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Voice of the Fire

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3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,723 ratings  ·  186 reviews
Master storyteller Alan Moore (Watchmen) delivers twelve interconnected stories of lust, madness, and ectasy, all set in central England and spanning over six thousand years, the narratives woven together in patterns of recurring events, strange traditions, and uncanny visions. First, a cave-boy loses his mother, falls in love, and learns a deadly lesson. He is followed by ...more
Hardcover, 284 pages
Published January 6th 2004 by Top Shelf Productions (first published 1996)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  1,723 ratings  ·  186 reviews


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Vit Babenco
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Time and place: time passes, place remains… The passage of time alters the place… But the fire keeps burning.
Our Art concerns all that may change or move in life, but with their endless writ they seek to make life still, that soon it shall be suffocated, crushed beneath their manuscripts. For my part, I would sooner have the Fire. At least it dances. Passion is not strange to it.

So what's Voice of the Fire about?
It's about the vital message that the stiff lips of decapitated men still shape; the
...more
Leah
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, literary, magical
Where to start with this incredible book?

I have just tried and failed three times to start this sentence. I sit here, drained after a day of university work, hard thinking and slow research and two pots of tea, drinking a gin and tonic and trying to recall the feeling of reading Moore's unbelievably ambitious novel. I guess I'll begin at the beginning (but not at Neil Gaiman's introduction, I'll save that for later).

The first chapter is incredibly hard to read, written in the first person from
...more
Lee Broderick
'A-hind of hill, ways off to sun-set-down, is sky come like as fire, and walk I up in way of this, all hard of breath, where is grass colding on I’s feet and wetting they.'


It's a brave thing to begin your debut novel in the first-person voice of a child with developmental issues. A child that cannot distinguish dreams from reality; that cannot understand how to lie; that is incapable of looking after himself. It's a braver thing too when that's not the focus of the novel.

Alan Moore is often
...more
Wes Hazard
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece of voice, a vivid evocation of place, and a damn good piece of storytelling, this book is rewarding on every level, plain and simple. Moore drapes himself in 12 different personae (well 11 really, the final section is autobiographical...though, as he's careful to note, still fiction) beginning in 4500 BC and leading up to the present day, all of them inhabitants of or visitors to Northampton England. Some of these characters are based on historical figures, others are total fabrica ...more
Eric
Apr 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Moore does for Northampton what he did for London in From Hell. He draws an arcane map of his hometown, accreting layer upon layer of time and circumstance. The book is composed of twelve stories, starting in 4000 BCE and ending in 1995. One of the tricks Moore uses in his work is "proving" connections between disparate things by using repeated themes. Here, as in From Hell, he uses actual historical figures, for the most part, as his characters. Or at least actual architectural and other artifa ...more
Joshua
Aug 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for a difficult, yet unfulfilling read
Alan Moore is one of my favorite writers. His work on Watchmen, Swamp Thing, Superman, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman and many others have shaped my comic book reading tastes ever since I was a kid. To me Alan Moore is a magician of the field, figuratively and literally, a master of his craft able to spin wonderful tales with such finesse that you'll wonder through all the smokes and mirrors if his work is indeed magic. I guess what I'm trying to say in my long-winded way, is that I was v ...more
Morgan
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book took me a little longer than I thought to read, but it's Alan Moore. Moore isn't a walk in the park. For example, the first chapter. Oh God, the first chapter. It's not an easy read. However, have the first chapter, it becomes easier to read. Don't let the first chapter discourage you fro reading the rest of this book.

Voice of the Fire is a a novel set up similarly to Joyce's Dubliners. While the stories don't really connect, they are all in first person and they are all set in Northam
...more
Mark
Sep 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I've had this book on my shelf since 1996, when a friend tracked down a copy (this was when it was available only in the UK) and gave it to me for my birthday, knowing how much of a fan of Alan Moore I was/am. Yet I allowed nearly 15 years to pass before finally sitting down to read it. Though I can't say I regret this (it's not like I've been reading crap not worth my time this last decade and a half), I am eminently happy now to have finally read it.

More a collection of stories than a novel, b
...more
Bruce
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If one were to postulate that a book that has an introduction by Neil Gaiman is a work of genius and a mind-bending and expanding experience, then this book would be one data point that confirms the hypothesis.

It is hard to know how to classify this book. It is as if Cormac McCarthy set about to write a work of existentialism. The style can certainly make one think of Cormac -- the use of just-the-right word for whatever time period he is writing about (any century), the structure of sentences,
...more
Chrissie
Feb 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Alan Moore may be best known for his comic book writing, "Watchmen" and "V for Vendetta" most notably, but his only
published "novel" (no comics in it) has always seemed like his ultimate tour de force.

"Voice of the Fire" is really like no other novel and you'll not hear people praising it as they do "Watchmen". Within
this book, however, is some of Moore's most magical, breathtaking, and awe-inspiring writing. It all takes place in the
same locale in Great Britain's Midlands (near Birmingham, the
...more
Angela Slatter
Jun 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Amazing writing; first chapter is a bit turgid and hard to get through, but it's worth sticking with it.
Fred
May 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book took me a LONG time to get into. I tried to read it once about 5 years ago, and only got into the 2nd or third story before I lost interest in it. Partly this is because the first story is very long (compared to the rest of the ones in the book), and extremely difficult to read. It's written in the manner of a brain-damaged adult living 3000 years ago, so I had to work hard to keep up with the tone and stream of consciousness style.

When I came back to this book in May, I fell into the
...more
Mitch
Dec 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
This novel, by the man who brought you the Watchmen comic, is below par.

It's a series of human stories threaded through time and loosely linked, all taking place in a single location. The novel is heavy on dark atmosphere (rasping black crows, inky blots of dark gutter water, skeletal trees, etc.) and very dark themes. (Multiple violent, imaginative murders, etc.)

It was so dark that every time I started a new linked story, my mind raced ahead to find the dark ending and so anticipated several e
...more
David
Mar 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Alan Moore describes "Voice of the Fire" as a novel but it really reads as a series of stories or novellas with thematic and geographic relationships. Starting in 4000 BC with nomads near what would become Northampton England and concluding in Northampton with a nonfiction narrative in 1995 it tells a number of dark, violent, supernatural, and perverse tales.

I was bother quite a bit by the 8 point serif type used. Very hard to read when tired. Cheap of them really.

Also not especially a fan of th
...more
Nick Burns
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
In many ways a precursor to the Moore’s masterpiece, Jerusalem, Voice of the Fire delivers a lot of the same themes and an almost-similar format, but with less success. Moore’s first literary take on Northampton’s history dredged up a sense of deja vu all throughout, but lacked some of the depth supplied by its successor; the final chapter felt like a condensed version of it, to be honest.

In any event, Voice of the Fire is a fantastic variety show, hopping through time from hunter/gatherer days
...more
Erik
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
An examination of an English mind through several thematically and geographically interrelated first person stories. The first story is particularly hard going, along the lines of Hoban's Riddley Walker, but set in the past instead of the future. Once you get through the first, other stories are at turns poetic, frightening, and beautiful. The last story presents the Author ruminating in what was then the present day, 1995, over the work at hand and his life. At your own risk.
Shawn
Nov 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I deliberately re-read this as a follow-up to finishing Moore's amazing Jerusalem. I remember having enjoyed it, finding the first piece the most difficult (like pretty much everyone), and finding latter stories (like the witches, or the Knight's Templar installment) as really well done. Coming back to it now - 12 stories set in the same place (Northampton) and on the same day (presumably, certainly all in November) but separated by time (a range from 4000 BC to 1995 AD) - it seems like a "dry-r ...more
Rudi
Alan Moore's debut (non-graphic) novel is a series of ghost stories that are interconnected through repeating themes and motives. The first one you meet is a hard read, as Moore attempts to portray a stone age village idiot through simple grammar and vocabulary, but as you move onwards with the book (and through history) most of them are more straight forward to read. The perspectives change a lot from story to story, not only in time, but also in age, gender, intelligence and social standing. O ...more
Steve Shilstone
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shamans and witches and old superstitions dance on the mud of Northampton town.
A brilliance of prose in Longfellow rhythm.
The work of a genius, a master of words.
Pandem Buckner
Nov 14, 2010 rated it did not like it
As big a fan as I am of Alan Moore's comics, I thought reading his novel would be just as thrilling an experience.

It wasn't.

To be honest, I couldn't even make it through the book's first section.

The story is ambitious - telling the history of a place from pre-historic times to the present through a series of vignettes that occurred on the site - and really, it should have been a great book. But in his ambition, Alan Moore overreached with the first part of the book.

The first vignette, if a secti
...more
Maya
'So, what's this book about, then?'
It's about the vital message that the stiff lips of decapitated men still shape; the testament of black and spectral dogs written in piss across our bad dreams. It's about raising the dead to tell us what they know. It is a bridge, a crossing-point, a worn spot in the curtain between our world and the underworld, between the mortar and the myth, fact and fiction, a threadbare gauze no thicker than a page. It's about the powerful glossolalia of witches and their
...more
Niknik
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not an easy book. The beginning and ending chapters are tough. If you pick this up because you're a fan of "Watchmen", "V for Vendetta" or "From Hell", you will be a bit taken aback. This is not one of Moore's graphic novels.
This is the story of one place, Northhampton, through the past 6000 years. The stories take place throughout history and involve some historical figures and some everyday folk.
Yes, the first chapter told from the perspective of a very simple Neolithic boy with an ex
...more
Verditwist
Complex. A travel through time not space, from a nomadic boy duped at the start of our land's cultivation, to a stroll through the town with Alan Moore himself, touching on history as it (and at the end, we) goes. This is the first novel (as opposed to graphic novel) of his that I've read - it's possibly the only one he'd done, must look that up - but boy is it impressive. This book is dark, imaginative, deep as a pitch black well reflecting back the glimmer of a flame. Disolutioned Roman tax co ...more
Allison
May 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, history
What Moore does here, stylistically, can be a bit jarring at first, and it certainly was difficult to break into this book in the beginning, as it were. However, the choices in language and the setup of the book is essential for creating the deeply haunting atmosphere of Moore's supernatural Northampton. The effect is to make sure that the reader is not at ease. This is unfamiliar (and unsafe) territory, but the narratives are woven together to allow an understanding of this world, this place, a ...more
David
May 25, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I honestly don't know why I finished this book. It was awful. Don't bother.

I was expecting something akin to The Forest by Edward Rutherfurd, with a series of characters at different periods of history all in the same part of the country.

Instead, I got a sex-crazed author who barely connected the characters at all. The first chapter was literally written in gibberish- over an hour of my life I will not get back. I kept waiting for it to get better, but it never did.

The listing in Goodreads says
...more
Kristy
Jan 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Okay...I have never read anything like this. The story follows 12 people's lives who lived in the same area of England (where the author lives) over a 6,000 year period. Each character has a distinct voice. The interesting chapter is the first where the story of a character from 4,000 BC is told. The character has no concept of tenses so he speaks in the present tense and cannot discern reality from dreams. I have a feeling I will learn more once I read it again.
Paul
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
12 short pieces with the theme of Northampton at the centre. First person narratives of various types, with blends of myth, history, and geography central themes. Excellent standard of writing throughout, and I look forward to re-reading this in the future.
Michael
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Some people might moan about the first chapter, but I don't think they really see this for what it really is... a challenge. And if you accept the challenge, as I have, Voice of the Fire will reward you for your persistence like no other novel in the market today. Highly recommended!
Nick
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the books I'll always have a copy of, the kind to read once a year.
J
Jun 07, 2016 added it
In the eighties and up to the mid-nineties, Alan Moore was a god. There wasn’t a comic out there that he worked on (Swamp Thing, Miracleman, Watchmen, V for Vendetta) that isn’t worth the reading and rereading.

Looking back twenty years later, his stories stand up and are still timely, topical, relevant, human, and interesting. The same can hardly be said for the era’s lesser authors. With the passage of time, Moore’s stuff became weirder, in some respects darker, but far less immediately engagin
...more
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16,155 followers
Alan Moore is an English writer most famous for his influential work in comics, including the acclaimed graphic novels Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell. He has also written a novel, Voice of the Fire, and performs "workings" (one-off performance art/spoken word pieces) with The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, some of which have been released on CD.

As a comics writer, Moor
...more

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