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The Magic Labyrinth (Riverworld #4)

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  3,728 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
Here are all mysteries revealed, all quests completed, in the fabulous planet of Riverworld

THE MAGIC LABYRINTH


is the most heralded science fiction event of recent times. It is the culminating achievement of the epoch-making Riverworld Series which has been pronounced the most daring, wide-ranging and speculative in the annals of science fiction. Here Philip José Farmer con
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Paperback, 496 pages
Published 1981 by Panther Books (first published 1980)
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Wanda
WARNING: This review contains spoilers! Read at your own risk!

"This fourth book in the classic Riverworld series continues the adventures of Samuel Clemens and Sir Richard Francis Burton as they travel through Farmer's strange and wonderful Riverworld, a place where everyone who ever lived is simultaneously resurrected along a single river valley that stretches over an entire planet. Famous characters from history abound.

Now Burton and Clemens, who have traveled for more than thirty years on two
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Steven
Dec 18, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is the fourth and most disappointing novel of the Riverworld series. Although the first three had some problems, they remained interesting. What drove me to keep reading this series was the mystery of why the world was built, and the purpose behind the resurrections. This fourth novel provides the final explanation for everything that is going on and who is behind it all. And that explanation is unfortunately predictable and entirely unoriginal. I will explain what I mean only in the most v ...more
prcardi
Storyline: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Writing Style: 2/5
World: 2/5

The finale - any finale - has a lot going for it. It is where you get to solve mysteries, make big reveals, bring together disparate threads, and provide the happy (or not-so-happy) ending. Farmer managed to make his Riverworld finale the worst of the four books. If you're out for climactic and adrenaline-laced fight scenes, then you will probably disagree. There was little else, however, to recommend in this volume.

I was negatively incli
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Mark Oppenlander
This is the fourth (and originally final) book in Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series. Picking up the various threads from the first three books, Farmer weaves the stories and characters together and comes to what is meant to be a rousing conclusion. I thought it was just OK.

The book begins with parallel stories that follow King John in his riverboat, the Rex Grandissimus, and Samuel Clemens in his riverboat, the Not for Hire, as they head upriver in an attempt to get to the headwaters, meet
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Hypatia
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, fantasy
I was a little disappointed in this book. It was not a great end to the story, among other things. I finished the last page and turned the page expecting more. I also found this book to contain more casual sexism and racism than I had noticed in previous books, and it bothered me. None of the female characters are truly significant, nor do they play much of a role beyond being mates for the male character (except at the very very end). I also thought they competition between John Lackland and Sa ...more
Ron
Jun 11, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If you're thinking that anybody can write a book, then this series is the series for you. If you're thinking that anybody can write a great book, then this series disproves that theory.

The first book was very good. The next two were a waste of time since they didn't progress the story. This one was overly long and didn't reach what I would call a satisfying conclusion. I won't go into any details other than to say that I found myself skimming page after page. Did I really need an entire chapter
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Manny
Feb 01, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I'm virtually certain I got as far as this volume before I abandoned the series, but I can't remember a thing about it. All I can recall is that we were given the explanation for Riverworld, and I just thought "Huh"?

I guess I wasn't in a receptive frame of mind, given that some other people appear to like this book. Sorry.

Florin Constantinescu
Keeping up the good level from book #3, "The Magic Labyrinth" brings together most open threads from previous books, most characters (even a forgotten Hermann Göring) and delivers what-looks-like a satisfying explanation when approaching the end.
Strangely enough, the very end of the novel remains open somehow. It's easy for us to believe it now, almost 40-some years after, fully knowing that a fifth book exists. I wonder how it must've felt in 1980, when 50 pages before the end you thought this
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Robbin Hilbert
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great series
Nicholas Bobbitt
Another good but not great story in the series. The writing style is, per usual, great, but it again feels like Farmer ran out of steam.
Laurelyn Anne
Well freaking finally. And then my questions were still not answered. Ugh! It's a great concept but PJF is a product of his times in a bad way.
Patrick
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wraps up the conflicts of the previous books well and is an exciting read. It an interesting take on spiritually and self as well as you learn more about who created the Riverland.
Mike
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The conclusion to the Riverworld trilogy (except that there are number of additional short stories that were published later), this tries to wrap everything up and answer the fundamental questions about what the hell Riverworld was all about. Though the author has his reasons for dragging things out to show some more about the central characters -- Richard Francis Burton, Samuel Clemens, and Hermann Goering -- I felt like a lot of the second and third books were redundant. The mystery is solved ...more
D. Krauss
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Intortetor
era prevedibile: prima o poi qualche vera e propria battaglia doveva avvenire in questo "ciclo del fiume", e farmer non si risparmia mettendoci dentro uno scontro aereo, uno navale e uno scontro diretto tra due spadaccini (facile intuire chi siano). sadicamente poi il nostro decide di far morire diversi personaggi principali, tra cui alcuni dei migliori in assoluto: la tensione del libro ne guadagna, però spiace per un paio di loro. il problema è che le battaglie sono noiosissime, e così anche i ...more
Dave
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After three books' worth of setup, we finally get to learn what's actually in the Tower. At least, that's the idea ... but first we have to have the big war between Sam Clemens and King John. Of course they have to meet, which means they have to get pretty far up-River, and both sides have to be somewhat balanced, so we have to read about more people first, which means that we have to read about their stories on Earth and what "actually" happened first, and then we have to re-read any events in ...more
John Loyd
Apr 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Magic Labyrinth (1980) 400 pages by Philip Jose Farmer.

The fourth book in the Riverworld series. Every human that ever lived past the age of five years old, from 100,000 B.C. to present day, has been resurrected on an engineered planet, Riverworld. So called because the planet is one long river that winds and spirals its way around the globe.

By now we know that the ethicals built, or engineered, the planet. We don't know why, but there is one ethical, X, that isn't in agreement with the plan
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David Bonesteel
This is the final novel of Farmer's original Riverworld cycle. Like the rest of the series, it is audacious, often fascinating, but also very problematic. "Labyrinth" is often long-winded and unwieldy, particularly in the beginning. But everything comes together as the rival riverboats commanded by archenemies Sam Clemens and John Lackland meet for their final confrontation, after which the survivors struggle on to gain entrance to the mysterious tower in the North Sea. The battle and the final ...more
David B
Sep 28, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the final novel of Farmer's original Riverworld cycle. Like the rest of the series, it is audacious, often fascinating, but also very problematic. "Labyrinth" is often long-winded and unwieldy, particularly in the beginning. But everything comes together as the rival riverboats commanded by archenemies Sam Clemens and John Lackland meet for their final confrontation, after which the survivors struggle on to gain entrance to the mysterious tower in the North Sea. The battle and the final ...more
Jewell Moreno
This was the last of the riverwold series. Suppose to answer all you questions, I guess it did but I wasn't really impressed. Most of the story was about Samuel Clemens and King John hating each other of the theft of the first river boat. Seemed ridiculous for a feud that lasted decades, before they even ran into each other. The giant " battle " went on so long, I actually started skimming through it, a thing I never do with books. I won't give away the ending, but it was both science fiction an ...more
Tatiana
It's overkill to have several books to set up the big ending, each book should have had their respective climaxes. This was not a bad book, by any means, however it becomes boring when you really start wishing for an actual adventure, not steps of it. This fourth book provides history on most of the characters involved, which I personally like, it also explains how characters come together and the reasoning behind it.

The journey continues up the river and though small plot twists are provided,
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Graham Crawford
Jul 15, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people looking for an alternative to root canal therapy
Nearly a quarter of this book is laboured recaps of the previous books in the series. At one point he actually breaks the fourth wall and writes "see book 1 -To Your Scattered Bodies Go - for more on this". Duh! The writing is dreary and all the characters superficial.

The long forshadowed battle of the riverboats (and accompanying dogfight) proceeded with the plodding inevitability of a C movie storyboard - without the pictures to liven it up. And we had our regular wikipedia page infodump of Fa
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Stephen Glover
Aug 06, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex Lee
Jan 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi, 2016
This is better than its previous book. Here Farmer brings us closer towards the end to give answers. Much of this short book is taken up by resolving the conflict that was building since the second story. So in that sense it's a series capstone that has been long awaited. The last third of the book deals with the world, mainly in giving answers. There is an attempt at some of the philosophical exploration this world entails, but it's mainly pseudo-science, a fictional causation. This is interest ...more
Isma
Aún no sé si echarme a reír o a llorar. La primera parte del libro describe el encuentro entre los dos grandes barcos fluviales y sus respectivos egos. Batallitas algo previsibles, pero entretenido. En la segunda parte se cuenta la llegada a la Torre y lo que ocurre dentro. El autor trata de deshacer el enredo que llevamos viendo desde el primer libro y para ello se saca conejos de la chistera, de la chaqueta, pantalones y hasta de los zapatos. Esta segunda parte comienza con la repetición de lo ...more
Raj
Jun 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Supposedly the final book in the Riverworld series, where all the questions would be answered, the final few pages of this were actually quite frustrating as a lot seemed to be resolved right at the end of Burton and co's trip up the River to the tower at its headwaters. And the final few sentences had me tearing my hair out as one of the characters thinks he hears footsteps and then dismisses it as his imagination. Gah! Well, I guess I'll be looking out for Gods of Riverworld now, won't I?

Apart
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Rob Allen
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best stories I ever read. I know people that read books hear this a lot..."you won't be able to put it down".
In this case I found that to be very true. What it says here is a pale shadow to how good it really is.
Everyone that has ever lived on Earth is resurrected on a very large planet. This planet has a river that runs all around it.
This sets Mr. Farmer (the writer) up to write one hell of a set of stories/books. He can have Vikings fighting alongside of Mark Twain.(etc.)
Really, it
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Jeff
May 03, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone willing to skim through the first 300+ pages
Recommended to Jeff by: My adolescence
Shelves: science-fiction
Underwhelmed. That's how i predict you'll feel by what happens inside The Magic Labyrinth's final ~100 pages. Unless maybe you're a teenager feeling out and nurturing your budding apostasies.

What about the first 300+ pages? I recommend that you skip from story tidbit to story tidbit until you get past the dueling boats chapter or the dueling swordsmen chapter.

If it weren't for Nostalgia's bonus star, i'd've rounded up from 1.5 to 2 stars.

Note for my own amusement only?
i realized while reading l
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William Rood
Jan 25, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The ending... perhaps he swung for the fences and fell short. Perhaps the scope of Riverworld was far too grand. Perhaps he just got tired of the series. Either way, the feud between King John and Samuel Clemens had me not caring about either one of them, in anyway, as that ship had sailed in the previous book (pun!). A problem many grand scale authors have, he tried to tie everything up in a tidy bow, and essentially capped the story in a handful of sentences at the very end of the tedious read ...more
Jan Kjellin
So it ends. Not with a bang, but with a shrug. But that is life, and life is what this series of books is all about. What is life? Wherein lies the essence of life? And what are we supposed to do with it?

As a philosophical discussion about the soul, the Riverworld series works pretty good. But I can't help feeling a little bit ripped off by the far too complex storyline carrying this disussion forward. Too many characters and too many parallell storylines and things happening at the same time st
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10089
Philip José Farmer was an American author, principally known for his science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. He was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, but spent much of his life in Peoria, Illinois.

Farmer is best known for his Riverworld series and the earlier World of Tiers series. He is noted for his use of sexual and religious themes in his work, his fascination for and reworking of th
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More about Philip José Farmer...

Other Books in the Series

Riverworld (5 books)
  • To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Riverworld, #1)
  • The Fabulous Riverboat (Riverworld, #2)
  • The Dark Design (Riverworld, #3)
  • The Gods of Riverworld (Riverworld, #5)
“On returning to Germany, he rejoined Hitler, whom he believed to be the only man who could make Germany great again.” 1 likes
“The ideal was the light; the real, the shadow.” 1 likes
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