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

The Deep

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  456 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Swordplay, sorcery, strange visitations, unspoken secrets, and unsuspected truths are the components of this fantastical tale set in a mythical world -- a world supported by a huge pillar which is poised in the center of the vast an mysterious Deep. In this world the Protectors own the land and are constantly feuding with the Just, who wish to return the land to the Folk. ...more
Published February 3rd 1977 by New English Library (first published 1975)
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 The Deep, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Deep

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fantasy, sci-fi
Review edited after June 2013 re-read

4-4.5 stars

This is a great, weird, crazy little sf-fantasy that I love for reasons I can't really put my finger on. Crowley's ability to simply write is obviously one of the elements that works in the book's favour, though my review of Little Big will show that, in my opinion at least, that isn't always enough to carry a Crowley book.

I can (and did) easily imagine this as a movie from the 70's with David Bowie starring as the enigmatic Visitor from the star
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
An early effort from an unconventional fantasy author. It's difficult to apply the word epic to a book under 200 pages, but I believe it is appropriate. 1975 is well before the advent of doorstopper sized, extruded long series like the Wheel of Time. Another reviewer made a comparison with George R R Martin famous Westeros books, and looking through Crowley bio I see it is not an accidental remark. Both authors went to the same source material : The War of the Roses. Two powerful factions,
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The rarest and also my favorite kind of science fiction. Science fiction so good and so true to itself that it turns into fine art. For sustained tone and beauty of language, this ranks with the finest SF and fantasy I have ever read. It easily ranks with the best of Ursula LeGuin. And though it is worlds different from J. G. Ballard, it is science fiction of the same quality and execution. The same for Stanislaw Lem. It has the sort of charm Borges would have enjoyed.

The point of science fictio
Aug 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let's say that having read "The Deep" long ago, "Game of Thrones" doesn't seem so new or different. And let's say, too, that Crowley's language is lovely and evocative and haunting and that his sense of endless struggle and dynastic intrigue is deft and icy. It may be hard now to find "The Deep", but it's worthwhile. Track it down, darlings.
Bob Rust
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Deep (1975) Though the story is told from various points of view, the reader's main perspective is through the eyes of a damaged Android, a Mysterious Stranger with memory problems sent to record events by the disc's peculiar God.
Apr 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Deep, being the first published book by John Crowley, is also a perfect example of Crowley's style. The Deep takes place on another world where two warring factions, the Reds and the Blacks, are essentially re-enacting King Henry VI Part III. This is just as well, as it makes the action of those portions of the novel easier to follow with character names like Redhand, Old Redhand, Younger Redhand, Red Senlin, Red Senlin's Son, and so forth. The similarities in name serve a purpose for the th ...more
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first started reading this novel when I went on a trip to Romania back in 1993. Unfortunately I lost the book before I finished the last two chapters. So it felt good, twenty years later, to get reacquainted with it and to actually finish it.

It's a masterpiece, no doubt about that; anyone who likes Game of Thrones is almost certain to enjoy it; indeed I am convinced that George R.R. Martin has read The Deep and that it influenced him, consciously or unconsciously. Crowley's novel is like an ul
Jared Pechacek
Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Deep is Crowley’s first published novel. You can see a lot of the themes and characteristics that he’d later develop more fully in books like Engine Summer; Little, Big; and the Ægypt cycle: narratives that begin in medias res and end more or less unresolved in terms of plot, slippery reality that raises two questions for every one that is answered, alternate dystopian worlds that connect with our own in unexpected ways, and scholar characters who try to stand outside the stream of history b ...more
Jan 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Deep is John Crowley's first novel and doesn't necessarily show the same level of control and evocation of later works, even Engine Summer. There are plenty of layers and ambiguities (mmm delicious ambiguities), but overall effect was more intellectual than experiential for me.

It became clear pretty early on that the court intrigue and war history plot, which appears to be the main plot, is intentionally obfuscating. All the characters have the same names (when King Red Senlin dies, his son
John Parks
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book reads like shadows on the wall.

When I think of John Crowley, the word that comes to mind is 'awe'. He knows that magic comes from the suggestion of mystery, rather than its revelation. He deals in worlds larger than we can comprehend, where thresholds of knowability are never surpassed. At his best, he doesn't build worlds so much as discover them.

Take a step back, and 'The Deep' is a totally confounding creation. It takes place in a kingdom housed on a circular plane, and this plane
Rhona Johnston
Jan 25, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a small book, basically a novella, but it took me twice as long to read as another book of similar length.
The reasons are as follows>
1. The language is very dense- the length of the book necessitates much to be said in as few words as possible
2.Characters have similar sounding names, leading to confusion
3. The reader is never told what is the purpose of The Visitor .

I was left very much with the sense that I had understood very little of the book, apart of the circular manner in which
May 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I actually gave up on this book in 20 pages but I am not sure why (?) Very fantasy feel, not sci-fi, yes it is sci-fi fantasy but....the list of characters annoyed me at the beginning, like ye olde players in a play (ahem), type thing. I just don't know, must think on it. I am not interested in struggling through something even when it is much lauded or even deemed 'worthy' or is an award winner - there are simply too many books out there to plough through one you do not enjoy or doesn't 'captur ...more
One user reviews this work with the single word "stylish". And you can't say much more than that. This book shows a great potential, good style, strong imagination, fascinatingly dark world, but behind its style, it lacks some substance. As though it were reaching for more than it could ever hold, the ideas seem lost in the language and, ultimately, nothing is resolved. Knowing this is his first novel, I could be enticed to read more to see how his skills develop, but I would not rush out to rec ...more
Jan 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-myth
I read this because I loved Little Big. Like Little Big, The Deep unfolds slowly, and the central teleological/cosmological mystery of the book is never fully revealed. I enjoy the work of trying to imagine what it all means, but I enjoyed it a little less for The Deep. I found myself more interested in the side characters than the main characters, and when I got a glimpse of the big meaning near the end of the book, it was too fantastical for me to feel moved by it. It was a great story, but I' ...more
Dec 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crowleycrow
I think this was John Crowley's first published novel. My copy is from 1975. There is a good story in here trying to get out, some interesting ideas that need more work. Some ideas and themes from this book have been reworked and developed to appear in LittleBig.

One of the main difficulties with this book is that the most of the main protagonists are members of two clans; the Reds and the Blacks all with similar names. The story jumps between character viewpoints, and I found it hard to keep tr
Fantasy Literature
In a world very different from ours, two powerful factions fight for the throne. Alliances are made and shattered. Vows are sworn and broken. Brothers betray brothers; fathers betray sons; kings are imprisoned and queens make war. No, it’s not A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. It’s The Deep, by John Crowley, published in 1975.

The Deep is Crowley’s first novel. It is unlike his other works, although certain themes come back into play in the AEGYPT QUARTET. At first it seems like it is based on the Wars of
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard someone once say, “That we’re all pawns in the game of life.” The Deep is a fitting example of such a world. John Crowley’s first published novel is a masterpiece of a world that is a perpetual game as it’s cast of characters - Red and Black - play and replay across this game board - this plain called Drumskin where battles are fought as each player moves according to their assigned designation. Into this world drops the Visitor and it’s with this strange alien that the doings of this wo ...more
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have been reading older books, in part because back then they were still publishing short books, which are nice when time is limited.[return]This book was very intriguing, I kept trying to understand more of the world than I did. I guess it is the 'mysterious stranger with no mystery tries to understand mission' theme, but with an interesting twist. The world he falls in is totally confusing to the reader, and feels a bit artificial and amiss - but that is by design.[return]I kept feeling I wa ...more
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This is a very well written first novel, its biggest weakness being the similarity of names, especially at the beginning when everyone is still alive! As the novel progresses, it becomes easier to keep track of everyone, but I can definitely see how this could be off-putting to some readers. This is a book I will re-read in the future, the prose has enough layers I am sure to discover new things on a second reading.
Aug 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-masterworks, sf
This one starts out feeling more like a fantasy piece but ends up clearly in the SF camp. Although it was an interesting premise I found the execution somewhat lacking and the narrative style disengaging. It was quite difficult keeping all the similar sounding character names distinct, especially when the characters were so thinly developed.

An ambitious first novel but the author went on to produce much better work. Perhaps one for the Crowley die hards only...
Edward Davies
I couldn’t really get into this short novel, which felt much longer than its 192 pages. The characters are difficult to differentiate from each other, and the only section that felt to be any good to me was the third chapter of the third section that finally reveals what we’ve been trudging through the whole book to discover. Fans of strange alien sci-fi might enjoy this if they can decipher what is going on, but I just didn’t think it was worth the effort.
Sep 14, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you undertake this one, bring your ability to discern remarkably similar names and titles and positions. Dark age type fantasy with your castle intrigues, wars, alliances, etc... But just for fun, on a faraway celestial body of indeterminate origin, composition, etc... The main arena is clearly defined, and somehow Crowley again makes me think the best part of this story happend either before we came in on it, or after the last page leaves us behind.
Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic and fantastical, this is a self-contained story about a self contained society in a world "world is founded on a pillar which is founded on the Deep." Full of treachery, intrigue, and repeated history, this is a gorgeously written, weirdly engaging story. It was Crowley's first novel -- and while it is not his best, it still stands head and shoulders amongst many in the field.
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the surface it is about a mysterious stranger that has amnesia while wandering around a feudalistic environment. The society which is divided into two constantly shifting, warring factions thrives upon pageantry and intrigue. The book touches upon the mysteries of beginnings and endings, game theory, and our deeper dark passions (of course all in an otherworldly fantasy).
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A perfect little science-fictional fantasy, a poetic deconstruction of the genre. Thoroughly enjoyable as an adventure, a tale of palace intrigue, and something more: an exploration of a beautiful and terrible ancient world with a reason for being. This was my first experience with John Crowley, and I can't wait to read more.
Almustafa Couch
"Balance" okay, that's enough of a spoiler. It is quite a good book, worth reading. Does display certain similarities with the overall story behind "Star Wars" it is however well crafted, in order to follow the story the synopsis is worth reading.
Christopher Sutch
Crowley's first novel. From time to time glimpses of the genius to come shine through, but mostly a forgettable novel. It does contain some interesting ideas, however.
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I expected more.
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting concept and execution making use of a strictly limited cast in a theatrical manner.
Dec 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
SF Masterworks Group: The Deep 1 4 Jul 19, 2013 05:28AM  
  • Unquenchable Fire (Unquenchable Fire, #1)
  • R.U.R. & War with the Newts
  • Sirius: A Fantasy of Love and Discord
  • Half Past Human (The Hive, #1)
  • The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe
  • Helliconia Trilogy
  • Floating Worlds
  • Transfigurations
  • Drowning Towers
  • Take Back Plenty (Tabitha Jute, #1)
  • Of Men and Monsters
  • Arslan
  • Wasp
  • The Complete Roderick
  • This Is the Way the World Ends
  • The Affirmation
  • The Dragon Masters [and The Last Castle]
  • Sarah Canary
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

John Crowley was born in Presque Isle, Maine, in 1942; his father was then an officer in the US Army Air Corps. He grew up in Vermont, northeastern Kentucky and (for the longest stretch) Indiana, where he went to high school and college. He moved to New York City after colle
More about John Crowley...

Fantasy & Science Fiction Deals

  • The Silent Shield (Kingfountain #5)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines #1)
    $3.99 $2
  • The Immortal Circus (Cirque des Immortels, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Boundary Crossed (Boundary Magic, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Lines of Departure (Frontlines, #2)
    $3.99 $2
  • Gateway to Fourline (The Fourline Trilogy, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Scourge of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood, #3)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Nightstalkers (Area 51: The Nightstalkers, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Book of Truths (Area 51: The Nightstalkers, #2)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Rift (Area 51: Nightstalkers, #3)
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Blight of Muirwood (Legends of Muirwood, #2)
    $3.99 $2
  • The Forsaken Throne (Kingfountain #6)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Caraval (Caraval, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Rebel Genius
    $6.38 $2.99
  • Time Patrol (Area 51: The Nightstalkers, #4)
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Secret Hour (Midnighters, #1)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • The King's Traitor (Kingfountain, #3)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Fear the Drowning Deep
    $16.99 $1.99
  • Insignia (Insignia, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Hollow Crown (Kingfountain #4)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Blood Rose Rebellion
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ocean of Storms
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Final Trade (The Dominion Trilogy, #2)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Timequake
    $8.99 $1.99

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“There are seven windows in the Queen's bedroom in the Citadel that is the center of the City that is on the lake island called the Hub in the middle of the world.
Two of the seven windows face the tower stones and are dark; two overlook inner courtyards; two face the complex lanes that wind between the high, blank-faced mansions of the Protectorate; and the seventh, facing the steep Street of the Birdsellers and, beyond, a crack in the ring of the mountains across the lake, is always filled at night with stars. When wind speaks in the mountains, it whispers in this window, and makes the fine brown bed hangings dance.”
More quotes…