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The Water of the Wondrous Isles Paperback – January 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Aegypan (January 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598186388
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598186383
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,963,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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The point is that this is a unique book, even as unique books go.
ced
The novel is available in many editions these days, but I'm reviewing the old Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series printing out of a longtime love for it.
William Timothy Lukeman
This is a coming of age story about Birdalone who was kidnapped as a baby by a witch.
Andrew Berman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By ced on January 27, 2011
THE WELL AT THE WORLD'S END is the place to start for William Morris novels, but after that, if you want more, you might check out his other "W" books, THE WOOD BEYOND THE WORLD and this one. WATER's story doesn't go from A to B, but rather A to B to C to D... In other words, it's episodic, though each episode leads to the next. The heroine, Birdalone, is a feminist roll-model, which is shocking in a Victorian novel; she's physically strong, intelligent, authoritative, good and kind. I can't think of another Victorian novel heroine who is all those things(three out of four, yes, but not all). Also, there is plain talk of sex; nothing R-rated, just PG-13, but very rare in Victorian literature. The point is that this is a unique book, even as unique books go. Plus, Morris's prose is practically poetry, and he's a master of details for characters and settings, never saying too much or little, which strikes a perfect balance between realism and mythicalness.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Victor Valentine on August 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
what must it have been like to have been a powerful, independent woman and to have read this epic fantasy in 1895, the year of its publication, twenty five years before women were given the vote in America? this epic of powerful, able females (and the bonds of friendship which both bind and conflict them) is far more than a melodrama of its day, and William Morris was a visionary in his portrayal of, and obvious admiration for, strong women. Every bit as good as THE WELL AT THE WORLD'S END...with great women baddies, as well, and kind, generous, and faithful men....check it out!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a coming of age story about Birdalone who was kidnapped as a baby by a witch. The narrative follows Birdalone's journey from her childhood as the witch's slave through her flight for freedom and quest for love and happiness. The beauty of this book, but also it's challenge, is the archaic English language used by the author. This book by William Morris was first printed in 1897 and is an intentional attempt to recreate English story telling from the middle ages.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Actually, I would have given this 4.5 stars if I could.

Sort of a cross between a fairy tale and Victorian porn (naked, frolicking nymphs is as rough as it gets). A pretty and determined heroine with color-coordinated co-characters. Fun!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
While perhaps not as well-known as William Morris' other great fantasy novels -- "The Wood Beyond the World" & "The Well at the World's End" -- this one is every much their equal. Indeed, in some ways it's their better, in that it offers his richest & most compelling portraits of Woman, both as mythical & archetypal figures, and as individual, three-dimensional human beings. As with his other novels, there's an awareness of & appreciation for female sexuality & wisdom; but in these pages, Morris really explores these aspects in subtle & illuminating ways. No doubt mild by contemporary standards, it was shocking & revolutionary in Victorian times. And even now there is much that an intelligent reader, jaded by contemporary graphic excess, can learn from Morris. He's never didactic, mind you! But in the telling of his multi-layered story, he has much to say about the female wortld & psyche, and the paths of individuation women might take toward become whole.

The telling of the story, of course, is a pleasure in itself. Morris had mastered a clear, lyrical prose that had just the right amount of archaic shading, without ever tumbling into the plodding & turgid. His skill as a poet is apparent on every page. Starting with the simple, evocative name of Birdalone for his heroine, he displays his talent as a writer: strength & precision, applied with a jeweler's touch. Again, as with all his novels, no matter what's happening on a larger scale around his characters, the individual stories are what matter most. The quest in this case is very personal & intimate, and its rewards far greater than thrones & worldly power. There's a distinctly Jungian reading to be made of Morris' work, which makes it very contemporary after all.
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