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Orphans of Chaos (The Chronicles of Chaos) Mass Market Paperback – October 31, 2006

3.7 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Chronicles of Chaos Series

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Editorial Reviews

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Chronicles of Chaos (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; Reprint edition (October 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765349957
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765349958
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,202,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
Tried to get a friend into these, but they didn't take. Not that he isn't a sharp fellow,but it asks for more understanding from the reader than the average fantasy novel. Think slightly above Clark and Gaiman. My friends that like Tolkien's works beyond The Hobbit and the LOTR trilogy usually like these books.

Great story. Interesting concept. Just like the old myths, these are a good blend of tragedy, comedy, violence, and naughtiness of all kinds. But you can't read just one; it's pointless. If you pick up one, you should pick up all three (Orphans, Fugitives, and Titans). If you want some fun but are tired of the force-fed stuff that populates the majority of fantasy novels these days, you should make the investment.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was surprised that I did not enjoy this book because I loved Wright's Golden Age trilogy. But the writing in Orphans of Chaos and the other books in this series (I made it through two) is very uneven, almost a caricature of his earlier work. The portrayal of the female characters is particularly odd, ranging from positive to... well, weirdly objectifying. This is like reading bad fan fiction by someone in the throes of puberty.

I was so surprised by the change in writing style that halfway through the book I took a break to check whether there were two authors called John Wright (answer: nope, this is the same guy).
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Format: Hardcover
Wright continues to amaze. This book is not really anything like any of his previous ones, except that it's wonderfully written.

Somewhere in rural England, there's an orphage. The orphanage houses only five children-Victor, Amelia, Vanity, Colin, and Quentin. They're significantly outnumbered by the staff, and despite receiving an excellent education, they're kept in almost prison-like conditions of discipline and restriction of movements. They've never made even an unsupervised visit to the nearby village.

Oh, and they all have unusual powers-different and apparently incompatible powers. Quentin's a warlock, Victor can change the molecular arrangement of matter, Amelia can see in four dimensions. If the physical laws of the universe are such that Quentin's powers can work, how can Victor's also work under the same set of laws?

There's also some mystery about their exact ages, and the larger mystery of where they come from. And now that they're approximately in their late teens, or perhaps early teens, or, just possibly, early twenties, curiosity and determination are overcoming deference to the adults they increasing regard as jailers. When Amelia and Quentin manage to eavesdrop on a midnight meeting of the Governors and Visitors of the school, all bets are off and they're in active rebellion against their captors.

But they still know only tiny pieces of what's going on.

This is truly excellent, although I need to mention that it's the first half, or possibly the first third, of the novel, not the whole thing. This volume doesn't end; it stops at a crucial point. Part Two will apparently be entitled Fugitives of Chaos. (That's less of a spoiler for this book than it might seem.) Nevertheless, Wright has delivered before, and I do highly recommend this one.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I actually got this when it was free for the kindle, then had to buy the DTB editions for the second two. I did like it enough to eventually do a re-read. I bought the DTB edition now so I could have all three available for students to read in my class. I have read many reviews that come down hard to Wright for over sexualizing the characters, who are portrayed as children. Some scenes did seem a little weird and creepy, but it never made me put it down. I'm pretty sure I wrote a review back then on the kindle edition.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While I admit I had some trouble understanding some of the concepts introduced in this book (sometimes the philosophic/technical monologues of each of the characters, as well as their confusing name changes become rather hard to follow), once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. John C Wright is an extraordinary writer, it's been a long time since I've enjoyed a series this much. I really cared for each of the main characters (despite their flaws), and my appreciation for them and their radically different personalities and quirks only grew in the following books, which are even better than the first one... I strongly suggest giving these series a chance, it only gets better and better.

The first book of this trilogy introduces us to 5 special teens, who are held prisoners in a severe British institution/orphanage for reasons that aren't entirely clear to them at first, but that they slowly begin to understand as the special powers each of them posess start to appear, and they find out clues of what their true identities are. Having at least a basic knowledge of Roman and Greek mythology helps a great deal in getting the most enjoyment out of the series, but it's not absolutely required either. Wonderful series overall, my only complaint was that I was sad to see it end!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a little surprised to read that people didn't like the characters. I didn't either, but it seems a bit beside the point. When you read Greek myths about the gods, do you like the gods?

This is my second time reading this series, and I don't often return to something I've read unless I've truly *enjoyed* something. (_The Hobbit_? YES! The Lord of the Rings? Once was enough! I've read some of the Harry Potter books several times and others in the Harry Potter series are simply HORRIBLE.) Anway, so to return to these books a second time, for me, means that I truly enjoyed something.

In high school, I entered the Advanced Placement program late. I suppose because I was so traumatized by Calculus that I will never forget the teacher (one of my best teachers ever) constantly showing us "conic sections". Almost 30 years later, I'm reading Amelia describe her 4th dimension and the whole "conic section" thing clicked.

That's what I find so fascinating about these books. The characters are almost plot devices, but their descriptions of mathematical/physical concepts are truly brilliant. And I love how the different "perspectives" co-exist and interact without any real explanation of why/how it can be so.

My only regret is that I think the books are a bit too sexual for younger readers because if I were a math/physics teacher I'd encourage my students to read these books. The books offer perspectives and ask very interesting philosophical questions, and it just seems to me that concentrating on the characters is like concentrating on the question of whether the Greek gods were moral: quite beside the point except maybe that it certainly makes them VERY INTERESTING!
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