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The Ordinary

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  180 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Jim Grimsley's novels and short stories have been favorably compared to the works of Samuel R. Delany, Jack Vance, and Ursula K. Le Guin. Now he unleashes an ambitious and audacious collision between science and magic.

The Twil Gate links two very different realms. On one side of the portal is Senal, an advanced technological civilization of some thirty billion inhabitants,
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by Tor Books (first published 2004)
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The book begins like a normal scifi story--a group of diplomats, scientists and their linguist go on an expedition to meet the leader of the world they recently discovered. From there, it gets a bit awesome. Seriously, this story goes from solid tale to enthralling in one unexpected switcheroo. It rapidly becomes an incredible tale that spans thousands of years, told from several points of view. It reminded me a bit of Patricia McKinley's incredible "Riddle-Master of Hed" series, with a taste of ...more
May 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-and-read
My library classifies The Ordinary as science fiction. I call it fantasy. The back cover says it is a powerful and entrancing tale of magic, science and the mysterious truth that binds them together (so i guess that's somewhere in between?) The author, Jim Grimsley, also calls it science fiction even though it shares the same world with his early fantasy novel Kirith Kirin (though it is not a sequel to that novel). He says that he is
"exploring the interface between a culture that believes in m
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it
I loved almost all of this book. The first two parts had it all: a fascinating, well-built world, an interesting magic system, great characters, compelling and lyrical writing, juicy description that wasn't overdone, and a rich soup of thoughts about religion, magic and science. The third part was much shorter and abandoned the main character, but it was still intertwined and it fleshed out two other major characters in ways the reader couldn't have gotten otherwise, so it was a valuable part of ...more
Moira Crone
Aug 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There were times when I was reading this book about two worlds where I was terrified it would end. I loved the very most the part where the manner of magic in the fantastical world is explained, as a form of singing that recreates---well I won't tell it all. I found I couldn't breathe, I was so interested. The world building is the finest part, and the fact that one civilization has just encountered another ( that was there all along---this is on the first chapter) and that other civilization ha ...more
Sep 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-the-library
This was a reread, but I still think it is a really interesting read. The first time through I couldn't quite grasp what was happening in the storyline (I think I was distracted by a different book I'd just finished). This time around I'm rereading it because I'm reading the next book set in the same universe. The first half of the story is a fairly straight forward contact between two humanoid civilizations that are very different where one is scientifically focused and the other believes in an ...more
Jul 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up from the library because it had a very interesting premise: There is one world that is very science-oriented, logical, over-populated and high-tech. There is another world that is flat, plentiful, and where magic is a proven reality. And suddenly there is a gate between the two. Talk about narrative tension! The beautiful dichotomy sets up an intriguing 'what if' story, with likeable characters, engaging plot and just enough mystery and suspense to keep you guessing. My onl ...more
Mar 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really sort of struggled over whether to give this a 3/5 or a 4/5. It deserves the 4, I think -- it's fabulously written, in a way that reminded me a bit of Ursula Le Guin or Joan D. Vinge, both in plot and in attention to detail, the story is well-rounded, I cared about the characters... BUT, it left me frustrated, because I felt like the book was a big set-up for books or short stories to follow. In many ways, it felt like a short story, in that like many short stories, it ends right BEFORE ...more
Apr 24, 2013 rated it liked it
I couldn't decide between 3 or 4 stars. I was fascinated with the details of the magic. The time skipping was interesting.
I didn't really start to like this book until the last 100 pages or so, when I learned more about Malin and Jessex. I liked the theory that we all have a place in time. If one did live forever, how would that bend your perception of people, places and time? More stars because it was thought provoking. Malin and, Jessex were interesting. Less stars, I didn't feel the conflict
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
The first third is pretty bad because the author totally fails to flesh out the setting - he just uses nouns for places, things, and concepts that are fictional but go unexplained.

The second third gains steam and is pretty good - it sets up a plausibly epic story arc and a universe with many interesting possibilities.

The last third is boring again - a whirlwind tour of one character's history. Ultimately none of it has any effect on the plot.

The final chapter is a total cop-out; there's no actua
Lindsay Goto
I don't think I've ever read a book where I enjoyed the middle more than the beginning or the end. I struggled to get into the book at first, but then warmed to it once the plot got started up. Once I reached the end though, I felt like it had been rushed or maybe like I had been cheated of seeing more of the world. It's an interesting book for sure though and I'd recommend that people check it out despite my misgivings.
Jim Grimsley is basically the only SciFi author I will read. Narrow, true, but he transcends most genres I usually don't like. He's just that good.

This is a continuation of Kirith Kirin, his fantasy novel, and has a couple of the same characters.

It is a wonderfully intricate, elegant novel that melds SciFi and Fantasy and draws the reader into a great world.
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Totally new and different

Just a note to anyone who picks this up, read "Kirith Kairin" first. It's an arduous read, but well worth it.
This novel is brilliant and quickly infectious. It feels very new and different from any other fantasy novel. The mix of scifi and fantasy is well done and seamless.

A must for sure.
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
a fun blend of sci-fi and fantasy, when a high-tech civilization discovers a gate to medieval society. throw in time travel and magic, and this is a fun read. however, the build up to the climax is never resolved, and you'll have to read the next book (The Last Green Tree) to find out what happened.
Dec 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sf
I love the original treatment of a fantasy world connected to a far future "science fiction" world. I'm a little worried that it's given me spoilers for Kirith Kirin, but I'd like to read that one also. The protagonist is middle aged and mellow - character development often suffers compared to intense world building, but the setting is so intriguing, that didn't bother me too much.
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Ordinary is engaging, smart, colorful and just a whole lot of fun. At times the prose becomes almost lyrical, for good reason. In a world where magic and scinece collide, The Ordinary takes the reader on a wild ride into the far-future. I now want to return to that world and look forward to reading the other books in this series.
Elizabeth Hunter
Dec 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
This is an interesting hybrid of SF and fantasy that made me wish it were longer. There is something about it that feels like a young adult novel, but the sex scenes and gay characters probably rule it out for most families. The pacing is erratic and some of the characters' actions and attitudes seem unlikely, but it's a good read.
Sharon Porter
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
More like 3 1/2 stars and the only reason it is not four is personal taste. Good but I tend to like a bit more straight forward style. World jumping, time jumping, has character a met b before b met a in personal timelines. Big brother scrutinizing everything through personal electronics versus introducing oneself by a generic alias.
Jim Garloff
Well this was a strange read for me. I thought the writing was good and story kept me interested most of the time. But the ending just left me wondering 'is that all there is to this'. Perhaps I am missing some deeper meaning from this book. I will have to think about it. Maybe re-read the book. Well, onto some better books.
Feb 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book despite the fact that I felt there were some big plot holes that needed filling. The relationship between Malin and Jedda was interesting, and I was sad that the book ended on such a pivotal moment. I intend to go back and read Kirith Kirin and the follow-up to the Ordinary, just to get some more information on these two very different worlds.
Mar 09, 2007 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to enjoy this, but after several false starts, lasting almost halfway through the book, I just couldn't get through it. The plot works, but the characters just aren't all that interesting.
Michael O'Donnell
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was ok

Started with so much promise. Descended from there. The lead character took none of her history with her. Nice creation of a world and played with time and sexuality. Not enough to redeem the book. I will not read any more of the story, past or future.
Sep 16, 2007 rated it liked it
Dense, many-layered, complex science fiction. Puts me in mind of Le Guin's early stuff. A little too complex for me, but I enjoyed dropping into the narrative and being carried downstream. I cared about the characters, even as I struggled to place them in context.
Nov 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
I really liked this! The worst part about it is that it seems to be book 1 of a very big arc, so of course, it ended on a colossal cliffhanger. ARgh. But, otherwise, it was very cool: travel in an alien land, magic, time travel, sex!, a heroine who kicks ass...

It's going to be a good series!
Jenny (Reading Envy)
May 07, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: read07
Nothing spectacular really. It felt like it used a lot of the same plot bunnies as a lot of science fiction books. Not terrible though, and not too lengthy.
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Great fantasy, very different.
Donna Maroulis
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Will definately look up more books by this author.
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi
My kind of sci-fi book where it is hard to say witch is better advanced technological society or land of myth and legend. It was also fun to try to figure out who were the good guys and who the bad?!
Aug 26, 2008 rated it liked it
I liked this one a lot. I was not expecting to do so... but there you go.
Mar 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Cool book. I'd read it again.
Brandon Fox
rated it it was amazing
Jun 15, 2011
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Jim Grimsley is a playwright and novelist. Jim's first novel, Winter Birds, was published by Algonquin Books in 1994. The novel won the 1995 Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and received a special citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. Jim's second novel, Dream Boy, won the American Library Association GLBT Award for Literature (the Stonewa ...more
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