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Donnerjack Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 1998

3.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This "new" Roger Zelazny work was finished posthumously with the help of his coauthor and friend, Jane Lindskold. Unlike some after-the-fact "collaborations," this one has Zelazny written all over it. It's a typical tale from one of science fiction's greats, a world-spanning story that deals heavily with mythology and the ability to cross between two realities. In this case the realities are the real world, Verité, and the virtual world, Virtù. When Donnerjack--one of the architects of Virtù--loses his lover Ayradyss, he makes a pact with Death to return her from the dead. In return, Death demands their first-born child, who will be the first baby born from a Verité/Virtù union, and a force to be reckoned with in both worlds. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Zelazny died in 1995 after beginning this next-to-last hard sf collaboration with Lindskold. They have created a dazzling, 22nd-century future in which the real world, Verite, coexists with a computer-generated realm, Virtu. While citizens of Verite can visit the virtual world, denizens of Virtu cannot exist in Verite until John D'Arcy Donnerjack makes a deal with Death to save his beloved Virtual, Ayradyss. She is the first to cross over to Verite in exchange for giving their firstborn son to Death. First Donnerjack and then his son must find a way to cheat Death. In this intricately plotted novel, the authors create believable, densely populated worlds with a richness of characterization and subplots that will leave readers believing in Virtu. Highly recommended for most sf collections.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; Reprint edition (August 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380770229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380770229
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,387,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Donnerjack is best described as a crying shame-first because I was practically crying reading the beginning third of the book that was so obviously Zelazny-fast, witty, engaging, unique-full of weird characters and a new computer type of mythology which is so Zelazny-ish! It was great to be reading Zelazny again years after he had died! The shame part of the book is after the first third (ended as part one) we enter part two which is obviously not Zelazny! Wordy to the extreme-boring, stupid, stupid humor (if I read "he or she or it CHUCKLED one more time I was gonna scream!) and chocked full of explanations which is one thing Roger once stated in an interview--He hated explanations!!! No wonder the book took so long to come out--it took Jane years to write the next 400 pages! As another reviewer pointed out, read the first third of the book and then stop, you'll be glad you did--Or else do as I do and read it with a handy magic-marker, its great for blacking out all the unnecessary wordiness!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Reviews before me have noted the obvious correlation between the end of the first third of this book and the death of the author. Others have argued with such statements, and offered grand compliments to the entirety of Donnerjack.

Allow me to underline the sentiments of the first and blink oddly at the latter in honest confusion.

The first third of Donnerjack is a work of art. Not only to fans of Zelazny, which I do not really count myself as. Not only to science-fiction fans, or fantasy fans. It is a true mythological tale which is so rarely seen in any genre. Death seems to spring from the page. John D'Arcy is seared into our minds. Virtu itself seems to spring up around us.

It's astounding. It is one the better books in this decade.

And then, as you go along, your mouth gaping with unshamed awe, the author dies.

And so does the grand story, its porportions, its characters, and its quiet grace.

It is replaced with something that at times seemed to be a childrens' book, a bodice-ripper, and a book based on a D&D session.

I tried to go on. I honestly did. Having devoured the first part in a day, I continued slogging on for literally weeks. I dismissed obvious inconsistencies. I skimmed over plot holes. I even laughingly skipped over the multiple, multiple, multiple times the characters acted with simple childish /idiocy/.

And then I stopped, somewhere fifty pages from the end. Because I could not bear to go on. Donnerjack had died, a hundred and fifty pages ago. What was left wasn't worth the torture.

Donnerjack is amazing. It is an astounding story, astoundingly written, striking somewhere deep within the collective unconcious.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read Zelazny as a teen, but never kept up with his stuff. A few years ago I got hooked on Jane Lindskold's SF and fantasies (I've now read all of her books), and I loved Lord Demon, her first collaboration with Zelazny. Inevitably I picked up Donnerjack, and what a great story! It's long, but it's never boring or slow.
A hero confronts Death to regain a love from his realm, in exchange for their firstborn. Donnerjack weaves together tales of computer programs and ancient prototypical gods, legends and 22nd century Americans, and manages to tie them all together with a satisfyingly pretty bow. It balances an incredibly dark subject matter (trying to beat Death and eventually to let go when one cannot - bear in mind that after a long illness Zelazny actually died before the book was finished) with great stories that inexorably twine together as the plot moves forward. While exciting, it manages to catch creepy on a really visceral level - I couldn't just blast through this book like my usual reads, but had to take it in bits.
Part of why Donnerjack is so distressing is that the subject of death touches us all, and the authors capture its horror in delicate ways as when a character's gradual deterioration necessitates the amputation of his leg. The authors present this in such an unapologetic and off-handed way that it feels uncomfortably personal - if this didn't come from life it certainly felt like it. This must have been a very painful book to write. The result is just wonderful, though. Because of the authors' real-life situation, the evolution of the book's presentation of Death from being a horrific chaotic factor to a necessary (and even well-meaning) part of the lawful order of things is particularly evocative.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I guess R. Z. must have died somewhere around page 175, because the rest of the novel is a third-rate hack job. The only good thing about this novel is that Zelazny died before he could read it. Yes, it's that bad. The Polly Anna gets slapped on so thick, the prose reads more like a movie treatment written in the past tense than an actual novel, with all the summarizing, summarizing, summarizing. J.L.'s laziness and lack of depth murders what could have been a truly epic masterpiece.
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Format: Hardcover
Zelazny's Donnerjack is maybe one of the most complex books he wrote in his awesome carreer. Again he mixes fantasy and SF in a way only he seemed able to do. But this is a book you can read and think in many levels, enjoy only the story (a good one,as always), or the concepts and ideas behind it, too. You can think it as a cyberpunk adventure, or you can go deeper into the philosophycal and religious stuff that are present in the whole story. It's interesting to think that a book he wrote just before his death is a novel about a man and his son fighting Death himself. If you think this way, maybe Donnerjack is Zelazny's homage to himself, and a farewell legacy with his view of the world. Here he can explain the roles of technology, fantasy, religion and mythology in his own life. You can read Donnerjack and compare it with some other books such as Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land and Huxley's Brave New World, which deals with the same questions. Donnerjack isn't a! book easy to read and understand, and I don't recommend it for beginners in Zelazny's or science fiction books. But I recommend it strongly for those who already love this kind of literature. Anyway, have a good reading. You are all welcome to tell me your opinions about the book after you have read it.
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