Midnight at the Well of Souls (Saga of the Well World, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Midnight at the Well of Souls (Saga of the Well World #1)

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  2,179 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Nathan Brazil, a cargo ship-for-hire owner, detours from his route to answer a distress call. A hidden stargate hurls him and his passengers to the Well World, the master control planet for the cosmos created by the now-gone godlike race who designed the universe. Now someone wants to find the Well of Souls to seize control of all the cosmos--and it's up to Nathan to stop...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published January 29th 2002 by Baen Books (first published July 1977)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardDune by Frank HerbertThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Best Science Fiction
169th out of 1,337 books — 1,817 voters
Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Giver by Lois LowryA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Best Intro to Sci-Fi for Young Readers
156th out of 491 books — 511 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Once upon a time, this was an incredible story for an awkward, introverted kid who didn't fit into any society that he knew. The vision of flying off to another world in which you could start again as any of a thousand possible different races was incredibly compelling. And the adventures and scope were captivating. For years, this series was clearly among my favorites, if not my favorite.

After setting it aside for more than a decade, I came back and reread this book a few months ago. I expected...more
Daniel Swensen
Midnight at the Well of Souls is an old-school piece of sci-fi, with a brilliant setting and a story that doesn't just examine the concept of what it means to be human, it kicks it over and scatters the pieces everywhere.

Just so you know what kind of ride you're in for, the book opens with characters learning the true nature of the universe. From there, the protagonists are transported to an artificial planet divided into thousands of "hexes," each with its own unique form of life. Moreover, the...more
I'm not feeling particularly charitable to this book. It has some rather interesting ideas that keep the first half fairly intriguing and entertaining, but the writing and ham-fistedness of the morality play ruins it pretty thoroughly come the second half.

The whole Well World concept is pretty unique for a plot device, and I would have been pretty satisfied if the book had stayed focused on the interplay between the people of the world and their surrounding environs. The questing portion of the...more
Four space travelers enter a mysterious portal and are delivered to the Well World--an artificial planet, the surface of which is honeycombed with over 15000 controlled environments, each with its own native population. There they must embark on a quest to prevent two previous entries from gaining access to the world's control center and rewriting reality. The problem is that everyone who arrives on the Well World is given a new form and identity, and integrated into one of the native cultures....more
The first in the "Well World" series. I accidentally read the second book first, so I wanted to go back and catch up before moving on in the series. Honestly, though, if I'd read the first book first, I'm not sure I would have wanted to keep reading the later books. I *would* have, because it's Jack Chalker, but he kind of blew his wad too early here--Nathan Brazil's character development and ultimate identity are kind of a huge deal to just drop into the first book in a series. That said, I alr...more
This was probably the most unique novel I'd ever read, and that's saying something, because I've also read John Varley's Gaea trilogy. The concept is just so original and alien, the latter of which is fitting, as it straddles the line between science-fiction and science-fantasy.

Protagonist Nathan Brazil is a conundrum from the beginning, and Chalker weaves him and the other characters into the plot beautifully. However, sometimes Chalker's writing style leaves something to be desired (bulky sen...more
I haven't read this, and the following books in the series for years - I came across it in a 2nd hand bookshop for $1 and when I got home, I found that it had been autographed by the author himself! I really enjoyed reading it. The thought that the whole universe is just a mathematical equation is quite alluring. I also enjoyed the various lifeforms encountered on the Wellworld and Chalker is very good at describing what it would be like to wake up in not just a different body, but an entirely d...more
Aaron Anderson
Well of Souls stuff isn't my favorite by Chalker, though it's what he's most well-known for, I think.

I'll label it as Sci-Fi, but has many fantasy aspects, and some outright magic.

The concept of Well World (and the universe history) is very neat, and a lot of fun. I guess I'll give the series as a whole a 4, might deserve a 3. I don't remember individual books, just the series as one large story.

I have reread this, and a lot of Chalker series many times, but I don't think it's rereadable for mos...more
J.D. Adler
If you haven't read the Saga of the Well World Series, you haven't read proper Science Fiction. Combining quantum physics creation, fantasy creatures, secret alien manipulators, capitalism, drug addiction, and feminism all connected by a foil named Nathan Brazil, the Wandering Jew, this is the penultimate science fiction series. Chalker masters character and plot development, along with the magical allure of scientific wonder in a perfect recipe of SciFi goodness.

Just read this book again... its been at least a dozen years since i last read it. Its a great premise, and the enigmatic character of Nathan draws the reader in. The rich cultures and and societies of the Well World are also very well presented... its not immersive but it gives the reader a strong sense of difference. Its also fun... and the tension and mystery are kept at a good pace and revealing enough to string the reader along without becoming bored.
An amazing feat of world building, and Chalker made the best of his love of body-changing. People who come to the Well World are transformed into one of the 1,500 sentient species living there, and the personality conflicts already existing among before them before they arrive, play out in a race to control the Well of Souls. Brilliantly imaginative with a strong, disciplined structure.

One of two rereads tied as favorite Science Fiction Read of 2012.
This was a fun ride, though as a book, it stands more on its ideas than its plot. Everything that outsiders think science fiction is is in here. Weird aliens, weirder sex, complicated plots that don't explain everything, it's all here. However, the plot device of the well world works well enough to keep you reading in search of what weird thing will happen next, right up to the british dinosaurs at the end. Overall fun, and worth reading.
Kurtis Andrew
tyrinėdamas galaktikos gelmes žmogus tikriausiai susitiks daugybę nežemiškų civilizacijų. O galbūt didesnė tikimybė surasti prieš daugelį milijonų metų išnykusių protinių būtybių paliktas "laikrodines minas", kurias palietus nutiks žmogaus protui neįsivaizduojami dalykai... Dalgonijos planetoje pilna keistų šulinių, kurie, atrodo, sminga į pačią šio pasaulio širdį...

visai geras skaitalas
Read this in the Navy on Diego Garcia. What did it lead to. I own every book Chalker wrote, around 40 and I've read all but about two of them. I even have a few letters he sent me when I mailed him some questions and the letters are on his MIRAGE Press letterhead. Chalker is not Shakespeare, but he takes you on a rollercoaster ride every time.
Interesting concept, but not unique - think of Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series - and not entirely satisfactory in its execution, either. I doubt I'll be actively searching out the rest of the series.
Chalker's writing is pedestrian at best, awkward at worst.
This one is a bit difficult for me to rate, so I settled for a middling-good 3-star ranking. I liked the author's imagination and the way I was able to quickly and clearly envision the varied settings and characters.

SPOILER ALERT: no details, but some general stuff you may not want to read before reading the book.

On the downside, it shares a sort of deus ex machina issue with other sci-fi stories that take place in some situation where things can be essentially "magic" -- namely stories where yo...more
Rich Stoehr
"Midnight at the Well of Souls" is a book with a great deal of potential, which is the main reason I found it to be such a grand disappointment in the end -- most of that potential goes unrealized, and the book is a rather trite (and not terribly well-written) example of what's wrong with much of modern science fiction.

Mind you, the ideas in the novel are intriguing. The concept of the Well World, for example, is fairly original and has a lot of potential for easily delving into many different c...more
Russ Moore

Imagine walking through a dark gate on an abandoned planet and waking up on a different planet as a walking pumpkin-headed plant-creature. Or a centaur. Or an enormous bug. Or even a six-armed snake-man. This is the premise of Chalker’s excellent Well of Souls series, one of my favorite set of SF books from my formative years. ‘Midnight at the Well of Souls’ is the first book of the series, and follows a familiar pattern: a group of characters – some likable, some not – are taken to a strange pl...more
Steven Schaefer
A bit of a trip down memory lane here. In my college days, I was drawn into Chalker's trips into physical transformation, beginning with the Four Lords of the Diamond series. I still find Well World to be a good read and a surprising comment on some of the trends in society today, some 30 years after I first read the book.
I'm a certainly a more well read than I was years ago, but I still found it an enjoyable trip with some old friends, particularly Nathan and Serge. Understanding a bit more the...more
This book, as all five books of the Well World series, is a top-shelf study in imagination. While the author, Jack Chalker, has been marginalized by certain elements in the science fiction community; I found this five-part saga of his to be nothing less than the most entertaing piece of science fiction & fantasy I have ever read. While the character development is somewhat limited, it is more than adequate to the task. Moreover, the Well World saga is such a plot driven collection of work th...more
Moe  Shinola
This is a book I've been seeing on the shelf for as long as I've visited used bookstores. I've just picked up a copy and I don't know why I denied myself all those years. Jack Chalker has always been(for me, anyway) one of the unsung heroes of sci-fi; nothing super-spactacular, genre-creating or revolutionary, just creative, well-written science fiction with a little fantasy thrown in but not enough to make it boring. His books are warm, funny, perceptive, and he has an obvious love for his char...more
Olen Jack L. Chalkerilt lugenud ühe tetraloogia, ühe triloogia ja paar üksikromaani ning mingil hetkel hakkas mind painama mõte, et ma pole ta kõige olulisemast sarjast ridagi lugenud.
Seetõttu saigi lugemisjärjekorda pandud Hingede Kaevu esimene romaan ja umbes nädala eest sai seda ka alustatud.
Lugemine toimus n-ö vahelduva eduga: oli hetki, mil romaan läks väga hästi edasi ning oli hetki, mil ma üsna tõsiselt mõtlesin romaani poolelijätmisele. Hinne on samasugune, et tahaks justkui nelja panna,...more
Aug 30, 2007 Talkswithwind rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: furries
Shelves: sf, pre-2000
This book was my first introduction to Jack Chalker. This particular book was written to be a stand-alone, but it did well enough he wrote several others over the years.

Midnight is the first 'Well of Souls' book he wrote. Like a lot of Chalker, the themes in this one speak to those who fantasize about changing their body in some fundamental ways. The base premise of the universe is that a long lost race found a way to generate a new one in a sort of vast computer simulation looking for the right...more
Samuel Lubell
I had forgotten how good this book is. All the devices Chalker overuses in other books - the sex changing, mind control, body reshaping - seem fresh here in a plot where it all makes sense. Yes this is essentially a travel book, get from point A to the Well before midnight, and a race since all of civilization depends on getting there first. The sheer inventiveness of the Well World, where every hex has a completely different lifeform and environment, keeps things exciting. And the slow reveal o...more
Marianne Søiland
En ny sci-fi bok av Chalker. Lettlest og grei. Her kan man ikke snakke om troverdighet og sannsynlige konsepter. Heller kreativitet og noenlunde plausible forklaringer på alt det underlige Nathan og hans venner blir utsatt for. Boka ble første gang utgitt i 1977. Det er noe spesielt å lese slik en gammel sci-fi. Nostalgisk på ett vis, skremmende på et annet vis i og med at noe av det som var sci-fi dengang er faktiske forhold idag. Den teknologiske utviklingen har definitivt gått fremover de sis...more
Dale Rosso
My first experience with the Well World was The Return of Nathan Brazil, so this was not a surprise for the most part when I first read it. I love all the Well World stories. Chalker invented a imaginative and interesting concept.
Like another reviewer here on GoodReads, I initially read this series out of order. The title "The Return of Nathan Brazil" grabbed my attention one day in my first year of college. Luckily, all but the last two books in the series can be read independently of the rest. Once I had gobbled up "Return", I quickly tracked down the rest of the five. I've been rereading them ever since.

This is one of few examples of an author who can sustain an interesting storyline over five titles. Most lose steam...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Begins terrifically, and then too quickly we get to the central premise, the Well World, which I have never found too compelling. Eventually we meet the omnipotent god-aliens who built it, and they tell us why, and its exposition upon exposition just as we reaching the point where there should be some sort of climax.
In the hands of another writer maybe this could be interesting stuff, but Chalker gives us sneering villains and generic fantasia. My attention pricked up in the next book because of...more
Jon Mountjoy
I so want to give this book 5 stars. I remember consuming this series years ago - it has some fantastic ideas. This wasn't the book I remember though - something I'm learning as I reread books. Or perhaps I'm not the reader I once was.

Still, an intriguing story. He tends to use body morphing a lot more in later books, in a scarier way too. I think the ideas outweigh the prose - the prose is a little tiresome in places. I can't honestly say the book gripped me like I hoped it would - perhaps the...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Blood Contact (Starfist, #4)
  • David Falkayn: Star Trader (Technic Civilization 2)
  • Phylogenesis (Founding of the Commonwealth, #1)
  • Carnifex
  • Skyfall (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #9)
  • Pandora's Legions
  • The Hub: Dangerous Territory (The Hub)
  • Grimmer Than Hell
  • The Quantum Connection (Warp Speed #2)
  • The Empty Chair (Star Trek: Rihannsu, #5)
  • Phule Me Twice (Phule's Company, #4)
  • Migration (Species Imperative, #2)
Besides being a science fiction author, Jack Laurence Chalker was a Baltimore City Schools history teacher in Maryland for a time, a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association, and was involved in the founding of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Some of his books said that he was born in Norfolk, Virginia although he later claimed that was a mistake.

He attended all but one of the W...more
More about Jack L. Chalker...
Quest for the Well of Souls (Saga of the Well World, #3) The River of Dancing Gods (Dancing Gods #1) Exiles at the Well of Souls (Saga of the Well World, #2) Twilight at the Well of Souls (Saga of the Well World, #5) The Return of Nathan Brazil (Saga of the Well World, #4)

Share This Book