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Folded World, The: A Dirge for Prester John Volume Two
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Folded World, The: A Dirge for Prester John Volume Two (A Dirge for Prester John #2)

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4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  220 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The Christian Patriarch of Constantinople is fighting a holy war against the forces of Islam. His attempts to rally the support of Europe fail to give him the strength he needs against the forces of Islam. Fearing defeat, he sends his appeals to the great Christian king in the East, Prester John — for the Patriarch was once a boy named Kostas, a novice in the service of Jo ...more
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Published November 1st 2011 by Brilliance Audio
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Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Prester John has been king in Pentexore for many years now, aided by his wife Hagia the blemmye. He loves the creatures he rules and has spent his time teaching them about Jesus Christ and trying to reconcile the creation story in Genesis with his new knowledge of the world. When one of John’s daughters brings a letter from Constantinople, asking John to bring his army of monsters to fight the Muslims in Jerusalem, he decides that they’ll go. Although he i
...more
Dorothea
I didn't let myself believe that The Folded World could live up to The Habitation of the Blessed. But it did. Oh it did.

In my review of The Habitation of the Blessed I said that I needed Pentexore to be a fairyland, and not the imaginative colonization of a geographically and historically real place. I was worried because at the very beginning of The Folded World, there's a map that seems to show Pentexore on the Indian subcontinent. But that map is irrelevant. I could have ignored it, glued tho
...more
April Steenburgh
“We are all just humans, and most of us fools, and all of us longing for more than we have, to know more than we know- and yet even that is not enough, for if we knew everything we would only be disappointed that there was not one more secret to uncover.” -Catherynne Valente, The Folded World, pg 170

Prester John and Hagia have a daughter, with a sweet mouth on her right hand while a bitter sits on her left, two opposing personalities in one body pulling all the world in one direction. Prester Jo
...more
Nancy O'Toole
Prester John has ruled as king of Pentexore for a few years now, spending much of his time trying to reconcile his religious views with the wonders that exist around him. Then he finds himself summoned to Constantinople, where the patriarch has called for his help in a holy war against Islam. John agrees, and brings half the population of Pentexore as his army. But for Hagia and the other citizens of Pentexore, it has been so long since they have seen true war. Now, it is nothing more than a gam ...more
Joell Smith-Borne
Just loving this book. A quote, to whet the appetite:

Love is a practice. It is a yogic stance; it is lying upon nails; it is walking over coals, or water. It comes naturally to no one, though that is a great secret.

Another shimmering, lovely book by Valente. When the 3rd one comes out, I'm going to read all three right in a row. I know there was so much I missed by forgetting stuff in the first book.
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
I found this book to be very morose in tone. That affected my rating. As always, Valente is a word-stylist.

Reviewed for Bitten by Books. http://bittenbybooks.com.
Ian
Wow. I am slain.

I didn't start the second part of this tale with the best of auspices. I admit that, while I loved The Habitation of the Blessed, I found it often hard to move through, as if I too were John struggling with a new world.
But this book. I don't know what his book is.
The second part of a trilogy is usually the weakest, being by nature the thread between two worlds, the beginning and the end, the exposition and the resolution, and therefore not exactly a creature on its own. The fol
...more
Niall519
Not quite sure what to write about this. Catherynne Valente's style is as gorgeous as always: lush, flowing, hovering around that border between prose and poetry, and yet (generally) easily readable.

I love the style, but uncertain of what to make of the substance. Perhaps it's because I've read other novels that deal with medieval myth and myth-making, such as Umberto Eco's Baudolino prior to this, and was not unfamiliar with the story of Prester John or trees that bear strange fruit to begin w
...more
Meggan
The Folded World continues to explore themes brought up in the first novel, this time in sharper relief. Now we see how evangelical Christianity is ill-equipped to humanize (and convert) the grotesque (or, from the Christian's POV, the demonic and the damned). Valente uses a voice that allows the inexplicable to patiently explain itself and the fantastical to write its memoirs.

It's not as good as the first, but I'm still enraptured by Hagia, and this time lioness Mom and swan-girl. The one fault
...more
Alytha
Also finished The Folded World, the second volume of A Dirge for Prester John, by Catherynne M Valente.
For the background, see my post about the first book.
Extracts of the second book here.

The following contains spoilers for vol.1 and a vague plot summary for vol.2.

At the end of the first book, brother Hiob ate one of the books he was transcribing (or several, it's been a while and I can't find the book right now...), and a plant started growing out of his mouth, and he's unconscious. Thus, brot
...more
Shara
The premise: ganked from BN.com: When the mysterious daughter of Prester John appears on the doorstep of her father''s palace, she brings with her news of war in the West--the Crusades have begun, and the bodies of the faithful are washing up on the shores of Pentexore. Three narratives intertwine to tell the tale of the beginning of the end of the world: a younger, angrier Hagia, the blemmye-wife of John and Queen of Pentexore, who takes up arms with the rest of her nation to fight a war they b ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
It is essential to first read The Habitation of the Blessed (read my review here), because The Folded World starts off right where the last book left off. The mythology of this trilogy is thick, and it would be harder to find yourself without reading the first book.

The Folded World follows three more books from the tree, and reveals more of the story of Prester John, particularly his years of being married and being the king of this unknown land. His people are in the midst of the crusades, and
...more
Karky
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathryn
Just finished, and I'm having trouble figuring out just WHAT I'm feeling. The book is beautiful (it's Valente, so that goes almost without saying), and you have all the lovely creations that catch you by surprise. It's also MUCH darker than the first. A lot of the horrible things foreshadowed in "Habitation of the Blessed" play out here. It's tragic and infuriating, and I can't even be mad Prester John for most of them. His biggest misunderstanding was to think people were better than they were, ...more
Liz
I enjoyed this sequel to the first Dirge for Prester John though not as much as I liked the first (or either of the Orphan Tales). I might be suffering from Valente fatigue (I can't imagine why), which is just what happens when you find a new author and devour read their books. (Given the fate of poor Hiob, I'll probably not devour books any time soon.
Overall, this book was good, though it did suffer a bit from sequelitis, which is that it doesn't really do any of the exciting stuff that the fir
...more
Emily
Pretty good. I'm confused by the ending -- didn't understand the unicorn part and I still don't know who the woman in yellow is, though it seems as if the reader is supposed to know by the end -- but I enjoyed this and I look forward to the third book :)
Jeremy Preacher
This is an immensely sad book - it's the story of the last days of innocence, and the fall is inevitable and tragic and dammit, why isn't the third book out yet? It does a really good job carrying forward the narrative from the first book with some different voices and in different enough ways that it's still very fresh - John Manderville in particular is charming and facile and his stories are delightful up until they turn horrifying. The language is deft and gorgeous - although it's Cat Valent ...more
Merinde
So you could call it a fantasy novel. But it isn't really. There are gryphons and monks and something like an angel and the story weaves itself through myth and history like a snake. It's about immortality, death and a loss of innocence, love and growing up, our inability (or unwillingness) to understand each other (to see monsters where there are only differences), about a land that lies between lies, myths and something real (choosing death every time, even after an an eternity of living). The ...more
Jenny T
See my review for The Habitation of the Blessed. A re-imagining of the stories of Prester John and the Crusades, but our protagonists are creatures from legend: a blemmye, a great white lion, and a tormented young woman whose hands speaks with two voices at once.

Ms. Valente's prose is poetic, odd, full of surprises, and at times so beautiful I literally cried. She intertwines four tales seamlessly, and the result is a book I'll be holding onto.
Darceylaine
I had found the first book in this dyad a little dry and hard to follow at times, and its hero unsympathetic (Although anything Catherynne Valente writes is miles above most other writers).

This second volume, on the other hand, was extremely compelling, tying all the disparate narratives together into the kind of mytho-poetic awesomeness that is her specialty. As my mind was indeed blown, I may change this rating to a "5" as I see how this narrative stays with me over time.
Meghan Tracy
This story is magic, but not magic in the clinical sense spoken between adults who don’t believe any more. This story is the word whispered between two small children who believe will all their little hearts. It’s myths and histories and imagination swirling together into a riotous storm of color and fantasy. Valente has once again woven a tale of such rich depth that you’ll want to put it on and wear it the next ball.
A.C. Wise
The Folded World might be best described as life, death, love, loss, philosophy, religion, war, and history, all wrapped in beauty. As usual, Valente weaves a tale filled with lush prose than makes you want to sink into her world and never leave. Aside from the sheer poetry and joy in language, there are several moments in the book that might just make you pause for a moment and see the world in a different way.
Sarah
The Folded World is as beautiful, fantastic, and unflinching as Habitation of the Blessed, the first book in this universe. I wish I had re-read Habitation before I started this one; this world is so rich and textured that I found myself almost swooning with it. I also found it really sad - the characters in this universe are so real and flawed and terrible to each other (and themselves) that it hurts my heart.
Eileen
This one was not as good as the first, but there's no question that I'll read the next one when it comes out. Then I may need to read all three of them in a row to pick up the story and figure out what really happened. That being said, the writing and language are as beautiful as anything she's written -- it's just that I struggled to follow the story.
Benjamin
The second Prestor John book started off well, but turned into a bit of slog. Part of that may just be that life was a little hectic due to Christmas and therefore partially my fault. Still, Valente has always been bigger on prose than plot and there is very little plot here. I don't think she really has enough for a trilogy.
Heather
A beautiful story. Everything I could ask for in a book is in this series. It is inspiring, uplifting, and tragic all rolled into one. It's a walking dream and a waking nightmare. I look forward to the conclusion of what befalls the people of this beautiful world filled with shadows.
Chris
I tried reading the first couple of chapters but the story did not entertain me at all. The paragraphs were confusing and the sentences seemed to all run together. I reserve the right to try this book again so I might try the first book in the series.
Emily Duncan
No you don't understand when is she going to publish the third book because I cannot deal with this I cannot survive.
Bridgett
Beautiful writing and a very creative story, though a bit complex linguistically and difficult to follow at times.
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Catherynne M. Valente was born on Cinco de Mayo, 1979 in Seattle, WA, but grew up in in the wheatgrass paradise of Northern California. She graduated from high school at age 15, going on to UC San Diego and Edinburgh University, receiving her B.A. in Classics with an emphasis in Ancient Greek Linguistics. She then drifted away from her M.A. program and into a long residence in the concrete and cam ...more
More about Catherynne M. Valente...

Other Books in the Series

A Dirge for Prester John (3 books)
  • The Habitation of the Blessed (A Dirge for Prester John, #1)
  • The Spindle of Necessity (A Dirge for Prester John, #3)
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1) Deathless (Deathless, #1) The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There (Fairyland, #2) In the Night Garden (The Orphan's Tales, #1) Palimpsest

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“I hope, in years to come, I shall hold my heart up and it will be a pane of clear glass, through which I see all, but nothing is distorted.” 11 likes
“How much better if life were more like books, if life lied a little more, and gave up its stubborn and boring adherence to the way things can be, and thought a little more imaginatively about the way things might be.” 10 likes
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