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The Well at the World's End

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  494 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
The Well at the World's End was among the very first of its kind--it is an epic romance of duplicity, machination, passion, and wizardry, and is, in short, a vast odyssey into the weird. It is a beautifully rich fantasy, a vibrant fairy tale without fairies. It is the most entrancing of William Morris's late romances--part futuristic fantasy novel, part old-fashioned fairy ...more
Paperback, 592 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Boomer Books (first published 1896)
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Connie Jasperson
First published in 1896, and now in the public domain, The Well at World's End by William Morris has inspired countless great fantasy authors. J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were students at Oxford when they became devotees of Morris's work, to name just two. I first read this book in college back in the dark ages, when Ballantine released it as a two-volume set.

This fairly unknown literary treasure is now available free, as a download for your Kindle or other reading device. I got my Kindle vers
4.5 Stars! It was an excellent adventure, full of knights, lovely ladies, mystical adventures, battles and a quest. You can't get much better than that. I'm surprised that it's not more well-known.
Mar 18, 2012 rated it liked it
A classic example of pre-Tolkien fantasy, this book was an incredible slog, in both good and bad ways. On the one hand, incredibly loooong, complex and full of too many side stories and obscure references. On the other, incredibly familiar--I kept meeting places, characters, themes and scenarios that have been reborn many times into modern fantasy because they are so powerful, interesting, useful, or just plain fun. I also enjoyed the archaic language, even though it made the story occasionally ...more
Vishal Katariya
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The Well at the World's End

I'm very interested in fantasy literature, and enjoy reading it very much. A few months ago I'd read The King of Elfland's Daughter, and now I've just read an even older book by William Morris. It was first published in 1896 and is considered to be one of the first modern fantasy works in English.

I found that the book was quite misogynistic - is this something that I should have expected given the timeline of its publication? The important characters all seem to be men
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I can't believe I waited this long to read this classic fantasy novel. When I began, and got into it well, I could scarcely put it down.

Written in an old-English style that is a pleasure to some and a hindrance to others (very much a pleasure to me), The Well at the World's End is a romantic fantasy of a quest for the marriage of youth and wisdom, or, in sooth, true eternal life. Not a life that does not end, for though long-lasting indeed, yet death shall at last come as a comfort to the man or
Oct 13, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Read this--tried to read this because it has been cited as influencing both C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasies a generation later. If this was what they were forced to read, no wonder they wrote their own.

The story, a typical youngest son questing novel, isn't so bad but the storytelling is terrible. Morris tries to recreate medieval language, but ends with something stilted and unreadable.

Don't waste your time. Disappointing.
E.A. Lawrence
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic adventure with great characterization and best of all a female character with character. Yay! I can see why this book inspired so many subsequent fantasy novels.
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books
Lectura imprescindible para todo aquel que desee adentrarse en la historia del género de fantasía, y sin embargo es un libro muy difícil de recomendar. Estamos ante una obra muy larga, en la que suceden muchas cosas, hay muchos personajes y encima está deliberadamente escrita en un inglés anticuado de inspiración medieval que en muchas ocasiones dificulta su lectura e impide que se avance muy rápido. Aún así, no es de extrañar que sea una de las obras más importantes de la fantasía pre-Tolkien, ...more
Micah Dunlap
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the hero, Ralph, is practically invincible through half the story, and then the other half of the story he’s invincible AND immortal. but you gotta appreciate how consistently meloncholy the whole damn thing is.

sucks that there’s no monsters tho :/
Kurt Henry
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ignore reviews that say this masterpiece, perhaps the first true fantasy novel, is "needlessly written" in an "Old English" style. There are several archaic words that Morris uses repeatedly and he has a preference for words not derived from latin. Anyone can survive a mere handful of colorful archaisms. If one dislikes anachronistic dialogue (as when soldiers with bows are commanded to "fire," this is the antidote. Tolkien and Lewis, on the night they met, shared their love of this magical book ...more
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William Morris was an English architect, furniture and textile designer, artist, writer, socialist and Marxist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement. Morris wrote and published poetry, fiction, and translations of ancient and medieval texts throughout his life. His best-known works include The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems (1858), The Earthl ...more
More about William Morris...
“Let tomorrow cross its own rivers.” 2 likes
“When a rich man is hurt his wail goeth heavens high and none may say he heareth not.” 1 likes
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