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Fortress in the Eye of Time (Fortress #1)

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,870 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
Deep in an abandoned, shattered castle, an old man of the Old Magic muttered almost forgotten words. His purpose -- to create out of the insubstance of the air, from a shimmering of light and a fluttering of shadows. that most wonderous of spells, a Shaping. A Shaping in the form of a, young man who will be sent east on the road the old was to old to travel. To right the w ...more
Paperback, 773 pages
Published April 25th 1996 by Harper Voyager (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

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Apr 10, 2011 Ron rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, maps, signed
This was a tough one. Incoherent opening (only partly appropriate to what was going on), but once Cherryh got his gait, the story flowed.

The focus is one a Shaping (you'll have to read the book to learn what a shaping is . . . maybe), named Tristen, in a world reminiscent of Middle Earth. As Tristen discovers who and why he is, everything about him staggers from rack to ruin. And he may be part of why. Or he may be the way out of impending chaos.

There are limits to Knowing, to Courage, even to
Red Haircrow
Oct 23, 2010 Red Haircrow rated it it was amazing
Although I love many books, there are few books I can read and reread and never, ever grow tired of them. This is one. It is unique, as exceptionally detailed and "alive" as any other Cherryh book, but it has a special place in my heart although I own each and everyone of her works I can find.

For those who love historical fantasy of a type, epic fantasy, this is spectacular but not in an explosive way, but in the way where you love each and every character presented, good or evil, because they
Aug 10, 2011 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ebook, favorites
This is my first venture into C.J. Cherryh's fantasy, and it's been a very happy occurrence, indeed.

I was warned that the beginning takes a while to get into, but I didn't find it that way at all. We are introduced to two main characters primarily through their thought processes. While nothing is explained, everything is laid out with such intriguing hints of what's going on that I couldn't stop reading. Beautifully written, almost totally original (at least to my limited knowledge of fantasy),
Mike (the Paladin)
Dec 24, 2010 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I "really" liked this book. I suppose that falls just short of I "love" this book so, 4 stars instead of 5. I have the rest of the series on my shelf and am still meaning to get to it.

I'm a fan of fantasy (including Epic, High, Urban, Pulp and most other forms). This would be considered a high fantasy and I think anyone who's a fan will enjoy it. The "magic system" while resembling others is it's own thing using, "wizards", "sorcerers", and what I'd call "users of magic" (to delineate the diffe
Sep 11, 2011 Jon rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jon by: Beyond Reality Aug 2011 Fantasy Selection
August 2011 is "C.J. Cherryh Month" over at the Beyond Reality group. Earlier this month I read the science fiction selection Foreigner. Now I'm reading this novel as the fantasy selection (follow that link to join in the discussions, including a Q&A thread with the author).
Jul 22, 2011 Kathi rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Cherryh's style of writing in this book was, at first, off-putting to me. I found the sentences awkward and deciphering them interrupted the flow of the story. But as the story developed, with more characters interacting and more complexity to the plot, the style seemed more appropriate. And, of course, I became more accustomed to it.

This was my second reading of this book, having first read it in the late 1990's. I confess to recalling only bits and pieces of it and so was able to enjoy the unf
Joe S
Mar 01, 2010 Joe S rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I've been a fan of Cherryh's space-opera for many years. When I stumbled across the ebook of Fortress in the Eye of Time while browsing my local library, I figured "Why not?". A few minutes later, I had it downloaded and was reading.

I've always found Cherryh to be a deep and cerebral read, and FitEoT (yeah, you get it) was no disappointment in this department. I was, however, pleased that the characters did something more than just muse about the situation (as in the latter novels of the Cyteen
Sep 24, 2012 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of a four-book series (not including a fifth, which I gather is set in a different time frame), and after having read only the first, I can't even guess what Cherryh might have in mind for the rest of this series. That's a good thing!

I have a fondness for characters who live both within and obliquely to ordinary life, so the human-yet-otherworldly Tristen was my favorite. I like his innocence and rock-solid loyalty, and how "normal" adults in the story respond to him, and his f
Aug 20, 2012 Cleo rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned-reads
Loving it so far; however as at page 86, the sheer multitude of names of characters and places already introduced is a bit overwhelming. Let's see if I can remember them all by page 110.

*Update* 4 days later

This is one of the very rare occasions I'm abandoning a book before completing it.Why? Well where do I start? The main character is clueless about almost everything 200+ pages in... I get that this is a plot device( the naive innocent hero) but this is just plainly irritating when it goes on
May 29, 2012 Mark rated it it was ok
A slow dull book whose initial freshness drains away like water from a broken fountain, revealing nothing but plain concrete underneath. The book starts with the last and greatest wizard of the realm creating a magic Summoning/Shaping but the work goes wrong and the person (hero?) he creates is somehow insufficient, without knowledge or skills. A start with potential, yes? Then we slooowly learn this wizard isn't really the only one, this hero isn't really the only protagonist, and this hero isn ...more
Sep 14, 2014 Michele rated it it was ok
It's not that I wasn't (mildly) enjoying this high fantasy, with wizards and magical naifs and kings who spend their down time romping with red-headed twins. It's just that I suddenly discovered it was the first of five books (Fortress of Owls, Fortress of Eagles, Fortress of Dragons, Fortress of Ice) and I wasn't enjoying it enough to read four more.
Oct 28, 2008 Chelseapowers rated it really liked it
Definitely a good read, but a very slow starter. I attempted to read this book in high school and just couldn't get into it. A few years later, I was successful in getting past the first few chapters. Then it became very interesting and I ended up devouring the rest of the series. Persevere through the slow beginning and you will be greatly rewarded.
It took me a really, really long time to get through this book. It's so slow-building, I gave up at least a couple times. Once I finally pushed to the end, I was satisfied that the struggle was worth it. I haven't decided if I have the patience to read the rest of the series yet, even though I'd like to know what happens.
One of those books I am a little on the fence on. Lots of great concepts and characters but the story was very dense and sometimes the writing style was a bit impenetrable. Not a fast read and I am not really sure I want to work so hard to read a fantasy book.
Nov 02, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2015
A fairly solid fantasy novel- certainly not the worst fantasy novel I've ever picked up, but then not the very best either. The main weaknesses are the beginning and ending. The beginning suffers from an impenetrable writing style and lack of editing that (strangely but happily) the rest of the book doesn't. And the ending merely drags on a bit too long and is only mostly, but not entirely, satisfying (but, as this is the first book in a series, it's probably intentional that not all loose ends ...more
Aug 22, 2008 Michelle rated it it was ok
So far this is really good. It was a slow start, but it it getting interesting.

However near the end I just completely lost interest. The middle was good though. I didn't even finish it.
Dec 26, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Myth and magic and medieval warfare

I confess I am a long time fan of C. J. Cherryh and have read nearly everything she has written over the years. When I first read this book, I was looking for fantasy and romance, and it has that, in between pages and pages of feudal politics and medieval court life that I once skimmed past. This time, older and more patient, I read all the between bits and found of wealth of detailed research that surprised and impressed me. Not for those looking for a light r
Amanda Meggs
Jul 05, 2015 Amanda Meggs rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fantasy
Wow, epic fantasy on a grand scale. I took a fair while to read this book, it is very long, but not too long. The story is quite involved and I needed to stop every now and then for it to come together for me. Tristan is a shaping, made by a wizard for reasons he doesn't know or understand. He wants to be a good man, and cares deeply, expects the best from the people around him. Slowly, things are 'known' to him, the story is complicated and at times it feels like the author is not sure what is ...more
Purple Osprey
Jun 17, 2015 Purple Osprey rated it really liked it
I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, I do love and appreciate books that give you this introverted feeling, on the other hand,this book just seemed to go on forever and ever, especially the first half - I almost gave up on it, because it's so slow paced and long long long.

I can't exactly put my finger on it, but it made me remember Lord of the Rings, and it made me remember the Alchemist and it made me remember the Idiot and Flowers for Algernon. Is this work referential or plagiar
Apr 10, 2015 Myridian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, e-book, library
I need to preface this book by saying it has pretty much all the elements designed to make me like it. This book follows Tristan from his awakening as the resurrected creation of a great wizard and picks up perspectives of that wizard, Mauryl, and the prince Tristan befriends, Cefwyn. It then carries us through the increasing tension of a wizardly foe that Tristan fears and clashes between nations.

The thing I am a complete sucker for is the dream-like unfolding of awareness. The sense of increa
Sep 15, 2014 Brian rated it liked it
Can a writer plagiarize herself?

I started playing a little game with myself as I got into this book - 'Which Character Is This?'

Almost every character in this book I've met before, with a different name, in different surroundings, but nonetheless, the same person at heart.

Along with the similar characters come similar relationships.

The book starts with the familiar Cherryh premise - legendary parent/teacher and child/student of wildly different origin.

The familiar innocent but gifted lord and e
Dec 06, 2013 Rachel rated it it was amazing
In the mood for detailed, lovingly described, slightly creepy, and very political high fantasy? Have I got a book for you!

(In the mood for a quick, light read? Come back later.)

Fortress in the Eye of Time is the first book in C. J. Cherryh's Fortress series, and it takes some time establishing the setting. The book opens with an old wizard, living alone in an old fortress, working a great, old magic designed to create a perfect being to fulfill an old promise. Being very, very old, he falters at
Dec 28, 2010 Simeonberesford rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook, fantasy
C.J. Cherryh is a well established sf/fantasy writer with a clutch of Hugos and such.[return]The variety of her work is unusual in a field that s becoming more and more pigeonholed.[return]Her books are neariy always badly copyedited.Which is odd. I used to hang around the same forums as her in my compuserve days and her posts were frequent and error free. but once she is typeset things change.[return]this edition an ebook from umm,Simon&Schuster if my memory serves. was appalling worse than ...more
Jan 11, 2013 Kerry rated it really liked it
I really liked this story, though it was a bit of a slog. It has "Masterpiece Theatre" pacing. Slow, deliberate, with sentence structure that's a little more complicated than necessary. I don't recall reading such challenging prose in a long time. But I liked the characters very much. I've read a lot of fantasy and am used to unwieldy names that fall trippingly off the tongue, but I had a hard time with the names in this book. Luckily the main character, Tristen, has a simple name.

He is a shapi
Apr 01, 2013 Furio rated it liked it
This is the first book I read by Ms Cherryh.
I think most reviewers miss the point with this book: it is very long and very slow paced. There is not much going on: the plot is thin, there are few characters.
All this looks like a deliberate choice.

The story unfurls taking its time to examine any tiny thread, any detail needed to create a particular atmosphere. And the atmosphere created here is fascinating.
I feel a strong relationship with Tolkien: not that the author does something so vulgar as c
Nov 03, 2014 Claire rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Even after finishing this book, I'm still not sure what to make of it. The world Cherryh created intrigues me, but Cherryh's writing style is dense and obscure and reminds me of many of the less endearing qualities of Tolkien's writing (i.e. pages of description that don't ultimately seem to serve a clear purpose). I've read graduate level academic work less dense than this and I had to ask myself why I bothered slogging through this hefty book...the answer was, simply, because I wanted to know ...more
May 09, 2013 Sean rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I read this book a few years ago when I was on a Cherryh kick, and I've re-read it a couple of times since, but I never finished the series. So I'm restarting it with the hope that this time I will stick it out. Wish me luck!

UPDATED 05-20-2008: Cherryh is very talky, and her characters are very thinky, and that becomes a problem in some of the later books in the series. But in this book--the first book--she manages to keep the pace going fairly well as she introduces us to a new world, with a wi
Jason Keel
Feb 18, 2013 Jason Keel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Who is Tristin? He certainly doesn't know. He lives in a crumbling tower in an abandoned fortress in a surrounded by a forest he's only seen from the windows. The only person he knows is his master, the wizard Maryl, who seems in a hurry to teach him something that eludes poor Tristin to the perpetual frustration of the wizard. Mauryl is very worried that Tristin will let the wind in to their tower, but he won't explain much and poor Tristian must daily learn what it is to live in a world he is ...more
Rena McGee
Sep 04, 2013 Rena McGee rated it liked it
It usually takes me a while to get into a book, or even consider reading it. Even if the writer is familiar, and one I like a lot, there is no guarantee that even familiarity with the writer will get me to read the book. Fortress in the Eye of Time turned up when I was going through one of my “no high fantasy” phases, so I ignored it, when it came out. (I also ignored Hammerfall by the same author, which I also ended up loving, even though Hammerfall was a Big Rock Falls Everyone Dies kind of bo ...more
Nov 30, 2015 Christina rated it it was ok
loved it in the beginning but fizzled out for me. a lot of the time I was many names and places. it got to be a chore to finish. I DNF'd it. I usually don't give a rating to books that I DNF'd but I read about 90% of it before not being able to force myself through the rest of it, so I feel I read enough to rate it.

I think I've just read too much lately...nothing is appealing to me. blah.
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Currently resident in Spokane, Washington, C.J. Cherryh has won four Hugos and is one of the best-selling and most critically acclaimed authors in the science fiction and fantasy field. She is the author of more than forty novels. Her hobbies include travel, photography, reef culture, Mariners baseball, and, a late passion, figure skating: she intends to compete in the adult USFSA track. She began ...more
More about C.J. Cherryh...

Other Books in the Series

Fortress (5 books)
  • Fortress of Eagles (Fortress, #2)
  • Fortress of Owls (Fortress, #3)
  • Fortress of Dragons (Fortress, #4)
  • Fortress of Ice (Fortress, #5)

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