Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Patternmaster (Patternmaster, #4)” as Want to Read:
Patternmaster (Patternmaster, #4)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Patternmaster #4)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  6,405 ratings  ·  475 reviews
The combined mind-force of a telepathic race, Patternist thoughts can destroy, heal, rule. For the strongest mind commands the entire pattern and all within. Now the son of the Patternmaster craves this ultimate power, He has murdered or enslaved every threat to his ambition--except one. In the wild, mutant-infested hills, a young apprentice must be hunted down and destroy ...more
Paperback, 202 pages
Published May 1st 1995 by Aspect (first published 1976)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Patternmaster, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Jess No- it's either the first, or the last in a 4-book series, depending on who you're asking. Butler wrote Patternmaster first and then added prequels (t…moreNo- it's either the first, or the last in a 4-book series, depending on who you're asking. Butler wrote Patternmaster first and then added prequels (they take place before the events of Patternmaster). Later, they were published in chronological order- with Patternmaster last.

With the caveat that I just finished P- and haven't read the others yet, I'm going to recommend reading them in the order they were written, based on some reviews here where people read them in chronological order and were disappointed. I suspect the quality increased as Butler expanded on the ideas and gained writing experience, so reading them chronologically may feel like a letdown.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,405 ratings  ·  475 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Patternmaster (Patternmaster, #4)
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Patternmaster by Octavia E. Butler is a mix of Ursula LeGuin and Robert Silverberg, with a nod to Frank Herbert.

The coolest thing about this very good read is Butler’s ability to create a world intrinsic to itself; the author has crafted a unique, distinctive culture that is alien to us but contextually correct for the world she has built.

Butler’s biography denotes a strong, singular personality and this comes through in her writing. Many books can boast a strong female lead, and Butler’s wome
Apr 23, 2012 rated it liked it
After Clay’s Ark, I had no idea what to expect with The Patternmaster. What I did not expect was that the Clayark evolution would basically turn those people into animals – albeit really smart human-like animals – and that they would have no real purpose to their existence save to
be obstacles for the protagonists. Their humanity was almost completely stripped away, despite them fighting so hard to maintain what they could of it in Clay’s Ark.

This book focused otherwise entirely on the Patternist
Patternmaster: Clearly a first novel - Wild Seed is much better
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Patternmaster (1976) was written first in Octavia Butler’s 4-book PATTERNIST series, but comes last in chronology. It takes place several hundred years after Clay’s Ark (1984), back in the Forsythe, CA territory where the Patternists settled down earlier. Society remains scattered and non-industrial, and power is divided between the Patternists, a network of linked human telepaths who can kill a
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Patternmaster is the last volume of Ms. Butler’s classic* Patternist series (AKA “Patternmaster series”. I read this volume as part of the omnibus Seed to Harvest which consists of the entire series except for the one volume that Ms. Butler disowned and removed from publication**. Patternmaster is also her very first published novel, and of course, she makes it looks as if she has been doing it all her life. Having said that, it is not as polished as her later books.

I read vol 4 Clay's Ark
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars rounded up to 4.
Within Butler's own work it would be 3 stars, but compared to other authors that I rated this is a 4.

I started the Patternmaster series with this chronological last book, because it was published first. I had the feeling that it would be best to read the volumes as they were written, and in hindsight this was a good decision.

On its own "Patternmaster" is a good sf novel with a fascinating worldbuilding and a social development of humankind that gives food for thought.
Dawn C
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
Alright, miss Butler, I’ve had my fill of this particular universe. If I never read a book about mind control, sexual coercion, violence, rape and incest again I shall be very happy.
Diana Welsch
Sep 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Octavia Butler completists
Octavia E. Butler is one of a kind. She is a black feminist science fiction writer and the protege of the great and bizarre Harlan Ellison. She was the first science fiction writer to receive a MacArthur "genius" grant, which she was awarded in 1995 for pushing the boundaries of her field.

I was intrigued after noticing Kindred in the science fiction section of the library. "This must be miscatalogued," I thought, "Because it has a picture of a black woman on the cover, rather than a unicorn or s
Review from 2021 reread:
I'd give this 4 Stars. Maybe 4 25
Well what a difference a year makes i guess???? This is one of the few OEB novels I've only read a few times. The others are practically worn out in hard copies and well read in digital copies. I reread Butler much more often than I count on Goodreads.🤷🏾‍♀️
Anyway recently I decided to read her novels in order of publication instead of from beginning to end of series.
I was surprised to see this listed as her first novel. For some reason I
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it
The premise of all the books in this series was fascinating. I read them in their story order, as opposed to the order in which Butler wrote them (apparently Patternmaster was first, and the other three books were prequels). I found the ending of Patternmaster a little unsatisfying after so much buildup in the previous books, but this makes more sense now that I know how she actually wrote them. Fascinating stories that I will continue to think about -- the best kind of sci-fi.
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I could not get my mind off this series....the connection of the stories, but I think I understand. The suggested reading order of these novels makes since to Mi now, Wildseed and Mind of my mind gives you the story of how the patternist came to be, all because of Doro. And the people from Clay's Ark and the Patternist are rivals and these two different stories are actually happening at the sametime, in the same world. I think it's a brilliant concept, if I'm right of course. ...more
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
the final book in the patternist series, it did not disappoint. i’m so glad i read the books in chronological order (as opposed to the order in which they were written). thanks, alex kats-rubin, for that pro-tip.

everything in this universe now fully makes sense because i see how the details in mind of my mind and clay’s ark all cohere. this book, which is about conflict on earth between essentially alien-infected-super-human-animals and humans who have intense telepathic power, brings up all of
Kevin Shoop
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Grade: B

The Patternist series has been great fun to read, especially in suggested order rather than order of publication. This was the first published book of the series. The story was very good, although I was disappointed that there weren't more tie-ins to the other books (which really demonstrates how well Butler expanded the world in later-published prequels). The major themes of power, gender, human relationships, and slavery were there and illuminating as ever. There is so much more to exp
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was not the best book in the series, however Butler wrote this book first and after reading the other books you get a sense that she had vision and great storytelling skills which she used to go back and write the other books. A great sci-fi experience overall.
Francesca Calarco
Dec 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Now that I have finished this book, I have officially read every novel Octavia Butler wrote and published in her short and beautiful lifetime, and am now truly at a loss for what I should even do with my life. I mean, obviously I am going to now seek out her short stories, essays, interviews, and posthumously published work, but as a super fan I still cannot help but feel sad and empty inside.

My dramatic and nonsensical whining aside (sorry, this is a terrible way to start off a “review”), Patt
Justin Pickett
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Patternmaster is a solid conclusion to one of the best science fiction/apocalyptic series of all time. Two post-human races remain on earth after an apocalypse (see Clay's Ark), each possessing superhuman abilities, either mental or physical. They are at war with each other: “Patternists and Clayarks stared at each other across a gulf of disease and physical difference and comfortably told themselves the same lie about each other … ‘not people’” (p. 709). Patternists’ society is feudalistic, and ...more
Megan Bell
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
There should be two ratings for this book, as the author’s first published novel and as an end to the series she built backwards onto it. If it’s the first in the series, it would read better—there’s a lot of set up that doesn’t completely pay off and the ending is super abrupt. Still, a great, engaging dystopian story about power, caste, and the importance of connection—just keep expectations reasonable and go in knowing the publication history.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mount-tbr-2018
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Still really into this Patternmaster series. Got a little more difficult to get through toward the end (books 1 & 2 were my favorite) but I still was glad to see it through. What a story arc she wove. Will have to read more Butler.
Am i missing something or is this series incomplete?
Jul 20, 2015 rated it liked it
When considering reading the multi-book "Patternist" series by Octavia Butler, an early question you might ask is, "in what order?"

Butler wrote the books in a chronologically scattered timeline, with the last story chronologically being the first written and published. In the intervening years, publishers (and maybe Ms. Butler herself) re-released the books with numbers indicating the series should be read in a chronological order, the timeline beginning in the 16th century and ending many cent
May 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Patternmaster was so disappointing. This is the weakest book in the series. I learned that Octavia e Butler wrote this story first, and the other books were to explain the origin of Patternmaster, a sci-fi dystopian.
I was expecting an all out war between the ClayArks and Patternist, but this was just politics. The plot moved fast, and I wasn't able to attach to any characters. I think that this book was mainly plot based and the character development was side lined.
The ClayArks were not really
Andy Giesler
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating, well-conceived world, and an engaging story. The prose is clear and enjoyable, and the story moves along briskly. I love Octavia Butler's work.

This would have been a five-star book for me except for the characters. I found only one, (view spoiler), to be likable—or even relatable. I found the protagonist and narrator to be (view spoiler)
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I read the Patternmaster books in in-universe chronological order, and I think it would have been better to go Clay's Ark -> Patternmaster -> Wild Seed -> Mind of My Mind, and skip Survivor. I could also see reccing Clay's Ark or Wild Seed as standalones, the former for quick-paced excitement and the latter for thoughtful character-driven worldbuilding. The series didn't really come together for me as a whole, but those two were individually excellent, and have essentially nothing to do with eac ...more
Faris Abdala
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
We finished our reread now that we've read the rest of the series! It was great knowing the back story of the Clayarks this time (and Patternists for that matter). The world and situation is really interesting. I found myself wanting more at the end though. It felt like it finished all of a sudden and I wanted to see more of how things worked out.

Sexual violence? Oh, yes, of course. Other triggers? Violence, death, slavery, torture (off screen), dysfunctional family.
Oct 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
Patternmaster is the last book in this series by internal chronology, but it was the first published -- in fact, Butler's first published novel -- and it shows.

There is actually a fifth book in this series, Survivor, but it's never been reprinted because Butler decided it wasn't good enough. She described it as her Star Trek novel.

...Patternmaster is her Darkover novel. The kind without lesbian separatists.

It's set in the far future, hundreds of years after the psychics joined together in their
Aug 30, 2009 rated it liked it

This book is short. Not so sweet. I had to pace myself so I wouldn't devour it in one sitting. It started off in the thick of things. A supreme being "the Pattern Master” is preoccupied with is slipping hold on to the fabrics that hold his world together-literally. He is in charge of the entire telepathic network of consciousness. ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Scary, but not really. Unlike her other works this particular one is not as foreboding and apocalyptic as the others. Although the general premise
Ellie Reynard
Sep 13, 2015 rated it liked it

I adore the Patternmaster series. Books 1 & 2 manage to achieve the kind of "internal" magic in a believable and captivating way. I mean internal magical battles happening inside peoples' head which I've tried to write before and are incredibly easy to make dull. Well it is for me. Let's not talk about my writing.

Even "Clay's Ark" is great. I was initially thrown off by the fact that, whilst it exists in the same universe as the rest of the series, it might as well not. Titular Cla
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A reread after I read the other books in the series.
If one says "Octavia E. Butler", the overwhelming response is "Patternmaster". So, it's about time I got to this classic. Note: I have the audible book but didn't find it on the list, but that is what I'm reviewing. Second note: even though I bought it and read the description, I completely missed that this was book 4. I normally hate coming into the middle of a series but I feel this was written so that while I am sure I missed a lot of references, I did not feel like I had huge holes in plot o ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Viruses 1 5 Jan 12, 2015 07:23PM  
The Blerd Book Club: Patternmaster Discussion 11/3/13 - Spoiler Alert! 1 22 Nov 03, 2013 08:58PM  
The Blerd Book Club: Patternmaser by Octavia Butler 1 20 Sep 29, 2013 09:27PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The New Moon's Arms
  • The City We Became (Great Cities #1)
  • Skyward Inn
  • The Nightingale: Notes On A Songbird
  • Talking Animals
  • Remote Control
  • The Killing Moon (Dreamblood, #1)
  • The Salt Roads
  • The Jewels of Aptor
  • The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death, #0.5)
  • An Unkindness of Ghosts
  • Radiant Rest: Yoga Nidra for Deep Relaxation and Awakened Clarity
  • The Kingdom of Gods (Inheritance, #3)
  • Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance, #1)
  • The Rope: A True Story of Murder, Heroism, and the Dawn of the NAACP
  • The Broken Kingdoms (Inheritance, #2)
  • The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest
See similar books…
Octavia Estelle Butler was an American science fiction writer, one of the best-known among the few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant.

After her father died, Butler was raised by her widowed mother. Extremely shy as a child, Octavia found an outlet at the li

Other books in the series

Patternmaster (4 books)
  • Wild Seed (Patternmaster, #1)
  • Mind of My Mind (Patternmaster, #2)
  • Clay's Ark (Patternmaster, #3)

Related Articles

What will you do when it's your turn to pick your book club's next read? Well, this is what you won't do: panic. Why not? Because we've dug...
185 likes · 45 comments
“When I meet a woman who attracts me, I prefer women,' she said. 'And when I meet a man who attracts me, I prefer men.'

'You mean you haven't made up your mind yet.'

'I mean exactly what I said. I told you you wouldn't like it. Most people who ask want me definitely on one side or the other.”
More quotes…