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The Stranger (Лабиринты Ехо #1)

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  2,539 Ratings  ·  153 Reviews
The Stranger will appeal to a broad coalition of delighted readers. Strike a chord with readers of all stripes. Fantasy, horror, philosophy, and dark comedy are all ingredients in this amazing work in which a sharp wit and a bewildering web of clues opens up a Pandora's box of secrets.

Max Frei is a twenty-something loser-a big sleeper (during the day, that is-at night he c
ebook, 544 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by The Overlook Press (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Oct 25, 2009 Key rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
-I have read it in Russian first. And was really looking forward to read it english. When I did I was very disappointed, since book heavily relies on dialogs and funny moments related to the differences of idioms in Echo in comparison to then Max is used to, a creative translation was absolutely crucial and it was not done so the final product is bellow 0 for me. Moreover after translation book turned so impersonal it is almost impossible to connect to the main character, this probably due to th ...more
Ieva Gurklyte
Oct 16, 2012 Ieva Gurklyte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read this book like 10 times now! I love Echo, all the characters, their funny conversations and magic without logic and explanations. The thing is, I read the series as much as they are published in Lithuanian and I found the translation really good. Maybe it is because it is Eastern Europe and kind of similar cultural background (like all the jokes, irony and etc., oh, and the author is living Vilnius, Lithuania). I found English translation a bit disappointing but unless you speak Russ ...more
Sep 13, 2012 Valeria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in Russian in 2000, when it was published under the name of "The Labyrinth". I've read it about 15 times since then. Now I'm enjoying every second of reading the translated version of it.
Once you get accustomed to the writer's quaint manner of writing you will love it too. The first thing that meets the eye is the unique style of narration and the unusual choice of words. It's not casual, but not as pompous and epic as traditional fantasy. It's rather self-ironic and even sarcas
Aug 01, 2010 Iain marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I wouldn't normally review a book that I haven't finished reading, but I've (at least temporarily) given up on this in favour of other books - and I think that lack of interest is worth a note. Whatever The Stranger tells you it is on the cover, don't believe a word of it. It's not. What it is instead is a strange piece of fantasy where the author is working so hard at creating something original that he's ended up creating something fairly bonkers (and not in a good way). The intricate details ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Max Frei is a loner in the world, a bit of a chain-smoking bum who's tried fitting in and being normal but doesn't have the heart for it. Only in his dreams is he truly alive. In his dreams, things seem so real that he acts upon them in waking life: if he meets a beautiful new woman in his dreams, he'll break up with his real-life girlfriend. He can quote from books he's read only in his dreams, and visit other places.

One such place he visits regularly is a strange city where the streets are pav
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott Fabel
Nov 27, 2012 Scott Fabel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, which was originally published in Russia in 1996, introduces the main character (and pseudonymous author) to a completely new world called the Unified Kingdom. After being a complete loser on Earth, Max finds himself as the Nocturnal Representative of the Most Venerable Head of the Minor Secret Investigative Force of the city of Echo. Essentially, he investigates magical mysteries and crimes in this new world. As it turns out, he's quite good at his new job--not a loser at all.

Each ch
Petra Eriksson
Jan 29, 2010 Petra Eriksson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, favorites
It took me a while before I finally got passed the first chapter, for unknow reason it was a struggle. But when I finally did it sure didn't take long before I had finished it. You can't help to like the characters,I especially liked Max and Lookfi but have a soft heart for all of them, the surroundings, the magic, the plot and the dialouge... that's about everything... ^^ I kept thinking while reading it that it would be fun to see it all turned into a movie, for I think it would be a good one, ...more
Omg, I can't even describe this books series properly without bursting into a loud cry :D
It's is just best story that ever read, ever!! I read the first book when I was about 12 year old and still no book or books series can out rival Max...The author is amazing, and most of all.. She lives in my country's capital city!!! Omg...

So, If you are still just considering reading this book, don't. DO IT. It is complete wonder. But the only problem is, there is only one book translated now, but all boo

"Max Frei" - ie Svetlana Martynchik - has published this mammoth series Labyrinths of Echo of which The Stranger is the opening - I think it's 10 volumes so far - to great acclaim and success in Russia and Europe from the mid 90's on, so I was very curious about this book.

Overall I was disappointed because the book just did not engage me; it's not bad but I've read too many similar but better books to waste too much time on it.

I could not care less about its main character or the rest of the
Review of this book are sharply divided between those who adore it and those who were deeply disappointed and felt it didn't live up to its billing as brilliant, hilarious, satirical, and philosophical. A third category of reviews deals with the problem of translation: some readers loved it in Russian but think the English translation is a flop, or that perhaps the book can't quite be translated. While I don't read Russian, I think my reaction has to fall into the third category.
First off: no, I
I read it in Russian (my native language) ... Believe me, in Russian it's really very funny and interesting book! " The Stranger" is just the first book in a series of " The Labyrinths Of Echo" But in series are 15 books! The eighth, ninth and tenth are my favorite .. But in English ... Sorry, but this is not such a good :( I hope that soon there will be more high-quality translation into English!
But take my word for it, Max Frei is really good writer, but his books are very hard to translate ..
Oct 08, 2008 Jenne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Hmm. Has anyone out there read this in the original Russian? Or any language other than English?
I really hated the way it was written, but I think that might be the fault of the translator.
The story itself was actually kind of charming, in a Gilbert and Sullivan Meet Sam Spade in Oz kind of way.
Oct 16, 2015 Tytar rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
в мене так діти граються як автор пише. придумують персонажів дають їм чудернацькі імена та дають їм жити своїм життям. просто опис послідовних дій плоских як дошка. без якогось лихого сюжету цікавих описів і головне - ідеї яка б заставляла над чимось задуиатись. нуль.
Ksenia Chernyshova
Such a nice vacation for my brain
Tim Hicks
Jan 25, 2015 Tim Hicks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I don't speak Russian so I will have to judge the English version on its own merits.
I liked it a lot.

Others have compared it to Harry Potter but I think that's off the mark. More like a combination of Jack Vance and Steven Brust.

Some have said it's a series of pointless episodes; I disagree. I kept catching little hints about what's really going on here and how it relates to our hero's home world. I may be wrong here, because if there really are ten volumes in this series it shouldn't take th
Apr 17, 2014 Elizabeth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
For all of the English speaking readers out there I would like to point out that the translation of this amazing book has gone beyond salvagable. Not only do parts of text seem to be missing but also other parts of text seemingly appear out of nowhere(!). Some jokes have gotten simply scrapped, literally scrapped, and at parts the characters react differently from in the book. e.g.: somebody scowling at a joke instead of laughing out loud [page 107(E), 126(R)]. This is only one example among hun ...more
Where do you shelve a book that you won't finish reading? It would be disingenuous to place it on the read shelf, and yet it does not belong on the to-read shelf since I have no intention of returning to it. Is the only other option to delete it altogether? My solution was to create a new did-not-finish shelf. I wouldn't say this book is so dreadful it deserves the ignominy of being the sole occupant of this undesirable shelf, but I don't want to accumulate books on this shelf, either.

This book
Sep 22, 2011 Justin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a complete waste of time. The idea that this is only the first in a series of volumes makes me contemplate dramatic self-injury. Seriously, given the choice of not being able to read for pleasure for a decade or reading the next installment of Frei's saga, I'd go philistine in a minute.

The premise of this book was so promising - indeed, I discovered it in the Russian section of Idlewild Books in Manhattan this summer, and later ordered a used copy on amazon. Looking back on the back cover
Sep 17, 2016 Eugene rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Сплошное разочарование. Каждая история начинается очень бодро, сюжет закручивается, вокруг загадки и тайны: становится очень интересно, как же всё это распутается. А очень просто: главный герой обязательно случайно встретит кого-нибудь, кто ему всё разжуёт, разложит по полочкам, и объяснит, вот и вся детективная история.

Кстати, главный герой - это вообще отдельная песня. Очень напомнило какую-то книжку Донцовой (не помню какую, да и не суть важно). Это мужчина, но в представлении женщины. То ест
Feb 05, 2011 Devon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About half-way through the book I realized that the structure is mostly a collection of stories about Max and his life in Echo, rather than a chronological account. This is really my only complaint (that and the next book is only now being translated into English). I want to see more development in Max's character, and he stays pretty static throughout. That being said, I love these stories. One of the reviews calls Max Frei "Harry Potter with cigarettes" and that's very true. There is a magical ...more
Aug 08, 2010 Elvira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Take Terry Prattchet and mix his Discworld with a bit of Harry Potter's adventures and you will get the general idea of the awesomeness of this book. It is ironic and funny, but not to the extent of Discworld, where there is more ironical discourse than action.

There is only one little criticism... Frei should never be read when hungry or full, because no matter what, it makes you crave food with its mouthwashing descriptions of Chakata pie and other magical foods. The best condition for this bo
Перечитала в очередной раз, неспешно, урывками.
Приключения сэра Макса уже не приводят в такой восторг, как на первом курсе, и я долго колебалась в оценке =) Как было сказано в одной из рецензий это "библия для неудачников" - как оказаться всемогущим, не прилагая для этого никаких усилий. Волшебный мир, невероятные кушанья, путешествия и другие радости гедониста сваливаются на голову и остаётся только научиться с ними жить.
И любимая цитата про "Всё будет. Рано или поздно, так или иначе" тоже отсю
Ann Sem
Mar 19, 2017 Ann Sem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 03, 2009 edifanob rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Das ist ein Buch, welches man entweder mag oder nicht.
I mag es nicht. Die Geschichte ist zäh und der im Klappentext vesprochene Humor ist für mich nicht vorhanden.

This is one of these books which you either like or not.
I don't like it. The story is chewy and the humor promised in the blurb didn't work for me.
Jan 04, 2011 arjuna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyable, off-kilter, engaging nonsense. Lovely.
Любов Ярова
Прекрасний та чарівний магічний світ.
Такий собі Пратчетт сьогодення.
Дуже легко написоно, з тінню гумору та іронією
Anna  Yakovleva
Oct 12, 2016 Anna Yakovleva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
До невозможности уютная книга! Самое то для чтения холодной осенью. Не отказалась бы от чашечки камры:)
Jun 24, 2017 Olya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Необычное, легкое, ненапряженное чтение. Так и не смогла до конца разобраться, Макс дурачится, притворяясь, или это образ жизни такой у молодого человека. С Ринсвиндом, например, подобных проблем не возникало. Трусливый волшебник не единожды давал понять, что он думает о разбойниках, монстрах и прочей чертовщине, их неудержимом желания побить его, покусать или убить.

Удачливо и неожиданно сэр Макс без фамилии становится частью нового мира. Даже немного завидно, как удивительно легко он находит об
Иванов Александр
Ух, первая книга из первого цикла пролетела и уселась в голове.

Интересное дело, что читать я начал с последнего цикла, поэтому не все тонкости были понятны, сейчас же те книги воспринимаются немного по-другому. Это тоже интересный опыт и ощущения, когда прочитав одну книгу ты складываешь ещё одно отношение к другим, переосмысливаешь их.

Книга с серией рассказов, которые подробно рассказывают о становлении человека в новом мире. В мире, где у тебя не было жизни, а значит не было сожалений, мнений
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Макс Фрай

"Max Frei" is a pen-name of Svetlana Martynchik. She has created the well-known Echo series. Svetlana Yuryevna Martynchik is a Russian writer and artist.

Martynchik studied at the philological department of Odessa State University, but dropped out without graduating. Martynchik lived in Moscow since 1993 and lives in Vilnius since 2004.

For more details see Wikipedia: Svetlana Martynchi

More about Max Frei...

Other Books in the Series

Лабиринты Ехо (8 books)
  • Волонтеры вечности (Лабиринты Ехо, #2)
  • Простые волшебные вещи (Лабиринты Ехо, #3)
  • Темная сторона (Лабиринты Ехо, #4)
  • Наваждения (Лабиринты Ехо, #5)
  • Власть несбывшегося (Лабиринты Ехо, #6)
  • Болтливый мертвец (Лабиринты Ехо, #7)
  • Лабиринт Мёнина (Лабиринты Ехо, #8)

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“That's how every good story must end. When a person stops understanding something, he's on the right track.” 18 likes
“The fact is, i don't have a drop of patience. If something goes wrong in my life, I'm not able to wait for an auspicious moment to remedy the situation. I'd rather spoil everything once and for all, as long as it's today, than subject myself to anguished expectation and breathing exercises with an eye towards the future.” 18 likes
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