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World of Wonders (The Deptford Trilogy #3)

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  3,318 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
Hailed by the Washington Post Book World as "a modern classic," Robertson Davies’s acclaimed Deptford Trilogy is a glittering, fantastical, cunningly contrived series of novels, around which a mysterious death is woven. World of Wonders—the third book in the series after The Manticore—follows the story of Magnus Eisengrim—the most illustrious magician of his age—who is spi ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published 1975)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 05, 2007 Justin rated it liked it
Who killed Boy Staunton? That's the question finally answered in this final installment of Davies' Deptford Trilogy. The first book "Fifth Business" is the best of the bunch and worth reading on its own. The second ,"The MAnticore" is a bit dull and this one is somewhat better. It's certainly an interesting bunch of characters but I am not sure it was worth reading the entire trilogy just to tie up the loose ends from the first book.
Jackie "the Librarian"
Oct 21, 2007 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: if you like weird characters
The weirdest and most fantastic of the Deptford Trilogy.
Oct 22, 2007 Sabrina rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
World of Wonders is the least captivating of the Deptford Trilogy, but the work as a whole -- starting with Fifth Business -- is certainly one of the best I've ever read. The books examine the lives and thoughts of three men who are all linked to one another; Davies' structure and storytelling are extraordinarily polished and fine.

I can't recommend anything more heartily than the Deptford Trilogy, but if you have any doubts about committing to the entire trilogy, I can say this this: Go pick up
Nov 07, 2007 Coyle rated it it was ok
A good book to have under your belt, but not particularly exciting putting it there.
Nov 08, 2007 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Much as it pains me to say it about one of my favorite writers, this is not my favorite Davies book. Lots of people love this trilogy, but I prefer his later Cornish trilogy.

To be fair: it's still a Robertson Davies book, so it's still beautifully written, and full of oddments of history and philosophy that can leave you breathless. I'm giving it three stars as judged against the very high standards of the Davies oeuvre, not against fiction in general.
Jun 09, 2008 Dale rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 15, 2014 Terry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
My 5 star rating of this book really reflects my feelings on how I think Davies masterfully wrapped up the Deptford trilogy than it does an individual rating for this volume itself (don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but I think Fifth Business is the strongest, and best, volume in the trilogy). I guess I’d say that the individual books themselves range from around 3.5 to 4.5 stars, but the series overall is a five star read. As with all of the Deptford books _World of Wonders_ is a personal memoir ...more
Marian Deegan
Aug 29, 2014 Marian Deegan rated it really liked it
During the 2004 holiday season at a client party, I met a speaker on the public circuit famous for exploring what he dubbed the "cult marketing" of corporations like Harley and Target. He captures his audience's attention by performing the most technically skilled card tricks I've ever witnessed at close range. Cults and cards. I decided to chat him up. Turned out, he shared my interest in Jung. Cults, cards, and the collective unconscious. This was getting interesting. And then, his description ...more
Lauren Hu
Jul 01, 2009 Lauren Hu rated it it was amazing
The quintessential Davies. His abilities to ground a setting, tell a fantastical story in a subdued fashion, and draw wonderful, lifelike characters are at their peak here. Davies is so remarkably intelligent and well-reasoned that he manages to make Freudian psychoanalysis, so out of fashion, entirely logical. His psychological insight into the inner lives of his characters is deep and eschews trendy scientific jargon, saving it from becoming dated.
Nov 10, 2015 Kim rated it liked it
This was my least favorite out of the Deptford Trilogy. It was still a good read, and it was interesting to learn what really happened to Boy Staunton, but something about Magnus Eisengrim just annoyed me!
Ben Babcock
Yay, Ramsay is back! Not that David Staunton was a terrible narrator, but I will always, always have a soft spot in my heart for that irascible old teacher, descended from Scots and obsessed with saints. And now here he is, back to narrating the book. Sort of.

Although Ramsay is technically the narrator, he is consigned to the frame story, and Magnus Eisengrim (or Paul Dempster, back when he was from Deptford) takes centre stage. World of Wonders is notable if only for the fact that most of the p
Mar 17, 2010 Steve rated it really liked it
The first hundred pages seems to drag as we delve into Paul Dempster's early life as a carny. However, World of Wonders finally begins to take off as Dempster arrives in Europe and we are introduced to some interesting new characters with whom we can sympathize
Davies saves the last fifty pages of the trilogy to finally give us some tidbits into the life and personality of Liesl whom, for myself, was one of the most interesting characters in the entire series.

As to the Deptford trilogy itself, W
Justin Mitchell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 23, 2011 Zoe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own-a-copy
This is the third book of "The Deptford Trilogy" <-----A masterpiece.

Interesting message implies here ,that while one takes accountability for one's actions is imperative to understand that there must be a limitation on your guilt.

"Who killed Boy Staunton ? " -"dree his weird "( his suffering) -What a perfectly and logically mystery resolved at the end .
Bizarre,inspiring ,engaging read.Loved it!!!

Jun 28, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing
This is probably the smartest book I've ever read and a fitting end to the Deptford Trilogy. I have to confess though that at times it was not an easy read. It falls into a pattern of narrative followed by a section characters commenting on narrative, then repeat. The comment sections tend to be densely philosphical and thereby can be pretty slow going. Just past the halfway point, howver, a surprise conflict is introduced which activate and focus these sections which got me to realize what the ...more
Kim Fay
Jun 29, 2011 Kim Fay rated it really liked it
I gave this book four stars rather than five (as I gave the previous two books in the Deptford Trilogy) because despite how well-written "World of Wonders" is, I kept getting bogged down. This book did not seem to have the same kind of focus that "Fifth Business" and "The Manticore" did. The technique of having the story told through the main character's verbal sharing of it with others did not work as well here. But the story of that character, Magnus Eisengrim, is still a fascinating one, main ...more
Jun 22, 2014 Mars rated it it was amazing
Those of you who can remember that far back might recall that I complained that I only like Davies' old people.
This book is all about them, yay!

Magnus Eisengrim's life story is revealed - along with descriptions of circus life at the beginning of the century, and many musings.

While some things will be less-than-comprehensible without reading the other books of the series, the bits are minor enough that it isn't particularly relevant, and I'd recommend skipping straight to this one anyway and ign
Feb 10, 2012 Lara rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
This was definitely my least favorite book of The Deptford Trilogy; I enjoyed the beginning, and the end was fantastic, with everything over the course of the series finally tied up beautifully. But the middle...dragged for me.

Even so, there's a lot in this one that will stick with me. I loved the descriptions Magnus gives of becoming Sir John's shadow, or double, and I was struck by the cause of Leisl's grotesqueness, as someone in my family is affected by the same disorder, though to a much l
Aug 09, 2012 Becky rated it it was amazing
I think I may have the entire Deptford Trilogy on the bookshelf upstairs. These are great books, well worth revisiting. So many books, so little time!
May 25, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2013
The Deptford Trilogy comes full circle with this installment, where Magnus Eisengrim relates the story of his life to Dunstan Ramsey and a handful of others. Through this telling, readers get another perspective on some events from the previous books - especially Fifth Business - but Magnus as a narrator (and a character) is very different from Ramsey and David Staunton.

Ramsey is actually our main narrator, as in Fifth Business, and readers have access to his thoughts and feelings, but his narra
World ofWonders completes Robertson Davies’ Deptford Trilogy, giving the reader a third window on the same period of time—after Dunstan Ramsey and David Staunton, now Magnus Eisengrim aka Paul Dempster. Although this book is nominally narrated by Ramsey, it is Eisengrim’s story that is highlighted, with Ramsey reporting [the recording angel?]—the trip from being Nobody to being very much Somebody.

This is very much a universal trip, that of being Nobody within our mothers’ wombs to becoming Som
Aug 12, 2013 Jeremy rated it liked it
Shelves: canadian, theatre
The final installment of The Deptford Trilogy was its weakest, but that is hardly an insult, given the quality of the first two. This isn't a trilogy in the modern sense, in which an author hastily writes a couple sequels to cash in on the first book's success. The trilogy was set up in the haunting opening scene of Fifth Business. Davies was a man with a plan.

While Magnus Eisengrim is a fascinating character, I found the device in which Davies frames the narrative a bit hard to believe. Really
Jun 29, 2014 Janet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first discovered Robertson Davies in the late 1970s. I started with 'Fifth Business', the first book in "The Deptford Trilogy". I immediately fell in love with Davies and I quickly devoured the other two books in the trilogy. In May of 2012 I read 'Fifth Business' again, and I fell in love again. I consider it a masterpiece; it is very likely my favorite book of all time. In February of 2013 I reread the 2nd book in the trilogy, 'The Manticore'. As it was when I read it the first time, it is m ...more
Terri Jacobson
Nov 28, 2014 Terri Jacobson rated it it was amazing
Another amazing reading experience from Robertson Davies. This book is the 3rd volume of The Deptford Trilogy. It's the story of the life of Magnus Eisengrim after he left the Canadian town of Deptford, where he and the narrator, Dunstan Ramsey, got their start in life. This was a reread of the trilogy for me. I first read it 25 years ago, but this time around the writing was, for me, still fresh and meaningful. Davies explores the usual theme of Canada and the Canadian character, especially in ...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 07, 2014 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
An amazing trilogy, all taken together. Ramsay was by far my favorite character and was glad to see him back in this last story.Also loved learning how Paul became an amazing magician. More of Liesel was in this book and I found her character fascinating. Of course the big question of who killed Boy Staunton is solved in this ending piece.

Wonderfully well written this whole trilogy pinpointed the small minds that can live in a village, where everyone knows everything about each other. Judgments
Mar 14, 2015 Timmy rated it it was amazing
After the triumph that was Fifth Business and the wonderful sequel The Manticore, I wondered how the series would end and also how this book would stand against the previous impeccable books. While not as good as the first book, because few things are, this was still an amazing read. Paul Dempster's life is odd but enthralling and the story brings the events of Fifth Business full circle and closes the trilogy nicely.
Victor Sonkin
Well, "Fifth Business" keeps its place as No. 1 in the Deptford Trilogy for me, but both of the other books, and World of Wonders especially, are almost encroaching on it. A pseudo-memoir, an extravaganza of unreliable narration, a panorama of carnie life in Canadian wilderness and of theater life in interbellum London, with a couple of twists and turns along the way. The trilogy is a must-read.
Alan Chen
Mar 27, 2015 Alan Chen rated it it was amazing
This is the final novel of the Deptford Trilogy and focuses on the story of Magnus Eisengrim,who was born Paul Dempsey, from the village of Deptford that gave us the heroes of the other two novels: Dunstan Ramsay and Boy Staunton. The novels are more different angles of the same major events that begin in Deptford and highlights the times when the lives of those main characters converge. Each of the novels can be read by itself but theirs a richness/depth when read together. Because Davies allow ...more
Jul 04, 2015 Counsel182 rated it really liked it
Dree his weird...that's the summation of the 'epic' question to this fascinating Deptford trilogy: "Who killed Boy Staunton?" Like many reviewers, I found this third--and 'unfortunate' ending to this series (unfortunate in the sense I did not want it to end)--a bit more difficult to read as it is at times a rambling monologue of Magnus Eisengrim's point of view of his life. The first section of the book (A Bottle in the Smoke) tells of his travails in the carnival followed by (Merlin's Laugh) a ...more
Michael Bedford
Sep 15, 2015 Michael Bedford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading the final instalment of Robertson Davies's Deptford trilogy a little while ago. This novel is the longest in the series at around double the length of the previous two. Davies's character-driven style is pushed to the limit in this novel highlighting the life and times of Magnus Eisengrim, readers of the previous novels will remember Eisengrim as a close confidante of both Dunstan Ramsay and David Staunton, as described by himself.

Eisengrim's incredibly detailed and personall
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William Robertson Davies, CC, FRSC, FRSL (died in Orangeville, Ontario) was a Canadian novelist, playwright, critic, journalist, and professor. He was one of Canada's best-known and most popular authors, and one of its most distinguished "men of letters", a term Davies is sometimes said to have detested. Davies was the founding Master of Massey College, a graduate college at the University of Toro ...more
More about Robertson Davies...

Other Books in the Series

The Deptford Trilogy (4 books)
  • Fifth Business
  • The Manticore
  • The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business/The Manticore/World of Wonders

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