- Series: The Chronicles of Chaos (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; 1st Ed. edition (November 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765311313
- ISBN-13: 978-0765311313
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 67 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,481,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Orphans of Chaos (The Chronicles of Chaos) Hardcover – October 20, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
At first glance, Wright's myth-infused fantasy looks like something older Harry Potter fans might enjoy with its creaky British boarding school setting and its five ageless orphans—Colin, Quentin, Victor, Vanity and Amelia—each with a supernatural gift. But the underlying theme of dominance and submission plus a fair amount of physics and theology make this definitely a book for adults. A spanking scene involving the precocious Amelia Armstrong Windrose, who can travel into the fourth dimension, may offend some readers, but others will find it playful. Wright (Mists of Everness) doesn't fully develop the intriguing premise of these unusual students trapped in a school run by Greek gods as hostages in a bizarre war, but presumably he'll do so in later installments. Those who like sophisticated fantasy with a mild erotic charge will be most rewarded.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the first installment of the Chronicles of Chaos series, common associations of high school with prison prove spectacularly well founded. The five teen protagonists are hostages in a British boarding school run by pagan gods. Sustaining themes of lost identity from Wright's respected Golden Age trilogy and heavily borrowing from the work of Roger Zelazny, the narrative charts the teens' discovery of their true identities--they're shape-shifters who hail from Chaos--then pits their budding powers against school authorities who have proceeded from acting in loco parentis to being ominous and occasionally lascivious oppressors. Phaethusa, who goes by Amelia after her aviatrix role model, narrates the rich and frequently comic intrigue, which takes full advantage of the alluring juxtapositions that arise when the soul of a "montrosity from beyond the edge of space and time" is trapped in a nubile teen's heaving breast. Mythological references and discursions on the nature of reality may prove substantial barriers for some; Wright's growing fandom will revel in his overlapping frames of reference. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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That previous paragraph describes every book of his I've read. This book, in particular, launches yet another visionary and truly creative trilogy. Five orphans of an orphanage begin to discover that they are not, in fact, normal in any sense of the word. Four of them realize abilities of four opposing paradigms of power/perception/reality, while the fifth's powers and abilities lie as far from and against the powers of the others as theirs do against each other's. This only begins to explain why the teachers of this orphanage outnumber the students - and these teachers are all mythological demigods. In the end they are not orphans at all, but rather captives - not only from their homes and families, but from who they truly are and the powers and abilities which come with that identity.
Some readers might be disturbed by a specific "spanking" scene, as another reviewer has noted. Cultural differences could probably be designated as the root of this discomfort. That said, the scene did not seem to me to be inconsistent with either the characters involved or the cultural and sociological context of the narrative.
An advanced understanding of fourth dimensional physics as well as a thorough grasp of mythology would probably complement any reading of this book, as Wright never shirks from diving headfirst into rather deep scientific or mythological explorations - but such learning isn't essential to enjoy and partake of the story in general. But be forewarned, sometimes the intellectual waters can get deep rather quickly, so be ready to drink in and digest some rather abstract and intellectual concepts.
So if you are in any way a fan of science fiction and/or fantasy, don't hesitate to pick up this book. I'd just advise trying to get my hands on all of 'em first - Wright truly can't write a novel-size story (I think is creative vision is just too big), so his publishers break his stories down. If you only have this book, you are going to be extremely frustrated when you reach the last page - the story doesn't end or conclude, it just stops. It stops at a logical break in the storyline, mind you, so there is some level of resolution, but only on a minor level which only drives the narrative forward even more.
Overall, an incredible book written by an amazing author. I really do not hesitate to recommend this book/trilogy.
It turns out that things are not quite what they seem at first! Gosh, I don't want to give away too much, but I think I can say that the school only appears to be a school, and the young people only appear to be students. They are actually hostages in a great billions of years old war. Enough said about that.
As the young people get more of a sense of who they are, and what their individual powers are, they naturally try to escape. This first volume in basically a book of explication and background, preparing us, I hope, for greater adventure.
I recommend this book 100%. I think young people, say serious readers, from about 12 and up could enjoy it, although there are some PG13 parts. I actually liked this much more than the Harry Potter books, and that says a lot!
Readers interested in religion, mythology and philosophy, as well as particle physics and mechanical engineering will especially love this series. Wright creates a world where these subjects are intertwined and sci-fi and fantasy collide. The concept might sound unworkable or forced but Wright's ideas and skillful writing make it one of the most enjoyable works of "extreme fiction" that I've ever read. Blend these heady concepts with likable characters that grow and change due to their ordeals and you have a Nebula award nominee for best novel that you simply can't put down.
Although the 5 main characters are children in their mid to late teens, the book is definitely for adults only. For example, sexual situations are woven throughout the story due to the two teenage female characters inhabiting the idealized bodies of supermodels. It's been said that these books are an adult version of the Harry Potter series to which I completely disagree. These books are much more enjoyable to read (at least for an adult) and have as much in common with Harry Potter as School of Rock has with Taps. The two share a boarding school setting but that's about it.
Overall, the book's blend of mind bending concepts and entertaining characters make it a book you almost want to immediately reread as soon as you finish. Instead I picked up book two, Fugitives of Chaos, as soon as I turned the last page.