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The Paper Grail

(The Christian Trilogy #2)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  498 ratings  ·  19 reviews
Curator Howard Barton goes to Mendocino, California, to get a 19th-century woodcut sketch for his museum back home. But other, rather strange, people want the sketch for their own dubious purposes. Now Howard's caught in the middle of a secret war that somehow involves a piece of paper that is much more than it seems.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 1st 1992 by Ace (first published 1991)
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3.96  · 
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 ·  498 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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Eli Bishop
Sep 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-sff
This book has a lot in common with Blaylock's All the Bells on Earth , which is to say that they're both basically things Charles Williams might have written if he'd lived 50 years later in California and if he'd been a bit more cheerful. There's the same sense that cosmic magical systems are just ambling along like a friendly game of cards that people keep taking breaks from; that everyone's flawed, but that the bad guys' flaws are pettier and ickier; and that everyone, including most of the b ...more
Lissa Notreallywolf
Feb 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Blaylock has an ability to create a setting, which although populated by mad characters is as real as the taste mustard after a picnic. A museum curator, Howard, is a typical rootless drones, who returns to a coastal Northern California town familiar from his youth, with people from an era when his heart was more engaged. He has some dream-like episodes, and like one awakening from a long sleep, he is disoriented and confused throughout most of the book. Some of this is directed at an old flame ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Jan 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
An interesting quest by a man who starts out apparently looking for one thing...and ends up on a quest he never expected. Along the way he meets some strange, unusual, and meaningful people.

I found myself a little surprised that I enjoyed this book, but I did. It's one of 2 Blaylock books I've read. I plan to read more.
Jul 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
I became completely immersed in this book. There's fog, and hippies who glue things onto other things, and a central strangeness, and at some point I realized I'd dropped all hints of analysis and was just reading to find out what happened.

The main character has lost his purpose in life, leading him to fixate on a task he thinks he can do. Trying to do it leads him to find much more than he was seeking for, in an unpredictable and often silly way. A very lighthearted book, for all the fog and de
Dec 04, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars; enjoyable and quirky. It took me a bit of time to get hooked but the characters are very distinctive even if you know where the plot is going.
Jan 19, 2013 rated it really liked it

First, I'm horrified to see that it's been months since I updated my Goodreads page. Of course, I've barely updated anything FB-related or sourced for a while, something I hope to change.

Meanwhile, I've gotten back in touch with James Blaylock, a writer I've known as a friend and an author I've read for something like 25 years. Somehow I'd managed to miss reading PAPER GRAIL, a story about a fairly quirky quest for an important piece of paper in a small community on the coast of northern Califor
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Another great yarn about an unlikely hero caught up in an extraordinary plot based, like The Last Coin, on some of the mythology the arose about the origins of Christianity.
Ben Loory
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
so much fun. didn't want it to end. haven't enjoyed flipping pages like that in a long time.
Rebecca Stevenson
May 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Blaylock ruled weird *way* before weird was cool.
Carolyn V.
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
this is one of the funnest, most unusual contemporary fantasy novels out there.
Kari Gritzan
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Aaaaaah I love this book.
Tim Meechan
This was the first Blaylock novel I read and I was immediately hooked. His quirky characters, even crazier plots, and ability to weave mysticism with reality, are matched by no one.

I read this so many years ago so I will not try to summarize it or describe it's genius, but I am willing to guarantee you'll love it.
Nov 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
My rating is probably closer to 2.5 stars, but I rounded up. This was the weakest book in Blaylock's Christian trilogy. While I thought the main protagonist was less of an odd-duck than the heroes of the other two books (The Last Coin and All the Bells on Earth), this book seemed more odd and obtuse than the other two. I was never quite sure why anything was happening and felt that most of the key elements of the book were discussed minimally and a lot of focus on minute events that didn't affec ...more
This forms sort of a loose trilogy, apparently, with All the Bells on Earth, which I haven't yet read, and The Last Coin, which I read and enjoyed several months ago. Here, the various characters are on a quest for the Grail, which takes an odd, yet powerful form. I liked the misty north coast California setting, and I always like Blaylock's quirky characters, but I did think the plot took too long to get going.
Jun 21, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasyadventure
I was disappointed with this Blaylock story. It is hilarious at times but the plot is not compelling enough for me to recommend to anyone but hardcore Blaylock fans. That said, I would like to move out to the west coast now, particularly the little town of Mendecino (if it exists) and buy an old boarded-up shack to for storing John Ruskin artifacts.

The Last Coin is still number in my Blaylock list.
im giving this a 2/5 though i might amend to a 3/5 after some thought, or maybe after a re-read.

This reminded me a david lynch setting, small town with small town people involved in something large but its not entirely obvious what it is.

certainly one i will come back to in a 1 year or so to make a final judgement. :)
First read around 1992.
Kelly Spoer
My first Blaylock.

It wasn't bad.... but I wasn't blown away by it.

However, from what I've read about it, this isn't his best book. So I look forward to his other stuff.
Neil Adams
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Oct 19, 2015
Jim Sanderson
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Feb 15, 2014
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James Paul Blaylock is an American fantasy author. He is noted for his distinctive style. He writes in a humorous way: His characters never walk, they clump along, or when someone complains (in a flying machine) that flight is impossible, the other characters agree and show him why he's right.

He was born in Long Beach, California; studied English at California State University, Fullerton, receivin

Other books in the series

The Christian Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Last Coin (Christian Trilogy, #1)
  • All the Bells on Earth (Christian Trilogy, #3)