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The Fifty Year Sword

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  4,493 Ratings  ·  644 Reviews
This collector's edition of Mark Z. Danielewski's The Fifty Year Sword features a deluxe slipcase with five metal latches, Nepalese binding (an exposed, specially stitched spine), and a signed frontispiece. Limited to 1,000 copies.
In this story set in East Texas, a local seamstress named Chintana finds herself responsible for five orphans who are not only captivated by a
Hardcover, Deluxe Edition, 288 pages
Published November 20th 2012 by Pantheon (first published October 16th 2012)
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Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition


what's this??

okay, so maybe it's not as bad as all that. and maybe as a live shadow show "performed only on halloween night," this would have been more enjoyable to me. but as a book read on halloween night, by someone desperate for distraction after being a hurricane shut-in for a week, it was pretty but not terrifically entertaining.

pretty isn't cutting it.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Sep 26, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: signed
Without providing a polemical piece on quantitative starrage ratings practiced so frequently in a consumer driven society, for THIS book, I've removed any trace of a star and imply no intention-to-mean by so doing. Sometime to revisit this objet d’art. But probably not until after Only Revolutions, and that one will be deferred.

The following is an execrable review written by someone who had already turned off his mind and did not bother to attempt to understand the book. For an inte
Oct 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, fantasy, fiction
MZD, if nothing else, is an experimenter as much as he is a storyteller. His first and most famous book, House of Leaves, is a great bulk of a book, a maze within itself, brutally tearing at the art of the novel and our own fears. Only Revolutions, by contrast, is a rotten egg, forcing the reader to spin the book every eight pages for little reward. If you try and crack it open with further analysis, you get only a turgid rotten mass inside. Despite all of its attempts at technical innovation, i ...more
Nov 14, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Masochists, Suckas
Shelves: disappointments, olio

"'Barf barf barf barf barf barf barf

barf barf barf barf barf barf.

"'Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb

dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb.

"'I can't believe I spent money on


piece of crap.'"

"'Should have learned my lesson

Only Revolutions.

Caleb Ross
UPDATE: I've re-read this book, this time in the form of the re-released version (the orange cover version). This re-released version is much better than the original "tall" version. Therefore, I'm changing my rating from 1 star to 3 stars.

I believe the orange version worked so much better because the length of each page was shorter. Really, it's that simple. The original tall version had a lot of text on each page, and with a story as intimating (language-wise) as this, the added intimidation
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Danielewski altar worshippers/completists, if you must.
Formerly a status with comments, but reviewfied and expanded per NR'S request. I like this format better, anyway, because the character limits don't keep me down and limit my creativity as much as those status updates. Consider this my version of sticking it to the man, man! *Insert bong hits.*

The Fifty Year Sword is a special book. Not because of its content, which is as I suspected so average it's average, but because my reading of it marks the only time in my wunnerful wunnerful Goodreadsexpe
Jim Elkins
Nov 12, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Let's strip this book of its components, one by one.

1. The book was done in collaboration with three "stitchers," who sewed the sometimes very elaborate patterns that are reproduced throughout the book. The problem here is that the stitching only intermittently connects with the narrative. The key moment when a box with five latches is opened (p. 212 ff.) is illustrated with full-page, full-color photographs of stitched rectangles intended to illustrate the latches. But there is no connection be
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am madly in love with this eerie, haunting little ghost story. I loved House of Leaves, of course, and this book has a similar intellectually playful style without the crass porn aspects of the other. It presents in the style of a folktale, the story of a woman making her reluctant appearance at a party and joining the audience as a mysterious figure tells a spooky story to five orphans.

Of course, like just about any ghost story worth reading, it's not really about ghosts or fantasy, even thou
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one, unless you're really really curious
Shelves: 2014, novella
This is a hard one. While I liked it and found it interesting, I'm not sure anyone else would because this book is the very definition of gimmick and novelty item. Evidence: the packaging (it comes in a wooden box with metal latches, need I say more?). More evidence: there's interesting needlework on the inside. Even more evidence: the original price and number of books printed (only 1,000). I should hate it for this alone, but I don't because it's quirky and sort of cute, like an inside joke.

Amy Nicole
The story itself is short but morbid and fantastical. A mysterious storyteller visits a party one night and tells five orphans a story about the Fifty Year Sword: one that is invisible but deadly. Definitely recommend.

It's written using quotes (from five different narrators) that are pieced together in a poem-like way to create the story. It was difficult to adjust to that pattern at first, but once you get in the rhythm it's great. The plot really picks up about halfway through, and it becomes
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What's The Name o...: CHILDREN DIE IN WOODS /s 15 160 Apr 12, 2014 08:45AM  
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Mark Z. Danielewski is an American author best known for his books House of Leaves, Only Revolutions, The Fifty Year Sword, and The Familiar series.

Danielewski studied English Literature at Yale. He then decided to move to Berkeley, California, where he took a summer program in Latin at the University of California, Berkeley. He also spent time in Paris, preoccupied mostly with writing.

In the ear
More about Mark Z. Danielewski...