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The Book without Words: A Fable of Medieval Magic
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The Book without Words: A Fable of Medieval Magic

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3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  1,350 ratings  ·  175 reviews
IN THE DARK of winter in the town of Fulworth, an old man named Thorston has devoted his life to the illegal practice of alchemy in the quest to uncover the Great Secret: of making gold, and of immortality. Yet just as he is on the brink of a discovery, he keels over, nearly dead.

Thorton's servant, Sybil, and his talking raven, Odo, are filled with dread: will they be thro
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Paperback, 203 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Disney-Hyperion (first published January 1st 2005)
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Emily
I want to give this 2.5 stars. I did like it, but it had a slow beginning and the characters often did things that didn't make sense. A friend correctly told me that Avi is hit and miss. This was certainly a miss, but it was a nice diversion. I do hate to leave a book by the wayside unless it's really awful. The Book Without Words is full of magic and, yes, a bit of fable. If you want, you could extrapolate Jesus or the present U.S. political condition or what have you. Avi's not dumb, he was ju ...more
Rain Misoa
Oct 26, 2013 Rain Misoa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Avi fans and people who don't mind a rushed story.
Recommended to Rain by: Library
And my Avi kick is still going strong! I have been reading quite a few novels written by Avi lately and I have been enjoying the ride. This one, though I didn't like as much as his other novels, was still a very good read. I liked the story and I liked the writing style but I do have a few minor complaints.

Avi is a fantastic writer. There are no doubts about that. However, I felt as if he rush through this novel a bit too much. The pacing for this book was way too fast. Just when you were gettin
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Lauren Stoolfire
I liked this fable by Avi, even though some of the characters are unlikeable and do dumb things. My favorite character by far was Alfric and I was surprised to see that Odo actually developed the most as a character. I believe I would have liked this more if Avi had really developed the magic, setting, characters, etc, etc., more because there is so much potential here.

I listened to the story on playaway and although the narrator does a great job bringing the characters to life the sound qualit
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Hollowspine
I listened to this, with a wonderful narrator giving voice to all the characters very effectively. I especially enjoyed the voice of Bashcroft the city reeve.

This book seems to be a hit or miss with many readers either finding the historical fiction engaging or lackluster. A main complaint of those who didn't like the book was that the characters were one dimensional and they didn't change or grow in the course of the book. I did not find that at all.

The main characters, Odo, a Raven with clipp
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Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Carrie Spellman for TeensReadToo.com

What defines a life? How can you know that you've really lived your life? These are questions that Sybil has never thought about, until now. Now her master, Thorston, has died, and she and Odo, his talking bird, are likely to end up on the street. Unless they can figure out Thorston's secret for making gold.

Thorston was a magician. Not just an ordinary magician, but an alchemist, concerned with finding eternal life above all else. Now he's dead, a
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Maribeth Tomas
Junior Books Project

Category- Fiction (Literary Folktales)

Source- Textbook pg 151

This book is an exciting tale of three kids and a crow trying to figure out the magic of making gold. The alchemist, Thorston, has left a book without words that contains the secret to making gold and the children are trying to figure out its magic. While this is happening, Thorston has a little magic planned for himself to stay alive and young.

The cover page has a picture of what looks like a room where spells are
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Nesa Sivagnanam
It was in the year 1046, on a cold winter’s night, when a fog, thick as wool and dank as a dead man’s hand, crept up from the River Scrogg into the ancient town of Fulworth.

So begins this fascinating fable. And a true fable it is, woven through with supernatural elements, talking animals, and illustrating a universal truth. The ever-present fog seems a metaphor for evil. It is everywhere in the tale: "It clung to the crumbling city walls . . . It muffled the sound of pealing church bells calling
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Scott
I was drawn to the author Avi by his book Crispin: Cross of Lead. This book, The Book Without Words, is good, but not nearly as engaging or colorful as Crispin. It does a passable job of conveying the world of 11th century England, and bringing in some elements of the magic of the alchemists, but in the end the story just seems to fizzle out - there's not really anything of a "climax" to the plot. And, in fact, the last 30 pages or so, I found myself wondering "How much longer is this going to g ...more
Michelle Isenhoff
Here's the other Avi book I read over sping break. I just adore him and freely admit he has had a very strong influence on my writing. Once a Newbery winner and twice a Newbery honor winner, his works include some of my favorite titles ever. Though I’ve liked some better than others, I’ve yet to be disappointed by any.

I have to confess, this one is different, and at first I wasn’t sure I would like it. (It does actually have words though.) It starts out with the same rich, powerful sense of sett
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Erin
Aug 11, 2011 Erin added it
As a school library volunteer, I get to handle many books. I admit, I was taken by the jacket design and the title. Unfortunately, the interior disappointed. Even for a YA book, the characters were more stock than striking. The premise was bog-standard. Still sticking with The Edge Chronicles as my current pick in YA fantasy. I've seen good reviews of Avi's Crispin novel, so I'll probably give it a try. This one is meh.
Luisa
The Book Without Words: A Fable of Medieval Magic by Avi - Sybil is a lowly servant working for elderly Master Thorston who dabbles in alchemy. Odo the talking raven is certain that learning to make gold will provide him with funds necessary to regain flight, but Thorston has other ideas. His focus is on restoring his life, and he needs Sybil’s breath, her life, to extend his own. This medieval fantasy explores the idea that a life unlived is like a book without words. It is the Book Without Wor ...more
Kathie H
Sep 11, 2007 Kathie H rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Avi creates authentically medieval moods with his writing. I love books with magic, especially during this time in history. And it doesn't hurt that one of the characters is a talking raven. This is a great book to read out loud with the family on rainy, bleak fall & winter nights around the fire.
Maria
I read this on a car trip this summer when I had finished my book and I hijacked one of the ones my sister wasn't using. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Avi was still awesome because I remembered reading and loving a few good Avi novels when I was younger.
Valissa
nicely done modern fable. not modern in setting, mind you, just publishing. a little stilted, a lot creepy, but the characters felt true to the time (11th century). and I should know, since I was alive then. wait, no, I have just read my fair share of fables and fairy tales.

the book without words is a spell book, and those who intend to use it are merciless and terrible. highly rated for those who are familiar with ancient tales, but not for kids, unless they are ridiculously precocious. certain
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William Hiser
Fable
The Book without Words: A Fable of Medieval Magic, written by Avi, is a 203 page children’s magical fable published by Disney-Hyperion in 2006. It was written for grades 6-8, ages 11-14. This is the story of how a wordless book of dark magic falls into the hands of a young boy, Thorston. He spends his whole life trying to unlock the secrets of the book with the help of his talking raven, Odo, only to die suddenly. His faithful servant, Sybil, and Odo learn much about life and death, greed
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William
Feb 22, 2009 William is currently reading it
One chapter and I was hooked.
Katy Wilmotte
As in Thorston's magic pot, beneath all the scum and offal of jerky pacing, inconsistent dialogue, and a stereotyped medieval setting, lurks a charming little story. A reader who is willing to plunge on past the first 40 pages where most of the mess floats may be rewarded with an interesting tale about a magic book that eventually takes what it gives, including so-called eternal life.
The idea of the story is not bad, and once Master Thorston begins dying and returning to life to collect his immo
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gina
Characters with confusing motivations. A potentially interesting setting with limited detail. A slow-moving plot that goes almost nowhere. Pages of dialogue that go where the plot goes—nowhere as well. These are the reasons I was so disappointed with The Book without Words.

I would have enjoyed this book if it had delved into the deeper workings of the magic it describes. I might have recommended this book if the characters had compelling stories to tell. I would have put other books by this aut
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Mr
Amy Brantner, 203 pages. This is an interesting book, where you never know what might happen next. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get addicted to a book, (just kidding.)I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in magic, especially dark magic. It is about a man named Master Thorston. Master Thorston has a 13 year old servant, and a talking raven. He is mean and cruel, and he never wants to die. He is afraid of dying so much that he uses a book that he had once stolen, to make ...more
Emily
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Saundra
The Book Without Words, by Avi, was published by Hyperion Books in 2005. This book fits into the supernatural genre. Sybil is the young servant of an alchemist. I enjoy the stories that Avi writes, but have never been particularly impressed with the style of his work. It may be too simplistic for me, I have not read enough to completely figure out why his works do not appeal to me or prompt rereading. This book is appropriate for grades 4-6, and would be most appropriate for individual reading. ...more
laurenpie
Inconsistent and boring


I've just read two Avi children's books in a row. The first, I Witness: Hard Gold: The Colorado Gold Rush of 1859: A Tale of the Old West was excellent: well-thought-out, nicely paced, likeable characters and logical progression. This book, unfortunately, was just the opposite.

In The Book without Words: A Fable of Medieval Magic, the author mentions that he rushed too much in preparing this manuscript, and it does show. He says he edited a lot after the initial reading by
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Jackie
A creepy, yet kid-friendly story about an evil (sort-of) alchemist, Thorston, his scullery maid, 13-year-old Sybil, and a talking raven named Odo. The trio lives in a dilapidated, boarded-up stone house while Thorston mixes and measures all sorts of foul, sinister concoctions. Sybil, although she fetches his ingredients in the town, has no idea what he uses them for. One day she meets Brother Wilfrid who tells her that Thurston's magic comes from the The Book Without Words which Thorston stole f ...more
Jerrit 811
Jerrit Schramm
12-1-08
8-1
The book without Words


This book takes place in the northern ancient province of North Umbria, in a town called Fulwich where a notorious alchemist by the name of Thorston is living and making gold to keep for himself with the help of his black bird named Odo and his 13 year old girl servant named Sybil. Thorston is also working on a potion that makes him live forever. But the potion needed 7 ingredients, shredded gargoyle ears, chimera crumbs, scales from a lizards tale,
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Chelsea
I thoroughly enjoyed this short novel. It had an expected but not cliche setting, and some surprising characters, specifically the evolution of Sybil and Odo from who they started as into who they became. Reading this story as an adult, I would have liked more of Thorston's viewpoint/story, since the other adults are portrayed solely in the manner that children view adults. However, the real star of the tale is Sybil, and she deserves that spotlight.
This is worth a read if you enjoy fables and y
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Carrie
Jan 11, 2010 Carrie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Cleverly done! From the start I was hooked. I love to read stories that can take me away to a different place in time plus add an element of magic with it.

Sybil is an orphan and taken in by Thorston who is an alchemist. Thorston fears death and to keep himself alive he must follow the directions of a magic book that has no words and take the life of a child and feathers from a black bird. Sybil, along with Odo, a talking raven, must find the book’s true owner before it’s too late. In their ques
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JB Lynn
Brilliant fable/fantasy story that is rife with larger-than-life characters and lessons to be learned in life (as you'll find with any fables). This was a quick read and it had me breathless and trying to guess what would happen next at every step of the way. Some of the characters will surprise you and some will leave you wondering if they're a good guy or a bad guy. This would be a fun story to share with young readers, as well.
Cassie Borneman
The book without words by Avi is about a 16 year old girl, who is being held captive by a man who tries to turn medieval objects into gold, or an alcemist. The orphan girl is constantly watched over by a cranky talking crow. Then one day, while she is out getting ingrediants for his potion, the girl comes back from her arrends. About five minutes later, her master is dead, lying on the floor. Dead from a heart attack.

However, what the girl does not know, is that before he died, her master had
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Jennifer
I like the time period this was set in. We listened to this on our recent travels; it's about 4.5 hours long. It did take a while for any action to start happening, but by the end it held our interest. Although I'm not as good at getting into books on cd as I am at getting into reading books myself. But I was driving.
Carrie
Although I am not necessarily the target audience, as this writer typically targets children, I did not like the story and I'm not sure it would be engaging for a younger audience. It was not entertaining, though literature surely does not have to be entertaining; the characters were not engaging, and almost seemed one-dimensional (as plot movers), which may be due to the omniscient point of view. It was overwrought with morality; much like reading a long parable or a slow moving fairy tale..... ...more
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Avi is a pen name for Edward Irving Wortis, but he says, "The fact is, Avi is the only name I use."
Born in 1937, Avi has created many fictional favorites such as The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Nothing but the Truth, and The Crispin series. His work is very much desired by readers young and old.
More about Avi...
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle Crispin: The Cross of Lead (Crispin #1) Nothing But the Truth Poppy (Tales of Dimwood Forest, #1) The Seer of Shadows

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