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The Islanders

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  786 ratings  ·  142 reviews
Reality is illusory and magical in the stunning new literarysci-fi novel from the multiple award-winning author of The Prestige—for fans of Haruki Murakami and David Mitchell

This is atale of murder, artistic rivalry, and literary trickery; a Chinese puzzle of a novel where nothing is quite what it seems; with a narrator whose agenda is artful and subtle; and a narrative th
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Gollancz (first published September 22nd 2011)
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Alexandra
Some advice on reading The Islanders, by Christopher Priest.



1. Read the introduction.

No, really. Even if you're an "I never read the introduction" kinda person, read this introduction. It's part of the story, and without it you are likely to be terrible confused, because...

2. Don't think this is a novel.

At least, not in the conventional, linear (or even non-linear) plot sense. Things happen, but not in any sort of chronological order. This is, as the introduction suggests, more of a gazette: an
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Jen
Изумителен като мащаб и великолепен като език и атмосфера пъзел (или дори ребус) от истории за изкуство, любов, загуби, войни, стотици ветрове и пеещи планини, картинни епоси и времеви вортекси, който прелива от трилър, във фантастика, в хорър, в импресия, в какво ли не, и се сглобява в туристически пътеводител на един странен и невъзможен за картографиране архипелаг. Леко декадентският, силно мистериозен и ужасно изкусителен свят на The Dream Archipelago, където различни времена, хора и събития ...more
Larou
This book surprised me – Priest is very much a cerebral author, and from the reviews I had read I expected this, his first novel in eight years if I remember correctly, to be an interesting, but somewhat dry affair. Instead, it turned out to be a veritable page turner that had me glued to my Kindle with only grudging interruptions for things like the occasional food intake or sleep. Definitely not what you would expect from a book that for the most part (with the exception of some more conventio ...more
David Hebblethwaite
Christopher Priest’s work has given me some of the best reading experiences I’ve ever had, so I opened The Islanders – his first novel in nine years – with no small amount of anticipation. For this book, Priest returns to the world of the Dream Archipelago, setting for a number of short stories and, in part, 1981’s The Affirmation (rest assured that The Islanders stands alone, though readers of the earlier works will recognise a few names and concepts). The Dream Archipelago is a great, world-sp ...more
Genevieve
The pact we make as readers of fiction is willful suspension of disbelief. In The Islanders, Christopher Priest has come up with new ways to make even that literary pact suspect. As one friend put it, "he's not just f*cking with you but with your ontological certainty." Trying to write a thoughtful review of this Rubik's Cube of a book was as difficult as trying to unravel the narrative itself. As I was reading, I kept hearing the Twilight Zone theme song in my head, and I had this low-grade par ...more
Ryan
The Islanders
Christopher Priest
Read it in used Hardback off Amazon, like new condition, for 86 cents, which should have probably been a big red flag. Weighing in at 342 pages.

OTC Book clubs March selection, the first selection by a new member this year, cheers all around to her. In the spirit of our book club, she selected a title that she hadn't read and knew only at surface level, and under 400 pages; The Islanders by Christopher Priest. Mr. Priest is a distinguished author with a lot of very
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Marion
This was my very first Christopher Priest read.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Priest in June 2012, he was invited to a book festival I worked at, and he was presenting his new book (The Islanders). Being a broke student, I couldn't afford the 20 the bookseller was requiring of me to buy the book (you'd think working pro bono for the festival I'd have some kind of discount right? But nooo). I was really annoyed at it, so when a few months ago I found the book for 9, I grabbed it and didn't let
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Charles Dee Mitchell
On whatever world it exists, the Dream Archipelago is a band of thousands of islands circumnavigating the equator and extending into both the northern and southern temperate zones. Many of the islands are unnamed, and the naming conventions can be misleading since each island has both a standard name and a name in the local patois. Mapping the islands is essentially impossible due to something called the temporal vortices. The vortices were first discovered when sea and air travelers came to rea ...more
Liviu
While I reserve the right to change my mind and proclaim this the best novel of 2011, so far after 1 read and a half I am unimpressed; bland prose mars a very clever novel, but the cleverness is literary and that does not get that high grade marks by itself since a novel has to live so to speak and this one is a bit on life support from that point of view.

Literary cleverness is essentially a game and while some like it, i really do not and the book abounds with examples that are absurd and solip
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J.P.
This is for certain a strangely written book. Most of the time I can tell by a publisher’s blurb if I should rush and buy it. But every now and then a novel comes out that keeps me humble and I think afterwards I could have waited. This is one of them.
For the most part, The Islanders reads like a bunch of travel brochures. Some parts just deal with the climate of the islands. Others focus only on certain features. So there is little continuity and it feels more like a short story collection. T
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John
Echoing Le Guin and Calvino Is This Novel Cloaked as a Travel Guide

“The Islanders” is a remarkable realistic speculative fiction tale about a murder, artistic rivalry and literary deception written by one of the finest writers writing now in any genre in the English language; eminent Briton Christopher Priest. This is a Rubik’s Cube of a novel, recounting the main plot points in a literary style reminiscent, in places, of Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon”, and one that evokes early Ursula Le Guin (e.
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Bettie☯
Read by Michael Maloney

Description: Reality is illusory and magical in the stunning new literary SF novel from the multiple award-winning author of The Prestige.

A tale of murder, artistic rivalry, and literary trickery; a Chinese puzzle of a novel where nothing is quite what it seems; a narrator whose agenda is artful and subtle; a narrative that pulls you in and plays an elegant game with you.

The Dream Archipelago is a vast network of islands. The names of the islands are different depending on
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Jason
2.5 Stars

This is a very unusual book, and a tough one to review. It is really a book of short stories that all feature Islands. There are some very good stories in here that focus on lots of wind. Or, they feature crazy and cool killer insects. Or, they feature lots of wind. There is a lot of history told and some are good, but in the end, I found much of this book to be forgettable... Read it for the amazing writing, but leave your expectations at the door.
Tudor Ciocarlie
An excellent, albeit colder and detached in tone, companion to the mind blowing The Dream Archipelago. The Islanders' individual chapters complete the incompleteness that the stories from The Dream Archipelago only hinted at. An incompleteness, full of mysteries, dreams, shadows, doubts, abandonment and great distances in both time and space, that feels completely right to the reader.
Susie
Absolutely, mind-bendingly, suspensefully, inexplicably fantastic. This novel was unique in such a way that I have nothing to truly compare it to. It's more like a cerebral movie, the kind that everyone tells you is better the second time around because you might understand it then. I rarely re-read books, but this work merits digestion and possibly another read-through to see what I've missed, or what I can put together.

I'm not entirely sure how to explain The Islanders. It certainly shares a
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Raya Dimitrova
The experience this “guide”-shaped book offers is: the joy of travelling and exploring new and exotic landscapes, the dipping into the lives of the greatest minds of a chaotic but attractive world, the overwhelm of its many colors, the unending seeking of new and yet undiscovered islands & the challenge to connect their stories by putting together the little pieces found on each island.

Somewhere along reading the introduction, a thought popped up in my head: this book is going to be about co
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Terry Pearce
This is a very strange book. it uses fragments of story and description in a kind of gazeteer style, each focusing on one island, the whole constructing a (sort of) narrative that does one thing in particular brilliantly: it embodies the whole atmosphere that surrounds the concept of islands.

I think one of the reasons 'Lost' did so well on TV is that it tapped this same aura (although, do not talk to me about the final, wretched season). Lord of the Flies also taps into some primal feelings we h
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Fawn
Well, this was not at all what I expected. I have learned since reading this book that is one for the fans of Christopher's other books and has lots of easter eggs in it. I didn't really catch on since this is the first of his I have read. This book doesn't follow a plot line. It made it difficult to figure out exactly what I was reading... what was I supposed to be looking for? Close to half way through, I started to get a sense of something more than just a travel book about islands. While the ...more
caty
A travel guide through the Dream Archipelago.

This isn’t really a novel. There are recurring characters, but I read it more like a collection of short stories, mostly written in the style of a travel guide. Do read the introduction. I didn’t until halfway through when it occurred to me that the name of a character looked familiar and lo and behold it was because the character had written the introduction and I’d missed that! I really enjoyed several facets of this book. It doesn’t all connect tog

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Fence
I have no idea what to say about this book. I have no idea what it is all about. But I suppose I should make some sort of an effort. The Islanders is not really a story, it is a travel guide. A guidebook to the Dream Archipelego, and of course I haven’t yet read the book of that name, so perhaps it would help with this one if I did. However at least parts of The Affirmation were set there, so I did have some little background. Most of the chapters describe an island, giving a bit of history, or ...more
Meek
La nueva novela de Priest es una de las mas complejas que haya tenido el placer de leer. Me recordó a favoritos mios como "Peace" o "The Fifth Head Of Cerberus" de Gene Wolfe, o "Pale Fire" de Nabokov, donde por un lado tenemos narradores no confiables, y por otro lado se nos enfrenta a narraciones fragmentarias, donde debemos organizar un rompecabezas que aqui adquiere proporciones elefantasicas. Porque el libro en si es una supuesta "Guia Turistica" de un inabarcable archipielago, y cada una d ...more
Danny
If you're looking for a theme of this book, you can find it right on the cover. Next to the title rests the phrase "All men are islands." And that's what we proceed to learn through an extended and complicated metaphor. Though the book itself makes the same point in many different ways, that phrase summarizes at least one of the themes nicely. "All men are islands." ("Men" in this instance means "humans" and not "males.")

The novel takes place on a world with two large continents at the poles. Th
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Dylan
An odd and challenging book. Let me start with the bad, since it's easier to summarize than the good: there is no satisfaction in the narrative. The Islanders offers many intriguing stories, almost none of which have clear beginnings, middles, or especially ends. Also, while I call them intriguing, that's the limit of their appeal; none of them is sufficiently interesting on its own to justify the book's meandering incompleteness. As for the good, the world-building is deep and tantalizing, the ...more
Nathan Jones
A very dry but enjoyable read. I could read this another five times and get more from it each time. Alas, there are so many good books to read, I don't have time to read multiple times.

This book needs to be studied rather than read. If you like a good narrative, avoid.
Diana
С прискърбие споделям, че въпреки огромното ми уважение към таланта на Прийст и нетърпеливото очакване на книгата, за мен тя се оказа тотално разочарование в стил "поток на мисълта" - записвани без връзка внезапни хрумки, случки и герои. Резултатът е творба с несмилаем строеж и безумно дразнещи наименования.
Категорично отказвам да издевателствам над себе си в търсене на гениални идеи до края й, както и да чета ревюта за нея и да бъда убеждавана колко е велика и уникална.
Книгата е все още цяла и
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Jeremy Birks
The Islanders is a bit of a puzzle of a novel containing a narrative that must be pieced together. The book is presented as a travel guide to the Dream Archipelago, a vast array of islands located in a massive sea on an alien planet. Each chapter focuses on a different isalnd, and many entries make subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) hints to the drama that has overtaken a few of the islands’ residents. A tale of love, murder and artistic rivalry, The Islanders is a very human story set in a ve ...more
Sam
A short story with a LOT of unrelated filler chapters. There is supposed to be a mystery in this book- who is the narrator? It's just not interesting- an interesting concept, but concept fail.
Danielle
So *hard* to rate this book. Reviews made me give it a go - that and the fact that the author wrote 'The Prestige', which admittedly I've not read but adored the movie. Can a novel be both boring and intriguing at the same time? Apparently so. It's a murder tale, wrapped in a thousand digressions about tides, winds and rock formations. Hundreds of tiny, fascinating leads go largely unexplored. I think I faked myself out, waiting for some big reveal that never came. At times, the journey was abso ...more
Allie
The Islanders is more of a puzzle than a conventional novel. It is presented as a tourist’s guide to the Dream Archipelago, and it contains a story, description, correspondence, or other shortwork for a variety of islands, ordered alphabetically by name. I liked how the various sections linked to one another, and how information gained later in the novel could change the interpretation of previous chapters. I thought it was a lot of fun piecing larger stories together from the information scatte ...more
Sluggish Neko
I thought I was reading a collection of short stories at first, especially after the first description of Aay, Island of Winds. Some work really well as stand-alone stories like the disastrous scientific expedition sent to the Aubrac Chain. (The thryme is one of my favorite nasty creepy crawlies.) Then, as I read more island entries, I realized that certain characters and events recurred and taken as a whole, fascinating bigger stories were being told, which turned the novel into an interconnect ...more
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Christopher Priest was born in Cheshire, England. He began writing soon after leaving school and has been a full-time freelance writer since 1968.

He has published eleven novels, four short story collections and a number of other books, including critical works, biographies, novelizations and children’s non-fiction.

He has written drama for radio (BBC Radio 4) and television (Thames TV and HTV). In
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More about Christopher Priest...
The Prestige The Inverted World The Affirmation The Glamour The Separation

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“None of it is real, though, because reality lies in a different, more evanescent realm. These are only the names of some of the places in the archipelago of dreams. The true reality is the one you perceive around you, or that which you are fortunate enough to imagine for yourself.” 4 likes
“The dream-state of the Archipelago, which is what we islanders most respond to, and least wish to see changed, seems likely to continue without interference for a long time to come.” 2 likes
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