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3.41 of 5 stars 3.41  ·  rating details  ·  285 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Starbook tells the tale of a prince and a maiden in a mythical land where a golden age is ending. Their fragile story considers the important questions we all face, exploring creativity, wisdom, suffering and transcendence in a time when imagination still ruled the world.
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Rider (first published 2007)
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If this had been a novella, sitting somewhere around 30,000 words, it would have been a perfect thing. Some beautiful prose, evocative descriptions, intriguing bits of mysticism and harrowing glimpses of a future life as a slave are the strong points here. The negative would be that I cared not a jot for any character, that there were words, passages and chapters throughout that did nothing for the story, and that repetition of thoughts and narrative were overused.

This has taken me the longest
Miss Vex
This book is a work of art.

I truly feel sorry for the people who feel the need to belittle this artistry simply because they were too impatient or unable to understand.
This is not the kind of book you read in one go, this is not even the kind of book you truly and fully understand after reading it the first time, this is the kind of book that provides you with so many opportunities to ponder about life that you will need a lengthy time to finish it. I have filled an entire moleskin with quotes a
David Maine
I didn't like this book at all. I don't like to write scathingly negative reviews--hey, every author is trying something different, right? So I try to have respect for that. But I can't muster any repect for this at all.

Okri uses a faux-fable style to tell the story of a prince and a maiden, who live in a magic kingdom, and fight spirits and have dreams and face portents of all sorts. It's eye-glazingly dull, in part because his style necessitates endless lists; at one point he lists all the dif
Brilliant love story. The imagery of this book simply takes your breath away. With the simplicity of characters (there's only one who's actually named), and the amount of description that goes into the scenery, the book paints a beautiful picture of love that triumphs through difficulty.
Adepeju Adepeju
I was on a journey with the beautiful Prince and the awkwardly lovely maiden and watched as they come to realization of their love and what it could conquer. But underlining all these are serious issues and bravery. Okri has been able to use language with such poetic essence that I was spell bound and dreamed dreams even with his characters. To understand this book is to share a common experience or to know your history well. Howbeit, there were to loud cry as regarding any issue and you just ha ...more
I have a love/hate relationship with this book.

On the one hand, I am in love with Okri's lyrical style of writing. It's enchanting. I found myself transported soul and body into this mystical world, which is so similar to our own, but has hints of magic, which his style of writing only exaggerates. On the other hand, I felt myself getting bored of the long-winded writing towards the end of the novel. Not that that's Okri's fault however, but my inability to read a book slowly. I can't stress thi
Here's a few hours i'd like back. Picked this up looking for some surreal fantasy but what i got was some meaningless abstraction trying to dress up what is essentially a simple core. Completely put me off picking anything up by Okri again. And reminded me once again the risk associated with reading fantasy and surreal fiction. There is always a thin indistinct line between utterly awesome and bitterly incorrigible.
Corvinus Maximilus
I struggled to finish this book before the year ran out. Okri has beautiful language granted; but he can be a little verbose. There are passages that are so beautiful that they made me cry. The story was a little out there (magical kingdoms and tribes). For lovers of language and musical language then Okri is a must-read.
Julia Lynch
I read this book a few years ago and I am due to read it again.

It was my introduction to Ben Okri and his writing simply took my breath away. I read a chapter every night before I went to bed and I had the strangest dreams as a result. It's a beautiful African fantasy and it's the first that I have read of this kind. No charactors are named and if memory serves me correctly, the location is not mentioned. And this adds to the romance of the story....It's pure poetry in my opinion. And it is tho
Anna Krjatian
I will be forward: I love Ben Okri as a writer. I will be honest: this is not an easy book to read. It is a modern classic in the making: floral, figurative, philosophical, and oh so deep! It took me several months to finish this book (I read it last year) and I just flicked through it again, re-reading my comments and quotes that I underlined. I loved this book because of it's intensity and mysticism. As I can imagine, it won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if you want to be taken elsewhere, th ...more
At a few points, for maybe thirty or forty pages at a time, Okri's narrative gathers speed and escapes his overdone myth-making and oracular wisdom in favor of genuine story-telling. These reprieves, in concert with my high regard for Ben Okri, are the only reason I was willing to consume the repetitive lessons that constitute this predictable "legend."

I recognize that my criticisms of this book only prove that I have not fully absorbed the ideals that it was composed to elevate and that it is a
May 18, 2014 Rz rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fantasy
Somewhere between nowhere and everywhere; somewhere between nothing and everything...this is Starbook: a frustrating read, if you have no time, but a precious gem containing the most intensely vibrant, vigorous and powerful writing if you take the effort and the trouble and the patience to sit through its elaborate prose.

Dense, flowery prose aside, it is the endless, continuing story of 2 lovers, who go through a set of trials and tribulations to first find themselves, and then, in doing so, fi
Very dull and tedius, the sort of book that you get to the bottom of the page without a clue what youve just read. I gave up at page 65, then felt guilty as it was a reading group choice and skimmed through the rest. Set in a unspecified mythical period where the king laughs in a knowing way, the prince sees the future in his dreams whilst seriously ill from a glimse at his true love, the maiden sees the prince in her dreams and ponders lifes mysteries and the elders and tribe plot and argue. Wa ...more
Dolapo Lawrence
Oh mine. Starbook will take you into a world of magic and mystery that is like none other.
And Ben Okri's style of writing in Starbook was just pure and simply superb.
I like Ben Okri, really enjoyed The Famished Road. Was rather disappointed by his later books but Starbook is a delight. He is back on form with this one. But as is typical of him it should be about half as long as it is. The man does go on just that little bit too much. But in the end I can't help but love the book anyway. Also I just skipped some bits that were ridiculously repetitive. Like myths and fables the stories are rich with enchantment and meaning.

from the book

"...being alive to the
Katie Grainger
As with many reviews here I was attracted to this story because the blurb sounded interesting. The blurb gave the impression I was about to read a phenomenal story set in a fascinating mythical land. However what I got was very different. There is very little plot to this story the book is filled with repetition and imagery. While the imagery is at times beautiful it is just not enough to carry the reader through the story. It had such promise but unfortunately it really did not deliver.
Huw Evans
Twenty years after doggedly ploughing my way through The Famished Road, I came across this work in our local library. "I must give Ben Okri another try, it can't be as bad as I remembered", I thought to myself, thought I. It was, every bit as bad as I recalled. It was so bad I was grateful that I had to return it, unfinished, and I have no plans to get it out again.
I picked this book up at the library at the last minute for its beautiful cover. And I was glad that I borrowed it when I first started reading it, because of the gorgeous prose. But how long can you go on in that kind of language? It's more suitable for a short story, like a fable or something. I gave up after about a hundred pages.
I liked the idea of this book, magical land and fairytale story but sadly the writing style frustrated me. Okri has a beautiful poetic way with words but I became very impatient, as it made it very difficult to follow the plot. Although with hindsight, maybe this was because there wasn't an actual plot... oh dear
Very beautiful. Long and slow. Starbook doesn't try to be 'The Famished Road', and so I guess it doesn't fail. Part moot Siddhartha story and larger part an abstracted, poetic art manifesto? Although every part of it was a pleasure to read, as Okri always will be, ultimately he has said very little with quite a lot.
Alina Khama-Nyane

Okri is made of the same cloth as literary giants who possess this poetic capacity to write with a mercurial delft wand! Each sentence is generously rich with a wisdom which transfigurated me to the pulse of each character. I read the last page, closed the book and took a deep breath. I yearned for more.....
Katie Allan
more than half way through the book and have highlighted and folded down more pages than any other book i have read in the past year. i guess that means i love it. Themes of transformation (self & societal), death, love, and learning really speak to me as i find my own way. more when i am finished...
I fell in love with my husband a little bit more when he gave me this book a few years ago. It took me so long to read; the complexities & intricacies so ornate that I had to "breathe" for weeks between chapters; a first for me. Utterly brilliant, a journey to another realm.
Katherine H
I have yet to finish this book in part because of school-related reading I have to do, but I'm enjoying it so far. It does have a tendency to get caught up in itself and the mythical tone Okri uses. It hits you over the head with the fable storytelling and is very slow going.
Love Okri's writing style and this book was a lovely read. Only quibble is that, particularly earlier in the book, it feels a little repetitive, like we're being told the same thing but in several different ways. I can forgive the book this though!
I haven't figured out how to mark a book as abandoned, but that is precisely what I've chosen to do with this one. Shocking, because I really, really did try to finish it, but I just couldn't get into it. I might revisit this later.
Okri writes well but just when I think I've picked up a decent piece of African literature ... BAM! There's there the overly done time and time again illusion to slavery. It just gets too much.
Mikey Rainn
I liked it enough, though I did grow tired of the constant fanciful prose. Pretty yes, but overused so much. I felt like I was reading a modern day take of the bible at one point :(
Louise Hastings
Beautiful poetic read...sadly I lacked the time to enjoy it fully, as I had to get it back to the library...but plenty of gems in this and I hope to pick up my own copy sometime.
Loved the magical and poetic quality of the prose. Struggled to get through it (it could have been shorter)and at the same time couldn't put it down.
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Poet and novelist Ben Okri was born in 1959 in Minna, northern Nigeria, to an Igbo mother and Urhobo father. He grew up in London before returning to Nigeria with his family in 1968. Much of his early fiction explores the political violence that he witnessed at first hand during the civil war in Nigeria. He left the country when a grant from the Nigerian government enabled him to read Comparative ...more
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The Famished Road Songs of Enchantment Astonishing the Gods Dangerous Love Infinite Riches

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“He felt as if he hadn't slept because he spent all night wandering through the world looking for a maiden who bore his heart in her womb. His heart grew in her like a child. He was pregnant with his heart for a long time, for a year, for ten years, for a generation, for a hundred and two years. His heart grew bigger and bigger in her, and she grew bigger and bigger to accomodate the growth of his heart in her womb. He never knew when she would give birth to his heart and he lost her and searched the world over and never found her. His father, the king, told him that the world in which he searched for he was his heart, and that she was the mother of all the world, and that his search was over when it began, but he didn't know it.” 10 likes
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