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The Wood beyond the World

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  1,135 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
"The Wood Beyond the World" was first published in 1894 and its author, William Morris is often considered one of the authors who aided in the growth of fantasy, utopian literature, and science fiction. C.S. Lewis cites William Morris as one of his favorite authors and J.R.R. Tolkein admits to being influenced greatly by Morris' fantasies. The hero of this romance is named ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 237 pages
Published August 6th 1971 by Ballantine Adult Fantasy (first published 1894)
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Debbie Zapata
Jun 10, 2016 Debbie Zapata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: douglas
This is around the third time I have read this book, and I still enjoyed it, but I need to remember to let more than just a few years go by before the next reading. I was fuzzy enough on details this time to not remember exactly what would happen. Until I got to various dramatic scenes, and then the consequences of them would scroll through my brain like a movie trailer. This did not exactly spoil the book for me, but it would certainly have been more fun if I had not been able to remember anyth ...more
Mar 22, 2008 Werner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy fans who aren't put off by archaic language
Shelves: fantasy, classics
For Morris (who was not only a writer, but an artist, scholar, and handicraft enthusiast as well), medieval Europe was a still --relevant social and economic model for the regeneration of modern society. It also profoundly influenced his creativity. His fantasies, which are (along with those of Lord Dunsany and George MacDonald) among the most influential works in the genre before Tolkien, are set in a medieval environment that serves as an invented fantasy world. They're also written in a delib ...more
Kimberley doruyter
what the hell did i just read
David Mosley
Apr 05, 2013 David Mosley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
William Morris's The Wood beyond the World is an excellent example of the Faerie Romance. Walter of Langton, finds himself on foreign soil and stumbles his way into what can only be called Faerie. There he falls in love with what must be an Elf-maiden and must battle a dwarf, an enchantress, and an evil man before he can escape from that Perilous Realm. Even then, the lovers' woes are not over. Uncertainty amongst the Bears and the people of Stark-Wall must be overcome before any ending, happy o ...more
Feb 08, 2012 Simon rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Although a continuous narrative, this was a book of three distinct phases for me.

Firstly was the set up, how Walter came to be in the "Woods beyond the World". During this part I was still getting use to the antiquated prose and narrative style, finding my rhythm while not much interesting happened plot wise.

Then I got to the central part of the story, in which Walter becomes embroiled in a strange love square. While Walter sits back and passively waits for events to unfold, the others conspire
Jul 06, 2010 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a true myth. I loved this book partly because I can see forshadows of Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Peake, Charles Williams and many other great writers of fantasy. What is the real world? And what must one do to find it? I make all things new, our Lord said. Write it down. That is humankind's hope, Christian or not. This myth leads one on a journey toward that new heaven and earth might begin to look like. The edition I have is a facsimile of the Kelmscott Press Edition-Gothic letters and Morri ...more
Dave Maddock
Jan 24, 2014 Dave Maddock rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: masochistic Tolkien fans who think the Silmarillion is the bestest
Shelves: fantasy
I am convinced that all ratings of this book are inflated by at least one star because people know going in that Morris was a key figure in the development of modern fantasy and an important influence on Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

Granted, there are several of good ideas here which are utilized much more effectively by Morris' intellectual heirs--archaism, medieval revival, appropriation of myth, etc. However, these are not deftly applied here. This book simply cannot stand on its own without the po
Feb 22, 2017 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-fantasy
The works of William Morris were hugely influential in the development of the fantasy genre. It's necessary to note that, because some of the characteristics of this book, while groundbreaking at the time, have since passed into overuse, cliche, and scorn. Notably, it's written in faux-archaic language in mimicry of medieval romances, and the plot has more than a hint of adolescent wish-fulfillment. A book like this written today would probably be considered garbage (at least to publishers and l ...more
Danielle Parker
Book Review: “The Wood Beyond the World”, by Willliam Morris
Ballantine, 1974
ISBN 345-23730-7-125
Paperback, $12.99
237 pages
Reviewed by D. L. Parker

One of my recent non-New Year resolutions is to go back and revisit, or read for the first time, all the ground-breaking early originals in fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Now, I’m not good at keeping resolutions, especially if they involve dieting, crushing impure thoughts or keeping my temper when some little zipper snitches my parking space, b
Simon Mcleish
May 31, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in December 1999.

The earliest of Morris' fantasy stories, The Wood Beyond the World is short and simply told, in the style derived from medieval romance that is his trademark. The story is one which emphasises the psychological world at the expense of the plot, and has the curious feature of an ending which seems to forget about the beginning.

Driven from his home by an unhappy marriage, Walter Goldn is haunted by a recurring vision of a lady, an attendant mai
Sep 24, 2016 ALT-RIGHT rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Walter leaves his homeland after a series of waking dreams
In which he sees a loathsome dwarf, a maiden and a queen.

In a strange erratic wilderness he is drawn into intrigues
And must win through to victory, or, as the Germans say: Sieg.

Perhaps it's an homage to Chrétien de Troyes, this lovely chivalraic tale
Whose pseudo-archaic style will cause some readers to gnash or wail;

Well, we found his stylings a great delight, no need whatever to dodge them;
But then one of our favourite books, you see, is
Angela Brown
Jul 12, 2015 Angela Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a beautifully written and memorable as a very early example of faerie romance/fantasy. If you do start reading Morris because of the trail of influence on Tolkien, you can find examples of what might have lit Tolkien's luminous flame in these pages, but it depends on the aspect of Tolkien's writing that you focus on. For me, one of the aspects of Tolkien's word-weaving, is as a wonderfully gifted nature writer in a fantasy context. Tolkien had an incredible ability to draw lan ...more
Jaakko Ojala
I read this book due to C.S. Lewis' comment about J.R.R. Tolkien. Lewis wrote to his friend about Tolkien that, "he had grown up on William Morris and George MacDonald." So, having respect for both Lewis and Tolkien, I wanted to find out what they had grown up on. The book was a romance and did give a good space and place to think over my own entangled romantic feelings and experiences. Fantasy literature in general has and especially this book had an effect of taking the dust out of my difficul ...more
If you like interesting old-fashioned words. If you like Beowulf for it's style. Read this.

I had mistakenly added this instead of the second volume of The Well At the World's End - only realizing my mistake now that I have listened to the Librivox version. What's my problem? Confoozled. Anyway, although I didn't like this one as much as aformentioned WATWE, it still had all the lovely language and the straight-out-of-a-tapestry style story. Morris really does create a world unto itself in each o
E.A. Lawrence
This was only okay in part because after reading the Well At The World's End I had extraordinarily high expectations. This book has lovely, lyrical prose but the story seemed confused and I object to two big things. Thing 1: the female characters had no names, only archetype appellations like The Lady and the Maid. Thing 2: the female characters did all the big work of the story and plot while the protagonist, Walter, seemingly gets all the benefit and never bothers to learn anyone's name. Grrrr ...more
Marts  (Thinker)
Apr 16, 2010 Marts (Thinker) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fantasy
Morris's fantasy novel in which the protagonist Walter or Golden Walter leaves his home to go on a trading voyage since his wife has betrayed him, but his evil wife orchestrates his father's death whilst he is away. Well he's informed and decides to return home but on the way there's this storm which causes him to end up in this really strange country, and he comes upon some castle, meets this fair maiden, has a series of adventures through the 'wood beyond the world', and guess what ends up bec ...more
Berin Kinsman
Sep 18, 2016 Berin Kinsman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book is often touted as the first modern fantasy novel. I love it and consider it well worth reading, especially if you're a fan of the genre. A lot of people think that the language is hard to get around-- a Victorian using pseudo-Medieval vocabulary and syntax-- but I don't think it's any worse than trying to get through Shakespeare or even certain bits of Tolkien.
Dec 10, 2012 Myles rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting neo-medieval romance with some tell-tale moments that foreshadow the true early fantasy of Lord Dunsany. A good example of escapism and worth the read.
Jul 15, 2014 Geoffrey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The creaky faux-archaic diction does nothing to cover up the fact that this is an intensely banal story, whatever larger influence it may have had notwithstanding.
Ebster Davis
This story is about a guy named Walter who wants to get away from his cheating wife, so Walter's dad sends him out with his caravan to see the world. There's really not a lot of detail about his life at sea, everything is vaguely lovely except he keeps seeing these spectral-like images of three people wherever he goes: a lady, a dwarf, and a servant maid traveling together.

While he's gone on the journey, the wife and her family start a fight with Walter's dad, and Walter's dad is injured and ev
May 06, 2017 Cait rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ebook
Took me ages to get through this, mainly because of being away for Christmas, travelling, getting home. Any other time I'd have read it much quicker.

I think I read somewhere that Tolkien was inspired by William Morris and I can see that connection here between this and the earlier stories he wrote where real life met Faerie.

Intend to read more by William Morris in the future. It's interesting to see how the fantasy genre has changed.

Did find it confusing at points because of my stop-start readin
Opening line- "A while ago there was a young man dwelling in a great and goodly city by the sea which had to name Langton on Holm."
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 12, 2017 Gretchen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This tale was at once very strange and very familiar. Echoes of Lewis, Tolkien, MacDonald, and my husband resonated throughout the events and the imagery, and the medieval backdrop created a setting that made me feel right at home. Many of the events occurred at dusk or dawn, near a fountain, and mysterious ladies abounded, just as in medieval literature. While many elements created a sense of familiarity, the story itself was unique and fresh. If you like C.S. Lewis's and Tolkien's fiction, you ...more
Perry Whitford
Oct 20, 2016 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not content with wallpapering Victorian England, William Morris invents the modern fantasy novel.

In my book he deserves credit for the former, those wonderful designs of his are still with us today, but with the usual tripe which has come to typify the latter I wouldn't be so keen to have my name associated with the latter.

Fortunately The Wood Beyond the World is more Thomas Mallory than Abraham Merritt. Morris was a true medievalist and he had the skill to adopt the archaic idiom synonymous wit
William Morris is one of those craftsmen/artists/thinkers that intrigue and inspire me -- one of an old breed of mediaevalist who believed in mediaevalism and the romantic ideals of a pre-industrial world. The same sort of spirit that invigorated his friends the Pre-Raphaelites in their paintings or his own old-fashioned press for beautiful books runs through The Wood Beyond the World, one of our earliest modern(ish) fantasy novels, dating to 1894 and which has a few sequels.

The story is, plotwi
Joel Van Valin
William Morris was a Victorian writer and designer who, with his Pre-Raphaelite friends Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones founded a decorative arts firm and helped launch the Arts and Crafts movement in Britain. His main influences in design were medieval, and medievalism also carried through in his lesser-known poetry and the novels he wrote in the final years of his life.

The Wood Beyond the World is one of those novels. Published in 1894 by his Kelmscott Press (with original illus
Lindsay Stares
Morris is regarded as “perhaps the first modern fantasy writer to unite an imaginary world with the element of the supernatural, and thus the precursor of much of present-day fantasy literature.”

In other words, his books aren't set in Fairyland, or a dream world, or on the Moon, or on the ancient Earth. They're set on some world like medieval Earth, but not the same. The characters aren't Earth people transported, but natives of these new lands.

Unfortunately, Morris' works are thick to trudge th
Mar 05, 2013 Richie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
At first, the writing in this book threw me off. The writing is extremely formal - I mean "thee thou dost wast" stuff. I was thinking it was a time period thing but the further I got into the story the more I found myself thinking it was a device the author used to 'Adult-ify' his book. Basically, a PG-13ification of what might look like a kids book. Because, even though this book takes place in a fairyland (of sorts), it's not a book for children. It's closer to the subtitle of MacDonald's Phan ...more
Crazy Uncle Ryan
This past Memorial Day weekend I was on vacation with my family staying in a cabin in mountains. On Saturday we went to the little town of Philipsburg, MT and I was excited to find a tiny thrift store. I went in, quickly found the book section and started to browse. It didn't take too long before I came across this little gem. I saw the title and was immediately intrigued. The Wood Beyond The World instantly brought to mind the woods between the worlds from The Magician's Nephew. When I read the ...more
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William Morris was an English architect, furniture and textile designer, artist, writer, socialist and Marxist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement. Morris wrote and published poetry, fiction, and translations of ancient and medieval texts throughout his life. His best-known works include The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems (1858), The Earthl ...more
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