The Magic Labyrinth (Riverworld 4)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Magic Labyrinth (Riverworld #4)

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  2,509 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Here are all mysteries revealed, all quests completed, in the fabulous planet of Riverworld


is the most heralded science fiction event of recent times. It is the culminating achievement of the epoch-making Riverworld Series which has been pronounced the most daring, wide-ranging and speculative in the annals of science fiction. Here Philip José Farmer con...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published 1981 by Panther Books (first published June 1980)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
WARNING: This review contains spoilers! Read at your own risk!

"This fourth book in the classic Riverworld series continues the adventures of Samuel Clemens and Sir Richard Francis Burton as they travel through Farmer's strange and wonderful Riverworld, a place where everyone who ever lived is simultaneously resurrected along a single river valley that stretches over an entire planet. Famous characters from history abound.

Now Burton and Clemens, who have traveled for more than thirty years on two...more
I'm virtually certain I got as far as this volume before I abandoned the series, but I can't remember a thing about it. All I can recall is that we were given the explanation for Riverworld, and I just thought "Huh"?

I guess I wasn't in a receptive frame of mind, given that some other people appear to like this book. Sorry.

May 06, 2014 Jeff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone willing to skim through the first 300+ pages
Recommended to Jeff by: My adolescence
Shelves: 2014, science-fiction
Underwhelmed. That's how i predict you'll feel by what happens inside The Magic Labyrinth's final ~100 pages. Unless maybe you're a teenager feeling out and nurturing your budding apostasies.

What about the first 300+ pages? I recommend that you skip from story tidbit to story tidbit until you get past the dueling boats chapter or the dueling swordsmen chapter.

If it weren't for Nostalgia's bonus star, i'd've rounded up from 1.5 to 2 stars.

Note for my own amusement only?
i realized while reading l...more
David Bonesteel
This is the final novel of Farmer's original Riverworld cycle. Like the rest of the series, it is audacious, often fascinating, but also very problematic. "Labyrinth" is often long-winded and unwieldy, particularly in the beginning. But everything comes together as the rival riverboats commanded by archenemies Sam Clemens and John Lackland meet for their final confrontation, after which the survivors struggle on to gain entrance to the mysterious tower in the North Sea. The battle and the final...more
Graham Crawford
Jul 18, 2012 Graham Crawford rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people looking for an alternative to root canal therapy
Nearly a quarter of this book is laboured recaps of the previous books in the series. At one point he actually breaks the fourth wall and writes "see book 1 -To Your Scattered Bodies Go - for more on this". Duh! The writing is dreary and all the characters superficial.

The long forshadowed battle of the riverboats (and accompanying dogfight) proceeded with the plodding inevitability of a C movie storyboard - without the pictures to liven it up. And we had our regular wikipedia page infodump of Fa...more
After three books' worth of setup, we finally get to learn what's actually in the Tower. At least, that's the idea ... but first we have to have the big war between Sam Clemens and King John. Of course they have to meet, which means they have to get pretty far up-River, and both sides have to be somewhat balanced, so we have to read about more people first, which means that we have to read about their stories on Earth and what "actually" happened first, and then we have to re-read any events in...more
Jun 20, 2010 Raj rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sci-fi
Supposedly the final book in the Riverworld series, where all the questions would be answered, the final few pages of this were actually quite frustrating as a lot seemed to be resolved right at the end of Burton and co's trip up the River to the tower at its headwaters. And the final few sentences had me tearing my hair out as one of the characters thinks he hears footsteps and then dismisses it as his imagination. Gah! Well, I guess I'll be looking out for Gods of Riverworld now, won't I?

There are issues I have with this, as with the series - characters get muddled (some plainly down to some catastrophic underdevelopment), small details lost and the chronology is almost hopelessly confused. And the long-promised answer to the mysteries behind the Riverworld isn't enthralling. Yet as a concept, the Riverworld itself is still a wonderful bit of world-building, and a fascinating sandpit in which to play out a yarn that's both thoughtful and full of action. It's a product of a diffe...more
Jan Kjellin
So it ends. Not with a bang, but with a shrug. But that is life, and life is what this series of books is all about. What is life? Wherein lies the essence of life? And what are we supposed to do with it?

As a philosophical discussion about the soul, the Riverworld series works pretty good. But I can't help feeling a little bit ripped off by the far too complex storyline carrying this disussion forward. Too many characters and too many parallell storylines and things happening at the same time st...more
Farmer wraps up the four-part Riverworld series and gives it the works: epic battles, arduous journeys, leading character deaths and plenty of philosophy. I liked it, don't get me wrong, I just think he was trying to wrap up too many loose ends. I suppose a fifth chapter would've proved too time-consuming and maybe he was tired of "Riverworld" by this point.

I won't add any spoilers - but the 'secrets' of The Ethicals are revealed and one of the characters makes a huge sacrifice.

For those who've...more
Allan Costa
One of the best in the series. The first book I read in which descriptions of naval and aerial fight plus philosophical discussions on religion and soul.
Nine months went by since I read the last book in the series, but this book reveals all the past details as it goes along, and I didn't feel lost. In this one Clemens and John Lackland have their final battle, destroying both their boats, and the Burton and his band go to the Tower, where they save Riverworld by starting up resurrections again and increasing the amount of time humans have to Go On to a higher ethical plane. It was very exciting, despite some slowness when it got too philosophica...more
I seguiti del Fiume proprio non riescono a piacermi.
Sono talmente abborracciati!
4th in series- The big finale (actually author decided needed 5th book in series, But this one answers all the questions raised in the first 3)

A big improvement over Book 3. Lots of exciting actions, great thinking discussions and moral questions. some mental stimulation, some disappointment. This series would be easier to recommend if about 40% of it were edited out. A fabulous underlying story, some really well done development ( and some excessive verbiage) . I enjoyed it- but its not an effi...more
B. Jay
Like the series itself, each book becomes increasingly fascinating and frustrating at the same time. Most of the pertinant questions are answered, and once the tower is conquered this science fiction story finally includes some real science fiction content. But don't expect to be overly satisfied with how things work out, and don't expect Farmer's assurances that this is the conclusion to deliver either. I will probably read the next book, and I am not so sure I won't be reading it just to spite...more
Recommended if you read a lot of classic sci fi. The thing that bugs me about this and some of Farmer's other books is that a lot of time is spent between characters speculating on what might be going on. Theries and conjecture are interesting from time to time. But it seems to be what they do most of the time. Anyway, crazy concepts about the nature of the soul and the purpose of mankind are either boring or scary coming from other authors. I thought Farmers sci fi ideas are kind of interesting...more
Alberto González Ortiz
La magia que ha caracteriza a esta saga (su punto de partida, el paisaje, las relaciones entre humanos de todas las épocas...) se va diluyendo hacia una batalla final, sus preparativos y demás folklore de venganza.
♥ Marlene♥
Hmm I finished this book last night and yes I do have a copy of book 5 but I don't think I want to read more. All my favorite characters except for Burton are killed and I thought the ending of book 4 a bit weird and sudden.

I loved the part where they climbed the tower and must admit laughing my ass off last night in bed reading about Joe but once in the tower it became boring again.

That is what is wrong with these books, some parts are brilliant and some parts are so boring.
El final de la historia, la explicación a todo... decepcionante, te quedas con la sensación de que tuvo una muy buena idea en la primera novela que debería haber dejado con el misterio en vez de jugar con el lector. Es cierto que hay destellos que te hacen recuperar la fe durante las novelas pero el resultado está muy poco trabajado, casi de niño chico. Una lástima, a ver si con la novela que escribió después para atar algunos cabos mejora un poco la experiencia
I will say this of all 5 books in the series... Philip Jose Farmer is a literary genius! I fell absolutely in love with Riverworld and couldn't put it down to save my life. I read all 5 books at the same time within a few days. I was completely entranced. I loved every character and felt like I was a part of the struggle to figure out the mystery of Riverworld. When I finished reading I was left with so many thoughts and my mind couldn't stop racing. MUST READ!
Gerald Kinro
This is the climax of the Riverworld series. By then there is no more resurrection and all playing is for keeps. The players continue their journey to find the secrets of their existence here.
For me, the pacing of the story was too slow. The setup done in the first two books was so good, and I wanted things to move. To his credit, Farmer created a very well thought out series. Prophetic? Behind every major screw up is a computer.
Qui ci sono tutte le spiegazioni però c'e qualcosa che non mi convince nel finale
Farmer makes a grand effort to tie everything together and explain what the heck is going on with all these famous people and that big river.
Almost everyone from the first three books show up and there's lots of cool sci-fi bits and intrigue.
The plots and double cross get laid on a bit thick and the pay off isn't quite as cool as the journey to get here, but still a great story in one of my all time favorite series.

The fourth entry in the Riverworld series. As the series progresses I've found the current state of of the Riverworld to be less interesting. My two favorite characters were killed off: Sam Clemens (Mark Twain) and Joe Miller, the sub human. The book was still inconclusive at the end, leading into another installment. The first two installments in the series are the best and I suppose I was looking for the same thread.
The Magic Labyrinth brings many of the threads from the first three Riverworld books together to a conclusion. The story departs from the preparation of the second and third books, bringing the build up to a conflict. It also returns somewhat to the stark reality and adventure of the first book. However the story of the characters is not completely resolved. On to book five.
Dave Jones
Overall, I enjoyed my journey through Riverworld. It was interesting to visit some historical characters (a few of whom this series introduced me too.) interact with each other. This book was supposed to be the culmination and Mr. Farmer promised that all questions were to be answered. After I finished this book, however, I felt that the story was not satisfactorily resolved.
Scott Harris
Like others, I found the first part of this book slow going, but after the riverboat battle and Burton and crew headed up to the tower it started getting interesting again. X explained to the terrestrials the reason for the creation of the River-world.

As an aside, outside of Gulliver's Travels, I've never seen such liberal use of the term Brobdingnagian in story telling.
It was okay... Nice to read the end of the 4-book series, but it ended very abruptly. I literally finished the last page and turned the page expecting more but it was blank! The concept of the Riverworld is pretty cool, and it's too bad that the Sci-Fi channel slaughtered it. The first book of the series, "To Your Scattered Bodies Go" is a brilliant read. Go for it!
This book should have been far more exciting to read than it was. It took me WAY too long to get through this book, and it wasn't until the last 100 pages I really even felt all that interested. Even with that the book had taken a turn for the wacky. The author got a bit too obsessed with being explicitely philosophical rather than let the text do that for him.
One of the books of the Where Your Scattered Bodies Go - The Riverworld Series - a fascinating and unique idea and a truly wonderful series of books. I was poor back then, and there were no stores that sold nothing but books, so I bought this new at a Department Store. I knew it would be good because I had read the previous ones in paperback.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Flying Sorcerers
  • The Crucible of Time
  • Shakespeare's Planet
  • Infinite Dreams
  • Destination: Universe!
  • Masters of the Vortex (Lensman, #7)
  • Hawksbill Station
  • The River of Time
  • The Coming of the Quantum Cats
  • Across the Sea of Suns (Galactic Center, #2)
  • The Earth Book of Stormgate
  • Slant (Queen of Angels, #4)
  • The World Of Ptavvs (Known Space)
  • The Big Time
  • The Return of Nathan Brazil (Saga of the Well World, #4)
  • The Eyes of Heisenberg
  • The Seedling Stars
Philip José Farmer was an American author, principally known for his science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. He was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, but spent much of his life in Peoria, Illinois.

Farmer is best known for his Riverworld series and the earlier World of Tiers series. He is noted for his use of sexual and religious themes in his work, his fascination for and reworking of th...more
More about Philip José Farmer...
To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Riverworld, #1) The Fabulous Riverboat (Riverworld, #2) The Dark Design (Riverworld, #3) The Gods of Riverworld (Riverworld, #5) Venus on the Half-Shell

Share This Book