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Imajica: Featuring New Illustrations and an Appendix Paperback – August 6, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 265 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

Dazzling metaphysical epic-adventure as Barker surpasses his previous ground-breaking work (The Great and Secret Show, 1989, etc.) to reconfigure the Fall and to imagine a modern-day attempt to reverse it. A complex cosmology underpins the vigorous, at times horrific, action here: ``Imajica'' is the known universe of five ``Dominions,'' or parallel worlds, four ``reconciled'' but the fifth, Earth, ``unreconciled''--unaware of the other four, of the tyrannical ``Autarch'' who rules them, and of the ``God Hapeximendios,'' who oversees all five (and who wrested ``His'' power from the ``Goddesses'' of old). Periodically, Hapeximendios has sent His ``sons''--including Christ--to attempt to unite, by magical rites, the Fifth Dominion to the others. The last attempted ``Reconciliation'' ended in catastrophe--an invasion of Earth by hellish powers--and today magic has been nearly eradicated from Earth by a ``Society'' that alone knows of the Imajica and of the catastrophe. The densely woven story here opens with a jealous man venturing into London's dankest slum to hire an assassin to kill his estranged wife, Judith; the assassin turns out to be a ``mystif,'' a fabulous creature from the Second Dominion, capable of appearing as the erotic ideal of any who behold it. As the mystif hunts Judith, it in turn is hunted by Judith's former lover, ``Gentle,'' who in time learns that he is the new ``Reconciler''- -and the mystif his long-forgotten servant. Undertaking dangerous, splendor-filled journeys through the other Dominions, Gentle and the mystif fall in love, marry, and encounter numerous fantastic creatures and, finally, death; later, Gentle helps dethrone the Autarch, learns the chilling secret of his and Judith's origin, helps free the Goddesses and slay God, and, back on Earth, inspires the destruction of the Society and undertakes Reconciliation--with hell-borne, then heaven-sent, results. An astonishing feat of the imagination, immensely engrossing despite its demanding--at times indulgent--length, running riot with ideas, fantastical inventions, graphic sex and violence, soul- terrors, and emotional and intellectual resonances. Barker's best yet. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'The tears of blood and nightmare imagery are passionate and ingenious! Imajica is a ride with remarkable views' - Times Literary Supplement 'Barker's fecundity of invention is beyond praise. In a world of hard-bitten horror and originality, Clive Barker dislocates your mind' - Mail on Sunday 'A powerful and fascinating writer with a brilliant imagination! Clive Barker is an outstanding storyteller' - J G Ballard --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Annotated edition (August 6, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780060937263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060937263
  • ASIN: 0060937262
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (265 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When I decided to reread this mammoth novel after thirteen years this is the edition that I chose. I picked it for the illustrations, for the badly needed explanatory appendix, and because it has been tightened up into a single volume instead of two 500+ page halves. This will no doubt be the definative edition in the years to come.
This isn't a casual read. It represents a considerable investment in time. There are also so many characters, settings, plot lines, specialized vocabulary and underlying principles to keep straight.... Yet, it is worth the investment in time and effort.
The basic framework, like so many of Barker's other novels, is that of a hidden world behind the superficial façade of our mundane world. Barker is such a master at interweaving mundane, and profane, details into the greater fabric of his realities that you find yourself totally drawn in. I found myself totally immersed in this hidden reality. For this is a story of five worlds, or dimensions, or Dominions. These make up the whole of Imajica. That is, they should. Two hundred years ago there was an attempt to reconcile our own fifth Dominion with the other four. This ended in a metaphysical catastrophe so great that that nearly all of the Dominions great theurgists, shamans, and theologians were killed. The result was that almost all magical knowledge passed from our world and for two centuries science and materialism held grim sway.
Now, conditions are once again ripe for an attempt to reconcile the Dominions. The great magus', or Maestros, know that this may very well be the last attempt to heal the rift in creation. To fail this time will undoubtedly mean two more centuries of isolation- plenty of time for the Fifth Dominion to destroy itself in nuclear or ecological suicide.
Yet, to heal the rift will require a Master of such power and confidence that he will try to succeed where all those that have gone before him (even the Christos) have failed....
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Format: Paperback
I had never read anything by Cliver Barker and usually am not a fan of horror or fantasy, but I picked up Imajica on a whim, for a change of pace. I just finished reading it-an endeavor that has taken me about 2 years all together, not because it's a slow read, but because I have a short attention span. Because I'm an editor of academic books by day, my "fun reading" tends to be much less involved. Imajica, however, requires some serious attention, a great deal of imagination, and some brain retention space.
It's over 1000 pages long, but the story, settings, and characters make you want to keep reading. I found it frustrating at times because when you think you're getting to a climax scene, or a point of intense action, the plot twists again onto a different path. HOWEVER, despite the number of times I put this book down, I always returned. I even found myself driving home from work, after not reading the book for a couple months, and thinking "wonder what ever happened with Gentle and Judith?" That's the greatest endorsement I can give any book, and I've recommended it to many friends for that reason: It haunted me, and I had to finish. I'm so glad that I did, and I will probably read Imajica again someday. There are so many wonderful pieces to this work, I'm sure you could read it 200 times and still pick up new things each time. I would also like to meet Clive Barker someday, just to talk to a person whose mind creates like this.
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Format: Paperback
I think it's because I never had the proper background for it: never got read fairy tales as a child (cue the sad violin music in the background), only saw "The Hobbit" as an animated movie, didn't even own a copy of Grimm's Fairy Fales until I was in my mid-twenties. Sad, huh?
Then, after a little pondering, I figured out some of my problem: since I didn't have the fantasy background, I'd need a guide through the fantasy world -- a protagonist who was as much a stranger to the area and culture as I was. I requested book titles on a local bbs (boy, oh boy, did *that* spark discussion), and this was one of the titles mentioned. I'd read some Barker before, and gave it a go.
Oh. My.
Do not, under any circumstances, let the size of this book intimidate you. Yes, you could use it to fend off an attacker -- consider that a bonus. I was SORRY THAT THE NOVEL HAD ENDED when I finished it. And yes, I read the big "single" edition.
Descriptions of the Imagica made me think of faeries and Dr. Suess and foreign countries all rolled together. I have never wanted to go walking in an enchanted wood before, nor have I ever been quite so fascinated by snails. I think that Barker excells at writing long novels: he's my anti-Steven King. I could picture the weather and the landscape without the images in my head feeling cartoony, as they usually tend to. I was lost in the Imagica and didn't want to come out.
This novel starts in our world, and while that's what I really need to get going with fantasy novels, I initally found that the length of the book and the images of how dreary our world was kept me from picking it back up for long stretches at a time. I'm here to tell you: keep going, it gets better. Much, much better. Oh, baby.
Very few books have since sucked me in like "Imagica" did, and I consider this work a very rare find for doing so. If you want to really escape into a novel, I highly recommend this one.
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Format: Paperback
First of all, I am a big Barker fan, so I really enjoyed Imajica. However, in my opinion, if you've never read any Clive Barker books before, this is not the one that I suggest you start with. Try Weaveworld, The Great and Secret Show, or Everville. If you're looking for horror, you have to go back to his earlier books. If and when you decide to read Imajica, make sure to get the edition with the glossary. It helped me a lot to understand the relationships, both current and prior, among the characters and the worlds they live in. Barker doesn't provide much backstory in his narrative.

Imajica is an example of this author's incredible imagination. Reading other reader reviews, they often mention sex as a drawback. It hasn't been that long since I read it, and I know my short-term memory has been weak lately, but I honestly don't recall much sex. He does put an element of erotica in sometimes and being gay he somehow always finds a way to put some type of phallic reference in many of his books. I just wish he would take a break from all the painting and write another great book. Painting is cool, I paint myself but the man really shines in his literary ability.

It's definitely a good book with some great ideas but I gave it 4 stars because to me a 5 star book has to be really exceptional. Judging by the huge amount of 5 star reviews, I presume many readers have their own standards, but "...greatest book I ever read" and "...it changed my life" is too much for me. Bottom line: it's definitely a worthwhile read.
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