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The River of Dancing Gods (Dancing Gods #1)

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  2,086 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Life had not been kind to Joe and Marge. Now, according to the stranger who met them on a road that wasn't there, they were due to die in nineteen minutes, eighteen seconds. But the ferryboat that waited to take them across the Sea of Dreams could bring them to a new and perhaps better life.

There lay a world where fairies still danced by moonlight and sorcery became real.
Mass Market Paperback, 263 pages
Published December 12th 1986 by Del Rey Fantasy (first published 1984)
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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienA Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Best Fantasy Series, Trilogies, and Duologies
324th out of 1,506 books — 8,738 voters
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank BaumThe Book of Lost Things by John ConnollyNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Portal Fantasy Books
77th out of 119 books — 4 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 01, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: iron-thewed barbarians, half-naked maidens, dragons in need of therapy
A number of other reviewers have made the obvious comparison to Xanth, and they're right - this first book in a prolonged series reads very much like a slightly more mature Piers Anthony novel. But only slightly. The River of Dancing Gods is part traditional portal-epic fantasy, part satire of that genre. Chalker must have had a lot of fun writing this, but in his self-aware parody, he sometimes comes off as trying a little too hard to convince us it's all a joke. "See, the bit about beautiful w ...more
Matthew Havrilla
Jan 19, 2012 Matthew Havrilla rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful series that a roommate had me try back in '96. I read the first two books and they left such a good impression that I just had to find them 15 years later. Or rather, Brenda did and got them for my birthday. Lol. They are no longer in print so a used book store or site would be ideal.

These are a simple read. I would say somewhere along the lines of Piers Anthony. Not a complicated read, but a good simple story with a few decidedly adult moments. As well, he is one of the only
Apr 27, 2012 Roxanne rated it liked it
reread 4/26/12
I remembered this book as a goofy fun romp. It was a little more tiresome/tired than I remembered, but it's also more self-aware and self-criticizing than I'd remembered, too, which was interesting. Chalker plays around with a lot of fantasy tropes, installing them as the "Rules" of this world: fair maidens MUST be scantily clad when weather permits, magical items like lamps and charms MUST be well defended, and of course, epics MUST at least be trilogies. Chalker's sense of humor
Dec 07, 2007 Amy rated it really liked it
This was the very first Fantasy novel I ever read. I remember clearly going into the adult section of the library (I think I had only been in 6th or 7th grade, and the adult section was still a Whole New World). I was waiting for mom to finish up and I had been spinning one of the paperback racks. The cover caught my eye and I checked it out. I had never read anything like it before.
Aaron Anderson
This series is semi-fun, but seems tiresome after a while. The beginning of the end for me with Chalker. I read all 4, none are horrible, but there's no really neat series idea, to me. Ends up feeling like a Xanth/early Discworld novel with a bit more depth.
Jan 26, 2009 Tim rated it it was amazing
The very first sci-fi/fantasy book I ever read, and a great story too!
Sep 25, 2016 Michaela rated it it was ok
This book was enjoyable to read, but not one I would recommend to others. If you are just looking for something to pass the time, this will do, but there are better books out there.
May 17, 2013 David rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Mr. Chalker has been one of my favorite authors of science fiction since the early 80's when I discovered the Well of Souls series. In that series humans find themselves in a fantastic world that stretches the readers imagination, not just the characters that must comprehend and deal with the challenges that they are presented with. As complex as the Well World is, so to is the story line of that series.
The story of Joe and Marge follows a similar pattern. Two humans from our world and time, qui
Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount)
I picked up this book and the rest of the Dancing Gods series off a community free-books shelf a few weeks ago, knowing nothing about them but that they are in the fantasy genre.
If the men who wrote the Urantia Book had instead decided to just focus on writing halfway decent genre fantasy, they might have ended up with something like this book and the rest of the series.Based loosely on Christian mythology, this fantasy lands 2 people from our world in a bizarre place where they are turned into
Ted Fauster
Jan 10, 2013 Ted Fauster rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jack-chalker
After reading this book, I decided I would become a writer. This was the pivotal book for me. The journey of Joe and Marge precluded everything by Salvatore, Williams and the others. It was my catalyst.

The classic 'portal' tale, River of the Dancing Gods transports two ordinary people into a rich fantasy world. There's a quest, of course. There's always a quest.

What is unique about this book, and all the subsequent books in this series, is the complete transformation each character endures. Th
David R. Pendleton
Very Enjoyable

Very Enjoyable

I will admit upfront that four stars is probably a harsh review and would not be fair to most authors it is only fair because my respect for Mr. Chalker is so high. I have yet to read the other books in this series so my minor complaint may prove entirely unfounded but here it is: the barbarian hero was basically a wimp. He was undone by magic consistently had only one fight he came out of successfully without serious wounds and that was against hotel clerks. I was ex
Nov 05, 2014 A rated it liked it
The River of Dancing Gods begins with lots of promise as the hero and heroine are transported to a parallel universe prior to their demise on Earth. This parallel universe is sort of the antithesis of Earth. It is governed by a set of "Rules" written in a massive volume of books.

As the book opens the characters learn about their new world and become accustomed. At this stage the books shows lots of promise, but once the hero, heroine, and a new pack of pals head out on their journey to vanquish
Jan 05, 2014 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A highly original fantasy, which, although formulaic in some parts, continually surprised me with refreshing characters and unexpected events. In many cases, the characters were likable, however the reader should not expect to find persons or creatures who are deeply developed and interpreted. Consequently, this book is simply entertaining without being absorbing in emotion or awe. To put it another way, I could never escape from the animated feeling of the story that would allow me to enter a ...more
Jun 06, 2016 Matthew rated it liked it
It's an interesting concept of modern day characters brought into a medivial world and outfitted with swords and sorcerry that's marred by some pedestrian writing and flat characterization.

Things just happen to the characters and they react to it with basic one dimensional emotions, there are a few interesting plot twists and surprises but they're not really expanded on, and are revealed in a couple quick sentences buried in lesser paragraphs.

This book is a short read with an interesting premise
Steven Williamson
Oct 08, 2013 Steven Williamson rated it it was amazing
Along with Joel Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame series, Chalker's The Dancing Gods series stand out to me as the classic examples of what pure D&D-style fantasy novels should be. They have engaging characters that you wish you could meet in person, and Chalker is an expert at making ordinary things -- like walking barefoot across shag carpet -- seem extraordinary. Like Rosenberg, Chalker's works made me want to become a writer myself.
Steve Caldwell
Jan 11, 2015 Steve Caldwell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read this book many times, and it is one of my all time favorite Fantasy books. Jack Chalker was one of my favorite writers of all time, and this book series is a big reason why. It is a People from our universe taken to a fantasy universe to stop the dark lord story. It has engaging characters, fun fantasy elements, and a mysterious adversary. Well plotted, with an interesting back story for the fantasy world. I would recommend this story to anyone who likes a good rollicking fantasy.
Jun 26, 2008 Renee rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The first installment in this series is hands down the best of the bunch. I read these years ago, and actually recall very little about the subsequent books other than thinking that I would have been happy if this book began and ended the bunch. At any rate, this one is worth your time, and the others aren't horrible if you need to know what happens afterwards.
Mar 02, 2016 Gustavo rated it it was amazing
A not so tipycal fantasy setting based on weird rules that bound it, it's a wonderful tale of discovery and change for each of the two main protagonists. The world itself is riddled with impossible powerful magicians that control everything, but need troops and heroes to do most of the big things anyway.
Jan 24, 2013 Kristie rated it it was amazing
It's funny, well written and enjoyable. What more can you want from a fantasy book. I bought it from the library ex-book sale when I was a lot younger than now and still I want to follow up and read the rest of the series. I like this style of writing and recommend it to people who enjoy their fantasy light and simple.
Brian Chafin
Decent start to a decent series.

This wasn't as good on rereading as I remembered. They story and characters are still interesting. There just wasn't room in a short book to introduce a world with great quirks, add depth to the characters, and tell a good story. Chalker makes a worthy attempt to do all three and succeeds in setting the stage for the following books.
Oct 23, 2009 whatever rated it liked it
This book is perhaps more for adolescents, but it's pretty sweet anyway. There are virgins, witches, maps, dragons, barbarians, loincloths, elves, wizards, genies in lamps, and orgasmic unicorns. I do no know what else anyone could possibly want in a book.
Frank Taranto
Marge and Joe get taken to another world. Marge becomes a sorceress who becomes more fairylike every time she uses magic. Joe becomes a barbarian hero with a magic sword named Irving. A good rollicking tale of fantasy edventure, fun to read.
Mar 31, 2012 DaveA rated it liked it
The Well of Souls series completely enthralled me. Thus, I was so excited to read this one, but I thought it was only OK, and I was disappointed. I can't put my finger on why it wasn't great. I will most likely read the rest in this series.
Jim Razinha
Aug 31, 2012 Jim Razinha rated it liked it
I like Chalker's science fiction, but I'm not so sure about his fantasy. This was a slow didn't start to get infesting until 2/3 through. But, because it had promise toward the end, I might try the remainder of the series.
Kevin Driskill
Feb 06, 2014 Kevin Driskill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
This was my first exposure to Jack Chalker's work and it so captured my interest that I have read his work faithfully ever since. This tale of another world so close at hand and so wonderful in richness is fantastic and intoxicating.
Brandt Deforrest
Jul 28, 2013 Brandt Deforrest rated it it was amazing
Flawlessly written. Chalker finds the humor in traditional fantasy themes but still treats his subject with respect. The characters begin as somewhat stock but are fleshed out very satisfyingly.
May 04, 2015 Ryan rated it liked it
Intriguing to read a fantasy novel from 1984 and see how much things have changed compared to today's novels in the genre.

Still, it was an enjoyable tale.
Gena Lott
Jul 14, 2011 Gena Lott rated it it was ok
This book didn't really make much of an impression on me. Sorry to say. I had heard such good things about the author.
Mar 30, 2013 Linda rated it it was amazing
One of the series, along with Lord of the Rings, that I have read and reread. I was very sorry that Jack Chalker died and there would be no more Joe and Marge adventures.
Jul 21, 2009 Randy rated it really liked it
first of a fantasy series that poked fun at all the tropes of this type of fiction. Example: one law was that all beautiful women must be scantily clad.
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Besides being a science fiction author, Jack Laurence Chalker was a Baltimore City Schools history teacher in Maryland for a time, a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association, and was involved in the founding of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Some of his books said that he was born in Norfolk, Virginia although he later claimed that was a mistake.

He attended all but one of the W
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Other Books in the Series

Dancing Gods (5 books)
  • Demons of the Dancing Gods (Dancing Gods, #2)
  • Vengeance of the Dancing Gods (Dancing Gods, #3)
  • Songs of the Dancing Gods (Dancing Gods, #4)
  • Horrors of the Dancing Gods (Dancing Gods, #5)

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