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The Deep

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  299 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Swordplay, sorcery, strange visitations, unspoken secrets, and unsuspected truths are the components of this fantastical tale set in a mythical world -- a world supported by a huge pillar which is poised in the center of the vast an mysterious Deep. In this world the Protectors own the land and are constantly feuding with the Just, who wish to return the land to the Folk. ...more
Hardcover
Published February 3rd 1977 by New English Library (first published 1975)
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(showing 1-29 of 589)
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Terry
Review edited after June 2013 re-read

4-4.5 stars

This is a great, weird, crazy little sf-fantasy that I love for reasons I can't really put my finger on. Crowley's ability to simply write is obviously one of the elements that works in the book's favour, though my review of Little Big will show that, in my opinion at least, that isn't always enough to carry a Crowley book.

I can (and did) easily imagine this as a movie from the 70's with David Bowie starring as the enigmatic Visitor from the star
...more
Algernon
[7/10]
An early effort from an unconventional fantasy author. It's difficult to apply the word epic to a book under 200 pages, but I believe it is appropriate. 1975 is well before the advent of doorstopper sized, extruded long series like the Wheel of Time. Another reviewer made a comparison with George R R Martin famous Westeros books, and looking through Crowley bio I see it is not an accidental remark. Both authors went to the same source material : The War of the Roses. Two powerful factions,
...more
Evan
The rarest and also my favorite kind of science fiction. Science fiction so good and so true to itself that it turns into fine art. For sustained tone and beauty of language, this ranks with the finest SF and fantasy I have ever read. It easily ranks with the best of Ursula LeGuin. And though it is worlds different from J. G. Ballard, it is science fiction of the same quality and execution. The same for Stanislaw Lem. It has the sort of charm Borges would have enjoyed.

The point of science fictio
...more
DoctorM
Let's say that having read "The Deep" long ago, "Game of Thrones" doesn't seem so new or different. And let's say, too, that Crowley's language is lovely and evocative and haunting and that his sense of endless struggle and dynastic intrigue is deft and icy. It may be hard now to find "The Deep", but it's worthwhile. Track it down, darlings.
Kevin
The Deep, being the first published book by John Crowley, is also a perfect example of Crowley's style. The Deep takes place on another world where two warring factions, the Reds and the Blacks, are essentially re-enacting King Henry VI Part III. This is just as well, as it makes the action of those portions of the novel easier to follow with character names like Redhand, Old Redhand, Younger Redhand, Red Senlin, Red Senlin's Son, and so forth. The similarities in name serve a purpose for the th ...more
Rhys
I first started reading this novel when I went on a trip to Romania back in 1993. Unfortunately I lost the book before I finished the last two chapters. So it felt good, twenty years later, to get reacquainted with it and to actually finish it.

It's a masterpiece, no doubt about that; anyone who likes Game of Thrones is almost certain to enjoy it; indeed I am convinced that George R.R. Martin has read The Deep and that it influenced him, consciously or unconsciously. Crowley's novel is like an ul
...more
Steven
I heard someone once say, “That we’re all pawns in the game of life.” The Deep is a fitting example of such a world. John Crowley’s first published novel is a masterpiece of a world that is a perpetual game as it’s cast of characters - Red and Black - play and replay across this game board - this plain called Drumskin where battles are fought as each player moves according to their assigned designation. Into this world drops the Visitor and it’s with this strange alien that the doings of this wo ...more
Adam
The Deep is John Crowley's first novel and doesn't necessarily show the same level of control and evocation of later works, even Engine Summer. There are plenty of layers and ambiguities (mmm delicious ambiguities), but overall effect was more intellectual than experiential for me.

It became clear pretty early on that the court intrigue and war history plot, which appears to be the main plot, is intentionally obfuscating. All the characters have the same names (when King Red Senlin dies, his son
...more
Simon
This one starts out feeling more like a fantasy piece but ends up clearly in the SF camp. Although it was an interesting premise I found the execution somewhat lacking and the narrative style disengaging. It was quite difficult keeping all the similar sounding character names distinct, especially when the characters were so thinly developed.

An ambitious first novel but the author went on to produce much better work. Perhaps one for the Crowley die hards only...
Alex
A perfect little science-fictional fantasy, a poetic deconstruction of the genre. Thoroughly enjoyable as an adventure, a tale of palace intrigue, and something more: an exploration of a beautiful and terrible ancient world with a reason for being. This was my first experience with John Crowley, and I can't wait to read more.
Fantasy Literature
In a world very different from ours, two powerful factions fight for the throne. Alliances are made and shattered. Vows are sworn and broken. Brothers betray brothers; fathers betray sons; kings are imprisoned and queens make war. No, it’s not A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. It’s The Deep, by John Crowley, published in 1975.

The Deep is Crowley’s first novel. It is unlike his other works, although certain themes come back into play in the AEGYPT QUARTET. At first it seems like it is based on the Wars of
...more
Joseph
This is a very well written first novel, its biggest weakness being the similarity of names, especially at the beginning when everyone is still alive! As the novel progresses, it becomes easier to keep track of everyone, but I can definitely see how this could be off-putting to some readers. This is a book I will re-read in the future, the prose has enough layers I am sure to discover new things on a second reading.
Edward Davies
I couldn’t really get into this short novel, which felt much longer than its 192 pages. The characters are difficult to differentiate from each other, and the only section that felt to be any good to me was the third chapter of the third section that finally reveals what we’ve been trudging through the whole book to discover. Fans of strange alien sci-fi might enjoy this if they can decipher what is going on, but I just didn’t think it was worth the effort.
Geoffflockhart
I actually gave up on this book in 20 pages but I am not sure why (?) Very fantasy feel, not sci-fi, yes it is sci-fi fantasy but....the list of characters annoyed me at the beginning, like ye olde players in a play (ahem), type thing. I just don't know, must think on it. I am not interested in struggling through something even when it is much lauded or even deemed 'worthy' or is an award winner - there are simply too many books out there to plough through one you do not enjoy or doesn't 'captur ...more
Joelle
I have been reading older books, in part because back then they were still publishing short books, which are nice when time is limited.[return]This book was very intriguing, I kept trying to understand more of the world than I did. I guess it is the 'mysterious stranger with no mystery tries to understand mission' theme, but with an interesting twist. The world he falls in is totally confusing to the reader, and feels a bit artificial and amiss - but that is by design.[return]I kept feeling I wa ...more
Rodney Dodig
Amazing writer, thought provoking
Darth
If you undertake this one, bring your ability to discern remarkably similar names and titles and positions. Dark age type fantasy with your castle intrigues, wars, alliances, etc... But just for fun, on a faraway celestial body of indeterminate origin, composition, etc... The main arena is clearly defined, and somehow Crowley again makes me think the best part of this story happend either before we came in on it, or after the last page leaves us behind.
Kira
Fantastic and fantastical, this is a self-contained story about a self contained society in a world "world is founded on a pillar which is founded on the Deep." Full of treachery, intrigue, and repeated history, this is a gorgeously written, weirdly engaging story. It was Crowley's first novel -- and while it is not his best, it still stands head and shoulders amongst many in the field.
Keith Davis
Crowley's first novel is an extremely stylized slight science fantasy about a chess board world in which outside forces occasionally experiment by introducing new elements like religion and guns.
Geoffrey
You're really trying to tell me that the author of the sublime Little, Big is responsible for something as excruciatingly dull as this? Pft--what is this, Candid Camera? You ain't fooling me.
Paul
A good fantasy. I'm beginning to think John Crowley might rate up there with Ray Bradbury. This is the second book I've read by him. I'll be reading everything he's written.
Christopher Sutch
Crowley's first novel. From time to time glimpses of the genius to come shine through, but mostly a forgettable novel. It does contain some interesting ideas, however.
Luke Johnson
Some interesting concepts, but the characters ultimately feel flat.
nathaniel
Things become clear in the end, but mystery is maintained.
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SF Masterworks Group: The Deep 1 2 Jul 19, 2013 05:28AM  
  • R.U.R. & War with the Newts
  • Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord
  • Drowning Towers
  • Floating Worlds
  • Unquenchable Fire (Unquenchable Fire, #1)
  • Take Back Plenty (Tabitha Jute, #1)
  • The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe
  • Of Men and Monsters
  • Arslan
  • Half Past Human
  • Helliconia Trilogy
  • The Dragon Masters
  • The Affirmation
  • The Desert (Spider World, #1)
  • Viriconium
  • This Is the Way the World Ends
  • The Narrator
  • Synners
52074
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

John Crowley was born in Presque Isle, Maine, in 1942; his father was then an officer in the US Army Air Corps. He grew up in Vermont, northeastern Kentucky and (for the longest stretch) Indiana, where he went to high school and college. He moved to New York City after colle
...more
More about John Crowley...
Little, Big Aegypt (The Aegypt Cycle, #1) Engine Summer The Translator Love & Sleep (The Aegypt Cycle, #2)

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“There are seven windows in the Queen's bedroom in the Citadel that is the center of the City that is on the lake island called the Hub in the middle of the world.
Two of the seven windows face the tower stones and are dark; two overlook inner courtyards; two face the complex lanes that wind between the high, blank-faced mansions of the Protectorate; and the seventh, facing the steep Street of the Birdsellers and, beyond, a crack in the ring of the mountains across the lake, is always filled at night with stars. When wind speaks in the mountains, it whispers in this window, and makes the fine brown bed hangings dance.”
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