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(Ambergris #3)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  3,006 ratings  ·  317 reviews
In Finch, mysterious underground inhabitants known as the gray caps have reconquered the failed fantasy state Ambergris and put it under martial law. They have disbanded House Hoegbotton and are controlling the human inhabitants with strange addictive drugs, internment in camps, and random acts of terror. The rebel resistance is scattered, and the gray caps are using human ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 3rd 2009 by Underland Press
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ImagineSaphira I believe I read somewhere that only 500 copies were printed. I have found several on, but for $87+ dollars. Maybe you can find it in e-bo…moreI believe I read somewhere that only 500 copies were printed. I have found several on, but for $87+ dollars. Maybe you can find it in e-book format.(less)

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Dan Schwent
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: new-weird
Detective John Finch gets assigned to an impossible murder case, one of the victims being a man thought dead for a hundred years. Finch's case takes him all over Ambergris and up against a crime lord, his Gray Cap superiors, The Partials, and makes him question everything he believes. Can Finch solve the case before he becomes another victim?

After City of Saints and Madmen, I was leaning toward passing on the rest of VanderMeer's work and dismissing him as a pretentious bastard. Shriek, the seco
Jan 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people sick of kitschy, mediocrity
If anyone tells you it's fine to read Finch if you haven't read the other 2 books set in Ambergris, don't believe them, they most likely haven't read both of the other books and don't understand how essential they are for a complete understanding of Finch
This book would have been decidedly less impressive if i hadn't read the whole Ambergis Cycle. In the back of the Finch novel it says "Although each of the Ambergris novels stands alone, together they form the complete 'Ambergris Cycle', a vast
Richard Derus
Nov 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Pearl Ruled

Rating: 3* of five (p139)

The Book Description: In Finch, mysterious underground inhabitants known as the gray caps have reconquered the failed fantasy state Ambergris and put it under martial law. They have disbanded House Hoegbotton and are controlling the human inhabitants with strange addictive drugs, internment in camps, and random acts of terror. The rebel resistance is scattered, and the gray caps are using human labor to build two strange towers. Against this backdrop, John Fin
After a couple of “meh” books, I needed something I knew I’d enjoy, and a visit to Jeff VanderMeer’s fungus-haunted city never fails to delight. I had read “Finch” many years ago, and it seemed like a good time to revisit it.

The magnificent, byzantine city of Ambergris that we step into when we crack open “Finch” is not the same one we visited with “City of Saints and Madmen” ( after thirty years of bitter civil war between the two mercantile empires of Ho
Dec 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I had some initial hesitation when I first read about this book-a blend of fantasy and noir? I don't know about that. Then I read some of VanderMeer's comments about this being rooted in the post-9/11 post-invasion of Iraq landscape, and I just got more worried. "Great," I thought. "An urban fantasy detective novel full of heavy-handed political messages."

But still, I've loved (most of) what I've read of VanderMeer's work, especially the Ambergris stuff, and so I figured I'd give Finch a shot.

Mar 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
5 really big stars...

First, this book would not nearly be as good to a reader if you have not first read the previous two stand alone Ambergis novels. It is quite a literary achievement that one writer, Vandermeer could sculpt three totally uniquely stylized stories(actually many more than that as City od Saints and Madmen is a collection of many stories.) and put them together in a way that works. The payout of these style changes is immense and totally satisfying. It is quite amazing how diffe
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror
World Fantasy Award winner Jeff VanderMeer, in the anthology New Weird , defined the 21st century’s first major literary movement.

“New Weird is a type of urban … fiction that subverts the romanticized ideas about place found in traditional fantasy, largely by choosing … complex real-world models … that may combine elements of science fiction and fantasy. [It:] has a visceral, in-the-moment quality that often uses elements of surreal or transgressive horror for its tone, style, and effects.”

It took me nearly three years to get through Finch.

I picked it up the first time, got started and found myself stopping for what, at the time, was an inexplicable reason. I had already read and loved both City of Saints and Madmen & Shriek: An Afterword. The former for its insane originality and the latter for the way it appealed to my post-modern academic self. But I couldn't break ground in Finch, so I put it down and thought I'd take another crack later.

I don't know how much later I started
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: new-weird
Actual rating: 3.5/5

Time for a confession: I haven't read first two books of Ambergris series (City of Saints & Madmen and Shriek: An Afterword). As a result, some of the story's nuances are lost on me. On the other hand, each of the books in the series is supposed to work as a standalone.

Meet John Finch, a reluctant detective working for the Gray Caps, a humanoid-fungal lifeform which rules Ambergris - a crumbling place of decay and despair. John likes whiskey and women. He doesn't like Gray C
Feb 06, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Finch is a detective. Finch has a secret in his past. Finch isn't really a detective. Finch isn't even his real name. Finch by Jeff VanderMeer is a book. It promised so much. It delivered so little. Much like the irritating and unnecessary form that his sentences took.

There are so many problems with this novel, but the biggest one is a question of likability. At no point did I find myself caring about this 5th rate Marlowe (and not to spoil the surprise but the name Marlowe is actually used in t
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Not since Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, with its oppressive depiction of a world overrun by decay and kipple, have I felt the walls of a fictional world close about and suffocate me so effectively. It's perverse, but Ambergris is a a beautifully ugly city, and Vandermeer is a loving tour guide who does not shy away from the seedy back alleyways.

Despite its fantastical trappings, Finch is hard-boiled noir through to its infected heart. John Finch is the prototypical
Andrea McDowell
Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
I've been a fan of VanderMeer since the Area X series, and was disappointed for years that his first series, Ambergris, was out or print. When a single-volume bound edition was released last fall (and such a pretty one too--I love the cover) I was super happy to get a copy for Christmas.

VanderMeer writes in the New Weird genre, and these books are plenty weird. I was surprised to see how many themes present in his most recent work were there in Ambergris as well: tunnel/towers infested with stra
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
21 March 2010 - ****. Book checked out according to local library catalog. Hold placed. Patience required. But dw visited library and through consequences of interlibrary loan unexpectedly the book is in my hands. New book; 10 day checkout. However, through consequences of interlibrary loan I only get 7 days. Must be read immediately. No earlier Ambergris to read. No earlier Ambergris exists at the library anyway. Must be read immediately. Shortage of verbs. Verbs for sale! Verbs for sale!

So thi
Eric Orchard
Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: fantasy
Less then halfway through this book it easily became one of my favorite books and definitely my favorite Jeff VanderMeer book. Ambergris comes alive here in a totally new way, revealing hidden depths and strange new Burroughs. It has the sense of richness of the previous Ambergris books but with an added sense of immediacy and truancy as it's a detective novel. A very hard boiled detective novel that reads more authentic and original then many contemporary "straight" noirish detective books. For ...more
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
I found this to be a curious book. Interesting and undoubtably imaginative and definitely more readable than his first Ambergris book, which while commendable for being experimental and pushing the boundaries of fiction and writing styles, was too 'bitty' for me and hard work to be honest. Maybe I'm a lazy reader but it took me a lot of concerted effort to finish his first book, but Finch was much more readable and enjoyable. A mix of SF and Noir that had a lead character who engaged me and made ...more
Thomas Edmund
Oct 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Finch exists in a world where fungus rules, (or at least fights to) a typical subversive investigator, the main character must choose what side he is on in the battle between relatively unintelligible forces.

The story was OK, my main problem being unsure how seriously to take it. The fungus setting was equal parts sinister then grossly humorous.

The prose was mostly easy to read, although jumping through tenses tended to pull one out of the story.

In the end I wouldn't rate Finch the highest, but
Dávid Novotný
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very strange but also catchy story. Although it reminded other books from the author, it's still pretty unique. Finch is not hero, he is just some guy truing to get by, getting beaten on each end every step. Setting is very intriguing, world occupied by some strange race, slavering citizens, using mushrooms and spores to recreate and control the whole city. Although last piece in trilogy, works as self standing book. Some things you wont understand from the start, some you won't understand at al ...more
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rereads
5+ out of 5.
I don't know why I only gave this four stars the first time I read it. It is a tremendous novel, a fitting capstone to the Ambergris trilogy -- although, just like I did ten years ago, I long for more. FINCH is a demented noir, a shakey-cam first-person look at the city that we've so far only seen from various distances. I felt the same flutter in my chest as I did when I first visited Ambergris, the same sorrow to leave it as I did too.
This one's terrific, particularly if you've re
Oct 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Using up my Australian Amazon gift cards I treated myself to this new book.

This was a dark and brutal murder mystery set it a brilliant world of dominant species fighting for supremacy. I didn't realise at the time this was part of a trilogy however it stands alone nicely as I didn't feel like I was missing much from not having the read the other two. The writing is blunt and how I imagine old detective movies would have seemed written down, it did take a little while to get into the swing of re
Timothy Moore
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A perfect blend of science fiction and mystery - a real joy to read! I hope that this book gets republished so I can sell it at the bookstore!
Apr 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Steampunkficfans still hard-boiled but gone a little moldy
Recommended to Alan by: Cover blurbs and several pages of quotes inside
Curt. Clipped. Laconic. Short phrases, clenched jaw delivery. Sentence fragments, building up a mosaic, stone by stone. Beyond hard-boiled. Crusted over, and shot through with mold. That's Finch.

If this style bothers you, beware of Finch--the entire book is that way, by intent. But the staccato delivery suits the subject, and I did find myself liking this novel more than I thought I would.

VanderMeer's musty, bedraggled city of Ambergris seems perpetually to be in twilight, literally or metaphori
Feb 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, crime
Quite different from the other Ambergrisian novel I read (Shriek: An Afterword) in that this is some kind of fusion of dark urban fantasy with hard boiled detective genres although the underlying themes examined are the same. Consequently, while the story stands on its own, much will be lost on the reader unfamiliar with the either of the previous two books written in strange city.

Detective Finch, whilst investigating a peculiar murder, unwittingly finds himself at the focal point of a much larg
William Gerke
Nov 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
I should warn readers that "Finch" is the last book of Vandermeer's Ambergris cycle. While the three books are completely different genres and modes, they share a common geography and (as I learned late in "Finch"), this one answers questions raised in the first two. That said, I enjoyed reading it on its own, and I don't think I'll be put off reading the others.

"Finch" felt very much like Graham Greene's "The Third Man" if the Allies occupying Vienna were fungal creatures and their half-human s
Gio Clairval
Aug 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Arcimboldo painted portraits of human heads made up of vegetables, fruit, sea creatures and tree roots. In the third novel set in the universe of Ambergris, Jeff VanderMeer depicts characters infected with fungal alterations that make them hybrids between humans and gray caps, a race that holds the dying city, erecting mushroom buildings and wiping out all resistance. Ambergris has her collaborators, the Partials, halfway in their metamorphosis. The citizens worship a hero, the Lady in Blue, but ...more
Sep 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Like a cross between Dashiell Hammett, China Mieville, and Philip K. Dick, stirred up with a sauce of disgusting fungus covering everything.

Sparse language, creeping paranoia, and a twisted plot make this one you don't want to miss.

It's a standalone novel, but based in the same world as Shriek: An Afterword, and the collection City of Saints & Madmen. There were some aspects of the ending I don't think I "got" fully because I hadn't read the previous two, but nothing that impaired my enjoymen
Caroline Mersey
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, book-club
The first time I read Finch it made me quite cross. I was in love with Ambergris. It had a rich history and vitality that few fictional worlds seem to have. And here the author was, trampling over his elaborate creation, like a small child gleefully stomping on a sandcastle in an orgy of destruction. But this is a fantastic novel. And a fitting end to the Ambergris sequence of books. The noir style blends incredibly well with this story of occupation and rebellion, reminiscent of Eastern Europe ...more
Mark Tallen
This is a good novel by Jeff Vandermeer. I highly recommend that before reading this though, the reader Should read 'City of Saints and Madmen'. ...more
Stuart Coombe
Not what it should have been. Certain characters (the skery for example) and situations - and the grey caps themselves - should have made up more of the book. Perfectly fine but Finch was slightly caricature: a detective who drinks whisky, very tough, aloof..

Fine but not Jeff’s best work by some distance.
Adam Fendrych
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Don't get discouraged if you - like me - don't like crime books. As the hero notes, he is not a detective, and he investigates very little indeed. Instead, you get an astonishing load of weirdness, organic transitions, time and space distortions, and very few precise descriptions. Your fantasy will run like crazy. ...more
Matthew Rettino
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A thrilling book of outrageous creativity that keeps the focus claustrophobically tight around Finch's point of view as he investigates an impossible murder for his mushroom-people overlords. As crazy as this sounds, Jeff VanderMeer makes it work. The grey caps function as a fungal metaphor that could stand for any occupying group of colonizers. You'll never look at a shroom the same way again.

Recommended reading especially for people who have read VanderMeer's Wonderbook, in which he goes into
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NYT bestselling writer Jeff VanderMeer has been called “the weird Thoreau” by the New Yorker for his engagement with ecological issues. His most recent novel, the national bestseller Borne, received wide-spread critical acclaim and his prior novels include the Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance). Annihilation won the Nebula and Shirley Jackson Awards, has been translat ...more

Other books in the series

Ambergris (3 books)
  • City of Saints and Madmen (Ambergris, #1)
  • Shriek: An Afterword (Ambergris, #2)

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