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Lens of the World (Lens of the World #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  467 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Lens of the World recounts the coming of age of Nazhuret, an outcast and orphan who rises from his lowly estate as a ward of the Sordaling military school to become a mighty warrior, philosopher, and confidant of the king of Bestinglon himself. The first of a series chronicling the life of Nazhuret!
Hardcover, 286 pages
Published June 1st 1990 by William Morrow & Company (first published 1990)
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Kat  Hooper
Nov 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
3.5 Originally posted at FanLit

Nazhuret was an ugly half-breed orphan when he started life at an exclusive military school, but now he’s someone important. So important, in fact, that the king has asked him to write his autobiography. Who is this man who has fascinated a king, what is he now, and how did he come so far in the world?

Lens of the World, published in 1990, is the first book in R.A. MacAvoy’s LENS OF THE WORLD trilogy. It’s a coming-of-age stor
Aug 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
3.5 stars. This is a unique fantasy novel is different from your standard fantasy fare. It is always nice to find a book that doesn't fit in the same old fantasy mold. Well written with a good main character. Not exciting enough for me to rush out and read the sequel but I will eventually get to it.
May 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Oh wow, what a book. I was reaching for a way to describe the feel of it, and I suppose the best one was 'Diana Wynne Jones meets Umberto Eco,' and yet not. There is the sense of a thoroughly sensible fantasy setting, not flashy but deep. Erudite things happen, there is learning and science (mindfulness!) and wisdom, and then, later, oh, yes, the wars and the intrigue and the occasional hint of the supernatural. Often dark, never grim, sometimes horrible, always told with a light touch that emph ...more
Aug 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Katie by: picked it up on a whim; library was out of Ngaio Marsh
If I decide to create a "guilty pleasure" shelf, this book will be the first one on it. Ooooooo, I just love it. It reminds me of These Old Shades, which goes next to it. Swashbuckling and melodrama laid on with a trowel. It's the rare fantasy novel written in the first person, and it's also an epistolary novel, which is, um, novel in this genre, at least to me. (Sorry.)

I do wish it had had pictures, which I feel about most fantasies I like. I wish Nazhuret spent less time kicking people's butts
Jakk Makk
Jan 13, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not my kind of content.
Sep 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Well, I listened to Lens of the World alllllllll day and alllll evening, and finished it off this morning.

IOW, yes, I liked it. :)

I'd never heard of this before very recently, and I don't understand why it isn't better known; on the other hand, it has been mentioned here on the forum before, and since it was published smack in the middle of the period in which I was doing the least sff reading, I may just have missed it. It's really very nice -- mostly gentle and charming in voicing and story, t
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
MacAvoy does as she pleases. That's the oddest thing about her books. She doesn't feel obligated by expectations of a novel, she just picks what she wants to write about and writes it. So in Tea With the Black Dragon you get a very odd narrative detective romance that has only just enough sauce to hold the dish together, in The Gray Horse--no, I can't explain the Gray Horse-- and here in the Lens of the World you get a character with no clear or abiding quest or narration getting trained for no ...more
Bronwyn Hegarty
Jan 28, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed it after 'wading' a little through the first part and getting used to a different style of writing. The story becomes really interesting once Nazhuret is turned out of Powl's brutal 'teaching academy', by page 60, and makes his way in the world. However, looking back, the significance of N's earlier life as described at the beginning is really important information for the development of the story. Many adventures unfold and secrets are revealed as the narrative progresses. It is easy ...more
Grady McCallie
Jul 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This reminded me of the much more recent the Name of the Wind, another novel that is set in a fantasy world and recounts how a figure of power and mystery grew into his current reputation. But, I enjoyed Lens of the World much more - it is more tightly plotted, with better control of narrative voice, and a lovely writing style. The main character is also more likable, once he has finished his training. He is far from perfect, but his impulses are good, sometimes despite his better judgment, and ...more
Mar 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
First of a trilogy told in first person by the protagonist, an ugly boy-child of no certain origin named by an unknown 'uncle' with the unusual name of Nazhuret. Raised in a class and race conscious society this person transcends his world like the Jungian archetypal Law Giver. He becomes the one who is able to be both among and separate from his society so lead them to a new path. Thus Nazhuret becomes the lens of the world.
This first is the story of Nazhuret's journey beyond his known world, i
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A classic of the genre, which should be on everyone's to be read pile.
Lenora Good
Aug 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just finished this book on my eReader. It had been several years since the series first came out, in 1990 I think, and therefore several years since I first read it. I have been a fan of MacAvoy's for years, and have read most, if not all of her books at least once, so finding this was like meeting an old friend after a long absence.

This book reads like a letter from an old friend. One who is catching you up on all that's gone on in his life since you last met. Fortunately for you, he's led a
Julie Bird
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This author's writing is so eloquent and interesting, it feels like almost each page could be an important quote to inspire and remember.
Jonathan Osborn
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, and the trilogy it begins. While the book focuses on mystical powers, political intrigue and such, there are a bunch of, shall we say, gender nonconforming characters. There's not a lot of angst involved around the issue, thank the gods, but they're there. MacAvoy writes wonderful dialog, and her fantasy is always a little nonstandard. As a reader, it never seems entirely clear whether her characters are experiencing supernatural events or just odd psychological states. Hard t ...more
Michael Manning
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent story of the first order, one of my all time favorites!
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not always about the plot...

The first thing that struck me about Lens of The World, was the narrative style. The book is written in the form of a long letter, no chapters, no breaks - just a long a winding tale told to you in first person, as if a friend had written you.

It's an odd tale, about an odd boy, and an odder man. It is blunt, it does not shy away from topics such as racism, child molestation, homosexuality, gender fluidity. Though they are integral in showing the strength/weaknes
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reread
I grabbed this book from my library because I knew I enjoyed the author. By the end of the first chapter, I was fairly sure I'd already read it, but I didn't realize I already owned it, and the rest of the series, until I got to the end.

This sounds like it's not a good book, because it's not terribly memorable, but I also reread it in a day.

My main impression: wow, I didn't really remember books being this queer in the 90s, which is dumb, because obviously, there they were.

This is good, not too
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A sublime and unusual book by a little-known author of considerable talent. Set in a pseudo-Russian/European 18th century world, it deals with the coming of age of an orphan boy. Small, ugly, Nazhuret is tutored in science, combat, and meditation by Powl, a mysterious figure. He grows to become far more than his small stature would indicate.
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how I missed this series when I read most of MacAvoy's other books ten or so years ago. Wonderful start to a series, MacAvoy's world's are always well realized and quite different from other fantasy worlds. This one is barely magical, with much of the strangeness coming from a combination of martial arts and science, reminiscent of the scientific revolution of Newton's England.
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A re-read after many years. I loved this book so much in 1991 ish when it was a new paperback. I was not sure I should read it again in case it didn't stand up to my current jaded reading squint. But it was wonderful and had me up too late finishing it. My kind of adventure with delightful genre mashing and world skewing.
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jan by: André Levi
Shelves: fantasy
Very well written fantasy novel with some playfulness around gender and sexuality. Though it's written by a woman, it doesn't pass the Bechdel test: two women never have a conversation about anything, let alone something other than a man. There is, however, a strong female character who rescues rather than is rescued. I like that in a novel.
Ian Banks
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, slipstream
The early life and education of Nazhuret, consisting of his childhood, schooling, early employment and coming-of-age. And in the hands of someone like Ms MacAvoy, it is a magical thing of beauty. At the time, this was hailed by some as her masterwork; to us, her fans and admirers, it was just business as usual.
Phil Johnson
May 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I hadn't read this book since it came out. I gave it 5 stars originally because of my fond memory of it from childhood, but i only just now got around to re-reading it. Still totally stands up. This book could have been written today, doesn't feel dated at all, incredibly fun and compelling. I'm now going to go back and read all of her other books that i didn't get around. Just wonderful.
Jul 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Interesting but a little odd. A bit too much time spent on him figuring out his sexuality. There were also times where the author's attempt at being mysterious was just distracting. Things did clarify at the end. I liked it enough to continue with the series but it won't be the top book on my all time fantasy list or anything.
Evenstar Deane
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I can't believe I never read this book before. I love the voice of the main character and the world that we see out of his eyes. Reminds me a lot of Robin Hobbs' Assassin series, although MacAvoy probably wrote these first, I'd have to check publication dates.
Christian West
Feb 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting story, average prose. A middle aged man is writing his life story for his king. This book covers his childhood as a small ugly orphan in a military school through to his training as an optician, warrior and philosopher.
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can't wait to read the next in this series!

This the most exciting author! She tells magical stories artfully and well. This novel is a report of a subject to his king. Doesn't sound too exciting, I know, but I couldn' t put this book down.
Mar 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Books like Lens of the World make me realize that most of the fantasy on the shelf at my local B&N is just crap. Worthless crap that I can't even bear reading.

I loved this series of books. Where are today's R.A. MacAvoys and why aren't they getting published?
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Like all her other works, it's difficult to describe, but entertaining to read. The general approach is similar to the original Godfather movie - things sort of happen, most of them don't really go anywhere, but the net effect is fun.
Lynn Calvin
ereader ebook
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Roberta Ann (R. A.) MacAvoy is a fantasy and science fiction author in the United States. Several of her books draw on Celtic or Taoist themes. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1984. R. A. MacAvoy was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Francis and Helen MacAvoy. She attended Case Western Reserve University and received a B.A. in 1971. She worked from 1975 to 1978 as an assistant t ...more
More about R.A. MacAvoy

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