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Tome of the Undergates

(Aeons' Gate #1)

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  1,587 ratings  ·  183 reviews
Lenk can barely keep control of his mismatched adventurer band at the best of times (Gariath the dragon man sees humans as little more than prey, Kataria the Shict despises most humans, and the humans in the band are little better). When they're not insulting each other's religions they're arguing about pay and conditions. So when the ship they are travelling on is attacke ...more
Hardcover, 612 pages
Published February 18th 2010 by Victor Gollancz Science Fiction (first published January 1st 2010)
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Dustin Edmison It was available on Kindle in the US... now it's not. Publishers. Meh. It's available as an ebook in some other countries if you want to use a VPN to …moreIt was available on Kindle in the US... now it's not. Publishers. Meh. It's available as an ebook in some other countries if you want to use a VPN to grab it.(less)

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Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A revered priest hired a band of adventurers to be his escort. The band consists of Lenk a man with a sword and a voice in his head, Denaos a career criminal, Kataria a pointy eared savage, Gariath a monster known as a dragonman, Dreadaelon a young wizard, and Asper a cursed priestess. This unlikely group takes on a high priced job to retrieve an especially dangerous book, the Tome of the Undergates, when it is stolen by a demon.

Tome of the Undergates simply fails to hold my attention. It has in
This is a rollicking tale, featuring a standard set of fantasy characters, off on an adventure. Sounds typical, but I promise it'd not. The book is receiving mixed reviews, at best. I can definitely see where others had problems with the book, but my enjoyment outweighed the potential problems with the plot.


The dialogue and humor are definitely the strongest parts of this book. It made me laugh out loud several times. The writing itself is actually very strong through out, POV approach not
Dec 07, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have to be honest. I thought this book was not-so-good. I have read a lot of books and a lot of author's first books and this has to be the worst.

Don't get me wrong, the story, when I could follow it, was a good one. It was the execution that was poor. Character development was terrible, plot development was haphazard, and it was impossible to follow dialog at times.

I'm still not sure exactly what the plot was trying to achieve. They lost the Tome even tho' they didn't know what it was, they f
Oct 16, 2011 rated it liked it
(Re-posted from http://theturnedbrain.blogspot.com)

You can’t help but admire an author with the audacity to open a book with an almost 200 page battle scene. No, that wasn’t a typo. The sprawling fight that opens Sam Sykes’ ‘Tome of the Undergates’ is as long as some novellas. It takes a certain kind of chutzpah to ignore the rules like that, and I tip my hate to Mr. Sykes for it.

In fact, I tip my hate twice, because unconventional as the opening was, I enjoyed every second of it. This surprised
Marc Aplin
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
I first heard of ‘Tome of the Undergates’ via Twitter. I had seen the rather interesting ‘@SamSykesSwears’ tweeter shouting out about Fantasy and generally interacting with users and causing a bit of chaos. I must admit, I actually hadn’t heard of the book until I clicked this ‘@SamSykesSwears’ profile button and found that he was in-fact an author.

I quickly read the synthesis of his book:

‘The name never uttered without scorn, they are long loathed for their knowledge of nothing beyond violence
Apr 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
There are books that are so bad to be funny, but this one while as bad as I've read in a long time is not that funny; if you like potty humor and enjoy a paragraph describing the potty habits of various characters and deep ruminations like "potty habits never change", or if you like juvenile humor going back and forth in the middle of supposedly tough fights, maybe you should try this one, but otherwise steer clear; I had high expectations when the book was announced but the reviews I saw kind o ...more
Marcus Gipps
Aug 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
Well, it's called Tome of the Undergates, and the cover is a man with a sword standing in water looking cool/like an idiot (delete according to preference). Of course it isn't going to be 'brilliant', depending on your definition of brilliant. There is no way that a non-fantasy reader would pick this book up and, unlike some other Gollancz debuts, I wouldn't recommend that they did. My trouble is, I'm not sure I'd recommend it to anyone else, either, which is more than a little unfair of me, as ...more
Ever wanted to read a novelization of an anime? While reading Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes I often felt that this was exactly what I'm doing.

We're following a group of misfit adventurers led by Lenk a silver-haired young man who hears voices in his head. He is accompanied by the thief Denaos, the peace-loving priestess Asper, the very young mage Dreadalion and two non-human companions. One is Kataria, a female shict (I never understood it completely...feral elf with wings, but really aggr
Oct 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013, e-books
4 Stars

Tome of the Undergates is one of those rare books that I want to give full marks just because I enjoyed it so damn much. In that regards this is 5 stars all the way and this type of novel is a guilty pleasure of mine. This sword and sorcery fantasy has it all, magic, swords, bows, dragonmen, demons, and even mermaids too. This is an epic adventure that takes place on land and on the sea. The cast is quite a mixed group that we get tidbits of information and backstory on, all through this
Aug 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Sam Sykes plays or has played D&D. I don’t know if this is true but I’m going to believe it anyway. While your average roleplayer might hope that their party of adventurers is something like the companions from Dragonlance, or Drizzt and his coterie, what they end up with is something more like the adventurers of Tome of the Undergates; a group whose only commonalities seems to be their contempt for one another and a willingness to kill just about anyone or anything. At least that is the case in ...more
Apr 17, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, Tome of the Undergates probably should have gone in my "abandoned" pile, but I persevered, hoping it would get better. It never did.

I love the basic idea that Mr. Sykes went with here - adventurers are jerks that are just out for themselves. After thinking about that, I decided I agreed completely. It is one of the harder problems to overcome in the fantasy genre: how do you make your characters decide they need to go on an epic quest? Gallivanting off in the world out of the good
I was tempted to give this book 4 stars, but a bit of a slog in the middle keeps that from happening. That said, the book starts out exciting, and has a great ending. What the hell happened in the middle? Oh well...

Would you like this book? Yes, if you want fantasy that is clearly for "classic" fantasy fans, and enjoy some humor as well. This is clearly an old "group of different people go on an adventure tale." There are strange monsters, intelligent species other than humans, and magic a-plent
Aug 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: epic, read-2011, fantasy, pyr

Who is Sam Sykes?  Parts of Tome of the Undergates would suggest he might be to fantasy what Douglas Adams is to science fiction or what Christopher Moore is to whatever the hell genre Christopher Moore writes.  Other parts make me think he's a glorified AD&D Dungeon Master who decided to write down his most recent campaign in painstaking detail.  And still others make me think he might be the next great voice in epic fantasy.  So I guess my answer to my o
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really could not get into this one
Blodeuedd Finland
My thoughts:

This was one big book of fights, I will tell you that at once. What a gang, I honestly thought they would kill someone in their own group, but it was also very amusing to read. I am taking a step back to explain.

Lenk is the leader, a young man with a sword and a voice in his head. What is going on? Is he loosing it? He started to really intrigue me after a while and when it ended I did want more of him. Other interesting characters include; Kataria, a warrior woman who hates humans a
Adrian Faulkner
Apr 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is quite a complex book to describe: Hyper-violent yet lyrical, funny yet incredibly moving at times.

There are issues with it, but I have to be honest and say I was relieved to find that they bothered me a lot less than I thought they would. They certainly didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book, which left me eagerly awaiting a sequel.

The first 200 pages skip along, not only giving us 3 skirmishes that make up the battle but introducing us to the six (yes six) protagonists, their relationshi
Dec 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

This gritty fantasy suffers from overly detailed battles and over the top dialogue but will serve to please anyone interested in a darker action-adventure plot.

Read my full review here:

Feb 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
The cast of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" as stars in a fantasy adventure novel. Well, not quite, but it's the best one-line summation of this series about a group of oddballs, jerks, and coward mercenaries going a mission to retrieve a magical trinket. This is an intentional throwback to Dungeons and Dragons style books, but with a gritty twist and an aim at R-rated humor and action.

It's not perfect by far - the author himself recommends starting with the City Stained Red, a book set in t
Beth Cato
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, fantasy
I read this as part of the collected trilogy An Affinity for Steel. I had previously read The City Stained Red, another book featuring these same characters.

This is pure, hardcore epic fantasy, with a fresh feel. The book reads like a bunch of people who hate each other are playing AD&D together, with everyone riffing off a different fantasy character trope. If anything, the hate aspect feels wearisome at times--I wanted to yell at them to stop snapping and sneering at each other--but I didn't f
Ranting Dragon
Feb 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: marty

Tome of the Undergates, the first book in The Aeons’ Gate, is the impressive debut novel of Sam Sykes, an energetic young author who was recently selected as The Ranting Dragon’s number one author to follow. The sequel to Tome of the Undergates, titled Black Halo, comes out on March 22, 2011.

In Tome of the Undergates, Lenk is an Adventurer, a profession which most believe is filled only with the scum of the earth. And with Adventurers such as the elf-like
Feb 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
A motley assortment of adventurers, led by Lenk, find it difficult to do anything but bicker with each other as they travel the world in search of pay. In fact, there seems to be not an ounce of goodwill between any of them - you'd think when their ship is attacked by pirates, it would mean they'd band together, but the insults just fly worse. As Lenk attempts to round them up and point them all in the same direction - towards the demon that has appeared to threaten their lives and souls - he re ...more
Sep 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2010
Sam Sykes is a very funny man. Reading his tweets and his blog makes this abundantly clear. He's not just funny, he's extremely likeable. When Tome of the Undergates was released the reviews were mixed. Some people thought it was wonderful and funny, others decried the pacing and crude humour. So, while eager to read the book, I approached it with a bit of trepidation; especially since Sykes has repeatedly stated that a reviewer's first duty is to be honest. What if I didn't like it? Luckily, de ...more
Ryan Lawler
Apr 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
A fantasy world completely different to our own, savage monsters that want to conquer the world, a magical artefact that holds the power to control the world, and a team of adventurers on a mission to retrieve the magical artefact from the savage monsters thereby saving the world. It sounds like a familiar story doesn’t it. A story that you have probably read in some shape or form many, many times. But what if the adventurers were the bad guys? What if the adventurers were despised because all t ...more
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ken by: Fantasy Faction
Tome of the Undergates is my August book club read with Fantasy Faction. Before I go into details, I have to say that this isn't the kind of Fantasy novel that people are used to. To really get into this book, you have to understand who Sam Sykes is. If you're not already following him on Twitter at @SamSykesSwears then you really should. The energy and outrageous humour that you see in his tweets are clearly present in this book.

The book begins with a sea battle that lasts a quarter of the boo
Shedrick Pittman-Hassett
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
From my blog: http://serialdistractions.com


For me, the term has always had a romantic connotation. Swashbuckler. Explorer. Hero. But in Sam Sykes' exciting and rambunctious series, the word is synonymous with cutthroat, murderer, and associated only with those who would take on the vilest of jobs. They are a step below even mercenaries and sell-swords. Adventurers are scum of the earth--and the protagonists of Sykes' book are hard-pressed to prove their reputations as otherwise.

Oct 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: didnt-finish
This is another one I put down and never picked back up. It really needs a couple of different ratings. One for ideas/creativity, the other for writing ability.

One interesting thing to start- I believe that Sam Sykes is the son of Diana Gabaldon. I like the fact that he used a different name instead of riding on her popularity.

This is a fairly standard fantasy adventure with fairly standard fantasy characters: the leader ( not really sure why he's the leader), the feisty female warrior, the upti
Oct 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A new fantasy novel that follows a adventure team led by Lenk, as they search for a world ending treasure. Lenk has grey hair, is short, young and has a lot of problems. He is followed by a pointy eared Shick, who lives in trees, hates humans, shoots a bow and seems to sound a lot like Tolkien's elves. The love hate relationships between the two and their inability to communicate is a ongoing sub-plot. They are 'helped' by a giant dragonman, a rouge, a healer and a boy-wizard. Only the healer an ...more
May 13, 2015 rated it liked it
This is a tough book to rate. There are as many impressive factors in Sam Sykes' Tome Of The Undergates, as there are deterrents.

For a book with 600+ pages, Sykes' prose carries you easily through the narrative. It's easy to read with good characterisation and descriptions. He has a particular knack for writing sharp and often humorous dialogue and the banter between his characters was one of my favourite things about Tome Of The Undergates.

The characters themselves are a generally flawed and
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
I liked this book, but I can see why a lot of people would not. It has a frenetic energy - even the font is interspersed with capitalized text and italics. It also has so much gory description that I became somewhat numb to the fight scenes later on. There were parts of it that I loved, mainly following the main cast as you learned more about their motivations and misgivings. This is a group of characters with more fears than strength and more doubts than goals. There is a lot of flippant/sarcas ...more
Dec 14, 2014 rated it liked it
A riotous tale which uses and abuses classic RPG tropes. The character classes are familiar but strain against this initial categorization and are refreshingly conflicted. However, too much emphasis was placed on the incessant verbal sparring and oneupmanship between party members. The author has a knack for dialogue and action sequences but too often allows the plot to fall by the wayside. The book's misguided treatise on adventurers and a grotesque torture scene should have been culled but it ...more
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Sam Sykes is the author of Tome Of The Undergates, a vast and sprawling story of adventure, demons, madness and carnage. Suspected by many to be at least tangentially related to most causes of human suffering, Sam Sykes is also a force to be reckoned with beyond literature.

At 25, Sykes is one of the younger authors to have arrived on the stage of literary fantasy. Tome Of The Undergates is his fir

Other books in the series

Aeons' Gate (3 books)
  • Black Halo (Aeons' Gate, #2)
  • The Skybound Sea (Aeons' Gate, #3)

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