Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Viriconium” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Viriconium (Viriconium #1-4)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  2,036 Ratings  ·  167 Reviews
This landmark collection gathers four groundbreaking fantasy classics from the acclaimed author of Light.

Set in the imagined city of Viriconium, here are the masterworks that revolutionized a genre and enthralled a generation of readers: The Pastel City, A Storm of Wings, In Viriconium, and Viriconium Knights.

The Pastel City, 1971 (novel)
A Storm of Wings, 1980 (no
Paperback, 462 pages
Published October 25th 2005 by Spectra (first published 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Viriconium, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Kat  Hooper
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Viriconium sits on the ruins of an ancient civilization that nobody remembers. The society that was technologically advanced enough to create crystal airships and lethal energy weapons is dead. These Afternoon Cultures depleted the world’s metal ores, leaving mounds of inscrutable rusted infrastructure with only a few odds and ends that still work. The current citizens of Viriconium are baffled by what they’ve dug up, but they have no idea what any of it i
Oct 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
This opening salvo in the Viriconium series benefits from Harrison's icily fertile imagination and innate writing chops—but the latter was still at a raw, developing stage back in 1971 when The Pastel City was originally published, and there really isn't that much to distinguish it from other rote fantasy from the same period. A decrepit, grim, and feral atmosphere—reminiscent of Moorcock, or even Glen Cook's The Black Company in its earlier incarnations—helps, but it cannot
Viriconium: A baroque, decaying, phantasmagoric dream city
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
This is one of those compendiums that really isn’t a traditional sequence at all. Instead, it’s more like four disparate, elusive, and impressionistic paintings that try to capture the essence of an ineffable dream in the form of a city sometimes called Viriconium. The books and stories contained in VIRICONIUM were written over a number of years by the eclectic British writer M. John Harrison.
He has
May 19, 2008 rated it it was ok

Have you ever gotten something you yearned for -- an oft-delayed vacation, a new car or a fine, aged wine -- only to discover it doesn’t live up to your longing? If so, you may understand my response to M. John Harrison’s Viriconium. Consistently praised in the speculative-fiction community, it is a compendium spanning three novels and seven short stories, all of which center on a city of the same name. Sounds simple, yet describing what Viriconium is and what
Keith Deininger
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
How have I not read this collection of short novels and stories sooner? M. John Harrison is a writer who plays right into my personal tastes. These stories are imaginative, literary and dark. My favorite is A STORM OF WINGS, the second novel in the series, filled with warped perceptions and evocative imagery. It is outlandish and sometimes difficult to follow, but worth the effort. I'll admit, I'm a sucker for challenging and imaginative reads, and enjoyed this collection immensely, but if you'r ...more
Bryan Alexander
Sep 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf, gothic, new-weird
It's hard to write about Viriconium without being infected by its style.

This is a collection of three short novels and some short stories about Harrison's imagined city of Viriconium.

The first two novels, Pastel City and Storm of Wings, are recognizable as fantasies. They offer heroes, monsters, queens, epic battles. Pastel City might be the most traditional, with an Elric vibe. The third novel, In Viriconium, changes course, presenting the lives of artists and criminals without much fantastic
Ana-Maria Negrilă
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
O carte ce conține mai multe romane și nuvele. Primele două sunt extraordinare - o istorie a literaturii fantasy și un ghid pentru cei care urmăresc evoluția motivelor în literatură. Celelalte sunt frumoase estetic, dar mult mai obscure.
Jul 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Adam Wescott
How much you enjoy Viriconium will most likely depend on why you read fantasy. Actually, scratch that: how much you enjoy Viriconium relies on what you expect out of your reading, period.

If you see books as comfort food, you are probably going to hate Viriconium because this collection is the stark opposite of that. If you read fantastic literature for complex plots, strong character development and clear, lucid writing, then you are also probably going to hate Viriconium. Not because the novel
I'm going to review this now, even though I haven't quite got to the end because, quite frankly, I don't know if I ever will.

This is an omnibus that includes three novels and one short story collection. The stories are arranged in what I can only assume is some sort of chronological order. The first novel "The Pastel City" was published in 1971 and then there is a nine year break after which the two remaining novels and finally the short story collection were published throughout the early 1980'
Dec 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dying-earth
I was drawn into Viriconium by an old paperback copy of The Pastel City, which I thought was a fantastic read.

Little did I know that Harrison had other ideas for the others in the series. He subverts the tropes of a Tolkien-style fantasy by refusing to construct a consistent world; each story must be read by itself, and is an ever-fading echo of the original telling, more baroque and ornate each repetition. The scale shrinks from a world-traveling conflict to intimate character pieces in an almo
Steve Cooper
The idea to chart the final decay of civilisation from multiple realities – each more entropic than the last – was a premise full of possibility, and it set high expectations. The book’s intelligent, flamboyant style was, at times, quite beautiful. But as Lou Reed once sang: ‘Between thought and expression there lies a lifetime.’ And it’s in this space that I found the cycle as a whole disappointing – especially in the final third.

The narrative arc was lacking, and it felt like an impressionisti
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
Each sentient species perceives the thin evidence of this state in a different way, generating out of this perception its physical and metaphysical Umwelt: its little bubble or envelope of ‘reality.’ These perceptual systems are hermetic and admit of no alternative. They are the product of a particular set of sense organs, evolutionary beginnings, and planetary origins. If the cat were to define the world, he would exclude the world of the housefly in his mouth. Each species has its fiction, and ...more
Simon Mcleish
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Bought this partly because SF fans I knew in the 1980s raved about how good the Viriconium stories were, and partly because I really liked Harrison's Light. But now they seem to me to be mainly pale imitations of Michael Moorcock - not too surprising, as they originated from stories published in New Worlds. There is obvious satiricial content, being fantasy about a decaying world living for past glories (a fairly clear parallel to attitudes in Britain to the legacy of empire in the sixties and s ...more
Joseph Michael Owens
Read my full review at InDigest Magazine!

...Viriconium richly rewards those who put in the time to soak up its sentences from each and every page. I did call Viriconium; I believe it is. I challenge readers to give this book a whirl for themselves. Some will inevitably not like it, but that's OK because even those readers would be hard-pressed to deny Viriconium's originality.

Beware the geteit chemosit…”
Jun 15, 2014 marked it as to-read
Added because in the acknowledgements of Perdido Street Station, M John Harrison is one of only two authors credited (the other being the wonderful Mervyn Peake).

And then Forrest recommended this specific one (see comments under my copy of light:
Nov 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"... a city of worn-out enthusiasms" " thin and transparent as a baby's ear."
Dan Schwent
Feb 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: new-weird
I was on a dark fantasy kick for a few weeks. I like the first story in this one a lot.
Dylan Horrocks
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sf
Breathtaking. This single-volume collection consists of three (reasonably short) novels, plus a number of short stories arranged between them - all written between 1970 and 1988. As Harrison puts it on his blog, the whole forms a "metafictional critique of epic fantasy" - one I'll be mulling over for years to come. It's also beautiful, sad, feverish, disconcerting. My personal highlights are the last novel 'In Viriconium,' and the short stories 'The Dancer from the Dance,' 'Strange Great Sins,' ...more
Ken Mueller
M. John Harrison's VIRICONIUM cycle:

As stated in a previous post, what led me to Harrison's science/fantasy omnibus was a quote that it was: "inspired by Jack Vance's Dying Earth series and Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast, although the works are also influenced in their imagery by the poems of T.S. Eliot." The introduction by Neil Gaiman didn't hurt the book's chances either. And then the blurbs (which by nature are alway burbling blurbs) were mostly filled with what can only be described as awe and
Newton Nitro
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Viriconium (Viriconium #1-4) - por M. John Harrison, Introdução de Neil Gaiman | 500 páginas, Spectra 2000 | #fantasia #newweird #newwave #ficçãocientífica #literário

Decidi ler VIRICONIUM por ser um CLÁSSICO no New Weird, que inspirou a trilogia Bas-Lag do China Miéville, além de ser citado por TODO MUNDO da fantasia contemporânea! E, vééeio, o livro merece a reputação de obra prima que tem!

Essa edição especial de Viriconium reúne todas as histórias de Harrison sobre a surreal cidade do
Apr 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: The Autumn Cultures
Viriconium is, nominally, a series of short stories and novellas set in (or related to) a city of the same name. In practice, the author is trying to more than that, and unfortunately the result is that the collection is somewhat the lesser for it.

The first novella, entitled The Pastel City, is an entertaining adventure in a land far past its prime. The standard hero tropes are in play, albeit set against a more dark backdrop (reminiscent of Jack Vance's Dying Earth), and the story does a good j
May 06, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: readers into fantasy and postmodernism
It's 3 novels and bunch of short stories in one, and each is pretty distinct. The first novel is formulaic fantasy, not bad, but nothing special, and absolutely not worth the effort of learning silly names and made up history/geography. The second really creates an interesting, almost despairing atmosphere of loss and emptiness that haunts the rest of the series. Nice, twisting plot. Third novel also has a great concept, but most of the plot is tedious. The short stories vary, some bored me, but ...more
Michael Burnam-Fink
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, fantasy
I read M. John Harrison's Light and liked it enough to pick this book off my metaphorical ebookshelf. I regret almost everything. Viriconium is three novels and seven short stories set in and around a fantastic city of the same name. It's firmly of the dying earth sub-genre (see Vance, Jack and Wolfe, Gene), where the diminished inhabitants of a high-tech civilization try to make sense of their lives in the wondrous and deadly ruins of the past.

The first story, The Pastel City is a solid and str
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didnt-finish
This book was Not For Me.

I've been curious about M. John Harrison for a while, and came across a used copy of this book. It's some of his older work, a pastiche of stories centered around a post-technology world and a city called Viriconium. It's one of those pseudo-fantasy books that's really dying-world science fiction.

The first story's writing is dense. It's not an easy read. The language is flowery, the pace is slow. I just wasn't motivated to immerse myself. Especially because, to my unders
Apr 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
Sometimes, your favorite authors love a book, tell you how wonderful it is, how masterful, how pivotal the work is. So you buy it, and put it on your shelf, peruse it periodically, and wait until it's just the right moment, the right time, the moon and the stars are just right and you look at it and decide that now, now is the time to read Viriconium.

It doesn't click, but you keep reading. Sometimes books just need time. You need to let your mind shift, click in with the author, see the beauty
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
[Note: This is primarily a review of the first story in this collection, "The Pastel City," though I touch on the sequels that are also included in this book.]

As can be seen from a casual glance at my book reviews, while I read little fiction, I am keenly interested in science fiction. Sadly, almost all contemporary science fiction is mere social justice agitprop. But there is some quite good relatively modern science fiction, and in particular, I am fond of (no surprise, I suppose) what is comm
Aug 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
I didn't finish this book, it wasn't worth perservering with. I read the first two stories, the first very short, the second a bit over a hundred pages. I would like to rate it lower (perhaps two or three out of ten) but I'm loathe to give anything the lowest possible rating, and this book could have been worse.

There were traces of originality here and there, but far too few. The style of this book was very much like so many other poor-quality fantasy novels, where you get the sense the author i
Dean Parker
Jun 01, 2014 rated it did not like it

Did not like because of harrison's overly descriptive passages; thus, I had trouble following the story. Gave up halfway through A Storm of Wings (the second storyline).
…Immediately he experienced a shocking moment of blankness, a lapse like the premature tumble into sleep of an overtired brain. It was accompanied by something which resembled an intense flash of light. He heard himself say, quite inexplicably: “There are no longer any walls.” Shadows rushed out of the Californium corners an
D.D. Price
I read this series over the course of many months so reviewing it now my memory is pretty foggy on some of the events that occurred. The very act of reading these books was pretty foggy. It was disorienting, one of the strangest experiences of my life. The city of Viriconium is not a single, permanent city per say, but it is permeable. You can see the city evolve over the course of the entire series and slowly decay, most explicitly in the second and third book. In the second book A Storm of Win ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Sword & Sorcery: ...: [Series] The Viriconium sequence 2 22 Jun 29, 2013 05:37PM  
  • The Second Book of Lankhmar  (Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser #5-7)
  • Sea-Kings of Mars and Otherworldly Stories
  • Black Gods and Scarlet Dreams
  • Mistress of Mistresses
  • The House on the Borderland and Other Novels
  • The Emperor of Dreams
  • The Etched City
  • Voice of Our Shadow
  • Shriek: An Afterword (Ambergris, #2)
  • Peace
  • The Mark of the Beast and Other Horror Tales (Dover Horror Classics)
  • The Iron Dragon's Daughter
  • The Dragon Waiting
  • Gloriana
  • The New Weird
  • The Green Pearl and Madouc (Lyonesse, #2-3)
  • The Conan Chronicles: Volume 1: The People of the Black Circle (The Conan Chronicles, #1)
  • The Complete Compleat Enchanter
aka Gabriel King (with Jane Johnson)

Michael John Harrison was born in Rugby, Warwickshire in 1945 and now lives in London.
Harrison is stylistically an Imagist and his early work relies heavily on the use of strange juxtapositions characteristic of absurdism.

More about M. John Harrison

Other books in the series

Viriconium (4 books)
  • The Pastel City
  • A Storm of Wings
  • The Floating Gods
  • Viriconium Nights

Fantasy & Science Fiction Deals

  • Bright Smoke, Cold Fire (Bright Smoke, Cold Fire, #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Gold-Son
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Trail of Dead (Scarlett Bernard, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Regulars
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Childhood's End
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Mirror
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad, #1)
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Voyage to Magical North (The Accidental Pirates)
    $5.67 $2.99
  • Raven's Peak (World on Fire, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Swords and Deviltry (Lankhmar, 1)
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Rebel Wing (Rebel Wing #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Garden of Stones (Echoes of Empire, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Dracula [Kindle in Motion]
    $1.99 $0.99
  • The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage #3)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Thickety: A Path Begins
    $6.24 $1.99
  • Stinger
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Lost Voices
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Blade Itself (The First Law, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Extracted (Extracted Trilogy #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Dragon Haven (Rain Wild Chronicles, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Isle of Blood and Stone
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Spirit Hunters
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Haven (War of the Princes, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Immortal Circus (Cirque des Immortels, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Brilliance (Brilliance Saga, #1)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • The Immortal Circus: Act Two (Cirque des Immortels, #2)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • A Better World (Brilliance Saga, #2)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • Written in Fire (Brilliance Saga, #3)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • The Immortal Circus: Final Act (Cirque des Immortels, #3)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Secret of the Sirens (The Companions Quartet, #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Ocean of Storms
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Sword of Shannara Trilogy (Shannara, #1-3)
    $19.99 $2.99
  • Artful
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles, #2)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Chains of Command (Frontlines, #4)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Angles of Attack (Frontlines, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Lines of Departure (Frontlines, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga #2)
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Into the Dim
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Altered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs, #1)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Kull: Exile of Atlantis
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Fury (Blur Trilogy #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Gears of War  Aspho Fields
    $11.99 $1.99
  • City
    $7.99 $1.99
  • You Suck (A Love Story, #2)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Chocolate Touch
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Storm (Elemental, #1)
    $6.99 $1.99
  • A Perfect Blood (The Hollows, #10)
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Mama Day
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Dreamfall (Dreamfall #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Imitation (Clone Chronicles #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Infinite
    $5.99 $2.49
  • Boundary Lines (Boundary Magic, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Mermaid's Sister
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Space Between Heartbeats (Betwixt #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Boundary Crossed (Boundary Magic, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Boundary Born (Boundary Magic, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Warded Man (Demon Cycle, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Kissed by Darkness (Sunwalker Saga, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Dragon Marked (Supernatural Prison, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Blood Kissed (Lizzie Grace, #1)
    $3.99 $1.49
  • A Glimmer of Hope (The Avalon Chronicles #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Celia and the Fairies
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Best Served Cold (First Law World, #4)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Valor (The Faithful and the Fallen, #2)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Last One
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Genesis
    $11.99 $1.99
  • To Honor You Call Us (Man of War, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Hunter's Trail (Scarlett Bernard, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Abyss Beyond Dreams (Commonwealth: Chronicle of the Fallers, #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Wool: The Graphic Novel
    $7.99 $2.99
  • And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga, #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Ticker
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard (Barsk, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Concealed (Lakewood, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
“Instead, as the crystal splinters entered Hornwrack's brain, he experienced two curious dreams of the Low City, coming so quickly one after the other that they seemed simultaneous. In the first, long shadows moved across the ceiling frescoes of the Bistro Californium, beneath which Lord Mooncarrot's clique awaited his return to make a fourth at dice. Footsteps sounded on the threshold. The women hooded their eyes and smiled, or else stifled a yawn, raising dove-grey gloves to their blue, phthisic lips. Viriconium, with all her narcissistic intimacies and equivocal invitations welcomed him again. He had hated that city, yet now it was his past and it was he had to regret...The second of these visions was of the Rue Sepile. It was dawn, in summer. Horse-chestnut flowers bobbed like white wax candles above the deserted pavements. An oblique light struck into the street - so that its long and normally profitless perspective seemed to lead straight into the heart of a younger, more ingenuous city - and fell across the fronts of the houses where he had once lived, warming up the rotten brick and imparting to it a not unpleasant pinkish colour. Up at the second-floor casement window a boy was busy with the bright red geraniums arranged along the outer still in lumpen terra-cotta pots. He looked down at Hornwrack and smiled. Before Hornwrack could speak he drew down the lower casement and turned away. The glass which no separated them reflected the morning sunlight in a silent explosion; and Hornwrack, dazzled mistaking the light for the smile, suddenly imagined an incandescence which would melt all those old streets!

Rue Sepile; the Avenue of Children; Margery Fry Court: all melted down! All the shabby dependencies of the Plaza of Unrealized Time! All slumped, sank into themselves, eroded away until nothing was left in his field of vision but an unbearable white sky above and the bright clustered points of the chestnut leaves below - and then only a depthless opacity, behind which he could detect the beat of his own blood, the vitreous humour of the eye. He imagined the old encrusted brick flowing, the glass cracking and melting from its frames even as they shrivelled awake, the sheds of paints flaring green and gold, the geraniums toppling in flames to nothing, not even white ash, under this weight of light! All had winked away like reflections in a jar of water glass, and only the medium remained, bright, viscid, vacant. He had a sense of the intolerable briefness of matter, its desperate signalling and touching, its fall; and simultaneously one of its unendurable durability

He thought, Something lies behind all the realities of the universe and is replacing them here, something less solid and more permanent. Then the world stopped haunting him forever.”
“As they moved from exhibit to exhibit like reluctant tourists in some artist's studio, Buffin sat on a stool with his limbs tense. He was like an exhibit himself in the direct odd light filtering through the whitish panes, legs wound tensely round one another, his face like an apologetic bag.” 4 likes
More quotes…