on October 30, 2013
Tried to get a friend into these, but they didn't take. Not that he isn't a sharp fellow,but it asks for more understanding from the reader than the average fantasy novel. Think slightly above Clark and Gaiman. My friends that like Tolkien's works beyond The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy usually like these books.
Great story. Interesting concept. Just like the old myths, these are a good blend of tragedy, comedy, violence, and naughtiness of all kinds. But you can't read just one; it's pointless. If you pick up one, you should pick up all three (Orphans, Fugitives, and Titans). If you want some fun but are tired of the force-fed stuff that populates the majority of fantasy novels these days, you should make the investment.
on April 18, 2015
I was surprised that I did not enjoy this book because I loved Wright's Golden Age trilogy. But the writing in Orphans of Chaos and the other books in this series (I made it through two) is very uneven, almost a caricature of his earlier work. The portrayal of the female characters is particularly odd, ranging from positive to... well, weirdly objectifying. This is like reading bad fan fiction by someone in the throes of puberty.
I was so surprised by the change in writing style that halfway through the book I took a break to check whether there were two authors called John Wright (answer: nope, this is the same guy).
on November 19, 2005
Wright continues to amaze. This book is not really anything like any of his previous ones, except that it's wonderfully written.
Somewhere in rural England, there's an orphage. The orphanage houses only five children-Victor, Amelia, Vanity, Colin, and Quentin. They're significantly outnumbered by the staff, and despite receiving an excellent education, they're kept in almost prison-like conditions of discipline and restriction of movements. They've never made even an unsupervised visit to the nearby village.
Oh, and they all have unusual powers-different and apparently incompatible powers. Quentin's a warlock, Victor can change the molecular arrangement of matter, Amelia can see in four dimensions. If the physical laws of the universe are such that Quentin's powers can work, how can Victor's also work under the same set of laws?
There's also some mystery about their exact ages, and the larger mystery of where they come from. And now that they're approximately in their late teens, or perhaps early teens, or, just possibly, early twenties, curiosity and determination are overcoming deference to the adults they increasing regard as jailers. When Amelia and Quentin manage to eavesdrop on a midnight meeting of the Governors and Visitors of the school, all bets are off and they're in active rebellion against their captors.
But they still know only tiny pieces of what's going on.
This is truly excellent, although I need to mention that it's the first half, or possibly the first third, of the novel, not the whole thing. This volume doesn't end; it stops at a crucial point. Part Two will apparently be entitled Fugitives of Chaos. (That's less of a spoiler for this book than it might seem.) Nevertheless, Wright has delivered before, and I do highly recommend this one.
on February 11, 2015
I actually got this when it was free for the kindle, then had to buy the DTB editions for the second two. I did like it enough to eventually do a re-read. I bought the DTB edition now so I could have all three available for students to read in my class. I have read many reviews that come down hard to Wright for over sexualizing the characters, who are portrayed as children. Some scenes did seem a little weird and creepy, but it never made me put it down. I'm pretty sure I wrote a review back then on the kindle edition.
on November 16, 2007
While I admit I had some trouble understanding some of the concepts introduced in this book (sometimes the philosophic/technical monologues of each of the characters, as well as their confusing name changes become rather hard to follow), once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. John C Wright is an extraordinary writer, it's been a long time since I've enjoyed a series this much. I really cared for each of the main characters (despite their flaws), and my appreciation for them and their radically different personalities and quirks only grew in the following books, which are even better than the first one... I strongly suggest giving these series a chance, it only gets better and better.
The first book of this trilogy introduces us to 5 special teens, who are held prisoners in a severe British institution/orphanage for reasons that aren't entirely clear to them at first, but that they slowly begin to understand as the special powers each of them posess start to appear, and they find out clues of what their true identities are. Having at least a basic knowledge of Roman and Greek mythology helps a great deal in getting the most enjoyment out of the series, but it's not absolutely required either. Wonderful series overall, my only complaint was that I was sad to see it end!
on August 12, 2011
I'm a little surprised to read that people didn't like the characters. I didn't either, but it seems a bit beside the point. When you read Greek myths about the gods, do you like the gods?
This is my second time reading this series, and I don't often return to something I've read unless I've truly *enjoyed* something. (_The Hobbit_? YES! The Lord of the Rings? Once was enough! I've read some of the Harry Potter books several times and others in the Harry Potter series are simply HORRIBLE.) Anway, so to return to these books a second time, for me, means that I truly enjoyed something.
In high school, I entered the Advanced Placement program late. I suppose because I was so traumatized by Calculus that I will never forget the teacher (one of my best teachers ever) constantly showing us "conic sections". Almost 30 years later, I'm reading Amelia describe her 4th dimension and the whole "conic section" thing clicked.
That's what I find so fascinating about these books. The characters are almost plot devices, but their descriptions of mathematical/physical concepts are truly brilliant. And I love how the different "perspectives" co-exist and interact without any real explanation of why/how it can be so.
My only regret is that I think the books are a bit too sexual for younger readers because if I were a math/physics teacher I'd encourage my students to read these books. The books offer perspectives and ask very interesting philosophical questions, and it just seems to me that concentrating on the characters is like concentrating on the question of whether the Greek gods were moral: quite beside the point except maybe that it certainly makes them VERY INTERESTING!
on May 19, 2016
Another interesting book from Mr. Wright, very complicated and it assumes you either have a very good classical education or access to Google in addition to the built-in Amazon search tools to get the full benefit of what he has written. You can just skip over terms and words you don't know if you aren't interested but I'd feel like I missed a lot that is there to be had for very little additional effort.
I'm not normally a fantasy reader but part way through the book I ordered the next two in the series.
on April 13, 2013
Like many good books, this can be read on several levels. It is genuinely primarily an adventure story, with the heroes gradually finding their way to greatness. It's something of a coming-of-age story, obviously, and underneath it all is a deep reservoir of old-school horror that would make Lovecraft chant in unfathomable tongues.
Essentially, this is the kind of book that you may find very interesting on one read-through or more light reading over several readings. For a book aimed very clearly at a teenaged audience, it's very adult (in the sense of complexity and depth, not sex-- the sexual themes are very firmly early-teenager through the entire series, as is appropriate to the cast).
on June 12, 2016
Extremely clever and fascinatingly open to speculate. The only problem with the series is that it's written from the perspective of a group of young kids and thus giving the impression that it's a teen-novel but most it couldn't be anything less. The physics, concepts and all around scope of reality make this a bit of a stretch for many young adults, and because of that I would have to call this a rather young but intellectual and philosophical novel and series. Very much worth reading.
on February 19, 2016
This is the book that first drew my attention to John C. Wright. I've read and reviewed some of his others, but I've just been a bit slow in reviewing this one.
The book is listed in the Fantasy genre, but there are a lot about it that belongs in Science Fiction, like four dimensional reality, and -- well, it's in the book description, read it yourself.
It's told from the first-person perspective of one of the orphans who introduces herself thus: "My name is Amelia Armstrong Windrose. I should say, I call myself that; my real name was lost with my parents." The headmaster of the boarding school, where the five orphans have been living as long as they can remember, one day told them to pick their own names to replace the "baby names" they had been called by up 'till then (not that names like "Secunda", "Tertia" and "Quartinus" sound particularly babyish -- to me at least). She had named herself "Amelia" after Amelia Earheart.
The five have begun to notice strange things about their surroundings and their existence. They know they had parents before. Their dimmest memories include some strange surreal things, obviously not of this world if their memory is to be believed. Through them and other strange anomalies they notice around them, they've begun to suspect that they may not even be human beings at all. Whatever it is that they are, and what to do with that knowledge, is the quest of the narrative. When they do begin acting on clues, there's opposition from the school staff, who also aren't what they appear to be. In all, it's an intriguing tale that doesn't finish with this book. To complete the four-dimensional jigsaw puzzle, you have to read the whole trilogy.