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The Compleat Traveller in Black [Kindle Edition]

John Brunner
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In The Compleat Traveller in Black, six linked tales, comprising one of Brunner’s rare ventures into fantasy, relate the legend of a man with many names, who travels the world with a staff made of light and performs his eternal duty by bringing order to a world filled with chaos. What he dispenses is always asked for but not always welcomed by the recipients. And the world becomes, step by slow step, a better place for those who remain. 

For each generation, there is a writer meant to bend the rules of what we know. Hugo Award winner (Best Novel, Stand on Zanzibar) and British science fiction master John Brunner remains one of the most influential and respected authors of all time, and now many of his classic works are being reintroduced. For readers familiar with his vision, this is a chance to reexamine his thoughtful worlds and words, while for new readers, Brunner’s work proves itself the very definition of timeless.

Product Details

  • File Size: 799 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (April 1, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00J5X5OM2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,158 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ending the age of magic September 21, 2006
That's the job of the magical Traveller, to use his magic to end magic. That underlying paradox provides the premise of this connected set of short stories. He travels the world at intervals, surveying the realm of unreason on each trip, and taking satisfaction in watching it shrink. Where he can, he applies his subtle magic in support of Reason's expanding domain.

Brunner explores Chaos's control and degradation of humankind in several of its ways. The first story tweaks mindless religion. It might even show how one can choose atheism, after encountering a god face to face and finding him unworthy of belief. Another of these gentle stories undermines magical thinking - again, not because it fails, but because its success is not worth having. And so with the faith in luck that makes Las Vegas the holy city of Chance, and so the unwarranted sense of entitlement that demands ever-richer result for ever-poorer effort at earning it, and so for blind pursuit of power irrespective of the cost or of who pays it. Since these stories are built around layers of paradox, Brunner's mechanism is itself a paradox, the smallest of magics to achieve the largest of consequences.

Brunner was one of the best SF writers of the 70s and 80s, author of "Shockwave Rider" and other stories of chilling prescience. Among all of his writings, though, "Traveller in Black" may be his finest and most under-stated, under-rated achievements. These stories have held up well over the thirty years since they were written; since they pass in a distant place and age, there is little in them that can look dated. I recommend these stories to any thinking reader.

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A being with a singular nature ... October 17, 1997
By A Customer
The eponymous traveller winds his way through a strange and bizarre world, maybe of the future, maybe of the past, 'tidying up' the chaotic beings he finds there - imprisoning capricious and vicious elementals, punishing the wicked and granting the wishes of the high- and low- born.
.. but none of the recipients of the wishes get *exactly* what they want ...
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The existential classic... July 14, 2004
If you know John Brunner's other work, well, this isn't like that. Traveller in Black is a collection of several mid-length stories that fit together in a progression. The nameless eponymous traveller, an agent of order, goes about imprisoning various chaotic entities and granting certain wishes. This works on several levels to give you allegories for the unexamined life, as well as a gripping adventure yarn.
In some ways, this book is a bookend to Larry Niven's "The Magic Goes Away" (and various sequels, etc.). The flavor and style is similar, although this book is very different. In any event, this is one of those touchstone books of fantasy: you'll see where other writers (including Niven's works cited above!) have "borrowed" some of the dazzling images in Brunner's classic. This gem is a great read and I recommend it highly.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fantasy classic set in the morning of the world September 3, 2009
Although I've read some of Brunner's SF, I had not heard of this book until I started playing the White Wolf RPG game Exalted. That book lists The Compleat Traveller in Black as an inspiration, and so, even though it is out of print, I was inspired to eventually find a copy of this book and read it.

It feels very much like some of Moorcock's Melnibonean work. The world is young, and still in many ways in the grip of the elder era of Chaos. The laws of science, logic and reason are still not in full evidence, with the laws of magic and chaos still trying to hold their ground.

Enter into this realm the Traveller in Black. The Compleat Traveller in Black collects a number of stories Brunner wrote about a mysterious figure who works for Order and reason. In Moorcock terms, he is a definite champion for Law. The traveler encounters forces of elemental chaos, and by actions both subtle and gross, by himself and through sometimes unwitting accomplices,works to impose reason on the world. He often does this by granting wishes. One to a customer, but the results are not often what the wisher expects. Sometimes, not even the Traveler himself is fully aware of the consequences of the wishes...

The stories have a unity of voice and vision even though they were written over a period of twenty years. The traveler is a character difficult to get to know, but we get an interesting portrait of him and the world he is helping fashion. We see through the stories how his actions shape the world around him, diminishing its magic, increasing its stability. And indeed, in the end, he creates a world that not only does not need him, but is positively opposed to his further existence.

I found this an interesting counterpoint to Vance's Dying Earth, set at the opposite end of time. I think the Dying Earth is a better realized milieu, overall, but certainly, many fantasy fans will enjoy this look at the morning of the world by Brunner.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable character February 4, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Traveler in Black lives in a world of wild magic, and he seems to be one of the great immortal powers.

But his power is very limited.

He can grant wishes -- the wishes of other people, not his own. And he does, but usually not the way they expect. And he does it when they are not expecting it.

I am sure you have heard: "Be careful what you wish for. You might get it." The Traveler in Black is the personification of that statement.

Still, while he seems very impersonal, he also comes across as a GOOD person. The ones who suffer as a result of his granted wishes deserve it.

And as to leaving the world a better place -- he leaves the world a place with less magic. Every time he grants a wish, some great source of magic disappears. The final story helps explain his long journey.

The Traveler in Black has lived in my imagination for a long time now. He is a presence you cannot forget, unique in fantasy.

Ages ago I introduced him into my Dungeons and Dragons game. It was interesting to say how carefully players started making sure they did not phrase stupid things as wishes, and how often they still failed in doing so.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars it starts from a great premise and runs to a totally satisfying...
Kind of an odd ball in terms of Brunners' overall production, this is kind of a fantasy rather than science fiction. Read more
Published 2 months ago by leafslinger
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable read
Loved this. Not sure if I had ever read this work, but I like the concept, and the way wishes are fulfilled. Clever.
Published 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Be careful what you wish for...
The best way I can describe this book is to take a premise by Neal Stephenson, add in China Mieville's vocabulary, and put it all together with writing crafted with the elegance... Read more
Published 4 months ago by D. Barrett
4.0 out of 5 stars Very excited to process this more
just finished my first time through this piece. much more to think about. not sure quite how to feel - other than feel stimulation of the mind
Published 6 months ago by Joe Passman
4.0 out of 5 stars Takes awhile to get used to...
...but it's worth it. This book is simply and elegantly written, and ended up being an unexpected pleasure that I looked forward to coming back to each time I got a few moments to... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Emmie
4.0 out of 5 stars Journey with a Sci-Fi Master
A science-fiction master takes us on a well-imagined adventure in this picaresque journey through the universe. Recommended for sci-fi fans.
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
a fun read. Brunner took humor as a base and blended a fun fantasy into it.
Published 8 months ago by Samuel L. Worley Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
So glad this finally hit Kindle!

The ultimate in you get what you ask for - a classic.
Published 8 months ago by Dawn S. Emerson
5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch fantasy writing. A really fun read.
Fantasy at it's finest with some excellent dark humor and irony. Brunner's best works IMO have received little to no critical acclaim or awards. Read more
Published 10 months ago by A&A M.
5.0 out of 5 stars It's really wonderful and I can't think of anything like it
I've read this once or twice a year for... decades, I think. It's really wonderful and I can't think of anything like it.
Published 10 months ago by Edie Snow
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