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City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer

City of Saints and Madmen

by Jeff VanderMeer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Ambergris (Expanded edition of 1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,545307,210 (4)71
  1. 100
    Perdido Street Station by China Miéville (bertilak)
  2. 20
    The Islanders by Christopher Priest (anglemark)
    anglemark: Eerily similar in style and theme.
  3. 20
    The Drowned Life by Jeffrey Ford (gonzobrarian)
  4. 10
    The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard (Anonymous user)
  5. 10
    Viriconium: "The Pastel City", "A Storm of Wings", "In Viriconium", "Viriconium Nights" by M. John Harrison (whiten06)
    whiten06: Viriconium was clearly an inspiration for City of Saints and Madmen.
  6. 21
    Finch by Jeff VanderMeer (ParadoxicalRae)
  7. 00
    At the Mountains of Madness and Other Tales of Terror {4 stories} by H. P. Lovecraft (tetrachromat)
    tetrachromat: Seems likely Vandermeer was inspired by Lovecraft. Both have "subterranean terrors". Tons of other similarities too, though thankfully lacking Lovecraft's racist commentary.

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» See also 71 mentions

English (29)  French (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
I first came across VanderMeer and Ambergris in Finch, a book which mightily impressed me and naturally I wanted more. I picked up from various reviews that City of Saints is very different but nothing prepared me for this. It is an amazing multi-angled construction of a city's history by creating a range of "historical" documents so what emerges is something akin to a remote border town on the edge of an empire half a millemium or more ago. And with its own fantastical elements. And to cap all, we have a "writer" who may live in Chicago and be creating Ambergris, but on the other hand.... Very well constructed and maintained my interest, avoiding the pitfall of assuming the reader is as obsessed by the writer's creation as the writer himself. December 2019. ( )
  alanca | Mar 15, 2019 |
Intense. ( )
  Mithril | Sep 26, 2018 |
review in progress

1. Dradin in Love - A priest returns from the jungle to the city of Ambergris where he falls under the madness of love. Haunting and horrific. (4/5)

2. The Early History of the City of Ambergris - An absorbing account of the city's early history and it's original inhabitants, the grey caps, a mushroom like race. Very rich and dense reminding me of the depth of Middle Earth. Gives us insight into the first story. (4/5)

3. The Transformation of Martin Lake -
  ElizaJane | May 18, 2018 |
I picked this up because I enjoyed the Southern Reach Trilogy by the same author so much. Unfortunately this book is entirely in a different genre (fantasy?), and is just not my cup of tea. ( )
  keithostertag | Sep 5, 2017 |
City Of Saints and Madmen is made up of a series of stories connected by their setting. There’s a depth to Ambergris, a heft that only comes from a fully-realized world. Middle-Earth has it, as does Arrakis: a sense that the craziest things make perfect sense because you’re so grounded in the world the author has created.

Before we reach the "beautiful cruelty" of the book’s end, we’ve gotten a tour of various parts of the city, we’ve met the mysterious original inhabitants of Ambergris, the gray caps, we’ve taken a peek at religion in the city, and we’ve seen the Festival of the Freshwater Squid, which is beyond anything you can imagine. We’ve met cantankerous academics, slumming in tour guide footnotes. We’ve been treated to a scientific monograph where a whole ‘nother story emerges if you read all of the notes. We’ve seen a story entirely in code. And we’ve met X, an author with a history very like VanderMeer’s, who is being held in a psychiatric ward because he thinks he has actually seen the fantasy land (called Ambergris) that he writes about (the ending is a delightfully vicious little thing).

The detail in the stories is lush and rich and entirely believable, and amazingly, it doesn’t get in the way of the main action.

Together, the stories add up to more than the sum of their parts. The specific and abundant details combined with the poetic and dreamlike images paint a compelling picture. It’s very easy fall into the same trap as the ubiquitous "X"; how can you not believe in Ambergris? I’ve physically visited cities that have not had as much of an impact as VanderMeer’s stellar creation, and memories of Ambergris have been creeping into my dreams. VanderMeer may well be the best fantasist working today. He slips past your defenses and seeds the hidden recesses of your imagination with spores that fruit in unexpected ways ( )
  Mrs_McGreevy | Nov 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jeff VanderMeerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Coulthart, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eagle, ScottCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moorcock, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nurrish, GarryDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, MarkIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schaller, EricIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simon, ErikÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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"What can be said about Ambergris that has not already been said? Every minute section of the city, no matter how seemingly superfluous, has a complex, even devious, part to play in the communal life. And no matter how often I stroll down Albumuth Boulevard, I never lose my sense of the city's incomparable splendor--its love of ritual, its passion for music, its infinite capacity for the beautiful cruelty."
--Voss Bender, Memoirs of a Composer, Vol. No. 1, page 558, Ministry of Whimsy Press
For Ann, who means more to me than words
First words
Dradin, in love, beneath the window of his love, staring up at her while crowds surge and seethe around him, bumping and bruising him all unawares in their bright-roughed thousands.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
"City of Saints and Madmen: The Book of Ambergris" is a different work from "City of Saints and Madmen".
Publisher's editors
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Original language
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553383574, Paperback)

In City of Saints and Madmen, Jeff VanderMeer has reinvented the literature of the fantastic. You hold in your hands an invitation to a place unlike any you’ve ever visited–an invitation delivered by one of our most audacious and astonishing literary magicians.

City of elegance and squalor. Of religious fervor and wanton lusts. And everywhere, on the walls of courtyards and churches, an incandescent fungus of mysterious and ominous origin. In Ambergris, a would-be suitor discovers that a sunlit street can become a killing ground in the blink of an eye. An artist receives an invitation to a beheading–and finds himself enchanted. And a patient in a mental institution is convinced he’s made up a city called Ambergris, imagined its every last detail, and that he’s really from a place called Chicago.…

By turns sensuous and terrifying, filled with exotica and eroticism, this interwoven collection of stories, histories, and “eyewitness” reports invokes a universe within a puzzlebox where you can lose–and find–yourself again.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:50 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Presents a collection of four postmodern fantasy stories from twentieth-century author Jeff Vandermeer that features a bizarre assortment of characters.

» see all 3 descriptions

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