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(Cities of the Weft #1)

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,780 ratings  ·  369 reviews
GOD IS DEAD, his corpse hidden in the catacombs beneath Mordew.

In the slums of the sea-battered city a young boy called Nathan Treeves lives with his parents, eking out a meagre existence by picking treasures from the Living Mud and the half-formed, short-lived creatures it spawns. Until one day his desperate mother sells him to the mysterious Master of Mordew.

The Master
Hardcover, 617 pages
Published August 13th 2020 by Galley Beggar Press
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Alex Pheby US Amazon's listing is incorrect. There's only one version, and it's 600+ pages.…moreUS Amazon's listing is incorrect. There's only one version, and it's 600+ pages.(less)

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Longlisted for The Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses 2021

Book 9/10

First of all, I want to express my happiness that a genre book was nominated for a literary award. I would like to think that finally people realized that fantasy/SF can be well written but I am afraid the nomination was due to the author previously experience in literary fiction.

My rating is for the novel and does not reflect my opinion on the audiobook narrator, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith*. He deserves all the stars
Paul Fulcher
I was a big fan of Alex Pheby’s previous two novels but approached this one with some trepidation. Fantasy is not my favourite genre (as a benchmark Lord of the Rings I abandoned in my younger days and more recently The City And The City and A Song of Fire and Ice I found ridiculous) and I also have a strong aversion to long novels - my ideal length is 100 pages and for anything over 250 pages the author has to work very hard to justify their demand on my time. Further the author himself had imp ...more
Morvrun  ☁Oneiromancer☁
Aug 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Well, first of all, I want to thank the people at Tor and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of Mordew to read in exchange for an honest review. And also many thanks to Alex Pheby for writing this wonderful novel.
In Mordew we bear witness to the story of Nathan Treeves, a child of the slums that has to earn a living in a harsh environment, with a mortally sick father and a mother who "blacks his eyes", meaning she earns a living by prostitution. Nathan tries to sell himself to the mysterious
Books with Brittany
Well with that ending I will most definitely be continuing.
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
When I was a young man in my teens and twenties (so, about 35-40 years ago), I read a lot of fantasy novels. It was never a conscious decision, but by the time I hit thirty, I had stopped reading those books and moved on to other things. This was purely a sign of my changing tastes in what I read: I didn’t have to plan it and I wasn’t even really aware of the change at the time and only realised when I looked back at what I was and had been reading.

Mordew is a fantasy novel. So, it represents a
Spencer Orey
Nov 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Weird fantasy. It's an odd mix of fresh and tired, full of pieces that shouldn't work but somehow come together in a cool way.

There's some interesting magic woven into this bleak Britishy world, even in bits of familiar story shapes about apprentices and evil masters. Any kind of nightmare thing can pop up, but so can glorious things like chivalrous talking dogs.

The narrative voice is pretty distant throughout, like it was always pushing me back and away from the city. Sometimes I liked that, b
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Longlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2021

Let me start with a disclaimer - I am not normally a fan of fantasy fiction, and this book is unashamedly set in a fantasy world, with many familar fantasy tropes. So I am not the best person to judge it, particularly relative to other fantasy writers - I read it because as a Galley Beggar subscriber I read all of their books. For all that, I found it a very enjoyable book to read, and never really got bored with the detail. Pheby is a versa
Dec 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Dark, enthralling and very different. I was surprised how engrossed I became in this adult fairy tale, probably because of the way it's narrated. The language used is so vivid that I could almost feel and see in front of me the strange magical objects being described and their fascinating ways of functioning. This is the story woven from lies and fractured plot lines that the reader needs to put together to understand what is really going on in this novel. The story begins with Nathan, a 13-year ...more
Sep 17, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, overdrive
I would not have continued listening to this audio book if it had not been narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith. I enjoy hearing his voice and the way he differentiates the characters, but that was pretty much all I enjoyed about this book. As the beginning of a trilogy, this too-long book tells less than a third of the story.

The book is full of the usual fantasy tropes. A boy has special powers, he is presented with challenges, he must defeat a powerful enemy, etc. This also has the trope of a gr
Li ☾
Oct 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is definitely up there as one of my favourites of the year .. actually ever!

Mordew is just the most wonderfully crafted gothic feeling adult fantasy.
Even though it is very much an ADULT read, it was also full of the imaginative fun & quirkiness you often find in a middle grade read which made for such a brilliant combo! .. It kinda gave me all the Tim Burton/Henry Selick/Neil Gaiman (Night before Christmas, Coraline, Corpse bride, Frankenweenie, Beetlejuice etc) vibes!!
It was dark,
Mar 10, 2021 rated it it was ok
Tedious read with very few understanding on the author's part on how to realize narrative tension. I enjoyed the worldbuilding, the overall construction of the fictional landscape: rainy, slimy Mordew with its slums, deadlife and Living Mud, protected by a Sea Wall against Firebirds, as opposed to green Malarkoi, with its strangely silent inhabitants and Mistress. The storyline was meandering, certain stories are picked up and left off at random, characters appear and disappear without further a ...more
Alexandra Elend Wolf
4.25 stars.

Thank you to Tor Publishing for allowing me the opportunity of reviewing this book.

“To be God, Nathan, is to be the Devil. Better to die than to be God.”

Reading, and reviewing, this book has been nothing short of an experience and I find myself at the end of it still being conflicted as to the best way to approach it. Overall, my emotions over this book are complicated and warring at best and muddled at worst, so I will endeavor to make my points as clean and clear as
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
I would actually suggest instead of reading this review you read my much better written review of the outstanding, intellectually stimulating “Lucia” – joint winner (with the equally brilliant “Murmur”) of the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize

When I heard Alex Pheby author of “Lucia” was writing a fantasy novel – I had originally anticipated a cutting edge dystopian novel – perhaps a world where cancel culture is reversed and artists embed NFTs in their
Nov 09, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Mordew was a rather interesting novel. it is the first book in a trilogy.

God is dead. His corpse lies under Mordew and is fed upon by the Master of Mordew. This gives him special powers. But sometimes, God's corpse has some of its power leech out into the world. One of the individuals that seem to have this power (called the Spark) is Nathan Treeves. But Nathan is from the slums and the son of poor parents.

However, there is a connection between Nathan and the Master. As Nathan comes to him for
Mar 30, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
I hesitated between giving 'Mordew' two or three stars, but upon consideration the flaws outweighed the virtues and I finished it feeling disappointed. That's a real shame as there's great potential in the concept, which convinced me to read it in the first place: god is dead and the city of Mordew is built on his corpse. Such a gothic idea is hard to resist. The city is on a peninsula and surrounded by a protective sea wall. Within the wall are slums full of living mud, overlooked by a wealthy ...more
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
Early Teens Fantasy

Alex Pheby's Mordew is a good example of how the smoke and mirrors of publishing in the UK can create something from very little. It is an extremely well made book with wonderful cover art as well as elegant packaging as well as bookmarks and lungworms. All very impressive and is a great example of a book that will look great on the shelf as well as a gift.

The problem is that the several clearly paid for reviews on this site are masking a fundamentally average and at times t
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Oppressively dark and deliciously Gothic, with shades of Oliver Twist or maybe The Lies of Locke Lamora, Alex Pheby’s Mordew is the opener to a new epic fantasy trilogy called Cities of the Weft. In it, we follow protagonist Nathan Treeves, a 13-year-old boy living in desperate poverty in the slums of the titular city. His father is very ill, suffering from the late stages of a parasitic infection called lungworm, which
Jenny Lawson
Sep 05, 2021 rated it liked it
I think this is a love-it or hate-it sort of book and I fall in the middle. It's a very ambitious fantasy with inventive world-building but it took days for me to finish it (which is a lot for me) and I just couldn't get into it. Then again, I sort of felt the same about Lord of the Rings and people fucking LOVE LOtR so maybe take my review with a grain of salt. ...more
Radan Petrović
Aug 22, 2020 rated it did not like it

I honestly don't know how this got published.
Masturbatory and pointless. The author got too caught up in his supposed clever world building to actually write a good book.

It's not really a story, or at least not a decent one. Extremely bloated, unfocused and dull.
Much like the main character...

I kept reading, hoping for something to redeem the book for me, but after seventy or so chapters of stuff happening to this dumb, ignorant dullard, I just gave up.

If you're someone who likes fant
Sep 27, 2021 rated it liked it
When Tor Books approached me and offered their new release Mordew for review I instantly agreed because of the blurb.

Nathan Treeves is a young boy eking out a meagre existence in the slums of a sea-battered city called Mordew, by picking treasures from Living Mud and the half-formed, short-lived creatures it spawns. Until the day he is sold by a desperate mother to a Master. The Master of Mordew, who derives his magical power from feeding on the corpse of God, that has been hidden in the cataco
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-read-books
This review was conducted based on an uncorrected advance proof, provided by the publisher (who I am very grateful to!). It originally appeared on my blog,

Before young hero Nathan's journey even begins, we find ourselves beguiled with promises of mysteries and wonders. We have a cast of characters, as well a list of some of the strange sights we will see as we turn the pages. The character descriptions have a wonderfully poetic, offbeat logic to them – one
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will admit I am not a big reader of fantasy. In fact, probably the last time I read it was back in 2010 when I decided to read all seven Narnia books. Saying that I was VERY excited to read Mordew as I knew it would take me out of my comfort zone and explore a genre where my knowledge of it could fill a thimble and leave room for the thumb.

As I expected Mordew is complex and to describe everything that is going on could create spoilers and ruin one’s fun in discovering all the secrets the book
Felicity Bentham
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Alex Pheby has created something incredible in Mordew. I don't read a lot of fantasy so I may be wrong but Mordew is truly unlike anything I've ever come across, it feels like a disservice to make the obvious comparisons to Gormenghast. It's so much more than that, the first of a trilogy Mordew follows the story of Nathan Treeves - a slum dwelling 13 year old living in the city of Mordew ruled over by the mysterious Master. I was fortunate enough to receive an advance proof so unillustrated but ...more
Nov 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This… is hard to rate correctly. And that never happens for me. If it weren’t for one scene of animal cruelty and the abrupt, unbalanced ending, this would be a 5/5 star read. The audio book was 5/5, 10/10, A+!

4.5⭐️ This might change as time goes on… that ONE scene really was unnecessary.
Dec 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2021
Nathan is eking out an existence in the slums of a city that is battered by the sea. He lives with his parents and the meagre earnings go to helping buy medicine for his father. He has a knack for extracting the strange and unusual creatures from the Living Mud, some he does by using the Itch within him to draw them closer.

The family is desperate though and his mother reached the point where she has to sell him to the mysterious Master of Mordew. This man draws his power from the corpse of God t
David Hudson
Feb 01, 2021 rated it liked it
Mordew is a dark fantasy novel that tells the complicated tale of Nathan Treeves, a slum boy with mysterious powers who apprentices to the Master of Mordew, the magical land built on the corpse of God.

This is the major selling point highlighted in the blurb: the corpse of God.

First off, Mordew is entirely fictional; it's hinted at that this is a post-apocalyptic future. With an enticing premise and some strong initial writing, the introductory passages in the novel are alluring, a treat. The wo
Murray Walters
Jan 27, 2021 rated it did not like it
Was extremely disappointed in this book. The reviews made it seem like it was incredible, but it was incredibly mediocre and badly put together. big sad
Maja Ingrid
Jul 16, 2022 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
The plot and worldbuilding was really solid. Characters so-and-so and pacing bit slow. Struggled with the writing and did whole lot of skimming.
Sep 13, 2021 rated it liked it
To be honest I am quite confused by this experience.
Experience is the right word when talking about Mordew. I can't tell if this book is a masterpiece or if it is an ambitious novel that actually achieves nothing, and builds and builds and builds without concluding anything.At the same time, though, I am almost sure that this uncertainty was the intention of the author.

At the same time I am not able to answer the simplest question ever asked.
Did I enjoy it?

I was surely captured, fascinated, I c
John Rennie
Sep 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I had high hopes for this book. The marketing blurb sounded terrific - a city built over the dead body of God. The problem is that it's not very well written.

An enormous amount of work has gone into the world building. There is a glossary almost as long as a novel that describes the world in great detail. I found the world building fascinating and the world very convincing, so in this respect the book is excellent. The problem is that the story itself wanders around all over the place will littl
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Alex Pheby is a British author and academic.

His latest book is Mordew, the first in a fantasy trilogy.

His second novel, Playthings, was described as “the best neuro-novel ever written" in Literary Review. The novel deals with the true case of Daniel Paul Schreber, a 19th-century German judge afflicted by schizophrenia who was committed to an asylum. In 2016, Playthings was shortlisted for the £30,

Other books in the series

Cities of the Weft (2 books)
  • Malarkoi (Cities of the Weft, #2)

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