more of a book of poetry and art and not plot. It's purpose is to dazzle with language and it certainly does that. However, there are entire subplots that happen in a different setting and seem to have only the most tenuous connection to the story. They seem added in because the author just wanted to but to my mind, they don't fit. Overall, the book is beautifully overwritten but the story is simply laborious. ( )
  alexezell | Nov 14, 2018 |
Looks like the author was so enamoured of language and style he forgot to add characterisation or story. (The language isn't that enthralling either!) ( )
  SChant | Oct 24, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brian Catlingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Delcán, PabloCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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