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

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  3,458 Ratings  ·  157 Reviews
Entered by a thousand unsuspected gateways -- built by a race lost in the clouds of time -- the planet its dwellers called the Well World turned beings of every kind into something else. There spacefarer Nathan Brazil found himself companioned by a batman, an amorous female centaur and a mermaid -- all once as human as he.

Yet Nathan Brazil's metamorphosis was more terrifyi
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Mass Market Paperback, 360 pages
Published February 12th 1985 by Del Rey (first published July 1977)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Terran
Nov 26, 2008 Terran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, for-fun
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
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Daniel Swensen
Jan 01, 2013 Daniel Swensen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
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
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Brenton
May 28, 2012 Brenton rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Andrew
Mar 28, 2011 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ariana
Mar 21, 2012 Ariana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Russ Moore
Jun 10, 2013 Russ Moore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
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Scott
Feb 18, 2012 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Rick
Aug 11, 2009 Rick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this in the Navy on Diego Garcia. What did it lead to. I own every Chalker book...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.
Kurtis Andrew
May 18, 2012 Kurtis Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aelvana
Dec 12, 2014 Aelvana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nathan Brazil has had a long, boring life as a pilot, longer than he even remembers anymore. When a routine transport is interrupted by a distress call leading to the site of a mass murder, though, things start getting more interesting. Nathan and his passengers are pulled after the murderer to a place called Well World, a single planet with over fifteen hundred sentient races---and many of the inhabitants used to be as human as they. But can Nathan find the two he seeks when they could be anyon ...more
Douglas Milewski
Jun 17, 2015 Douglas Milewski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Midnight at the Well of Souls begins Jack Chalker's Well World series. Tacking WORLD onto a concept was the freshest meme back then, and the Well World certainly delivers. When I picked up the book, I didn't expect much, but I found the prose style energetic, up-paced, and entertaining. This was a much better read than I was expecting. And like most of the SF of that era, it wraps itself up in one book.

The story itself is a sci-fantasy. That's all due to the concept of the Well World, where many
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Roxanne
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
Kevin
Jul 18, 2015 Kevin rated it really liked it
Three and a half stars to be more precise.

I have been wanting to read this series for decades, but had never come across the first book. Now it is available as an audiobook. I'm afraid I found it a bit confusing with so many characters in so many different alien guises constantly changing their species and genders as the story progresses, I often had to shift gears, rewind and re-listen to figure out which character's point of view we are experiencing at any moment. Other than that major complic
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Joy
Feb 04, 2012 Joy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 1,560 sentient species living there. 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 and human sympathy.

One of two rereads tied as favorite Science Fiction Read of 2012.

2016 read: I have read my copy
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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
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Kelly
May 18, 2012 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Brendan
Sep 03, 2011 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
J.D. Adler
Apr 06, 2013 J.D. Adler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

enjoy
M. Dixon
I enjoyed this book and will probably read more titles from this series.
I only gave it three stars because, even though I liked it, there really wasn't anything about the story that made me excited enough to say I "really" liked it.
If you enjoy a good old fashioned Fantasy/Science Fiction quest then I think you'll enjoy this book.
Katie
Nov 27, 2011 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2006, s-f
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.
Miriam
Jul 25, 2008 Miriam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
There was a stargate in this? Man, I really need to reread some of these adult books I read as a little kid.
Karen
Mar 10, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this series many years ago, during college. I obviously didn't remember much of it at all. I really enjoyed the Well World universe and the odd creatures therein.
Arun
Sep 24, 2016 Arun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an awesome space-fantasy book, a medley of Star Trek and LOTR. Enjoyed reading it.
Joel
Mar 24, 2017 Joel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
A classic sci-fi adventure story; some travelers stumble upon an artificial planet, separated into some 1500 biomes, each the home of a different intelligent species. When you come to the planet, you're automatically assigned to one biome (you don't get to choose), and your body is changed to make you a member of the appropriate species. You could become a plant, a centaur, a mermaid, a 3-foot-tall dinosaur, a man-sized bat, a giant insect...

The plot is nothing much; just an excuse to put some p
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Mike
Jul 18, 2017 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Went old school scifi for this one. Haven't read it in over 20 years, and it's still a fabulous concept and book! Highly recommente it to folks who want to read old school scifi!
Chelsea
Jan 29, 2017 Chelsea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books of all time.
benebean
decent story, messed up theology
Michael
Jul 17, 2014 Michael rated it liked it
Recommends it for: sci fi fans, philosophy majors, materialists
Recommended to Michael by: Seth Klein
This mid-70s science fiction work is a rather ambitious effort, which succeeds in places and fails in others, resulting in a somewhat mixed, but generally enjoyable, reading experience. In some ways it never rises much above the level of a standard boys’ adventure story, but within those rules it is both surprisingly complex and cosmic in vision. In the hands of a lesser writer than Chalker this would have been dreck, although in the hands of a better one it would have been a masterpiece. Instea ...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
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Froxis
Mar 07, 2017 Froxis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: syfy
Imagine LOTR goes through a land like Oz. Wonderful.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
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  • Migration (Species Imperative, #2)
  • The Hub: Dangerous Territory (The Hub)
  • Skyfall (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #9)
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Saga of the Well World (7 books)
  • Exiles at the Well of Souls (Saga of the Well World, #2)
  • Quest for the Well of Souls (Saga of the Well World, #3)
  • The Return of Nathan Brazil (Saga of the Well World, #4)
  • Twilight at the Well of Souls (Saga of the Well World, #5)
  • The Sea is Full of Stars (Saga of the Well World, #6)
  • Ghost of the Well of Souls (Saga of the Well World, #7)

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