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The Spiral Labyrinth (Tale of Henghis Hapthorn) Hardcover – September 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Tale of Henghis Hapthorn
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597800910
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597800914
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #817,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The superior melding of fantasy, humor and detection seen in Majestrum (2006) is displayed to even better advantage in Hughes's second chronicle of Henghis Hapthorn, a discriminator (or consulting detective) on an alternate Earth. Aided by his intuitive inner self, Osk Rievor, and his faithful grinnet, an AI housed in an ape-cat body, Hapthorn accepts a request from wealthy socialite Effrayne Choweri to find her legendarily devoted and romantic husband, Chup, who vanished after looking into the purchase of a small spaceship. When the sleuth finds that several others who had considered buying the vessel also disappeared, he poses as a prospective buyer, only to be captured by a super-intelligent fungus seeking to expand its experience of reality by leeching the thoughts and knowledge of others. Hapthorn's wry first-person narration recalls Bertie Wooster, and Hughes effortlessly renders fantastic worlds and beings believable. News that a third adventure is in the works will surely please fans of many genres. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Resembling a futuristic hybrid of the arch escapades of Bertie Wooster and the thought-provoking cases of Sherlock Holmes, Hughes' Hengis Hapthorn novels delight intellect and imagination. As Old Earth's foremost discriminator (i.e., private detective), Hapthorn combines a logician's savvy and an aptitude for handling unforeseen perils with aplomb. In his latest adventure, his empirical skills face a serious challenge when he is unexpectedly transported centuries forward to a future in which magic has replaced physics as the universal modus operandi. Worse, Hapthorn's intuitive alter ego, Osk Rievor, has unaccountably abandoned him in a bewildering culture whose rival wizards appear bent on using Hapthorn as a hapless pawn in a magical power struggle. Only his wits and the erudition of his fruit-devouring mammalian personal assistant will save him from a fate involving either servitude or death. Hughes' masterfully eloquent style and clever plot twisting provide Hapthorn with an investigative panache rivaling those of the leading sleuths of mainstream detective fiction. Hays, Carl

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I look forward to the next book.
KC
If you are new to Hengis Hapthorn stories, I can't recommend this yet.
Zachary Hiwiller
Hughes has a voice and a style all his own.
C. Singleton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Zachary Hiwiller on November 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I rarely write reviews as I find that most people who have commented before me have covered the gamut, but this entry has been barren and I just finished the book so I figured I'd give it a go.

I first read Matthew Hughes in F/SF magazine about a year ago with his short story "The Sweet Trap" and I was hooked ever since. The one problem with picking up Hughes' work at that point is that it really helps to have read all previous Hapthorn stories to understand the setups and the relationships between the characters. So I went back and read The Gist Hunter and Other Stories and then picked up Majestrum. The Spiral Labyrinth then continues the saga and hints at a continuation.

For anyone who has read "The Sweet Trap" previously, the first couple chapters will be familiar as they are an adaptation of the aforementioned story. The pace picks up from there as Hapthorn is separated from his internal second-personality Osk Rievor and deposited in a land very much antagonistic to a rational freelance discriminator.

If you have read a Hapthorn story before, this continues the saga brilliantly. Without posting any spoilers, I love how each entry in the series (with the exception of some of the earlier stories) really changes the world and doesn't come full circle allowing for interesting setups for the next installments.

If you are new to Hengis Hapthorn stories, I can't recommend this yet. Read The Gist Hunter and Other Stories and the Majestrum. Then you will be greatly pleased when you reach this book.

I cannot wait for more.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. D. Webber on November 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book continues the trilogy telling the story of Henghis Hapthorn, which started in "Majestrum." Unlike many second parts of trilogies, this is a strong (though not stand-alone) novel that develops several major characters, introduces new characters, and expands the narrative universe beyond Old Earth and into interstellar space. It's great!

I'm eagerly awaiting the third Henghis Hapthorn novel, "Hespira," and was happy to see it available for Amazon.com pre-order.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul R Gazis on June 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's been said before, and I'll say it again, Matthew Hughes has done a superb job of recreating the dialogue and ambience of Jack Vance. But he is no slavish imitator of the old master, any more than Vance was an imitator of Clark Ashton Smith. He's invented new ideas, and added new twists, so that his work can stand in its own right.

Old Earth and the worlds of The Spray are fascinating places to explore, Henghis Hapthorn is one of the more interesting explorers you'll find, and the tale of this particular exploration... was fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Studhalter on June 15, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Matthew Hughes is a real artist, with an old-fashioned devotion to the craft of writing. This is not science fiction, nor is it "realistic" in the way that people seem to expect of all fiction nowadays. The sentences are crafted, not just thrown on the page like a transcription of an overheard conversation at Starbuck's. It's like Trollope or Smollett...full of wit and clever language. But it's also exciting and thoroughly enjoyable. The only comparable living writer of "speculative fiction" I can think of is Jack Vance, and he's quit writing at age 93. So we are fortunate indeed to have Matthew Hughes, whose unique voice is a thoroughgoing delight. Highly recommended.

(This review was posted for another Hengis Hapthorn book, Majestrum, but it applies equally to this one).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Woofdog on August 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Based on the number of reviews, this seems to be a an undiscovered book. This is a shame, as it is a very entertaining short novel which left me wishing it had a rather greater number of pages (my highest compliment - it was TOO SHORT!)

The spoiler-free version is that this sequel to Majestrum continues following our discriminator (did I get that right?) Mr. Hapthorn and his alter ego and organic integrator as they become drawn into an affair dealing with magic.

SPOILER WARNING

You are warned!!

The author manages to integrate both the sci-fi setting of the previous novel and the 'dying earth' magical setting and rules Vance created (and Gary Gygax borrowed/used for the D&D magical system). Much of the novel takes place in a magical environment, and the related patterns/rules on spell memorization/casting/naming apply here as well.

We are treated to a great deal of sarcastic, dry wit, a game of chance, a parade of rather nasty antagonistic sorcerors, with their varied whims and characteristics, and some personal sorrow and loss to boot (something rarely in any vance novel - this book has a sad ending :(

it is possible some readers will feel I am emphasizing the Vance-style issue excessively, but I would offer that the author has explicitly stated that "... I write the kind of story I like to read, and what I like to read is a Jack Vance story." He has also stated that the hapthorn stories are set in the penultimate age of earth, one eon before the time of the Dying Earth of Vance.
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By Ernie Cooke on June 30, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I think I used brilliant to describe the first book in this series. Amazing will do nicely for this one. Once again Hughes juggles a complex plot filled with mystery, magic and humor and does it admirably. Some readers might find this confusing at times, in fact so did I, but don't dare blame the author. Try to remember everything that happens. This is not a book to be skimmed, but a clever story that should be savored. I highly recommend this series and now must cut this review short so I can begin savoring the third novel in this amazing trilogy.
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