The Vorrh : The Vorrh Trilogy

  • by Brian Catling
  • Narrated by Allan Corduner
  • Series: The Vorrh Trilogy
  • 17 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Prepare to lose yourself in the heady, mythical expanse of The Vorrh, a daring debut that Alan Moore has called "a phosphorescent masterpiece" and "the current century's first landmark work of fantasy".
Next to the colonial town of Essenwald sits the Vorrh, a vast - perhaps endless - forest. It is a place of demons and angels, of warriors and priests. Sentient and magical, the Vorrh bends time and wipes memory. Legend has it that the Garden of Eden still exists at its heart. Now a renegade English soldier aims to be the first human to traverse its expanse. Armed with only a strange bow, he begins his journey, but some fear the consequences of his mission, and a native marksman has been chosen to stop him. Around them swirl a remarkable cast of characters, including a Cyclops raised by robots and a young girl with tragic curiosity as well as historical figures, such as writer Raymond Roussel and photographer Edward Muybridge. While fact and fictional blend, the hunter will become the hunted, and everyone's fate hangs in the balance under the will of the Vorrh.

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What the Critics Say

"Catling's novel reads like a long-lost classic of Decadent or Symbolist literature, with that same sense of timelessness. It's peculiar, wildly imaginative, unafraid to transgress and get lost, and is unlike anything I've ever read." (Jeff VanderMeer, author of The Southern Reach Trilogy)
"A phosphorescent masterpiece.... Easily the current century's first landmark work of fantasy.... A brilliant and sustained piece of invention which establishes a benchmark not just for imaginative writing but for the human imagination in itself.... Read this book, and marvel." (Alan Moore, author of Watchmen and V for Vendetta)
"Brian Catling is simply a genius. His writing is so extraordinary it hurts, it makes me realize how little imagination I have." (Terry Gilliam)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Mixed feelings

I have rarely found it so hard to explain how I feel about a book as I do about The Vorrh.

On one hand, the use of language and imagery is absolutely beautiful, and the world described is unique and full of original ideas. The book itself is singular - I can't think of another book that is anything like it. The closest I can come, in terms of imaginative originality, is China Mieville's Perdido Street Station, which is one of my favorites.

On the other hand, it is no Perdido Street Station. The Vorrh skips between numerous story threads that gradually converge somewhat to paint a larger picture. The thing is, the picture it paints, while original, isn't all that interesting. Some of the characters are interesting, particularly the cyclops, but overall there is a feeling of style over substance that pervades the story. Other reviews have complained about the book's bleak hopelessness, and it is bleak indeed, but I like bleakness, for the most part, and hopelessness works if it serves a story. Here, though, I didn't find a character I could really care about.

A character doesn't need to be very likable - some of the best are detestable - but I need to care about what happens to them. I didn't feel much connection with any of the characters here, though, other than a bit for the cyclops, but he was only a small part of the story. There is a coldness to all the characters, and they are partly obscured by the flowery language around them.

At the same time, I could appreciate the book almost as a different kind of art form. It was more like looking at a beautiful painting than reading a book. The imagery is so evocative that at times it didn't even matter that the story was meandering on its way to nowhere.

I'd recommend the book to anyone who is comfortable with dark themes and can handle unlikable (though interesting, even if cold and distant) characters in service of an evocative image painted with words. But for most readers, particularly those looking for heroic adventures or big, sweeping ideas, the book will be incredibly frustrating.
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- Christopher Torgersen

Plodding and largely pointless

What would have made The Vorrh better?

The Vorrh would be better if it had a plot. And dialogue. And character development. And if it were not a collection of perverse and puerile ramblings. And if it were anything at all like the plot summary given in the description.

If you like to read engaging fantasy stories filled with interesting character doing interesting things... this is not for you.

If you like to read dense and often grotesque prose devoid of dialogue and meaning, then buy this book right away!


What was most disappointing about Brian Catling’s story?

The most disappointing thing about the story in the Vorrh is that there really isn't one.

The Vorrh boils down to five hundred pages of descriptions written in excruciating detail, in an acerbic and clever writing style. This works okay for about the first fifteen pages. But you keep waiting for the payoff; for something, anything, to happen, and it never really does. It really is just five hundred pages of densely worded prose in a cliched stream of consciousness.

Of the hundreds of pages that make up this book, you could probably fill only three with actual dialogue; two if you don't count the feverish whining of a dog having a dream about forcing himself on another dog. That is an actual sentence that I typed because of the Vorrh. This book is that bad.

There are characters in the story, of a sort, but again, they don't actually do anything. Some of them have done things, certainly, and in those cases we are treated to long backstories in stream of conscious monologues. These backstories occasionally intersect with other characters like billiard balls. This is as close as the Vorrh gets to a plot.

I should note that there are women in this story, if your definition of a woman is a thing that men want to sleep with. Oh, and they can also die horrifically to give men motivation. So there's that.


Which scene was your favorite?

My favorite scene is when a Lawman viciously mutilates a child, just because he is standing in his way.

Actually that was terrible and awful, and I wish I'd never read it, just like the rest of this book.


What character would you cut from The Vorrh?

There aren't really any characters in this book. There are descriptions of characters certainly, but that is as good as it gets.


Any additional comments?

I feel I should note that Alan Corunder is fantastic throughout, and performs a skillful and entertaining narration despite the overwrought prose he has to slog through.

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- zacket

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-28-2015
  • Publisher: Random House Audio