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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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to The Vorrh the most enjoyable?
The narrator's voice and delivery is superb, rich, and a perfect compliment to Catling's gorgeous, evocative prose.
What other book might you compare The Vorrh to and why?
I think that this is a genuine classic work, one that can be easily be held alongside Tolkien, Le Guin and Wolfe. It's visionary and feels oddly timeless, as if it's always existed, like myth of fairy tale archetypes.
Have you listened to any of Allan Corduner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?
No, but I'll seek him out. What a vioce!
If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?
Ugh! an awful question! This is in its perfect form as a novel and/or audiobook.
Any additional comments?
I wrote an employee pick review of this at a bookstore where I used to work: it sold 180 copies in one year. Yes, it's that brilliant (the book). And three customers I directly recommended it to thanked me the next time they saw me. It's not for everyone, mind you, but those who click with it will remember it forever, and pass the word along again and again. It's the most amazing fantasy I have read bar none.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful