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The Book of Skulls (Kindle Edition) by…
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The Book of Skulls (Kindle Edition) (original 1972; edition 2006)

by Robert Silverberg

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6391015,139 (3.62)15
Member:clark.hallman
Title:The Book of Skulls (Kindle Edition)
Authors:Robert Silverberg
Info:Del Rey (2006), Kindle edition, 232 pages
Collections:Fiction, Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:fiction, science fiction, 2012read, eBook, Kindle, immortality, fantasy

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The Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg (1972)

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» See also 15 mentions

English (9)  Italian (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Somehow I missed this when it was first published, and I am sorry I did. Silverberg did a great job of writing from the viewpoint of four different characters, and a better job of preserving tension right through to the fated denouement. ( )
  nmele | Sep 14, 2013 |
The Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg was first published in 1972. Four college roommates (Eli, Ned, Timothy, and Oliver) drive west across county to a monastery in an Arizona desert where they hope to achieve immortality. Eli, whose scholarship emphasizes ancient languages, discovers a manuscript in the university archives entitled The Book of Skulls. With much study and effort, he is able to translate the book. It describes a monastery, referred to as the House of Skulls, where the monks are immortals and they can give immortal life to others who are able to successfully endure the acceptance trial. After much research, Eli locates the mysterious monastery and he persuades his roommates to pursue immortality with him. However, immortality comes with serious consequences. Only groups of four people may apply, and only two of them can survive to achieve immortality. The story is presented through successive narration of the thoughts and actions of each of the four individual protagonists. The reader learns much information about the lives of each of them, including intimate details about their relationships with each other and more than I wanted to know about their sexual experiences. The Book of Skulls is an unusual tale that is difficult to categorize. Even Mr. Silverberg states in the Afterword he wrote for this book in 2004 that much of it reads as a mainstream book that perhaps could be thought of as “dark social satire” instead of science fiction. He goes on to explain that it was written in 1970-71 during a time when science fiction writers were trying to combine their writing styles with the methods of modern mainstream novelists, i.e., a movement known as “New Wave” science fiction. However, because it deals with immortality this book has been mostly categorized as science fiction. I consider Robert Silverberg to be one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time. I have read ten of his books in addition to several of his short stories. I found this book to be an interesting and worthwhile read. It is steeped in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which elicits many memories and emotions from those of us who lived through those years. However, I’m not sure how readers who did not live through those decades will react. In my opinion, this is not one of Silverberg’s best science fiction efforts, but it is a Silverberg novel, which makes it better than most. ( )
1 vote clark.hallman | Feb 2, 2012 |
Four students - a privileged WASP, a Midwestern medical student, an Irish Catholic gay, a Jewish scholar - travel cross-country to an Arizona monastery, there to complete a trial that will give them eternal life. They begin this trial knowing that the Ninth of its mysteries requires one of them to commit suicide and another to be murdered in order for the surviving two to achieve immortality. The students' adventures are very much set in the late Sixties but are not dated or camp. The execution is almost as interesting as the premise, a rare achievement. One complaint: I didn't appreciate the crack about Oklahoma accents. ( )
  Coach_of_Alva | Nov 17, 2011 |
I have never been disappointed by an SF Masterwork. But this one came close! One one hand, it *was* a good read - a fascinating recession/regression into the world of 1970s SF (though I am not at all sure why this novel is considered SF). On the other hand - what a load of self-indulgent misogynistic nonsense! Hard to tell how much of this was Silverberg's characters (the 4 protagonists *are* a bunch of self-absorbed, hedonistic misogynists), and how much of it simply reflects Silverberg himself, and the period he was writing in. ( )
2 vote lillasmee | Sep 25, 2010 |
I had a dream recently where I was reading a Robert Silverberg book - Lord Valentine's Castle. In the dream I spent a fair amount of time talking about his books. I don't often dream about books in a way that is this specific so when I went to the library I thought I'd pick up something he'd written. As it happened, The Book of Skulls was on the new books shelf - that seemed like a sign so I grabbed it.

This is a great book up until our heroes arrive at their destination - the House of Skulls. The road trip is wonderful and the author's ability in writing in four distinct voices is particularly evident. Once at the House of Skulls, however, things start to fall apart - not just from a plot perspective, but from a writing perspective, as well. It's a great story, but much of the book is really dated and showing its age the most in the last section. Ignoring all of that, however, this was mostly a fun read. ( )
  kraaivrouw | Jun 5, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Silverbergprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alexander, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burns, JimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lundgren, CarlCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Coming into New York City from the north, off the New England Thruway, Oliver driving as usual.
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Book description
Four students discover a manuscript, The Book of Skulls, which reveals the existence of a sect, now living in the Arizona desert, whose members can offer immortality to those who can complete its initiation rite. To their surprise, they discover that the sect exists, and is willing to accept them as acolytes. But for each group of four who enter the rite, two must die in order for the others to succeed.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345471385, Paperback)

Seeking the immortality promised in an ancient manuscript, The Book of Skulls, four friends, college roommates, go on a spring break trip to Arizona: Eli, the scholar, who found and translated the book; Timothy, scion of an American dynasty, born and bred to lead; Ned, poet and cynic; and Oliver, the brilliant farm boy obsessed with death.

Somewhere in the desert lies the House of Skulls, where a mystic brotherhood guards the secret of eternal life. There, the four aspirants will present themselves–and a horrific price will be demanded.

For immortality requires sacrifice. Two victims to balance two survivors. One by suicide, one by murder.

Now, beneath the gaze of grinning skulls, the terror begins. . . .

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:22 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Seeking the immorality promised in an ancient manuscript, four friends go on a spring trip to Arizona.

(summary from another edition)

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