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The Anubis Gates (Fantasy Masterworks,…

The Anubis Gates (Fantasy Masterworks, Volume 47) (original 1983; edition 2005)

by Tim Powers

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2,795812,089 (3.98)1 / 259
Title:The Anubis Gates (Fantasy Masterworks, Volume 47)
Authors:Tim Powers
Info:GOLLANCZ (ORIO) (2005), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Once owned, Read but unowned
Tags:novels, fantasy, Fantasy Masterworks, 20th century books, male authors, science fiction, time travel, dark fantasy, 2012 reading, historical fantasy, alternate history

Work details

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers (1983)

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Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
The first thing to be aware is that the main character is not really special. He is not a capable romantic hero, nor is he an anti-hero type. Considering some of the things that happen in this book, I wouldn’t be surprised that this was a plan all along. He isn't supposed to be special at all. Now, if I haven't turned you back from reading this, great.

Although Brendan Doyle is just moving from one situation to the next, from one person to the next, hardly ever doing anything on his own, the rest of the story is great. The things just happen to him. There was just one instance when he took charge and that was near the end of the book.
I was annoyed with Doyle at first, but that has to do more with the type of main characters I like to read about than him. I didn't think that a chubby, balding literature professor would work as a character in this type of book. I was wrong. So many things happen, so many wonderful and interesting characters appear, some with greater role than others, that even if Doyle is the type to whom things happen, this still ends up as a great story.

The Anubis Gate is a great blend of historical fiction, time travel, fantasy, horror and humour. The basis of the whole story is in the explanation of a powerful and rich man who called Doyle to offer him a job. “Time,” he said solemnly, “is comparable to a river flowing under a layer of ice. It stretches us out like water weeds, from root to tip, from birth to death, curled around whatever rocks or snags happen to lie in our path; and no one can get out of the river because of the ice roof, and no one can turn back against the current for an instant.”He offered an opportunity to stand outside that river. What follows is a wonderfully written time travel adventure with patriotic crazy Egyptian magicians, shape-switching monster, a few famous XIX century poets, a lot of beggars, a very brave young woman and one very reluctant hero.
Humour jumps at you when you least expect it and at the most inappropriate times (people dying, someone is tortured and so on). A magician is summoning fire elementals: "London? You asked us to do this once before." "The time is 1666, yes." Romany nodded. "But it wasn't me asking you then." ... "It was a pair of shoes. How should we distinguish?" Or a couple of thugs' conversation after they were told that they caused a pandemonium. “What’s a pandemonium?” whispered one of the men in the rear.
“It’s like a calliope,” answered a companion. “I heard one played at the Harmony Fair last summer, when I went there to see my sister’s boy play his organ.”
“His what?”
“His organ.”
“Lord. People pay money to see things like that?” The XIX century London and Cairo come alive in this book. There is something for everyone. Even a bit of romance. ( )
  Irena. | Nov 3, 2015 |
Reading this book often felt like playing detective, as I tried to figure out how all the various aspects of the plot (time travel, body switching, the bizarre underground world of freaks and beggars, Egypt) were going to come together. But they did... for the most part.

One of the things I liked most was the change (and I mean that in every sense of the word) experienced by Brendan Doyle. He evolves into a completely different person (literally) and ends up taking it in stride. I admired the fact that, once he understands his role in history (and the reveal of that is quite astounding), he takes full responsibility for his new life instead of doggedly trying to get back home no matter what.

However, there were little bits and pieces that were left hanging: the Brotherhood, Egypt, the original time travel experiment. In the end, though, maybe the reader is supposed to understand that these strange things were meant to be (and are somewhat explained in what we know of Ashbless and his work at the beginning), and that in any case life is messy and not all ends can be neatly tied up. I also understood, in the end, that the lack of explanation for some of the phenomena made me feel like I had just popped into the world, just like Brendan does at the beginning. We have to figure stuff out, just like he does.

Overall, though, I really enjoyed the book. Some of its characters (Horrabin, for example, or even the almost superhuman Ashbless) were frighteningly vivid. And, though there was a conclusion of sorts, I like the fact that I get to wonder: what happens to Ashbless now, and where will Brendan come in a hundred or so years down the line? ( )
  bookdoctor | Oct 23, 2015 |
Brendan Doyle agrees to go back in time on a time-travel-tourism trip, but while he is there he is kidnapped by a magician who is part of a big conspiracy to change world history because reasons.

There were some interesting parts... time travel stories are always fun, the focus on 19th century British literature was interesting, and there were a few somewhat interesting characters.

But there were lots of things I didn't care for. Many of the characters were extremely disturbing for no good reason, and my suspension of disbelief was stretched way past its limits. Brendan Doyle isn't a particularly interesting or likable person. There is a grand total of one female character, and her storyline is underdeveloped and downright abandoned for a lot of the book. The connection with Egypt was tenuous at best, and didn't really play much of a part in the story. The plot was very rambling, and a lot of it just didn't make much sense.

So, all in all, I was pretty disappointed by this. ( )
  Gwendydd | Aug 16, 2015 |
I've not read a lot of steampunk and I have to say this wasn't what I expected as an archetypal work in that genre. The bulk of the story takes place in 19th century London, so that fits. But it's a time travel story, and a magical one at that. I've since learned that steampunk stories can be fantasy rather than science fiction, but would any time travel tale that dealt with that period be considered steampunk? If not, why not?

I have to give Powers credit for his depiction of London in 1810. I don't know if all his details are accurate, but they feel accurate. The writing is smooth and authoritative and I sense a certain admiration for the literary figures of the day. (Coleridge and Byron appear as characters.) These two fictionalized minor characters, as well as the various fictional major ones, are interesting and well-drawn. The plot is complex and at times confusing - not to say confused. In the end it all more or less makes sense to the reader, though I'm not sure it would have made sense to the surviving characters who didn't have the benefit of being provided so many convenient points of view.

The main character goes through a lot of bad luck before he begins to become an effective player, and It also took a long time for the various threads to begin to converge. Both of those factors diminished my enthusiasm for a while – until things picked up in both respects. There is a romance, though it was mostly left to the reader's imagination, which disappointed the romantic in me. The magic is left largely unexplained, also. Overall, I found it an imaginative and engaging work, if rather an unusual one, and I enjoyed reading it ( )
  Carol_W | Jun 1, 2015 |
There are so many threads in this book--time travel! sorcery! body switching! doppelgangers! the lives of 19th century English poets!--yet Tim Powers in command of them all, weaving then tying them all together. A great romp. ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Powers, Timprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brautigan, DonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Campion, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carr, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Clifton-Dey, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Podevin, Jean-FrançoisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Potter, Jeffrey KCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my wife, Serena
First words
From between two trees at the crest of the hill a very old man watched, with a nostalgic longing he thought he'd lost all capacity for, as the last group of picnickers packed up their baskets, mounted their horses, and rode away south...
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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when literature/
crosses with mad science and/
meets ancient magic


Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441004016, Paperback)

Author Tim Powers evokes 17th-century England with a combination of meticulously researched historic detail and imaginative flights in this sci-fi tale of time travel. Winner of the 1984 Philip K. Dick Award for best original science fiction paperback, this 1989 edition of the book that took the fantasy world by storm is the first hardcover version to be published in the United States. In his brief introduction, Ramsey Campbell sets The Anubis Gates in an adventure context, citing Powers's achievement of "extraordinary scenes of underground horror, of comedy both high and grotesque, of bizarre menace, of poetic fantasy."

The colonization of Egypt by western European powers is the launch point for power plays and machinations. Steeping together in this time-warp stew are such characters as an unassuming Coleridge scholar, ancient gods, wizards, the Knights Templar, werewolves, and other quasi-mortals, all wrapped in the organizing fabric of Egyptian mythology. In the best of fantasy traditions, the reluctant heroes fight for survival against an evil that lurks beneath the surface of their everyday lives.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:51 -0400)

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A novel of time travel that combines action and adventure with the surreal and bizarre.

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Prufrock Press

An edition of this book was published by Prufrock Press.

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