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Patternmaster (Patternmaster #4)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  3,912 Ratings  ·  241 Reviews
The combined mind--force of a telepathic race, patternist thoughts can destroy, heal, rule. For the strongest mind commands the entire pattern and all within. Now the son of the Patternmaster craves this ultimate power, He has murdered or enslaved every threat to his ambition----except one. In the wild, mutant--infested hills, a young apprentice must be hunted down and des ...more
Hardcover, 186 pages
Published January 1st 1976 by Doubleday Books
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Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Patternmaster by Octavia E. Butler is a mix of Ursula LeGuin and Robert Silverberg, with a nod to Frank Herbert.

The coolest thing about this very good read is Butler’s ability to create a world intrinsic to itself; the author has crafted a unique, distinctive culture that is alien to us but contextually correct for the world she has built.

Butler’s biography denotes a strong, singular personality and this comes through in her writing. Many books can boast a strong female lead, and Butler’s wome
Patternmaster: Clearly a first novel - Wild Seed is much better
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Patternmaster (1976) was written first in Octavia Butler’s 4-book PATTERNIST series, but comes last in chronology. It takes place several hundred years after Clay’s Ark (1984), back in the Forsythe, CA territory where the Patternists settled down earlier. Society remains scattered and non-industrial, and power is divided between the Patternists, a network of linked human telepaths who can kill a
Diana Welsch
Sep 22, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Octavia Butler completists
Octavia E. Butler is one of a kind. She is a black feminist science fiction writer and the protege of the great and bizarre Harlan Ellison. She was the first science fiction writer to receive a MacArthur "genius" grant, which she was awarded in 1995 for pushing the boundaries of her field.

I was intrigued after noticing Kindred in the science fiction section of the library. "This must be miscatalogued," I thought, "Because it has a picture of a black woman on the cover, rather than a unicorn or s
After Clay’s Ark, I had no idea what to expect with The Patternmaster. What I did not expect was that the Clayark evolution would basically turn those people into animals – albeit really smart human-like animals – and that they would have no real purpose to their existence save to
be obstacles for the protagonists. Their humanity was almost completely stripped away, despite them fighting so hard to maintain what they could of it in Clay’s Ark.

This book focused otherwise entirely on the Patternist
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise of all the books in this series was fascinating. I read them in their story order, as opposed to the order in which Butler wrote them (apparently Patternmaster was first, and the other three books were prequels). I found the ending of Patternmaster a little unsatisfying after so much buildup in the previous books, but this makes more sense now that I know how she actually wrote them. Fascinating stories that I will continue to think about -- the best kind of sci-fi.
Kevin Shoop
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Grade: B

The Patternist series has been great fun to read, especially in suggested order rather than order of publication. This was the first published book of the series. The story was very good, although I was disappointed that there weren't more tie-ins to the other books (which really demonstrates how well Butler expanded the world in later-published prequels). The major themes of power, gender, human relationships, and slavery were there and illuminating as ever. There is so much more to exp
Jan 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was not the best book in the series, however Butler wrote this book first and after reading the other books you get a sense that she had vision and great storytelling skills which she used to go back and write the other books. A great sci-fi experience overall.
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I could not get my mind off this series....the connection of the stories, but I think I understand. The suggested reading order of these novels makes since to Mi now, Wildseed and Mind of my mind gives you the story of how the patternist came to be, all because of Doro. And the people from Clay's Ark and the Patternist are rivals and these two different stories are actually happening at the sametime, in the same world. I think it's a brilliant concept, if I'm right of course.
Oct 10, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Patternmaster is the last book in this series by internal chronology, but it was the first published -- in fact, Butler's first published novel -- and it shows.

There is actually a fifth book in this series, Survivor, but it's never been reprinted because Butler decided it wasn't good enough. She described it as her Star Trek novel.

...Patternmaster is her Darkover novel. The kind without lesbian separatists.

It's set in the far future, hundreds of years after the psychics joined together in their
Jul 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When considering reading the multi-book "Patternist" series by Octavia Butler, an early question you might ask is, "in what order?"

Butler wrote the books in a chronologically scattered timeline, with the last story chronologically being the first written and published. In the intervening years, publishers (and maybe Ms. Butler herself) re-released the books with numbers indicating the series should be read in a chronological order, the timeline beginning in the 16th century and ending many cent
If one says "Octavia E. Butler", the overwhelming response is "Patternmaster". So, it's about time I got to this classic. Note: I have the audible book but didn't find it on the list, but that is what I'm reviewing. Second note: even though I bought it and read the description, I completely missed that this was book 4. I normally hate coming into the middle of a series but I feel this was written so that while I am sure I missed a lot of references, I did not feel like I had huge holes in plot o ...more
Sam Benson
May 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer
All in all, I enjoyed the Patternmaster/Patternist series quite a lot. It explores a lot of classic Octavia Butler themes in the simultaneously brutal/shocking and familiar/humanizing way that she does so well. But I definitely wouldn't recommend this series as an entree to Butler. This particular book (like Mind of My Mind in this series, too) left me wanting more depth and breadth of exploration in the world. Of the four books in the series, I enjoyed Wild Seed the most by far, and Clay's Ark ...more
Samantha (AK)
Patternmaster is the last of the Patternist books chronologically, though the first published, and I think it works well read either way. It's a short but solid novel, well capable of standing on its own, but coherently linked to the earlier/later installments.

I have to say, my favorite character is probably Amber. What a woman. Teray was kind of a frustrating protagonist. His characterization made sense, but the constant impulsiveness forced to give way to reason got old.

Like much of Butler's
Isaac Holloway
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe it took me so long to read an Octavia Butler novel. The universe she constructed is rich and I find myself wanting to know more about its inhabitant and spend more time their world. I want more of the conflict between Clayarks and Patternmasters. I want more on the interaction of the mutes and Patternmasters. These desires aren't critiques but a testament to how great of a job Butler did in world building.

Given that this is #4 in what i am assuming is a series I'm sure I can get
Jun 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have now read nearly all of Butler's short stories and novels and feel a kind of despair knowing there is not much of her brilliance left for me to read.

Patternmaster was not my favorite in this series and now having read all but Survivor, the connections between each novel make more sense. Someday I would like to go back and reread Mind of My Mind and Wild Seed to further appreciate those connections.
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still really into this Patternmaster series. Got a little more difficult to get through toward the end (books 1 & 2 were my favorite) but I still was glad to see it through. What a story arc she wove. Will have to read more Butler.

This book is short. Not so sweet. I had to pace myself so I wouldn't devour it in one sitting. It started off in the thick of things. A supreme being "the Pattern Master” is preoccupied with is slipping hold on to the fabrics that hold his world together-literally. He is in charge of the entire telepathic network of consciousness. ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Scary, but not really. Unlike her other works this particular one is not as foreboding and apocalyptic as the others. Although the general premise

2.5 stars

A talented young telepath finds himself sold off to a powerful lord. While he fights and plans to escape, he falls in with an independent female telepath and they form a bond.

People like to say that space opera is derived from westerns. Octavia Butler seems to have set out to prove that on a smaller scale. Patternmaster is transparently the story of a young cowboy ('civilized' man) out in the wilds, killing or escaping wily natives (mutated humans) at every turn
Ellie Reynard

I adore the Patternmaster series. Books 1 & 2 manage to achieve the kind of "internal" magic in a believable and captivating way. I mean internal magical battles happening inside peoples' head which I've tried to write before and are incredibly easy to make dull. Well it is for me. Let's not talk about my writing.

Even "Clay's Ark" is great. I was initially thrown off by the fact that, whilst it exists in the same universe as the rest of the series, it might as well not. Titular
Dec 05, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 1970s
Since I read all the other books first, including Survivor, I think my rating of Patternmaster is affected. The book doesn't give much background at all, you are thrown right in to everything. Even though it's a short, much is happening.

A summary for those not familiar: It's far into the future. There are many people with special mental abilities and powers, the result of a long breeding program over hundreds of years. It's not a military or governmental project - it's the result of an individua
Paul Eckert
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've fully detailed how much I've loved the Patternist series in other reviews, so I'll just say the same applies here.

I've read these books in order as collected in Seed to Harvest, and in that collection this was the last book. In reality, it was the first book published of the four Patternist books.

In Patternmaster, the alien-diseased Clayarks and the telepathic Patternists control most of the world, having overtaken regular humans and keeping them as slaves (or in the case of the Clayarks,
Sep 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
They use a Pattern. They've got murderous sibling rivalries. There's even a character called Amber...
But the main character is no Corwin. And while the setting is more interesting than most, it's not as grand as Zelazny's. Neither is the plot as inspired.

It's a pleasant read alright. Butler's yarn flows well as usual and she knows how to push people's buttons (though not subtly enough perhaps) in order to get readers interested. The book's magic has lots of intriguing features as well, from the
Christy Petersen Holloway
I have read many books in my life. Most are formulaic and predictable. It has been a long time since any book has held my attention....much less an entire series. I read that Wild Seed was on several "best of..." lists so I purchased the first book in the Patternist series by Octavia Butler. I couldn't put that book down. Soon I had ordered Mind of My Mind. Then Clay's Ark....then finally the Patternmaster....

Words can not do justice to my love of this series. The Patternmaster is the 'final' (a
Apr 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Another author that I've always known of but somehow managed to never read.

Also: random: this is the 4th book of a series? It's not noted anywhere on the book itself, so I'm guessing it's a disconnected series, maybe like LeGuin's Hainnish stuff? Whatever the case, I simultaneously didn't feel like I was suddenly thrust into the middle of anything and did feel like I could see where the 3 books preceding this one might lay.

OK, weird. Wiki says this was her first published book? Crazy! And so go
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
First off, I want to point out that I read these in order of publication, not chronological order. I'm not really sure what is the better way to go. It was pretty interesting getting the story bits at a time, and each book's focus was on something mentioned in previous books, so you could sort of place what you were reading about in the grand scheme.

Patternmaster shows the far, far future, where a society has been created that is completely unlike our current society. People with psychic abiliti
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This last book fell slightly short of the others, for me, mainly because I felt unsatisfied with the conclusion, and I didn't feel that it had the strength and depth of the others (although I think allowances can be made for this being the first one she wrote). But the journey was enjoyable enough that I'd still highly recommend the series.

Ultimately, the stories told in this series are almost all about different types of slavery. Physical/personal slavery, of external factors such as disease/mu
May 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Boy am I glad to finally be done with this series. Thankfully the final book was not as unremittingly awful as Clay's Ark (mainly because unlike that previous book, it doesn't include the gang rape of any minors). But that doesn't make it a good book. Like the first two books in the series it features largely unlikable characters.

This book does at least tie in Clay's Ark and confirm that they're in the same world, as now more time has passed and the Pattern people and the Ark people are at war w
Baal Of
I really hate to give Octavia Butler anything less than 4 stars on a book, but this one just didn't impress me. It was not bad, just very lackluster compared to the others in this series. Apparently this was her first book, and it shows. The characters are just not very compelling, and the plot is so simplistic - powerful telepaths fighting over control of the pattern. This book makes the events of the previous three books seem almost pointless. Humans went to another star for no other purpose t ...more
Oct 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Again with the same complaint I had in the third book about no good men. Butler may even have been of the opinion that her main character is one, but I know better men than that so I have to disagree. I am happy about the agency the main female character showed and maintained no matter what people said to her. I am not happy about how magically the men were always more powerful in their gifts and the current patternmaster is male. What happened to the lady in book two? It clearly showed women we ...more
The first book in the Patternist series (ignore the #4 in the subtitle; this was actually the first book written and the fifth chronologically) is a bizarro dystopian-sci-fi-fantasy-western. It's more slight and more "fun" than the rest of the series, and it does a lot of graceful heavy-lifting in the world-building department. It's also only 140 pages, making it a quick and satisfying weekend read.
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The Blerd Book Club: Patternmaster Discussion 11/3/13 - Spoiler Alert! 1 22 Nov 03, 2013 08:58PM  
The Blerd Book Club: Patternmaser by Octavia Butler 1 20 Sep 29, 2013 09:27PM  
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Octavia Estelle Butler was an American science fiction writer, one of the best-known among the few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant.
More about Octavia E. Butler...

Other Books in the Series

Patternmaster (5 books)
  • Wild Seed (Patternmaster, #1)
  • Mind of My Mind (Patternmaster, #2)
  • Clay's Ark (Patternmaster, #3)
  • Survivor
“When I meet a woman who attracts me, I prefer women,' she said. 'And when I meet a man who attracts me, I prefer men.'

'You mean you haven't made up your mind yet.'

'I mean exactly what I said. I told you you wouldn't like it. Most people who ask want me definitely on one side or the other.”
More quotes…