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Patternmaster (Patternmaster #4)

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,168 Ratings  ·  184 Reviews
A despot’s heirs battle for control of all the minds on Earth

A psychic net hangs across the world, and only the Patternists can control it. They use their telepathic powers to enslave lesser life forms, to do battle with the diseased, half-human creatures who rage outside their walls, and, sometimes, to fight amongst themselves. Ruling them all is the Patternmaster, a man
ebook, 208 pages
Published July 24th 2012 by Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (first published 1976)
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Jun 12, 2016 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Patternmaster by Octavia E. Butler is a mix of Ursula LeGuin and Robert Silverberg, with a nod to Frank Herbert.

The coolest thing about this very good read is Butler’s ability to create a world intrinsic to itself; the author has crafted a unique, distinctive culture that is alien to us but contextually correct for the world she has built.

Butler’s biography denotes a strong, singular personality and this comes through in her writing. Many books can boast a strong female lead, and Butler’s wome
Patternmaster: Clearly a first novel - Wild Seed is much better
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Patternmaster (1976) was written first in Octavia Butler’s 4-book PATTERNIST series, but comes last in chronology. It takes place several hundred years after Clay’s Ark (1984), back in the Forsythe, CA territory where the Patternists settled down earlier. Society remains scattered and non-industrial, and power is divided between the Patternists, a network of linked human telepaths who can kill a
Diana Welsch
Jan 29, 2011 Diana Welsch rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Octavia Butler completists
Octavia E. Butler is one of a kind. She is a black feminist science fiction writer and the protege of the great and bizarre Harlan Ellison. She was the first science fiction writer to receive a MacArthur "genius" grant, which she was awarded in 1995 for pushing the boundaries of her field.

I was intrigued after noticing Kindred in the science fiction section of the library. "This must be miscatalogued," I thought, "Because it has a picture of a black woman on the cover, rather than a unicorn or s
After Clay’s Ark, I had no idea what to expect with The Patternmaster. What I did not expect was that the Clayark evolution would basically turn those people into animals – albeit really smart human-like animals – and that they would have no real purpose to their existence save to
be obstacles for the protagonists. Their humanity was almost completely stripped away, despite them fighting so hard to maintain what they could of it in Clay’s Ark.

This book focused otherwise entirely on the Patternist
Jan 08, 2013 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of all the books in this series was fascinating. I read them in their story order, as opposed to the order in which Butler wrote them (apparently Patternmaster was first, and the other three books were prequels). I found the ending of Patternmaster a little unsatisfying after so much buildup in the previous books, but this makes more sense now that I know how she actually wrote them. Fascinating stories that I will continue to think about -- the best kind of sci-fi.
Kevin Shoop
Dec 13, 2015 Kevin Shoop rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Grade: B

The Patternist series has been great fun to read, especially in suggested order rather than order of publication. This was the first published book of the series. The story was very good, although I was disappointed that there weren't more tie-ins to the other books (which really demonstrates how well Butler expanded the world in later-published prequels). The major themes of power, gender, human relationships, and slavery were there and illuminating as ever. There is so much more to exp
Jan 05, 2015 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was not the best book in the series, however Butler wrote this book first and after reading the other books you get a sense that she had vision and great storytelling skills which she used to go back and write the other books. A great sci-fi experience overall.
Oct 10, 2012 Dorothea rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Patternmaster is the last book in this series by internal chronology, but it was the first published -- in fact, Butler's first published novel -- and it shows.

There is actually a fifth book in this series, Survivor, but it's never been reprinted because Butler decided it wasn't good enough. She described it as her Star Trek novel.

...Patternmaster is her Darkover novel. The kind without lesbian separatists.

It's set in the far future, hundreds of years after the psychics joined together in their
Apr 20, 2015 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First off, I want to point out that I read these in order of publication, not chronological order. I'm not really sure what is the better way to go. It was pretty interesting getting the story bits at a time, and each book's focus was on something mentioned in previous books, so you could sort of place what you were reading about in the grand scheme.

Patternmaster shows the far, far future, where a society has been created that is completely unlike our current society. People with psychic abiliti
Jun 13, 2014 Metaphorosis rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, 2014-rev

2.5 stars

A talented young telepath finds himself sold off to a powerful lord. While he fights and plans to escape, he falls in with an independent female telepath and they form a bond.

People like to say that space opera is derived from westerns. Octavia Butler seems to have set out to prove that on a smaller scale. Patternmaster is transparently the story of a young cowboy ('civilized' man) out in the wilds, killing or escaping wily natives (mutated humans) at every turn.
Dec 15, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This last book fell slightly short of the others, for me, mainly because I felt unsatisfied with the conclusion, and I didn't feel that it had the strength and depth of the others (although I think allowances can be made for this being the first one she wrote). But the journey was enjoyable enough that I'd still highly recommend the series.

Ultimately, the stories told in this series are almost all about different types of slavery. Physical/personal slavery, of external factors such as disease/mu
Christy Petersen holloway
I have read many books in my life. Most are formulaic and predictable. It has been a long time since any book has held my attention....much less an entire series. I read that Wild Seed was on several "best of..." lists so I purchased the first book in the Patternist series by Octavia Butler. I couldn't put that book down. Soon I had ordered Mind of My Mind. Then Clay's Ark....then finally the Patternmaster....

Words can not do justice to my love of this series. The Patternmaster is the 'final' (a
Ellie Reynard

I adore the Patternmaster series. Books 1 & 2 manage to achieve the kind of "internal" magic in a believable and captivating way. I mean internal magical battles happening inside peoples' head which I've tried to write before and are incredibly easy to make dull. Well it is for me. Let's not talk about my writing.

Even "Clay's Ark" is great. I was initially thrown off by the fact that, whilst it exists in the same universe as the rest of the series, it might as well not. Titular
Aug 13, 2015 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When considering reading the multi-book "Patternist" series by Octavia Butler, an early question you might ask is, "in what order?"

Butler wrote the books in a chronologically scattered timeline, with the last story chronologically being the first written and published. In the intervening years, publishers (and maybe Ms. Butler herself) re-released the books with numbers indicating the series should be read in a chronological order, the timeline beginning in the 16th century and ending many cent
Apr 30, 2014 Onefinemess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Another author that I've always known of but somehow managed to never read.

Also: random: this is the 4th book of a series? It's not noted anywhere on the book itself, so I'm guessing it's a disconnected series, maybe like LeGuin's Hainnish stuff? Whatever the case, I simultaneously didn't feel like I was suddenly thrust into the middle of anything and did feel like I could see where the 3 books preceding this one might lay.

OK, weird. Wiki says this was her first published book? Crazy! And so go
Apr 25, 2014 Casey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 1970s
Since I read all the other books first, including Survivor, I think my rating of Patternmaster is affected. The book doesn't give much background at all, you are thrown right in to everything. Even though it's a short, much is happening.

A summary for those not familiar: It's far into the future. There are many people with special mental abilities and powers, the result of a long breeding program over hundreds of years. It's not a military or governmental project - it's the result of an individua
Paul Eckert
Jul 13, 2012 Paul Eckert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've fully detailed how much I've loved the Patternist series in other reviews, so I'll just say the same applies here.

I've read these books in order as collected in Seed to Harvest, and in that collection this was the last book. In reality, it was the first book published of the four Patternist books.

In Patternmaster, the alien-diseased Clayarks and the telepathic Patternists control most of the world, having overtaken regular humans and keeping them as slaves (or in the case of the Clayarks,

This book is short. Not so sweet. I had to pace myself so I wouldn't devour it in one sitting. It started off in the thick of things. A supreme being "the Pattern Master” is preoccupied with is slipping hold on to the fabrics that hold his world together-literally. He is in charge of the entire telepathic network of consciousness. ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Scary, but not really. Unlike her other works this particular one is not as foreboding and apocalyptic as the others. Although the general premise
Sep 29, 2012 Outis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
They use a Pattern. They've got murderous sibling rivalries. There's even a character called Amber...
But the main character is no Corwin. And while the setting is more interesting than most, it's not as grand as Zelazny's. Neither is the plot as inspired.

It's a pleasant read alright. Butler's yarn flows well as usual and she knows how to push people's buttons (though not subtly enough perhaps) in order to get readers interested. The book's magic has lots of intriguing features as well, from the
Oct 21, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Again with the same complaint I had in the third book about no good men. Butler may even have been of the opinion that her main character is one, but I know better men than that so I have to disagree. I am happy about the agency the main female character showed and maintained no matter what people said to her. I am not happy about how magically the men were always more powerful in their gifts and the current patternmaster is male. What happened to the lady in book two? It clearly showed women we ...more
Baal Of
I really hate to give Octavia Butler anything less than 4 stars on a book, but this one just didn't impress me. It was not bad, just very lackluster compared to the others in this series. Apparently this was her first book, and it shows. The characters are just not very compelling, and the plot is so simplistic - powerful telepaths fighting over control of the pattern. This book makes the events of the previous three books seem almost pointless. Humans went to another star for no other purpose t ...more
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
This book was written, and I believe, published first although it is chronologically the last. It is evident that this one was written first and Butler's writing appears to have evolved over time in the next three books.
I enjoyed this story but it didn't have the spark for me of the others.
My least favorite of the Patternmaster series (well, I haven't read Survivor), but still wholly engrossing. An impressive first book. I liked Wild Seed best of the four Patternmaster books.
The territory of telepathic Patternists is under constant attack by animalic, virulent Clayarks--which makes the succession of a new Pattermaster urgent. Patternmaster is surprisingly small, not just short but localized in scope despite the speculative concepts of the larger world. It's a compelling starting point for a series that backtracks to explore those speculative elements, but if they're already familiar then it's an underwhelming finale. Butler's prose is particularly workmanlike, but a ...more
Mar 27, 2016 VR rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is very fast paced. It begins with Taray losing just about everything, and ends with a show down to which the entire book satisfyingly leads. It is difficult not to root for the underdog, Taray, although he is irrationally stubborn sometimes with Amber. I will not spoil anything about Amber, but she is easily as likable as Anyanwe of the first book, unlike Mary of the second. She stands up to Taray when they both need it, is definitely more knowledgeable about life and the world, yet d ...more
Originally published in 1976, the book is one of a series about the Patternists, a race with telepathic powers. The Patternists are the "superior race" having control over the mutes who serve as their workers. Patternists have varying strengths of mind powers and use them for fighting and for healing, and to "link" to others to supplement their own powers. Patternists who are children of the current Patternmaster, Rayal and his lead wife Jansee are the strongest and are the only children who can ...more
Oct 14, 2015 Ms_prue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as part of the Seed to Harvest omnibus edition, and I kept flicking back to the copyright page to remind myself how the publication order of this series went. It's sort of weird ending with the book that was published first - in a way it feels like the worldbuilding shrinks, because this is really the first book, the one from which the rest of the series grew (I assume. Publication date =/= manuscript date after all). It's interesting that the series grew backwards, more or less, rat ...more
Alan Chen
Oct 07, 2015 Alan Chen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Chronologically last in the Patternmaster series but first to be written this tells the age-old story of two brothers vying for power. Thousands of years in the future from the other books the pattern is now set (a spiritual net that links all telepaths and telepaths rule the world. When the current patternmaster is weakened by an attack from the Clayark, infected humans who are animal like with extraordinary strength and immune to telepathic powers, Corransee his older son seeks to be next in l ...more
Einar Nielsen
This is a really simple and short story but if it were written today it would probably be a 1000 page mammoth. Although it could be a little bit longer (have a bit more meat on its bones) Butler manages to get the story across well. This reminded me a little bit of Zelazny's first Amber book and maybe that was just the norm for 70's fantasy. Basic plot is a powerful heir battles his brother for control of the Empire (this is a bit of a simplification).

What Butler does here is she manages to poin
Jan 12, 2015 Kyra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this very fast read, and all I have to say is if you like modern fiction--not just science fiction, you might want to read it for yourself and see if you like it, and maybe, read this one alone or early on if you decide to read the series.

Also, I'd suggest trying to ignore the reviews until you've finished them all, except for the parts where they suggest what order to read them in and where they were mostly summary or referenced Butler's other books or serial writing in general, because
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Viruses 1 4 Jan 12, 2015 07:23PM  
The Blerd Book Club: Patternmaster Discussion 11/3/13 - Spoiler Alert! 1 21 Nov 03, 2013 08:58PM  
The Blerd Book Club: Patternmaser by Octavia Butler 1 20 Sep 29, 2013 09:27PM  
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Octavia Estelle Butler was an American science fiction writer, one of the best-known among the few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant.
More about Octavia E. Butler...

Other Books in the Series

Patternmaster (5 books)
  • Wild Seed (Patternmaster, #1)
  • Mind of My Mind (Patternmaster, #2)
  • Clay's Ark (Patternmaster, #3)
  • Survivor

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