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The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus Hardcover – 2009
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SIGNED 1st printing HC. SIGNED by CLIVE BARKER. MANY gorgeous illustrations by Richard A. Kirk. Full color wraparound dust jacket. A MUST HAVE for the Barker enthusiast! Maximillian Bacchus is the ringmaster, ruler, guide and owner of what he considers the greatest show in the world. Traveling with a Crocodile named Malachi, a trapeze girl named Ophelia, a strong mane they call Hero, which is short for Hieronymus a clown named Domingo de Ybarrondo, who paints in a wagon pulled by a giant "Ibis bird," the troupe wanders from adventure to adventure with mythic aplomb. From the first story, in which Indigo Murphy, the best bird handler in the world leaves the show to join in matrimony with the Duke Lorenzo de Medici, to the fabled court of Kubla Khan, the magic never stops. You will meet a young apple thief named Angelo with magic eyes, and an orang-outang named Bathsheba, and a host of other amazing characters with names and personas cut like a patchwork quilt from the mythologies and dreams of the world. Though written forty years ago, these pages are littered with the same magical side steps that have always been woven into Clive Barker's fiction. Worlds not quit our own, and yet so real they ring with truth and leave you wishing you could step from your mundane life into that other place - into those caves of ice - if only long enough to catch Maximillian's show.
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The ringmaster of the circus, Mr. Maximilian Bacchus, decides the circus needs to go to Xanadu and attend the court of Kublai Khan. The overall story is made up of the adventures of his troupe along the way.
The first story is about the wedding of Indigo Murphy, a bird handler, to the Duke Lorenzo de Medici. It sets up the different characters in the book and also sees a new troupe member, Angelo, join the ranks. Overall this wasn't the best story and I was worried that every story was going to be this forgettable.
The second story introduces the orang-outang, Bathsheba, who has run away from a rival circus. When the cruel ringmaster, Dr Jozabiah Bentham, comes looking for her, Bacchus concocts a scheme to ensure her safety. This story was much more engaging and it was more evident of Barkers wonderful imagination.
The next is about trolls and the circus clown, Domingo. The troupe stop at what looks like a deserted town and find that all the townspeople are living in fear of trolls who live near 'Where the world ends'. The townspeople are coaxed out to a performance but the trolls attack and Domingo pays the price for trying to intervene.
The last story sees them reach Xanadu to perform for the Kublai Khan. Whilst there the Khans niece is kidnapped by a sinister figure and Angelo, who has fallen in love with the princess, leads the troupe through the underground caves to try and rescue her.
The read improved as it progressed and I was thoroughly enjoying it by the end. The characters are all interesting, my favourite being Malachi, the lazy, cowardly but very funny crocodile. Barker wrote this when he was much younger and whilst it's not the strongest story it's easy to see his future potential as a master of dark fantasy fiction.
--Rod Redux, Author of the Oldest Living Vampire Tells All
As I read, I was immersed into the circus culture and desired to obtain my own Isis bird. Since I could not find an Isis bird, I scotch taped feathers to my Blue Tabby cat, only to have my dream crushed as she clawed my face in my sleep in retaliation. Despite my injuries, I still get a tickley feeling in untickley places when I re-read the stories within.
When I bought my copy, I was ecstatic to notice that Evil Jester Press has joined forces with Bad Moon Books to bring this masterpiece to the masses. I highly recommend this book, and hope it gives you the same private tickley feelings that it did me!
It's not for everyone, but if you can suspend disbelief for a bit, these stories are a wonderful mix of fantasy, ancient religion, and fairy-tale like characters and stories.
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