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The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear

(Zamonien #1)

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4.23  ·  Rating details ·  16,870 ratings  ·  1,266 reviews
Captain Bluebear tells the story of his first 13-1/2 lives spent on the mysterious continent of Zamonia, where intelligence is an infectious disease, water flows uphill, and dangers lie in wait for him around every corner.

"A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen and a half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest," says the narrator of Walte
...more
Paperback, 704 pages
Published August 29th 2006 by Harry N. Abrams (first published March 28th 1999)
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Lars Klamer I truly don't understand how this book is not a worldwide classic. I really want to read more but most of it is not translated in Dutch.
Normally I…more
I truly don't understand how this book is not a worldwide classic. I really want to read more but most of it is not translated in Dutch.
Normally I read everything in English but since I read bluebear in Dutch I really want to read the rest in Dutch too. Only Bluebear, Rumo and City are translated in Dutch and they're quite hard to find.(less)
Yurano
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,870 ratings  ·  1,266 reviews


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Tom
Sep 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I spent the first 300 or so pages of this book trying to figure out whether it was a children's book for very advanced children or an adult book for readers who hadn't lost their sense of play and wonder. It's whimsically illustrated, audaciously imaginative, and has a distinked [sic] fascination with body odor. But to get some of the jokes, you need to have a passing familiarity with quantum physics, string theory, and academic politics. Eventually I gave up trying to categorize it and just enj ...more
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
Oh, My! Here goes the Zamonian shoplist of curiosities.
Q:
A bluebear has twenty-seven lives. I shall recount thirteen and a half of them in this book but keep quiet about the rest. (c)
Q:
A bear must have his secrets, after all; they make him seem attractive and mysterious. (c)
Q:
Winter is following autumn in its time-honoured way. The sun, cold as the moon, is sinking into the icy grey sea below my cliff, and the wind smells of snow. But there’s something else in
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J.L.   Sutton
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such a fun read! Walter Moers' The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear in turn felt reminiscent of Gulliver's Travels, Don Quixote and even Patrick Rothfuss's Name of the Wind. Captain Bluebear's explorations of Zamonia allow Moers to build a world which is quirky, original and expansive. The fact that the protagonist is a blue bear which interacts with all manner of creatures (including humans) is just one aspect of this strange world. The duel of lies, a cultural phenomenon of this world, dominat ...more
Paul
May 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who like the same thing, over and over and over again
Ehhh. If I would have been the editor on this book I would have cut out about, oh, 400 pages. And I would have asked if maybe, just maybe, we could work some STORY into the novel.

Really, the book is no more than a catalog of happenstance. I did THIS, and then THIS happened, and after that I went to THIS weird place where I did THIS weird thing. Multiply that by some 700 pages and you have a snorefest. Was it wildly inventive? Yes it was. Were there interesting characters? Certainly. What about
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Michael
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults who haven't grown up yet
Recommended to Michael by: Molly Billygoat


What do you get when you put a Blue bear in one of the most wonderfully imaginative worlds I have ever encountered in Fiction? In the hands of a master story teller and illustrator like Walter Moers you get a zany and wacky adventure with all manner of creatures, both lovable and scary and a reading experience like no other. Told almost as a biography of 13 1/2 of Blue bears 27 lives, readers like I are powerless to resist.

Joining the story with a very young Blue bear adrift floating in frightening seas within a w
...more
Amanda NEVER MANDY
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Bluebear is everything he should be and so much more than I thought he would be. Between the cover and the title, hell even the synopsis, I was up the proverbial shit creek without a paddle when trying to explain to people what my current read was. “Is that a children’s book?” “Are you high?” After stumbling and mumbling my way through a couple of barely coherent sentences I would make the second mistake, offer them the book. One quick flip, maybe a pause at a picture or two before gently placin ...more
Cecily
Jun 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Indescribable, mad book, but fun.

A blue bear tells of his bizarre adventures (half of his 27 lives) in a fantasy world of extraordinary creatures. Rescued and raised by mini pirates, taught to talk by Babbling Willows, navigator for a pterodactyl superhero etc etc. Interspersed with snippets from an encyclopaedia about the relevant creatures (shades of Hitchiker's), and plenty of pen and ink illustrations.

The overall effect is like a more adult version of Stewart and Ridell's Edge Chronicles,
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Nat K
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
”We’ve got something for you,” said the other wave. “A name!”
“Yes,” said the first wave, “ We're calling you Bluebear.”

The Babbling Billows obviously didn’t have much in the way of imagination, but still, I’d never had a name before.


We first meet Bluebear as a cub, where he is so tiny he fits in a walnut shell. Hurtling through a wild sea, he is saved from an early demise by a crew of Minipirates. And so begin the lives and adventures of Bluebear.

🌟🌟🌟FANTASTIC-al, magical
...more
Maria Elmvang
Jan 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Still love this book :) Walter Moers creates a vivid and imaginative universe and stays absolutely true to it to the very end. I've read a number of his books by now, and this is definitely the best.

I love his way of using the book media to tell his story, and though I generally don't care much for illustrations one way or another, here they definitely enhance the story. The characters are original and well described, and the 13.5 lives different enough to make for a very interesting
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Christine
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Humor is a very personal matter. What some people find funny, others find stupid. I've always tended to enjoy British humor more than American, outside of Mel Brooks. I prefer Blackadder over Mr. Bean. I love Little Britain, but don't really find Webb and Mitchell (or is it Mitchell and Webb?) to be as fulfilling. They seem to try too hard.

I enjoyed this book. I do see, however, how it will not be to everyone's tastes.

There is much in Bluebear that is amusing and wonderful. The story is very episodic,
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Adam Floridia
Jan 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star-books
This may sound tautological, but I'm disappointed that I didn't like this book. Obviously, one would be disappointed after reading a 700 page book he didn't enjoy, but there's something more here. It's like this poem.

I had been to Zamonia first in City of Dreaming Books and then again in Rumo. I enjoyed its quirky characters and the playful adventures they endured. And no one has more adventures than Bluebear--13, in fact, with many, many sub-adventures. Every single one places Bluebear in the most di
...more
Valerie
May 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Someone with a sense of humour, enjoyment of puns, and creative imagination
I picked it up because the cover art caught my attention and the title was so novel as to get me to skim through a few pages. It's a tome of a book, but really a fast read. Broken down into each of Bluebear's "lives" it's more of a collection of 13 1/2 stories than one contiguous story (though they do all tie in together, of course). It is reminiscent of a children's story book but with complex ideas so as to be interesting to the adult. But that kind of feel. A blue bear that rides on the back ...more
Furrawn
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audible
Quirky. Whimsical. Creative. Adorable. Fabulous illustrations.

The book is written and illustrated by Walter Moers. He is German, but the book was translated. I’m utterly enchanted.

I laughed out loud over and over. I annoyed my husband with repeated WAIT. JUST LISTEN. He didn’t find any of the things I read out loud as funny as I did. Dark humor.

I was reminded of Terry Pratchett. Of The Princess Bride. Of Paddington Bear. Of some of my favorite fairy tales that are multi-layered and
...more
Jon
Jun 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Someone looking for something different
Wow. This book was basically The Hitchhiker's Guide meets Where the Sidewalk Ends. It's exceptionally different and is a great book to escape reality in. There are many different stories full of memorable scenes and characters (Minipirates?).

Definitely recommended.
Twig
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
okay this was one of the best reads I ever had!
Walter Moers is a true genius of writting I love his style and I really wish that more people
would read his books. I read the german (original) version and I think its more as powerfull as the english translation..
Sylvester
Dec 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
This is not a normal book. If you want a normal book, this one is not for you. Moers is the King of Craziness. I imagine it (the ideas for his books) happening like this - Papa Moers has a child with insomnia, and the only way he can get this kid to fall asleep is to make up stories - long stories, stories that dredge every inch of his imagination (the most prodigious imagination ever)...

If you want to know who lives inside the eye of a tornado, or what its like to live in a mirage c
...more
Stephen Robert Collins
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Captain Blue bear ill by the author with crazy adventures of Mad Bear
This the book to read when you need to forget about something horrible to make you happy it's Terry Pratchett' Robert Rankin, P.G.Wodehouse, Family Guy & American Dad it is ....
Gretchen
Jul 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
The slipcover of this book compared the writing to Douglas Adams and J.R.R. Tolkein. While I agree that the author could be considered slightly clever and the book an epic saga, both become victims of too much of an almost good thing. This book is 700 pages of repetitive, redundant and reiterative rubbish. I was tempted to stop reading about 300 pages into it but for some unknown reason gave it a chance. Now, I want those last 400 pages of my life back! The endlessness of the story grew increasi ...more
Katri
Jul 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I had difficulties rating this book; I adored it, but not quite as much as Moers' other book which I read first, The City of Dreaming Books. But I'm still giving it five stars as well because it does deserve them, being a perfectly delightful and entertaining collection of weird and imaginative adventures.

I'm a little surprised at the number of negative reviews that this book has received on Goodreads. I think the problem must be that the readers went in expecting something quite different
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Jim Peterson
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: german, fantasy

I always try to write reviews for books that are not too well known, and I’ve been dragging my feet here. Since this is a such wonderful book by a talented and imaginative author, I’ve been afraid I won’t do it justice. It’s been over two years since I read this, but it’s still very much with me and fresh in mind the way only the best books can do.

Walter Moers is an excellent writer, though he has somewhat of a low-brow reputation in Germany due to his “The Little @$$hole” comic series, which I
...more
Anzu The Great Destroyer
I enjoyed reading The 13 Lives of Captain Bluebear in the beginning. However, after making progress with the book, I started to lose interest.

The characters are extremely unique to say the least. The world concepts are amazing, but the storytelling is far from good. The book needs a serious cleanup, say four hundred pages erased. I felt like more than half of it was pure filling. A bunch of chapters were useless, they had nothing to do with the story and the book could easily live without them.

The story lacks consistency;
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Cindywho
Sep 03, 2007 rated it it was ok
is a long an entertainingly illustrated book of silliness. It all starts with the Mini-Pirates and goes on from there. The silliness is charming but also so unrelenting that I had to take breaks. What do you expect from a German cartoonist who is responsible for a character called Little Asshole? (March 31, 2007)
Heidi The Reader
This book was very strange. It reminded me of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl. Moers writes page after page of strange creatures, worlds, and circumstances that are only connected because Bluebear passes through them. And, like in Dahl's book, I felt like the author was always hinting about a greater truth behind the story, as if The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear was more a gigantic allegory than a children's book. I enjoyed the fantastic nature of it but I didn't like the long lists of cr ...more
Gill
Aug 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
This is an enormous book my elder son just sent me because "I share his sense of humour". I love the short chapterlets and so far so good. I picked it up immediately thinking I must have won it on Goodreads, because "no one in his right mind would post such a heavyweight". Oh, well perhaps my son shares more than humour with me! ;-)

This has taken me an absolute age to wade through. I enjoyed the beginning and then the adventures / lives started to get a bit repetitive. Somehow undilu
...more
Paula
May 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
‘Life is too precious to be left to chance’ ~ Deus X. Machina

And so begins the amazing the story of Captain Bluebear and his many adventures during his 13/2 lives.

‘The 13/2 lives of Captain Bluebear’ has been compared to various books but I feel that the book can hold its ground in one of most original tales I have read, the twists, the characters, everything in the book was just a delight to read, from the mini pirates at the beginning to the ultimate ending (which I wil
...more
Sam
Oct 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite being written for kids (and being slightly repetitive at times) I really really enjoyed this book. It tells the story of Captain Bluebear's first 13 1/2 lives through his own words and some superbly imaginative illustrations. We follow Bluebear as he spends time with Minipirates, Hobgoblins, Babbling Billows, Reptilian Rescuers (by the way I really want my own Wolperting Whelps!), strange Professors, Muggs, Megabolloggs and tobacco dwarfs. We also find ourselves living large on Gourmet I ...more
Michelle
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
I'm pretty torn on this book. On the one hand, it's adorable. The pictures are great. It's so different. There were parts I really enjoyed beginning, middle, and end. And then there were parts I was just trying to get through beginning, middle, and end. And I don't very much like that this book and its author were compared to Tolkien, Rowling, and some others. It created an expectation within me that wasn't quite met. But again, there were some great parts of the story, fun characters. I loved t ...more
Frances
Mar 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantastical
To be fair, I had preconceptions of what this book would be like, because of the City of Dreaming Books (pro tip: not great). And neither was this. It's all over the map, the descriptions are EXHAUSTING (I straight up skipped them in the last 200 pages), and Bluebear is kind of a wimp.

Scratch that. Bluebear is a total wimp. He isn't funny, he's not very brave, he just sort of bumbles into these situations and uses his own ego to get out of them.

Neither am I all that entertained by t
...more
LandmineCat
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Based on its concept and length, this book should not have been as good as it was. It's a surreal series of bizarre events, with quite little focus on plot or development of side characters. It's essentially just a writer saying "look how creative i am!" and expecting that sprawling imagination to stand on its own, and not just stand alone but to do so for 700 pages. By all logic, attempting to write such a book should come across as self-indulgent or pretentious, or nothing more than a weird-fo ...more
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Walter Moers was born in 1957 and is a writer, cartoonist, painter and sculptor. He has refused to be photographed ever since his comic strips The Little Asshole and Adolf were published, the latter leading him to be declared persona non grata by the political right in Germany. Walter Moers lives in Hamburg.

Other books in the series

Zamonien (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Ensel und Krete. Ein Märchen aus Zamonien (Zamonien, #2)
  • Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures (Zamonia, #3)
  • The City of Dreaming Books (Zamonia, #4)
  • Der Schrecksenmeister (Zamonien, #5)
  • Zamonien. Entdeckungsreise durch einen phantastischen Kontinent. Von A wie Anagrom Ataf bis Z wie Zamomin
  • Das Labyrinth der Träumenden Bücher (Zamonien, #6)
  • Prinzessin Insomnia & der alptraumfarbene Nachtmahr (Zamonien, #7)
  • Die Insel der Tausend Leuchttürme (Zamonien, #8)
  • Das Schloss der Träumenden Bücher (Zamonien, #9)
  • Weihnachten auf der Lindwurmfeste
“Wednesdays were the best thing about Atlantis. The middle of the week was a traditional holiday there. Everyone stopped work and celebrated the fact that half the week was over.” 87 likes
“Life is too precious to be left to chance” 50 likes
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