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The Book of Skulls [Kindle Edition]

Robert Silverberg
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.00
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $6.01 (43%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Seeking the immortality promised in an ancient manuscript, The Book of Skulls, four friends, college roommates, go on a spring break trip to Arizona: Eli, the scholar, who found and translated the book; Timothy, scion of an American dynasty, born and bred to lead; Ned, poet and cynic; and Oliver, the brilliant farm boy obsessed with death.

Somewhere in the desert lies the House of Skulls, where a mystic brotherhood guards the secret of eternal life. There, the four aspirants will present themselves–and a horrific price will be demanded.

For immortality requires sacrifice. Two victims to balance two survivors. One by suicide, one by murder.

Now, beneath the gaze of grinning skulls, the terror begins. . . .


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“[This] is Robert Silverberg at his very best, and when [he’s] at his best, no one is better.”
–George R.R. Martin

“This is, simply put, one of my favorite nightmare novels.”
–Harlan Ellison, author of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

“Flawlessly written . . . as close to poetic beauty as any contemporary science fiction novel I’ve ever read.”
–James Blish, Hugo Award—winning author of A Case of Conscience

“The Book of Skulls is a revelation–it was a masterpiece when I first read it, and remains a masterpiece to this day.”
–Greg Bear, New York Times bestselling author of Darwin’s Radio

“Silverberg is a master writer in any genre–and now you’re going to find out why they call them ‘thrillers.’ ”
–John Shirley, author of Demons

“Where Silverberg goes today, science fiction will follow tomorrow.”
–Isaac Asimov


From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Robert Silverberg (1935 - ) Robert Silverberg has been a professional writer since 1955, widely known for his science fiction and fantasy stories. He is a many-time winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, was named to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2004 was designated as a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America. His books and stories have been translated into forty languages. Among his best known titles are Nightwings, Dying Inside, The Book Of Skulls, and the three volumes of the Majipoor Cycle: Lord Valentine's Castle, Majipoor Chronicles and Valentine Pontifex. His collected short stories, covering nearly sixty years of work, are being published in nine volumes by SF Gateway and Subterranean Press. His most recent book is Tales Of Majipoor (2013), a new collection of stories set on the giant world made famous in Lord Valentine's Castle. He and his wife Karen and an assorted population of cats, live in the San Francisco Bay Area in a sprawling house surrounded by exotic plants.

Product Details

  • File Size: 306 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0345471385
  • Publisher: Del Rey (January 31, 2006)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FCKNWI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #486,089 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
(46)
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get this back into print! January 17, 2003
Format:Paperback
In another world this probably would have been a much bigger seller. Unfortunately the very thing that makes the book so great also works against it. This novel is the kind of intelligent, provocative SF that the genre always threaten to do but so rarely manages to make it work. However, that's also the problem. This is hardly the typical vision of "SF" with spaceships and convoluted science and aliens and rayguns. So the SF fans aren't going to be really into this. However, the publishing company probably promoted it as a SF book (Silverberg alludes to as much in the introduction) and thus the people out there looking for something sophisticated and different automatically were steered away from it because of the big "SF!" label. Gah. So what is this book about? On the surface it's about four young college men in the seventies who discover a cult in Arizona that can bestow eternal life on people, if they come in groups of four (a "Recepticle"). The only catch? Well, only two of the people actually get eternal life. In order to finish the ritual, one person has to commit suicide and the other has to be killed by the group. All four characters know this going in. But that's not really what the book is about. In reality, it's a brilliant character study. Silverberg tries the fairly difficult trick of having all four characters take turns narrating in the first person, which is harder than you'd think (well it's hard to do really well). Silverberg manages to give each guy a subtle cadence and rhythm to his voice, so that you can honestly ignore the names and read the chapters and know exactly who is speaking. It's that good. Read more ›
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am not surprised that this book is out of print. It's message is so disturbing, and the writing so far out of kilter with the writing of that generation, it sends out clear messages that the world Silverberg is going to extraordinary pains to depict accurately is not normal.
This is not a SF novel at all. There are no special effects; the story is told in the present tense, mostly, by the various members of the group. In spite of this, and their apparent good old American roots, it is clear that these roots themselves are going to lead them them, singularly, and as a group, into the abyss, and while the theme of immortality is constantly present, from the beginning it is clear that it is either irrelevant to them, and that they are simply chasing dreams of a dank and musty type, or that it is the sort of immortality which would be spent in places indistinguishable from the frontiers, if not the interior of Hell.
The genius of Silverberg, and this label is thoughtfully applied - is to draw the pictures of the genesis of the characters - and their eventual actions - well before the narrative starting post. We actually hear and see more of each of them in the past than the present. The intent is show the inevitability of their journey-but it also has the odd effect, which I am sure is not accidental, of making the past and the future for these boys of far greater concern than their own shallow and mean relationships in the present. The narrative used in the novel has the effect of making the novel skid uncomfortably across the present tense, uncomfortably fast.
This is not SF in any real sense.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Anachronistic Classic April 15, 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Silverberg has always struck me as one of science fiction's more confounding writers: I've tended to get riled by some of his issue-ridden subtexts, while simultaneously reveling in his strikingly poetic examination of the clash between Apollonian philosophies and the baser drives of human nature. His 1972 classic, The Book of Skulls is precisely this kind of novel, though it's more a first-person tale of rigorous self-examination in a supernatural context, than a science fiction book per se.
Very much rooted in the hedonistic early 1970's milieu, the story is presented as a series of journal-like chapter entries told by each of four New York college boys embarking on a very unusual cross-country trip - in search of eternal life. One of the four, Eli, has 'discovered' a mysterious centuries-old text buried in the dusty bowels of Columbia University's library collection. The Latin translation of the text we come to know as the Liber Calvarium - or the Book of Skulls - can be interpreted as a Mystery Tradition that proffers immortality to two of four individuals who embark on the journey. Four individuals must embark on the quest, knowing that two must die in the process - one must be sacrificed unwillingly, the other must commit suicide to fulfill the pact.
How exactly can you unify four people to work toward a single elusive goal when one of the "givens" is that only two will make it out alive? It's a gamble with the greatest of stakes: you will either live forever, or you will die prematurely. As the tale unfolds and the boys come closer to their destination, layers of questioning reveal each of the four's inner natures. Is the Book of Skulls real? Does the monastery exist? Do the Keepers exist? Is the Keepers' promise of life eternal real? And finally, is life itself real?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book Of Skulls Review
Great plot twist- didn't see it coming.
Published 19 days ago by Tina Cribbs
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great read....
Published 2 months ago by S. Villarreal
4.0 out of 5 stars Cuddle up and enjoy
Robert Silverberg is a great writer and this is a lovely afternoon read. Nothing outwardly impossible happens, leading critics to claim that this is not a SF novel but to those of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Andrew Ceyton
5.0 out of 5 stars his very best
his very best book. Completely underrated.
Published 7 months ago by Hans
5.0 out of 5 stars A rockin good time for more of your literary mind than you EVER...
This book is both archetypal and prophetic in its covered material and plot choices, unabashedly poetic in its writing style, and gorgeous in its depth and quality of characters'... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Rebekah M. Levy
4.0 out of 5 stars A psychological tale with uncertain ending
The whole story is a story of self exploration and a road trip adventure, only the catch is that at the end 2 of the 4 characters will be dead and 2 will (supposedly) live forever. Read more
Published 14 months ago by JK
4.0 out of 5 stars New Wave science fiction
This novel is very much in the tradition of the New Wave science fiction that was popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. There are no space ships, no invading aliens. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Jim Lester
4.0 out of 5 stars Not my problem. I sleep now.
Robert Silverberg, The Book of Skulls (Scribner's, 1972)
[originally posted 19Jan2001]

I've never been a big fan of Robert Silverberg's work. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Robert Beveridge
1.0 out of 5 stars Ouch!
I really don't understand why anybody would rate this higher than 1. I've been an avid Silverberg fan for many years, but that must have been back in the days where he had a story... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Askold B Nestiuk
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense psychological male drama and adventure!
So few books are written about what goes on inside mens' heads about other men, especially when the focus is not on war or women, that this seems almost to stand alone among... Read more
Published on July 13, 2012 by G. GEARN
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More About the Author

Robert Silverberg has been a professional writer since 1955, widely known for his science fiction and fantasy stories. He is a many-time winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, was named to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2004 was designated as a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America. His books and stories have been translated into forty languages. Among his best known titles are NIGHTWINGS, DYING INSIDE, THE BOOK OF SKULLS, and the three volumes of the Majipoor Cycle: LORD VALENTINE'S CASTLE, MAJIPOOR CHRONICLES, VALENTINE PONTIFEX. His collected short stories, covering nearly sixty years of work, have been published in nine volumes by Subterranean Press. His most recent book is TALES OF MAJIPOOR (2013), a new collection of stories set on the giant world made famous in LORD VALENTINE'S CASTLE.

He and his wife, writer Karen Haber, and an assorted population of cats live in the San Francisco Bay Area in a sprawling house surrounded by exotic plants.














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