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Vellum: The Book of All Hours Paperback – Deckle Edge, April 25, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; First Edition edition (April 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345487311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345487315
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,142,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Scottish author Duncan's challenging SF debut, the first in a two-book series about an epic battle between good and evil, reveals the history of the advanced, ancient and powerful civilization of Kur through Egyptian, Babylonian and East Indian myth as well as bitmites, cyber-avatars and warring bands of fallen angels. A book, The Vellum (aka The Book of All Hours), is both portal to parallel realities and guide to a language of power that can be both inscribed in the skin and on the soul. Since individual characters like Seamus Finnan, Jack Carter, Thomas Messenger and Thomas's sister, Phreedom, whose lives are destroyed, prolonged and forever scarred by contact with a realm called the Vellum, tend to appear and reappear at intervals often 20 or 40 years apart, their adventures in the human, parallel and cyber universes can be hard to follow. Readers who persevere will find this a truly rewarding read. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Following the trail of a family legend, Reynard Guy Carter finds The Book of All Hours, aka the Vellum, a blueprint for all creation written by the scribe of God after the word was spoken. Carter thereafter wanders the strange, deserted worlds of the Vellum, while angels and demons, the Covenant and the Sovereigns, battle for control of the order of everything. Within the Vellum, Phreedom Messenger is on a quest to find her brother that will lead her to the very depths of the underworld in a movement parallel to Innana's descent to the underworld of Ereshkigal; and Seamus Finnan, her brother's betrayer and an old friend, is, like Prometheus, bound for his sins. The paths the three characters follow become a scintillating web of journeys across worlds and through the three dimensions of time. Duncan's version of a battle among the messengers of divinity proves fascinating as it takes unexpected turns within the framework of ancient myths. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

He showed absolutely no ability to write any characters with any depth, however.
Tom reads too much
Even though I thought this book was horrible, I read the entire thing, hoping that it would return to the story and narrative structure of the beginning.
It is also written with a British accent (I think), Irish accent, ancient language, but mostly swearwords.
Cousin Mint

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Shlepzig on May 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
Vellum is a non-linear re-imagining of the world's myths and religions through an end-of-the-world scenario, intertwining many thematic elements of horror, science fiction and fantasy. I loved reading it, it was challenging, grand, audacious, and engaging. If you enjoy reading challenging fantasy/sci-fi/horror and can tolerate non-linear narrative than you will love reading this novel. Though as a reader that enjoys non-linear narrative it is not without its literary criticisms. Warning there is a lot of homo-erotic imagery (which doesn't quite cross the line of gratuitous).if you have problems with that, best to avoid this work.

Overall Vellum follows the story of six or seven characters through different incarnations and histories which are intertwined through myth and history and legend through to the end of this world and the next. The overriding thread that ties these characters through all of their different incarnations is the Vellum, the Book of Names, the Book of all hours, in which all that exists or will exist in this existence, or the next (or the existence next-door) is written. The characters are members of the Unkin whom have the word of god, or their mystical names placed on their very being. These characters are the incarnations, re-incarnations, and re-iterations of the various gods, spirits, angels and demon archetypes. They play and re-play their parts throughout histories both real and imagined from the beginning of the world to the end, through this world and the next and are inferred in an infinity of other worlds throughout the book. Hal Duncan has drawn parallels of the different spiritual archetypes and strung them together into a narrative that encompasses the genres of classic and contemporary horror, post-modernism, cyber-punk and pulp sci-fi-fantasy.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By David Reimer on December 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Hal Duncan's Vellum is an intermittently beautiful, sometimes disturbing, occasionally thought-provoking and often difficult work. Bearing through those difficulties is a worthwhile journey for the reader, however, and Duncan has quite nearly invented a new form of fiction with this book. Without giving too much away, it is fair to say that Duncan links a series of characters to the recurring myths of western history, from Mesopotamia to the present day, linking those stories to pivotal events of both a large and private, personal-scale, from the Christian mythos of the fall of one-third of the angels from heaven, to the murder of Matthew Sheppard in Wyoming in 1998. Duncan pulls each of these events from their place as distant archtypal tragedies or isolated personal horrors and places them squarely at the whirling center of a universal conflict between forces that cannot simply be described as 'good' or 'evil.' This conflict extends, in Duncans hands, across one and many possible chaotic, violent futures. Through this millenia-long cycling, Duncan follows a cast of recurring and slowly developing characters who, we come to realize, are as pivotal to one another as they may well be to mankind. If there is a key weakness to Duncan's first volume, it is the pace at which we come to know these key characters. In many ways, they become clear as individuals only in the book's final (and strongest) third. Readers who persist in tracing their circuitous paths, however, will find that this is a work that lingers long after the last page.
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49 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Hal Duncan, Vellum (Del Rey, 2005)

Wow. The first twenty-five pages of this book are amazing. Thoroughly captivating stuff, especially for book geeks. A university student, guided by research in amazingly out-of-the-way places, stumbles upon the Book of All Hours hidden in the rare books room at his university. The Book of All Hours is an amazing thing that opens up doors to other worlds. You read this stuff and you know this is going to be one fantastic adventure tale, the kind of thing you will devour in one sitting, forgoing food and sleep, and then will press on your kids, and their kids, and your friends, and their kids, and so on as long as you live.

And then you hit page twenty-six, and everything gets bollixed up.

Reynard Carter is the protagonist of those first twenty-five pages, and when he's getting screen time, this is a good book. It never quite reaches the heights of those first twenty-five pages again, but it's still good. He, unfortunately, is a character in very little of the ensuing manuscript (what of it I was able to read, anyway; I gave up in disgust a little less than halfway through). His polar opposite is a character with the painful name of Phreedom Messenger, and for coming up with that name alone Duncan should have all of his writing utensils taken away from him forevermore; it doesn't help that her portion of the book (as large as Reynard's is small) is as dry as the dust her motorcycle's always kicking up.

The "original" tag being constantly bandied about perplexes me; all of the qualities that people find so original about this book were done, and far better, in Gaiman's American Gods. Okay, so Gaiman's missing an infinitely large parallel world in which to run around. (Here's hoping he rectifies that eventually.
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