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The Islanders Paperback – January 1, 2012
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Mass Market Paperback
A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at beyond the speed of light. The beacons are built to be robust. They never fail. At least, they aren't supposed to. Learn more
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Top Customer Reviews
The Islanders is Christopher Priest's first novel in almost a decade, a fact which itself makes it one of the most interesting books to be released this year. His previous novel, The Separation, a stimulating and layered book about alternate versions of WWII, was one of the very finest novels of the 2000s. True to expectations, Priest has returned with a fiercely intelligent book that works on multiple different levels and which rewards close, thoughtful reading.
The Islanders initially appears to be a travel gazetteer, a Lonely Planet guide to a place that doesn't exist. Several islands are presented with geographic information, notes on places of interest and thoughts on locations to visit. Then we get entries which are short stories (sometimes only tangentially involving the island the entry is named after), or exchanges of correspondence between people on different islands. One entry is a succession of court and police documents revolving around a murder, followed by an extract from a much-later-published book that exonerates the murderer. Later entries in the book seem to clarify what really happened in this case, but in the process open up more questions than are answered. Oh, a key figure the gazetteer references frequently is revealed to be dead, despite him having produced an introduction to the book (apparently after reading it). Maybe he faked his death.Read more ›
Priest has won a number of prizes, most recently the BSFA's (it was the fourth time, if memory serves). Still, he's so good that I wouldn't be surprised if his name popped up in something like the Man Booker's shortlist, alongside Murakami or David Mitchell.
`The Islanders' was a very surprising novel for me. It started out slowly and then it picked up steam, in a very subtle and inventive way.
It presents itself as a guidebook to an imaginary `Dream Archipelago', with a foreword written by the first among a long list of unreliable narrators. Each chapter is then devoted to just one island but don't expect your average travel writing. Some chapters are quasi-technical descriptions of the terrain, weather conditions and so forth while others are in fact about famous people who lived there. Others still will present court documents or take yet another form.
After a while you will start picking up clues and understand that, beneath it all, there is a plot or, in actual fact, several main ones (including a murder mystery) and a few minor: there are recurring characters, tales of ghosts, scientific experiments gone wrong, etc.
Some chapters act as self-contained short stores while others, as mentioned, evolve throughout the narration (sometimes there is not actual solution, with the mystery left hanging in the air...).
I used the word `inventive' and I think this is the most apt, but if you manage to get past the first chapters and start picking up signals, then you might want to add another one: `excellent'.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I won't pretend to completely understand this book but it was unique and interesting. Each chapter is about a different island in a massive archipelago that no one can seem to make... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Douglas Larry Booze
I expected more. I have enjoyed some os his other novels, but this one was slow and boring.
It's short vignettes that I can only assume must eventually resolve into a story. Read more
Great book. There are short and ambivalent bits mixed throughout a constant weave of somewhat related characters and places, all well written and interesting. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Joshua S. Barnett
Incredibly complex and beautiful and scary and amazing. Every description of the islands forming the Dream Archipelago falls into place like a complicated puzzle, sometimes memory,... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Andreea Pausan
The pact we make as readers of fiction is willful suspension of disbelief. In The Islanders, Christopher Priest has come up with new ways to make even that literary pact suspect. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Genevieve D.
An excellent, albeit colder and detached in tone, companion to the mind blowing The Dream Archipelago. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Tudor Ciocarlie
Overwritten, unreadable, pretentious tripe from a genuinely unpleasant writer. I implore you to give up thoughts of buying this rubbish. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Arthur Davies
Jan Morris tapped into the faux travel-guide vein first. (Have you been to Hav?) This maps different territory. 'Maybe it's different on Seevl. Read morePublished on August 6, 2013 by Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso'