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The Ordinary Hardcover – May 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765305283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765305282
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,714,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in the same future world as Kirith Kirin (2000), which won a Lambda Award, Grimsley's latest SF novel intimately explores the conflicts between magic and science, subconscious and conscious action, the past and the future. The planet of the tech-using Hormling of Senal is connected to the land of Irion, home of the magic-believing Erejhen, via the mysterious Twil Gate, a portal of unknown origins in the ocean. Although traders on both sides enjoy brisk commerce through the gate, Hormling leaders look more and more to Irion as a means to provide land and resources for their expanding civilization. Translator Jedda Martele, member of a Senal diplomatic mission to Irion, is caught in the middle when the delegation's true purpose is revealed: they are meant to be in place to parlay for a Hormling invasion force after it races through the gate to occupy strategic Irion ports, but they haven't reckoned with the ability of the so-called "backwards" Erejhen to handle invaders. Grimsley's finely textured societies have a clockwork intricacy that fascinates even as it dispels surprise. Unlike many "literary" authors who fail when they try to write SF, PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award winner Grimsley (Winter Birds) has the necessary world-building skills to shine brightly here.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* As an advanced, technology-based culture, the Hormling of Senal were perforce interested in exploring what lay beyond the Twil Gate, which they approached with astounding arrogance, certain that their knowledge was far superior to whatever primitive culture they would encounter there. And so it seemed, for a long time. For the inhabitants of Irion, on the other side, firmly believed in a flat world and in magic rather than science. Burgeoning to more than 30 billion in Senal, the Hormling were primarily interested in discovering and using Irion's resources. When brash Hormling officials present themselves as conquerors, though, they are rudely awakened by how unprimitive Irion is. Hormling linguist Jedda Martele's view of Irion changes quickly, for, nonjudgmental and open to learning and the new and unexpected, she soon gains friends in Irion. Magically transported to an earlier Irion, she meets Irion himself, the powerful magician who built the Twil Gate, and so begins a new life in which perceptions of who she is, her place in the world, and the world itself are drastically challenged and proven other than she could have imagined. Besides magic aplenty, there is a beautifully developed spirituality in mainstream novelist Grimsley's spare, poetic sf debut, and a compelling love story, too, making it a quiet sort of page-turner that elegantly evokes a reader's fascination and wonder. Paula Luedtke
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Quite well done, however.
Jack M. Walter
I zipped through the first 100 pages of this book unable to put it down.
K. Butler
Anybody who read Grimsley's nongenre fiction knows he is a serious guy.
komkon2

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By K. Butler on August 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I zipped through the first 100 pages of this book unable to put it down. Unfortuneately the author seems to run out of gas after that. The main character just goes on a big, boring sight seeing tour. It reminded me of that show on the Travel Channel where that girl visits hotel after hotel fawning over the interior design. There is not a hint of conflict until the final pages and then it's very short-lived and quickly followed by one of the worst non endings I've ever read. The book just stops. Not a hint of resolution or even a cliff hanger pointing to a sequel.

It's a shame because Grimsley had some great concepts to work with. In my experience novels that mix technology with magic usually fail at both, but Grimsley had a workable foundation he could have developed into something unique if he had focused on the SF concepts instead of minutiae.

Once in a while the characters stop admiring the drapes long enough to notice the GIANT FREAKIN' PORTAL BETWEEN TWO WORLDS--but enough about that.

Gee, what a lovely sofa...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Anne M. Hunter VINE VOICE on June 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
Beware! My first edition of the "First Trade Paperback Edition: October 2005" has pages 183 to 245 backward! It's readable, but annoying to have to read that many pages back to front.

The author creates a sensuous, dreamy mood while creating two opposed cultures: an overcrowded, extremely stratified, high-tech interstellar civilization and a seemingly backward world of small towns, castles, and enormously high magical towers, where an elite are almost immortal. While the author never uses this quote, all the way through I was reminded of Arthur C. Clarke's saying that "any sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from magic".

It also interested me that pretty much ALL of the characters are older, some thousands of years old, some a scientifically 'renewed' sixty or eighty. It made the attractions and relationships feel quite different.

The book is very readable; I finished the last half in a day, and ordered the sequel immediately. I wish that Kirith Kirin, a sort of prequel, was in print or available used for less than $40!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dan S. on August 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had previously read Kirith Kirin, so this novel made sense and was a welcome return to an interesting world. Overall the concept of the intersections of worlds of magic and science, and the philosophical and theological ramifications is a very interesting one. Plus I now understand what all those appendixes in Kirith Kirin were about.

However, the novel does rush to a sudden end, which wasn't good after so much build-up in the body. I hope Grimsley plans to write more.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Wombat whiskers on August 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a fragment of a book. While it is well written, has good characters and some very interesting concepts, it fails for lack of a plot. The story seems to stop right when it should just be getting interesting. This is a pity since everything else was in place to make it a truly good book. I was very frustrated and disappointed.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jack M. Walter on May 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating sci-fi novel about two very different worlds that have mysterious connections to each other. I love Grimsley's style, as usual, but can't help feeling that the ending was too abrupt. There is much more to discover about how this tale continues, and I can only hope the author plans a sequel. Quite well done, however.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor Skinner on December 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the story of Jedda Martele, the contact between two peoples, and the division between two copies of the same man. Irion, a world that has developed magic, has opened a portal to Senal, a world populated by the Hormling, descendents of Earth who use science. Irion has watched Senal secretly for a while, then opened the gate. Senal, once it discovers the gate, studies Irion for a few decades, then decides to conquer it. Jedda Martele is a linguist sent to the Hormling embassy on Irion at the start of the war. Although she is Hormling, she has spent many years on Irion as a trader, and now learns more of their language and history and even some of their magic. At the end of her experience, she is given the decision about whether the two worlds will continue to be in contact.

Meanwhile, the greatest mage of Irion (whose name is Jessex, but who is also called Yron and Irion), has split himself into copies, one of which has decided it wishes to be primary. The Irion-copy battles with Jessex, which takes place offstage for a lot of the book; you figure out the battle is going on as you learn more about the culture of Irion. At one point the Irion-copy kidnaps Jedda, before he is defeated (by God herself, or by some combination of God and Jessex's powers).

This book seems to have frustrated a lot of reviewers by opening with a short war (Senal invading Irion) and ending with what is probably the beginnings of another war, or at least some serious diplomatic negotiations. However, both war and the decisions in the peace between wars are important in the history of how Irion and Senal treat with one another. Those who want to know how their societies eventually combine will want to read The Last Green Tree, which takes place several hundred years later.
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