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The Age of Magic

3.21  ·  Rating details ·  741 ratings  ·  126 reviews
This novel takes us on a journey, a magical, and a literal one. A tightly knit group of filmmakers travel from Paris together to make a documentary. Unknown to themselves they carry a lot of unwanted baggage - fear, anger, jealousy, love.

When they arrive in an idyllic Swiss village ringed by mountains and reflected in a lake, they discover a haunted world that will compel
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published November 6th 2014 by Head of Zeus (first published October 9th 2014)
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3.21  · 
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 ·  741 ratings  ·  126 reviews

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Sep 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Hmmm. Beautiful, certainly, in parts. But I feel unsatisfied. In fact, I feel as though I just walked through an art gallery lined with beautiful pictures, but I don't know what the point of the exhibition was. Maybe if I'd read Faust?
Örjan Pelle
Dec 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
I cannot stand how many open doors are kicked in in this book. Every single page is one of excellently written quotes but on a whole there is no red-line. The characters do not evolve in the course of the book. Certain events just happen for 4 pages and have no consequence at all. The book contains several walks with spiritual realizations which all the members magically agree on. Not to mention the repetitive way in which these ideas are conveyed. To top it all off it ends with a classic mistak ...more
Holly Dunn
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc-author
I picked up this book because it is a beautifully produced little hardback with a gorgeous dust-jacket. Although I wasn’t absolutely sure what it was about, the short description on the inside cover intrigued me. I’m still not entirely sure what this was about because it is very surreal and dreamlike. There are parts of this that felt like Platonic dialogues, and others that reminded me of the strange sequences that you get in Haruki Murakami’s magical realist books. Needless to say that I loved ...more
Shannon Gibbs
Apr 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
I feel frustrated after completing this book. It promised so much but ultimately under-delivered especially given how much I loved Okri's previous book, The Famished Road. The Age of Magic looks beautiful and at times reads beautifully but for the most part I felt like I was missing something. I'm still not sure if it was me or the book missing something but its an uncomfortable read. It feels very stilted, disjointed and inconsistent. Between beautifully scribed moments the book falls short wit ...more
Nov 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: contemporary
Clearly, I am just not one for metaphysical journeys. This was one of those books that I knew within the first ten minutes that I was not going to finish. Fortunately,I don't come across a lot of these in my reading journey but enough that I know not to trudge through it just for the sake of completion. Therefore, I am not in a position to be able to recommend it to the normal crew.
NB: of course, forgot to mention his award for the "Bad sex in Fiction Awards 2014 for the immortal line - ""When h
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In search of Arcadia, the Eden of their dreams are found in and around themselves.

The age of magic has begun.
Unveil your eyes.
Pensero, Il Camino (1321)
‘Do you know what the luckiest thing is?’
‘It is to be at home everywhere.’
we don’t like people changing on us. It means we have to change too, and we dislike making the effort. We prefer them predictable.
Only the dead are consistent.
The imp of impersonation came over him.
He thought about how the c
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Not sure I'm interested in finishing this book. It does contain poetic metaphoric wisdom and some wonderful lines, but sometimes I feel like I'm reading a Paulo Coelho book (and that's not intended as a compliment). I much much prefer Okri's The Famished Road. This feels a bit contrived to me.
Oct 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
Could not finish this narrative of randomness. Made it to page 183 of 285, and said enough.

Hope the film makers find what they're looking for... But probably not the point at all.
Frankly, if you can't show me the point by the halfway point, Ben, I don't see the point. Get it?
Natalie Hamilton
Nov 04, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. I really enjoyed some of the middle sections of this book. But I found parts of it cold, abstract, and disconnected. While the ideas were interesting, the dialogue heavy sections were rather tedious. There are lots of Faustian allusions to be enjoyed.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
The Age of Magic, published by Head of Zeus, is Ben Okri’s first novel in seven years. The author won the Man Booker Prize in 1991 with his novel The Famished Road.

The blurb heralds The Age of Magic ‘intoxicating and dreamlike… a mind-blowingly beautiful book’. The premise of the novel, whilst rather simplistic, is rather interesting. On their way to film a documentary about happiness in Arcadia in Greece, eight ‘weary filmmakers’ spend three days and two nights at a Swiss hotel overlooking a la
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
I liked the whimsical feel of this, the magic, the sense of the unknown and the writing was beautiful. BUT I just didn’t get it. Maybe it’s a higher level than I’m accustomed too, or maybe I wasn’t meant to get it. Either way, this book was a strange one to me.
Emma Ripley
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wish I would have saved it for a time I was traveling. Very thought-provoking.
Sep 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
What was that. Book full of coelho-ish quotes, but as overall story - with no sense at all.
Mownon Gupta
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Some things only become clear much later."

Age of magic is not like the works of contemporary literature that focuses on just an unidirectional grand narrative. The book is more about change, magic, and moreover, a book that is full of ideas. It has the ability to persuade the reader to think deeply. Often dwelling in the corners of unexplored lines of thoughts and perception, this book presents ideas and philosophies- that at any mundane situation would seem to be silly and occasionally, blasph
Feb 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.25 Stars

This was not what I was expecting at all.
I did not have high expectations due to the overall GR rating for the book and the various 1 star reviews, but I ended up pleasantly surprised.

This book starts off very jarring and is often didactic, however the more I read the better it became. All of a sudden I found myself invested in the journey the characters took. The writing style went from being overly poetic to being nicely subtle, with beautiful quotes on life that started off prete
Kate Bystrova
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
‘A work of art that retraced the conquest of happiness would be a revolutionary one.’
– Camus, Noces (1937)

If you were making a documentary about Arcadia, where would you travel to? If you were looking for happiness, how would you start? The Age of Magic follows a film crew seeking to document just this. But along their journey they must each confront their own demons as well as a nightmare that they’ve conjured together: Malasso.

This is a book about the search for truth, happiness, and the powe
Boshika Gupta
Mar 13, 2015 rated it liked it
I can't put my finger on it. Good and bad, vague and thought-provoking... conflicting ideas. Some lines are remarkable... that's the strength of the book, its ability to make you think and reflect.

Could it have been better? Definitely. The narrative is all over the place but it's endearing in this hard-to-define manner at times.

I'll have to read Okri's The Famished Road before I can reach a conclusion about his writing style.

P.S: Oh Malasso.
Lesley Botez
Dec 06, 2015 rated it liked it
I listened to Ben Okri in Morges at the Book Fair and was looking forward to reading this book. Unfortunately I was disappointed. The strangely-named characters did not evolve or develop in any way in spite of the promise on the blurb, the scenery was repetitious, nothing really seemed to happen. There is some beautiful writing and interesting quotes, but not much in the way of a plot. Shame.
Aug 23, 2015 rated it liked it
I don't think I really understood this book. It's about the characters finding paradise/Arcadia, but it's all just pretty descriptions and talking. Lots of nice visuals, all internal conflict and none of the characters seem to have changed much.
Astha Prakash
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
The book is beautifully written and has some deep epiphanies and revelations, but I didn't really get the point. It makes you think at places, but most of the time I had no clue what was happening when I was reading it. Would have been a better read if I knew what I was supposed to be reading.
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book goes no where! There are some nice insights, but overall it's a bit pretentious and boring.
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. It left me with something intangible and mysterious, a seed of something in my psyche, perhaps.
Sophie Barloc
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Premonitory book in some weird beautiful way. It left me with a feeling of mystery and my eyes open to every sign around me.
May 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
The first thing I have to say in defense of this book is that the writing style and themes reminded me far too much of Paolo Coehlo's 'Aleph' which I read last year, and which I did not like at all. I assume that affected me in some ways. But for the actual book.

This book felt incredibly pretentious to me. Many things were not explained, like the reader was just expected to know what "Arcadia", "Aleph", "Quylyph", "Eviling" (Wtf is that supposed to be, it was never quite explained and sounds lik
The Age of Magic is something of a sequel to Ben Okri’s 2002 novel In Arcadia. It opens with the same group of eight filmmakers who are on a train, moving on from Paris, where they left off in In Arcadia, to Basel in Switzerland en route to Arcadia, Greece where they are creating a documentary film about Arcadia. The company do some filming on the train, arrive in Basel, stay in a beautiful hotel on the edge of the lake, work on the film, interact with one another and explore the nature of their ...more
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ben Okri’s The Age of Magic sees a group of travellers together, with dreams, nightmares and frustrations, unique to them, coming together to grapple with their passage to ‘Arcadia’. The quality of their individual thinking and ideas, can influence their collective journey creating both positive and negative vibrations which ultimately manifest in actual outcomes.

In fact there is no plot, no story. As the characters retire to their rooms or go off to film the landscape, Lao and Mistletoe mooch
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'll admit I chose this book because of the cover; turns out it has some really beautiful writing, and I enjoyed it at the start. But it was strange. There were definitely a few chapters that made little-to-no sense to me, and the whole Malasso thing was really weird- overdone in places and yet I still don't really "get it." I'd say all of the characters except Lao, Mistletoe, and maybe Jim and Jute, seemed unnecessary. A lot of the dialogue was kind of pretentious, especially between Lao and Mi ...more
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Ben Okri—especially as I've done, after a break of a few years—is like finally being able to breathe again . . . if you forgot that breathing was something you needed to do.

I tend to read a lot of genre fiction, mainly for a nice brain-chocolate-driven spiral down into slumber. I can sometimes forget, however, that sometimes it has to be about the writing itself rather than the story, and Okri's poetry is an entirely different experience in the reading.

As with much of Okri's work, plot
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, owned
I'm torn. Okri weaves together language so beautifully and the entire book is filled with great extracts and imagery. However, it's almost as if there is no story to sustain the text and it all seems a bit Paulo Coelho-esque. It started off promising with some of the earlier pages making me reflect and feel so many things. I just couldn't figure out what Okri was trying to achieve as the story continued. It's as if the entire premise was missing. Perhaps it would have worked better in a differen ...more
Emelie Nestor
Jun 10, 2017 rated it liked it
It's difficult to give an opinion of this book. It had beautiful passages and poetic sentences that totally caught me. But on the whole, I didn't really get a grip of the story. Maybe it needs to be read again. I should also say I listened to it, instead of actually reading, which was probably not ideal because I kept getting lost and would have liked to be able to go back and check up things. I won't run for it to read it at once again, but surely, if I do come across a hard copy, I would give ...more
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Poet and novelist Ben Okri was born in 1959 in Minna, northern Nigeria, to an Igbo mother and Urhobo father. He grew up in London before returning to Nigeria with his family in 1968. Much of his early fiction explores the political violence that he witnessed at first hand during the civil war in Nigeria. He left the country when a grant from the Nigerian government enabled him to read Comparative ...more
“Maybe true travel is not the transportation of the body, but a change of perception, renewing the mind.” 3 likes
“What if by sheer repetition we become the person we most often pretend to be? Does that mean there is no authentic self? Are we made of habits, compressed by time, like layered rocks?” 3 likes
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