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


3.87  ·  Rating details ·  4,481 ratings  ·  453 reviews
Change or die. These are the only options available on the planet Jeep. Centuries earlier, a deadly virus shattered the original colony, killing the men and forever altering the few surviving women. Now, generations after the colony has lost touch with the rest of humanity, a company arrives to exploit Jeep–and its forces find themselves fighting for their lives. Terrified ...more
Paperback, 414 pages
Published April 28th 2002 by Del Rey (first published 1992)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

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

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,481 ratings  ·  453 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Ammonite
nicola griffith is one of the best writers out there and if you haven't read her books you should. the only book of hers that left me cold was the third aud torvingen novel, Always, and the reason it left me cold is maybe similar to the reason why i found that this book, Ammonite, lost some steam 3/4 of the way through (it got it back before the end!).

let me start with saying that this is griffith's first novel. it's an absolutely phenomenal first novel -- the writing is perfect, the pacing is
Damn this is a good book.

It's a first novel, and it has some of the weaknesses I associate with first novels: it jumps through time a lot, and those jumps aren't always telegraphed adequately; some of the descriptions, while each individually quite beautiful, ended up feeling repetitive when taken as a whole. But most impressively, it already displays a great deal of the maturity and style that I loved in Slow River. Even in this first novel, Griffith's voice is assured, her characters are well-
Bryn Hammond
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: imagined-fiction
I enjoyed this from first page to last, and it’s different enough for a five. I like its attitudes: for one, how it takes a spanner to our sacred biology. Here a virus enhances our senses and by accident grants us more control over the body. Bring it on.

The story is of an anthropologist who learns the wisdom to go native. Its theme, I’m told, is change, and I can see that: change to escape extinction, on a personal level (the main, among others), or a cultural (a group of horse nomads on the pl
Marie desJardins
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
I thought I would like this book more than I did -- it's the kind of story I normally like (science fiction, feminism, what's not to like?)

My main problem was that the main characters behave in ways that don't really seem consistent with their roles and backgrounds. The anthropologist Marghe seems generally clueless about different cultures and what motivates people. She lands on this planet and immediately heads off into the wilderness without any idea at all of what's out there, what she migh
Pam Holzner
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scribd, scifi
I really loved this book when I first read it (way back when). It was written in 1992 and I'm happy to say that I think it stands up to the test of time. While I didn't love it quite as much as I remembered, I'm finding very little to criticize about the original story. And sometimes I wonder about my younger self when doing a re-read so this was overall a very positive experience for me.

Marguerite Angelica Taishan is an anthropologist. She studies people but doesn't really connect with them. At
This book started well but, for me, ran out of steam a little during the middle and never fully recovered.

It was an interesting premise and I was gripped by the story for the most part. An anthropologist (Marghe) seizes and unique opportunity to study a people on a planet that was colonised hundreds of years ago but which contained a virus that killed all of the men (and some of the women). Their colony survived due to the remaining women somehow gaining the ability to have children without men.
Exploration of a technologically regressed human society without males, with a shrouded means of procreation the central mystery of the story. By the author's careful setup, the anthropologist main character is forced to take large risks, leave civilization, and step into the unknown, in order to learn about the inhabitants of planet Jeep and uncover their secrets and the true nature of the virus that killed over half the population, and to which she carries a possible vaccine.

Nicola Griffith di
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Such a great concept, completely wasted on a self-centered and immature protagonist. I got to 70% and couldn't take any more when the 30-something year old protagonist, after (view spoiler), starts whining about how she's going to be (view spoiler), boohoohoo. That was just the final straw in a long line of thoughtless, selfish behavior coming from this wom ...more
Jun 08, 2011 rated it liked it
So I went into this more than a little worried that it would be an ode to essentialism, but it turns out that this is as non-essentialist as a story about a planet of women who are in tune with each other and nature can be. Griffith presents here the radical idea that a planet inhabited only by women would be... pretty much like any other human population. There are good people, bad people, peaceful societies, violent societies, honesty, cheating, etc. I cannot commend Griffith for this enough.

Rosemary Standeven
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It was quite different to most other SciFi/Fantasy books in that all the characters are genetically female, but there is nothing in the book about gender roles. No women doing ‘men’s’ jobs. The characters are simply people – of all physical types and temperaments, doing all kinds of jobs. Some characters are good, some bad, some wise, some ignorant, some with open minds and some bound so tightly by tradition. After the initial surprise, you stop noticing that there ar ...more
Dawn C
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved
Ammonite is one of those books I’ve been waiting to read my whole life. I’ve always been a character focused reader (and viewer) and I loved, loved, loved getting under the skin and into the hearts of the people in this book, into their motives, their confusion and anger and fears, dilemmas, hopes and wishes, the whole colorful palette of what it means to be human. I have never read something so intense, so emotional, so deeply intimate. It felt very internal. Simply an astoundingly impressive p ...more
I admired more than loved this book. It’s filled with fine writing, truly fascinating ideas, and a vividly created world full of evocative flora, fauna, and societies. At times I just wanted the emotional lives of the characters to get inside my heart and gut a little more. There’s no question that it’s an important work. I’m curious to read more of Nicola Griffith’s novels.
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Probably 3.5 stars, in the end.

This is the second book I've read by Nicola Griffith, the first being Hild, which I thought was one of the best books I read in 2014. I believe that she also wrote a couple of books in a crime series, and I've got a copy of her Slow River at home. I'm interested in reading more by her.

This is her first book, I believe. It's her exploration of women in fiction and how they are (surprise!!) just people, with all the variation of any portion of humanity. Moral and im
Allison Hurd
Much like Marghe, this book felt like it wasn't sure what it wanted to be when it grew up. There was a lot of beautiful ideas and some incredibly constructed sentences in a plot that had be going back to previous scenes and characters I wanted to shake.

CONTENT WARNING: (just a list of topics, no actual spoilers) (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-The world. Oh, it was so cool! You could feel how the light of the two moons would look. The na
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
The things I read trying to find a good f/f book.

Ammonite started off really promising. I enjoyed the first part of the book and was interested in seeing the story go along. The concept of the book: a world with only female characters rang a bell as I previously read Jane Fletcher's Celaeno series. It seems this book came first, though, and rightly so. Perhaps it's not fair comparing a book to something that might actually have been inspired by the book itself, but let me make this exception fo
I kept expecting, or maybe hoping, that this book would turn out to be science fantasy rather than science fiction. The science is wishy-washy at best, just plain bad at worse.

It begins with bad virology and bad vaccinology. Just a few examples; the virus is so resistant to everything that once it gets inside a room there is no way to decontaminate and render that room safe. There are no such viruses anywhere. If the virus is that resistant, there is absolutely no way that a human body, encourag
Apr 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
...Ammonite didn't quite make the same impression on me as Hild. It is a very good novel in its own right but Griffith's writing obviously developed over the course of two decades. Jeep is not brought to life in the way seventh century England is. That being said, it is a very solid science fiction novel. It can be seen read as a response to the feminist science fiction that has come before but is works fine as a social science fiction story as well. I'll be moving on to her Nebula Award winning ...more
Nicholas Whyte
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it

The story is of an anthropologist who is exploring a planet on which only women live; a local virus is fatal to men, and the women have developed parthenogenesis. At the same time, the protagonist's bosses on the orbiting spaceship are looking for ways to exploit the planet. It's very far from being a lesbian feminist paradise; this is a world where women compete for scarce resources and territory, and resist change, though these issues are resolved wit
I loved the first half of the book, it's full of complex and interesting characters and the story-line holds up well.

The problem for me is that the characters are maybe too real, Marghe especially doesn't seem to know what she wants or where she is going. She doesn't have much confidence in herself and comes across as very selfish - she uses the inhabitants of Jeep, ingratiating herself with them to feel like she has a home at her lowest point and then ditching them when she no longer needs the
I read Ammonite as my state was in the process of coming out of (its first) quarantine for COVID-19. It was an unusual choice for this period, but I was unaware of Ammonite's storyline, especially that GP, which is referred colloquially as Jeep, the planet that most of this story takes place on is infected by a virus that kills all men and a significant minority of women. The Company (off-planet speculators) did not want the virus to escape the planet – for obvious reasons – and wanted to develo ...more
Sep 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Griffith is one of my best writer. I have consciously sought her books since coming across her work. That said this did not impress me as many of her other books did. Perhaps because I have gotten used to her writing style and have high regard for her work. This books futuristic - midevial depiction was good but the storyline felt familiar and the relationship seemed in someway shallow. Actually a lot of Griffith's main characters do seem to always have an isolated kind of life thus giving a sha ...more
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it
This is one of those frustrating books that is loaded with potential, but ultimately falls short of greatness. Griffith sets out to write a book portraying women as people, rather than as some sort of two-dimentional alien creatures. (I know this is her goal because she states as much in an afterward.) The tone of the writing has a similar quality to Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Anne McCafferey - its that distinct quality of voice that late 80s feminine sci-fi can have, that I haven't really found ...more
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Tremendous action cliffhanger. Marghe (Italian: Marguerite) Taishan (Guangdong, China) was searching for self-awareness, self-discovery. In this story of exploration, she becomes unlike who and what she had been before. She develops a connection with the world and appears as Marghe Amun (Egypt: complete one).
Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
The planet Jeep's native population--themselves humans who immigrated centuries before--are all female. Anthropologist Marghe comes to explore their unique culture, and to field-test a vaccine against the virus which created it. Griffith takes an intriguing and problematic trope--a female-only culture--and works magic on it by seeing it not as gendered dystopia or male fantasy but as a human civilization, varied and complex. It's fantastic. Thematically (both as a trope inversion and as a study ...more
Fantasy Literature
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

In Nicola Griffith’s Ammonite, we find a world without men. If you’re imagining a serene society ruled by wise matriarchs, or a planet of space-babes waiting for Kirk to rescue them, then perhaps this book is not for you. Because Griffith’s world is different. Her book is about reworking the familiar ploys of science-fictions past and making them wonderfully new. It’s classically science fiction, in that it pushes irreverently against the boundaries of classic science fiction.

The first
Jeremy Preacher
Mar 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
Another entry in the sub-subgenre of all-female societies. It wasn't bad, but wasn't all that strong, either. The narrative was sort of all over the place - there was a shadowy threat that never got remotely addressed, and the actual events of the book seemed aimed at getting the main character laid. The lack of men was never actually examined - they all died from a virus that kills all males and some females - but the surviving women never so much as remark on the difference with no men around. ...more
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Are women human?"

Nicola Griffith in her afterword writes that Ammonite was a response to this question. Tired of the Woman As Alien or Alien As Woman trope in science fiction she deftly creates a world devoid of men that show women for what they are: human. It's also just a really good story, weaving elements of fantasy and magic with science fiction.
...more Publishing
Nicola Griffith takes a pulp trope: "what if there was a planet of only women?" & brings smart, thoughtful tools to the discussion. In a nutshell, the answer Ammonite provides is: "they'd act the way people always do, good & bad." -MK ...more
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Nicola Griffith says this book came out of an experiment. All I can say is she needs to experiment more often. A lot more often.
Planet of ladies
nuturing, making babies,
some light mass murder.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Gate to Women's Country
  • The Core of the Sun
  • A Door Into Ocean
  • China Mountain Zhang
  • The Female Man
  • Queen of Demons (Lord of the Isles, #2)
  • Lord of the Isles (Lord of the Isles, #1)
  • Grass (Arbai #1)
  • Saints Astray (Santa Olivia, #2)
  • The Expert System’s Champion (Expert System, #2)
  • Air
  • On a Red Station, Drifting
  • The Moment
  • The Outside (The Outside, #1)
  • Phoenix Extravagant
  • A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1)
  • The Light Years
  • Native Tongue (Native Tongue, #1)
See similar books…
Nicola Griffith has won the Washington State Book Award twice, the Nebula Award, the James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Award, the World Fantasy Award, Premio Italia, six Lambda Literary Awards, and others. She is also the co-editor of the Bending the Landscape series of anthologies. Her newest novels are Hild and So Lucky. Her Aud Torvingen novels are soonn to be rereleased in new editions. She lives in ...more

Related Articles

If you love the fantasy genre, this is the season for you! Some of the biggest books out this fall promise to be epics full of magic, adventure,...
197 likes · 50 comments
“I don’t belong to anyone! I’m not a thing, to be kept or ordered or driven to such despair that I open my own veins. Look at me, Aoife. Look at me! I’m a woman.” 4 likes
“They were connected: the world, her body, her face. Perhaps she should not be asking who she was but, rather, of what she was a part.” 3 likes
More quotes…