Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Book of Paradox by Louise Cooper

The Book of Paradox (original 1973; edition 1973)

by Louise Cooper

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
953290,650 (3.3)2
Title:The Book of Paradox
Authors:Louise Cooper
Info:Delacorte Pr (1973), Edition: First Edition (first printing), Hardcover
Collections:Your library

Work Information

The Book of Paradox by Louise Cooper (1973)


Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 2 mentions

Showing 3 of 3
“An occult odyssey through the Tarot to an inner world beyond the portals of Death”

Aloethe’s life is taken by a jealous prince; Aloethe’s love, Varka, serves as a scapegoat to the murder. Sentenced to sacrifice at the temple of the Darxes, Lord of the Underworld, Varka awakens and is encouraged to find Aloethe in Limbo … if he can find the place. Varka is also empowered with the Book of Paradox, a magical book with pages/verses are cryptic, dynamic, and crucial to understand.

“You are indeed a thing of paradox,”[Varka] muttered under his breath, addressing the Book. “When I need you most, you tell me nothing, and when you are useful your words are impossible to understand.”

The actual Book of Paradox has 22 chapters, each named/influenced by the Major Arcana of the Tarot. A forward by the author’s first husband Gary Cooper explains the design: “The Book of Paradox represents the journey of the Fool through the initiations of the various cards. This is Varka’s fated quest, and one which leads him and the reader through many strange lands, into contact with many strange people, as will the Tarot itself.”

Louise Cooper was only twenty years old when her debut novel came out, and she was graced with a breath-taking Frank Frazetta cover (called “Paradox”). Each chapter has a frontispiece with an illustration by Barbara Nessim of the card influence in the current chapter along with a paragraph explaining the interpretation. Many mini-stories span 2-to-3 cards/chapters; for instance, the cover of Varka approaching vampire women is a scene from a story spanning (a) Chapters VII: The Chariot (Reversed) and (b) VIII: Fortitude.

This is a trippy adventure into an underworld that is more dream-like than it is horrifying. It is short and reads fast. The pacing and style is reminiscent of Michael Moorcock (known for his Elric novels) and there are some echoes of Jack Vance (1926-2013) and his Dying Earth series--iconic in RPG/D&D history since the naming of Items and Spells was simple: Magic Items such as Expansible Egg, Scintillant Dagger, and Live Boots...and Spells such as Excellent Prismatic Spray, Phandaal's Mantle of Stealth, Call to the Violent Cloud, Charm of Untiring Nourishment. There is an echo of Vance flare here, in that Louise Cooper offers location and titles similarly: Castle Without parallel, Queen of Blue, the Cave of Souls Passing, and the titular Book of Paradox.

The Tarot design is interesting but not obviously crucial/integral for the story; i.e., the Book of Paradox carried by Varka begged for a stronger connection to the Tarot cards, but the connection, if any, was not obvious. Nonetheless, it is a fun tale. Louise seems better known for her Time Master and Indigo series, which I plan to read.
The Initiate and Nemesis ( )
  SELindberg | Jul 1, 2017 |
A good heroic journey Fantasy novel, with a crisp writing style. Not overly memorable, but entertaining enough. The imagery is heavily Tarot influenced, perhaps to the detriment of the flow of action. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Mar 1, 2016 |
Varka did not know what the women had seen in the temple below the ground, but he knew that they had not seen him in his clumsy disguise. He had been something other than human, something possessed, something all-powerful. Now he stood in the small clearing, and he raised his stolen sword in salute to the howling wind. The wind laughed anew, long and loud, and parted the tops of the great trees so the bland face of the moon shone down and turned the dull sword into a streak of silver fire.

When Varka is unjustly convicted of murdering the woman he loves, he is sentenced to be sacrificed to Darxes the Lord of the Underworld. But Darxes takes pity on him and sends him on a quest to find Limbo and return Aloethe to the land of the living, giving him the Book of Paradox to guide him on his journey.

The book is divided into 22 chapters, each named for one of the cards of the Major Arcana, beginning with the Magician (Reversed) and ending with the Fool. Each chapter begins with a description of the card's symbolism of the Tarot card, and if the card is reversed it explains how that changes its symbolism, so the reader has a general idea of how Varka's quest is going to go and who he will meet along the way. This is an unusual way of telling a story, and quite different from the way Tarot cards are used to tell stories in "The Castle of Crossed Desires" by Italo Calvino. Varka meets with paradoxes throughout his journey and the story ends with the biggest (and most intriguing) paradox of all.

This is the most interesting fantasy book I have read in a long time. ( )
1 vote isabelx | Sep 17, 2014 |
Showing 3 of 3
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Louise Cooperprimary authorall editionscalculated
Nessim, BarbaraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Publisher Series

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
To my husband, Gary, for all his love, help, and encouragement
First words
The Magician, thought by some to be a personification of Hermes or Mercury, god of communication, represents Will.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


No library descriptions found.

Book description
A hypnotically fascinating Tarot adventure to a psychedelic nether realm of mysterious fantasy where lies are truths and truths have no meaning...where terror is real and reality is always questionable...and where a valiant hero must become The Fool to succeed on a perilous quest for love through changing worlds of eternal night. Myth, mystery and magic abound in a mesmerizing novel of considerable imaginative talent.
Haiku summary

Current Discussions


Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (3.3)
1 1
1.5 1
2 2
2.5 1
3 2
3.5 1
4 4
5 3

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 208,678,477 books! | Top bar: Always visible