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Mythago Wood (The Mythago Cycle) Paperback – September 1, 2003

74 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Ryhope Wood Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Holdstock's fantasy of a surviving primeval forest where legends and tribes of different ages coexist draws power from the myths, archetypes and literary conventions it embodies. The long, Wellsian introduction to the Huxley family and their fascination with Ryhope Wood slowly moves toward a civilized British confrontation with the wilderness and savagery. Unaware of the consequences, Steve Huxley falls in love with the latest incarnation of beautiful Guiwenneth of the greenwoodas his father and brother had before him. When she is kidnapped, his attempt to find her becomes a quest leading to the heart of the mysterious wood. Although it takes its time getting started, and occasionally reminds us that it was expanded from a short story, this is a winning novel with a fine feeling for the interface between airy dreams and sweaty reality. Science Fiction Book Club main selection. Foreign rights: Ellen Levine. November 20
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Sonorous, vivid and utterly enthralling' Times Literary Supplement 'Indescribably enchanting...a fantasy which celebrates the immensity of love. Simultaneously, it is a celebration of fantasy...should be read several times' Spectator 'Classic yet original setting...Mythago Wood is a haunting book...Holdstock's best' Guardian 'Beautifully written and conceived...Some books are hard to put down. I found Mythago Wood hard to shake off' New York Times 'A stunningly good book...conveys the haunting power of old heroes and lost gods' Locus 'For me, this is the outstanding fantasy book of the 1980s, something to read several times and to rediscover the same delight with every new reading' Michael Moorcock --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Mythago Cycle
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; Reprint edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765307294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765307293
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
Robert Holdstock has created a new sub-genre of fantasy with his Mythago Wood novels. They have a haunting, dreamlike quality about them that defies easy description or classification. To attempt to write a straightforward synopsis of Mythago Wood itself is almost to lose the very essence of the novel, to break away from the ethereal feeling which transcends the book. Yet between the fantasy which touches the deepest part of the human psyche, and the gritty realism of Neolithic man and his squalid lifestyle, he creates a vivid and shocking contrast. The clean-cut comicbook concept of modern fantasy is far removed from the stream of racial subconscious and primal lifeforces which seems to suffuse Mythago Wood. Suddenly here is novel which invades its reader's comfortzones and forces them to realise how life 10,000 years ago must really have been, and how profoundly it affected the people who lived then, so that their only defense against the surrounding darkness was to call up champions and defenders from their own subconscious minds. That these mythagos are still able to manifest from modern man's staid and jaded psyches and transform people's lives as they do, is an eloquent witness to the power they represent. This novel and its sequel, Lavondyss, are outstanding modern works of fantasy fiction.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By hamsterdance on October 7, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At the time of this writing this book is out of print which is a shame. It is one of the most intriguing I've read in many a year. For anyone who has an interest in myths and legends, this is a powerful tale of one man confronting such legends and how he's changed by it. Holdstock drinks from the same well as Gaiman and any fan of Gaiman should definitely give Holdstock a go. He also seems to be familiar with many of Jung's Archtype ideas and gives them a believable place to live.

Thus the protagonist begins his journey into the heartwood of a mythic primeval forest and beyond - a journey to find his beloved celtic princess and the Umscrumug - the First Myth - the Myth Before all Others. A myth so ancient, the author says, is now fading even in Mythago Wood as Humanity's Collective Unconcious slowly forgets its past. Mythago Wood, a forest where legends and myths from every people of every time and every land are formed, live and breath. A WW1 soldier inhabits the same land as shamanic tribesmen. A celtic princess from the days of Roman Britain walks the woods from legends out of a much later Robin Hood era. And while it is clear that these beings are not "real" in the same sense that the protagonist is they are still capable of feeling joy, love, pain and sorrow. And are equally capable of killing and being killed.

The characters are human, with both flaws and redeeming qualities and hints of why myths and legends still hold our imagination are part of the entertaining story (If Mythago Wood were real I'm sure Jedi Knights, Klingons and Paul Atreides would now be walking there too).

This book won awards for good reason. If you enjoy stories of myths and legends don't fail to pick it up.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
I just re-read Mythago Wood and am further struck by this amazing story of fantasy and, to some extent, horror. The hauntings of Ryhope Wood (the small woodland of the title) emerge from humanity's deepest and darkest senses, and Holdstock presents these "Mythagos" in a manner that excites, intrigues, and terrifies... all at the same time. Having just seen the film "The Blair Witch Project," I recalled the genuine sense of fear I sensed upon my first excursion into Ryhope Wood. After reading the book again, I am further haunted by this magical world of subconscious night-terrors, elusive hopes, and primeval temptations. I highly recommend this book... if you can find it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
Readers obsessed with discovering the next "Tolkein" will no doubt be disappointed by this book. Holdstock eschews the traditional themes of "light vs. dark," melodramatic romance, and charming little people (hobbits). Instead, he employs Joseph Campbell's notion of myth and the subconscious to weave an innovative and sophisticated tale new to the genre of fantasy. Mythago Wood is the story of a young man returning to his childhood home and his fascination of nearby Ryhope wood. The wood, he discovers, generates magical creatures, mythagos, rooted the subconscious mythic archetypes unique to each culture. Embroiled in a love quarrel with his brother Christopher, who himself has in way become a part of the wood, the young man embarks on attempt to save the wood and rescue his love, a exotic whose myth dates back to Roman times. In many ways, this work actually is a successor to Tolkein in its genesis. Readers familiar with Tolkein's writings (including the Simirillion and Book of Lost Tales) recognize the importance of Germanic, English, and Scandavian myths in the construction of the history of Middle Earth. Holdstock, who adopts none of epic themes essential to the Lord of the Rings, likewise greatly relies on myth. Anyone in search of a truly revolutionary fantasy will find this book well worth the while.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Nathan Westlake on July 29, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Okay, I know! I read this book while I was on a trip in France with my mom and sister. Now we didn't bring our clothes washer with us, so we had to find a laundry mat. (This does get somewhere!) Well, I followed my mom and sister as they weaved their way deeper and deeper into the town-while I was busy reading Mythago Wood, following blindly behind. After finding a laundry mat, and getting everything set up, they decided to leave so I could pick up the clothes when they finished washing.
Eventually the clothes finished, and I came to a fair stopping point in Mythago Wood. (It's too captivating to have a good stopping point.) I got the clothes together, stepped out of the laundry mat, and realized with chagrin I'd been so intent on Mythago Wood I had no idea where I was!
Luckily I was only lost for a little while, only took one wrong turn, but that's what this book can do to you. It will pull you further and further into its shady depths, almost making you wonder what will everything be like when . . . if . . . you ever emerge. After this book, images, ghosts, fairies . . . mythagos . . . will always dance at the edge of your vision, slipping around the periphery.
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