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Mythago Wood

(Mythago Wood #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  8,653 ratings  ·  737 reviews
The mystery of Ryhope Wood, Britain's last fragment of primeval forest, consumed George Huxley's entire, and long, life. Now, after his death, his sons have taken up his work. But what they discover is beyond what they could have expected. For the Wood is a realm where myths gain flesh and blood, tapping primal fears and desires subdued through the millennia. A realm where ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Orb Books (first published 1984)
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Philip It is the first in a loose series of seven, so can certainly be read standalone.

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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  8,653 ratings  ·  737 reviews

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K.J. Charles
Enraging misogynist heaving bullshit. Won the World Fantasy Award in the 1980s. Why am I not surprised.

The premise of this book is that archetype creatures, mythagos, arise in the wood plucked from human minds. You will be staggered to learn that all of the humans in question are men, and all but two of the mythagos Women are almost completely absent from what I regret to report is called "the racial unconscious" (why yes, everyone in this book *is* white, since you ask) except for t

I am not the ideal audience for this book. This is a book that takes the idea of fantasy very, very seriously. There is little love, or sense of joy in the magic; this is obsession and wildness, and while I'm a fan of pursuing passion and all things wild, this is the dreamscape extreme that occurred after a few too many tipples before bed.

Mythago Wood feels like a gothic fantasy, as if Jung and perhaps one of those Victorian spinsters got together and wove a tale about a small English family, a
Spencer Orey
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: magic-forests
I avoided this book for a long time, but I'm not sure why now because overall I really enjoyed it. The central magic of the forest is great and the way myth and magic play off each other is an endlessly generative idea. I can see how this turned into a long series.

There are some dated aspects, especially the blah gender politics. Too many straight white post-war British dudes being very serious and lusting after the one (possibly underage?) mythical woman. But I'm probably making that sound wors
Jeffrey Keeten
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Terry (Dulac3)
I accepted the notebook. "My life is full of diaries."

Steven Huxley had just been handed the diary of his sidekick companion Harry Keeton. I am personally fond of Harry because our names are one letter away from being the same Keeton/Keeten. I am actually an impostor, my great great grandfather Thomas Newton Keaton changed his name to Keeten when he was conscripted into the Confederate army. Family lore states that he had a dispute with his older brother Major William Henry Harrison Keaton and t
6.0 stars. This book is a MASTERPIECE and will likely be on my list of "All Time Favorite" novels before too long (though I always try and wait a little while after reading the book to see how long it stays with me).

In brief, the story revolves around a primeval forest that has survived intact since the Ice Age (if not before) and where archetypes of Man's universal myths and legends exist and the story of one family's exploration of this forest over two generations.

In describing my reaction t
Richard Derus
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 5 thrilled stars of five

The Book Report: Go look at Jeffrey's review. I'll never be able to improve on that.

My Review: I have to add a few points to it, though.

The mythopoetic roots of the story are clear, and the entire experience of reading the tale is one of immersion into a vivified version of The Hero's Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life & Work. Jung's brilliant conceptualization of "The Collective Unconscious" provides the underpinnings of Ryhope Wood, of course, but man-alive do
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
As I get more experienced in fantasy genre I rarely have "Well this is unlike anything I have read before" moments. Luckily I still get them and Mythago wood is one of those books. Inspired by British and Celtic myths and legends with added just a tiny bit of late Gothic flavor this book builds it's story slowly and methodically. Despite it's slow pace it was never a dull book because in those slow parts atmosphere is being created, characters developed and world more shaped out.

I can't really f
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
What a great read! Holdstock managed to come up with something completely new and incredibly old at the same time with his Mythago Wood series. By mining the rich vein of British myth and tying it to both the Jungian subconscious and the magical influence of an acient living forest he managed to create a fantasy work that was both epic in scope and personal in its resonance. It's a work that truly stands the test of time.

In the first volume, _Mythago Wood_, we follow the story of Stephen Huxley
L.S. Popovich
Mythago Wood's strength was its intense atmosphere, and the author's use of language to build a forest in the reader's mind. The setting is convincing, though there were distracting missteps and aggravations that had me rolling my eyes. One example should suffice to make my point: One of the characters receives an arrow in the shoulder. A little while later, the first person narrator feels the need to explain that if this character decided to strap on his pack with the strap across that very sho ...more
Kat  Hooper
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

After his post-WWII convalescence in France, Steven Huxley is returning to his family's home on the edge of Ryhope Wood, a patch of ancient forest, in Britain. For as long as Steven remembers, his father, who recently died, had been so obsessed with the forest that it destroyed their family.

Upon returning home, Steven finds that his brother Christian is quickly following in their father's footsteps -- both figuratively and literally -- for he has also disc
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is, simply put - wonderful. I heard of it sometime in the early 2000s. I had wanted to read it but for one reason or another it would just remain on the reading list, waiting.
If only I had known how wonderful it is I would have read it a long time ago.
The idea of crating a world in the misty areas where imagination, myth and dreams overlap and the resulting story kept me mesmerized from the first to the last page.
The narration is wonderful, it is so stylistically polished that it deser
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-shelf, fantasy
I generally have an "um.. okay..." to a "hate" relationship to most 80's fantasy. I tend to love the era's SF and horror, so I often feel like I'm poo-pooing it unnecessarily. Aren't they all an interrelated tapestry?

Hmmm. I usually think so. But in this case? No. I don't want to go there. The '80s are a time of huge psychological infusion in literature and I always tend to like the IDEA of that more than the actual works that use it.

In this book, we're treated to an IDEA of fantasy that is par
Chris Berko
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
You know how you just sort of fit with some books like fingers in a well worn glove? That's how I feel with this book, it just fits. This is everything I enjoy about reading. Mythago Woods is a dark book, not grimdark dark, more like dirt under your fingernails, sweat streaming down your face, salt stinging your eyes, gritty kind of dark. There are definite heroes and villains, running around in one hell of an original setting, acting out an amazingly original story-line. The whole "am I becomin ...more
Jared Logan
May 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
What starts as an intriguing concept begins to unravel due to poor pacing and plotting.

The premise of this one is really, really high-concept and it is thus:

A family lives near an ancient 'old-growth' wood. This is a small forest that has existed since medieval times and even back before that. The father, a scholar, is obsessed with the wood and often disappears for weeks at a time to plumb its depths. Why he is gone for that long is a mystery to his family because, you see, the wood is not very
Jul 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013, fantasy
I wish that I had liked this book more. After all, the dude in the helmet on the cover is cool. It has so many good ideas in it, avenues that I would have been interested in pursuing. But I just didn't connect with the characters. I don't get it. Why do none of these men, father & two sons, talk to each other? They all know that the woman whom they are fixated on isn't real--the author goes to great pains let us know through them that she is made of branches, leaves and soil. And yet, they all f ...more
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating in the high 3's, so round upto 4 stars as tis summit different & for the most part engaging.

Lion, the witch & the wardrobe for adults perhaps......? As it has mythical elements, enchantment & aspects of time travel through a wood. I think my updates along the way will let you know whats involved & how the journey unravels..... if it's mythical figures through time, touch of paranormal, heroic figures, a damsel..... one more of a Celtic nature though so defo not a fairy princess to be resc
Nov 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2012
5 Stars

This will now sit in my all time favorite shelf as it an amazing piece of literary fiction, which just happens to be a fantasy. I am not going to summarize the story as much better reviewers than I have already done so, many times before. This nearly 30 year old novel that was first published in 1984, by Robert Holdstock, is still relevant today. I want to reiterate that this is truly a piece of literature first and a novel of fantasy second. It would sit better on the shelves about psych
Dec 08, 2015 rated it liked it
This has been sitting on my TBR pile for longer than I care to admit to - and now I have finally got around to reading it - its becoming a bit of a tradition my Christmas binge reading.

Anyway the book - it pretty much follows the plot outlined on the back of the cover. Okay so how does that work well the story itself is pretty straight forward, what the real mystery is and really the most intriguing character are the woods themselves. Strange things go on here and its hard to talk about them wit
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a different story and I enjoyed reading it. I liked the Lovecraftian overtones at the start of the novel and I wish they had been sustained throughout the whole story. The world and myth building was excellent. The only drawback was the lack of empathy I felt for the main characters. The love story was (in my opinion) quite phony - I could not relate to Steven falling for this 'caricature' of a woman, and knowing she is just after all a feminine ideal he created just add to the sense of ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
Most forests today and in the recent past are only a few centuries old or less. But there still remain a few forests which have been on earth for millennia. In these deep dark old places it is rumored beings which can only live in the most ancient impenetrable deep woods can yet be occasionally seen. It is said the mythological creatures of old deep woods need to be placated and bribed with gifts of blood and flesh if you live near such a forest. People also carve magical symbols into the rock a ...more
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
While the concept is awesome, I find myself agreeing with those who think this book is just so-so. I won't rehash everything in detail, I'll just hit the main objections:
*There's nothing likeable about any of the characters, all of whom remain ciphers from beginning to end.
*Nobody ever bloody talks to each other in the way that normal folks do when confusion exists, which makes the relationships unbelievable.
*The love story isn't even remotely romantic. He loves that she smells bad and hangs out
Greg Strandberg
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This book really glued me to my seat. I remember reading it one time when I was going to Hong Kong.

Going to HK from Shenzhen was an affair. You had to cross the border and take buses and trains and stand in line a lot. This book was really good, and the suspense is wonderful.

If you want a good stand-alone fantasy book I recommend it. I bought the second book (can't remember it's name) but I never got around to reading it.

Would I read it again? I think I would if I had to travel in HK again.
Heidi The Reader
Totally original, immersive novel. Mythago Wood started out so normal and moved sequentially to the fantastic and magical that you actually believe it. Loved this.

The idea of archetypes coming alive and inhabiting a world "within" our own is very kabballistic and fascinating. I honestly didn't see the twists and turns that happened in this. What fun it was it read an unpredictable novel. It was terrifying at times and wonderful. I highly recommend this book.
Sad Sunday (If I say it's bad, it's bad)
Uh, this one is tricky. Can I just say that two super-English brothers got so high in the house on the Prairies that a nearby forest suddenly turned into a Wonderland?


For me Mythago Wood has the vibe of Out of the Silent Planet, The Little Stranger and Roadside Picnic. Somehow I can't call "fantasy". For me it's more of a magical realism. And while author twists the real and the unreal into a nice and flowing tale, sometimes it's hard to really get into the story, because the myths used in the
I would classify this book as high concept fantasy. Certainly, it is not to everyone's taste. I can sympathize with this, as sometimes I feel like I admire this book more than enjoy it.

Holdstock works through a lot of interesting ideas. The title Mythago Wood refers to a stand of West Midlands primeval forest that, like the TARDIS, is bigger within than without. The forest has an aura that interacts with the mytho-creative aspects of people's minds to produce mythagos, which are expressions of
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a very satisfying read this turned out to be.
Myths, magic and monsters all exist inside Ryhope wood, things that are summoned out of the mind buried legends ingrained in human psyche become terrifyingly real.
This book grew on me over the first day or 2 of reading and now it's over I wish it weren't.
I liked the ending of the story a few questions need answering though which I guess means I'll have to read the next book in the series. :) :)
Oct 19, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Okaaaaaay so...
1. This book is very well written and I can see why it has become so renowned.
2. Made me super uncomfortable describing G as both "childlike" and "arousing" (I know its the whole jungian arcetype thing buuuut still can we not sexualize girls who look CHILDlike)
3. If I have to read one more book even briefly describing a preteens budding breasts I will barf.
4. The story itself is super interesting and dark although I do think S and H friendship was significantly underdeveloped. The
Mark Hodder
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
Author's Envy! I wish I'd written this book! Here's why: ...more
Heather R
Apr 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Roxana Chirilă
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it
„“This is the Island where Dreams come true.”
“That's the island I've been looking for this long time,” said one of the sailors. “I reckoned I'd find I was married to Nancy if we landed here.”
“And I'd find Tom alive again,” said another.
“Fools!” said the man, stamping his foot with rage. “That is the sort of talk that brought me here, and I'd better have been drowned or never born. Do you hear what I say? This is where dreams—dreams, do you understand, come to life, come real. Not daydreams: drea
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Robert Paul Holdstock was an English novelist and author who is best known for his works of fantasy literature, predominantly in the fantasy subgenre of mythic fiction.

Holdstock's writing was first published in 1968. His science fiction and fantasy works explore philosophical, psychological, anthropological, spiritual, and woodland themes. He has received three BSFA awards and won the World Fantas

Other books in the series

Mythago Wood (7 books)
  • Lavondyss (Mythago Wood, #2)
  • The Bone Forest (Mythago Wood, #3)
  • The Hollowing (Mythago Wood, #4)
  • Merlin's Wood (Mythago Wood, #5)
  • Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn (Mythago Wood, #6)
  • Avilion (Mythago Wood, #7)

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