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

by Tim Powers

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2,704752,187 (4)1 / 251
Member:salimbol
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
Rating:***1/2
Tags:novels, fantasy, Fantasy Masterworks, 20th century books, male authors, science fiction, time travel, dark fantasy, 2012 reading, historical fantasy, alternate history

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The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers (Author) (1983)

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English (74)  Catalan (1)  All languages (75)
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
When millionaire J. Cochran Darrow finds The Anubis Gates that will make time travel possible, he quickly assembles a team to go back to 1801. He hires Professor Brendan Doyle to give advice about the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Soon a band of misfits are assembled and they are off on an early 19th century London adventure and throughout time.

If you think the plot sounds a little weird, then you are not the only one. I spent a lot of time wondering about the logic behind the locations and people within The Anubis Gates. This was the steampunk pick for the Literary Exploration book club and true to the group’s purpose; this book really challenged my reading choices. It was an interesting experience, I had no idea what to expect next and there was no way to predict anything.

The cast of characters was strange; I expected to like the book because Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Lord Byron were featured. Unfortunately they didn’t get enough development and that might be for the best but I was interested in finding out what Tim Powers would do with them. This book also featured an Egyptian wizard, werewolf, crazy clown and so much more.

What I found to be the biggest problem with this novel was the fact that Tim Powers took so many of his good ideas and tried to force it all into one novel. There was a lot going on and it was all over the place. There never was enough time to develop scenes or characters and it just felt like everything was condensed to make room for all his ideas. The concept was great, wacky and fun but the execution did not work for me.

Tim Powers is a well-respected fantasy author; his book On Stranger Tides (1987) was the inspiration behind the Monkey Island video games and also turned into the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film. The Anubis Gates is often considered one of the pioneer sin the steampunk genre (though I am not sure I would class it as steampunk) and also won the Philip K. Dick Award in 1983. Powers seems like an author that you either love or hate. However from my experience, 1980’s science fiction and fantasy are all a bit odd and unusual.

This is such an unusual novel, which makes it extremely difficult to explain and review. I wanted to enjoy this book but for the most part I found myself skimming the pages. There are great concepts and ideas going on in this but the author didn’t want to explore them instead attempting for a fast moving adventure. For me that just made things difficult. I am fascinated by people who love this book, I’d love to know the reasoning. If you love science fiction or fantasy novels, this might work for you; unfortunately it didn’t for me.

This review originally appeared on my blog: http://literary-exploration.com/2014/10/30/the-anubis-gates/ ( )
  knowledge_lost | Nov 27, 2014 |
It’s been over thirty years since Tim Powers’ The Anubis Gates was published, and the story of treachery, time travel, and long dead gods has aged well.

But then, what should I have expected? It’s Tim Powers. As I think I saw someone else mention about the author, who else could combine Egyptian mythology, Lord Byron, quantum mechanics, sorcererous clowns, and time travel? It is at times dark, other times indulgent, and occasionally syrupy with fantasy. It is, at all times, a complex mystery unfolding.

It’s the 1980s. Brenden Doyle, an expert in the 19th century poet William Ashbless, is hired by a neurotic millionaire to provide the historical context for a lecture given by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Except the lecture is to be given in 1810, and Doyle is to deliver his pre-lecture lecture to a team of time travelers who will attend meet Coleridge in person.

Everything goes according to plan, until Doyle finds himself stranded in London, penniless, pursued by murderous cultists of ancient Egyptian gods, and unmistakably out of place in time.

Powers has a fantastic knack for writing with the kind of abandon that makes important details look like afterthoughts or excess description. It’s only later, as the plot unfolds, that what was previously thought unnecessary reveals itself as crucial to the story. It makes the opening chapters feel almost scattered and confusing, but provides later chapters with a solid foundation.

This is all the more interesting in the read because the pieces that Powers lays out for his story come from so many different directions. Part of why he’s able to do it successfully, I think, is his reliance on real historical events as mile-markers for his characters. Using real events as a template for the events of his The Anubis Gates, he then strings them between them with the fantastic and creative. The world he describes is alive, colorful and bright, helped along by vivid writing that adeptly adjusts language, accent, nomenclature, and description to match the geography and historicity of his settings.

Using history as his backdrop—especially times and places so disparate—does require some leaps, though, and as the pages pass, there were moments when I wondered if Powers would get to the point, whether he would be able to tie up all of the loose ends. I wouldn’t say the plot was dragging, but I did occasionally feel like a leap of was going to be necessary to get on with things. So much time had been spent laying the ground work, and now the leap was going to be dramatic to pick up the pacing.

Powers brings it all together in a dénouement that is both not entirely unexpected, but pleasingly surprising. He wastes no time in satisfying his reader, meeting expectations, and answering questions. If you’re looking for examples of classic science fiction—or fantasy? then The Anubis Gates is a satisfying story, strangely unfolded, but fulfilling to the end. ( )
  publiusdb | Oct 20, 2014 |
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. | Aug 26, 2014 |
Program for the play The Anubis Gates, as presented at Loncon III. ( )
  BruceCoulson | Aug 24, 2014 |
I found 'De poorten van Anubis'/'The Anubis Gates' at a thriftshop and was intrigued because it promised time travel (I love time travel) and it has won/was nominated for awards (I always carry The List with me when book-shopping, a list of award nominated or winning books). So, when my last two books were a bit disappointed, I figured 'De Poorten van Anubis' would be a nice pick-me-up. Well, it wasn't.There are still magicians from the Egyptian olden days, and they want Egypt back under the rule of the gods (you know, Ra, Isis, Anubis etc.). However, now, in 1802, England has taken over Egypt from the French (who could be trusted to rule in name only, and leave the Egyptians to it). So, why not destroy England and regain control over Egypt (and the rest of the world, while they're at it). But whatever they did, their ritual caused holes in the fabric of time, and one man in the 1980s has discovered this. So he organizes a trip for a group of interested people to a reading by Samuel Coleridge in 1810. Our main character, expert on the period Brendan Doyle gets stuck in the period, and is left to fight not only the Egyptian magicians but also beggar guilds, a werewolf-shapeshifter and other people who seem to have it in for him, all while trying to figure out what is going on, and save the future.
When I read the summary of this book, I thought I'd love it. I mean, time-travel, Egyptian mythology and a shapeshifting werewolf, what's not to love? Well, the mixture of these elements. I admit, in part it may have been my frame of mind, but to me it really felt like the writer threw all these elements into a melting pot and this story came out. There is just too much going on, and in the end, the ending feels like a let down. Enjoyable for the ideas, but not much more than that. Three out of five stars. ( )
  divinenanny | Mar 16, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (46 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Powers, TimAuthorprimary 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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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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:54 -0400)

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

(summary from another edition)

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