Patrick's Reviews > Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
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it was amazing

I listened to this as an audiobook just recently, and I was absolutely blown away by it.

That said, I don’t know how I’d describe the entirety of it to someone. If I were to summarize it, it would sound... well... kinda dumb.

Let me say this instead: It’s funny without being goofy. It’s clever without being pretentious. It’s original without being desperate. Its mysterious without being willfully obtuse.

Best of all, this story has an element of what I think of as divine ridiculousness: a delightful, subtle, strangeness that is funny while still touching on some underlying truth.

In fantasy, we have the ability to write about anything. This is the blessing of the genre as well as being its most insidious trap. You can write about Dragon Ninjas. And they can fly spaceships. That's okay. Our genre can handle it.

The problem is that you can get lost in that endless realm of possibility. You read a book with hundred foot tall giants, and you think, "Wow. That's awesome!" Then you go out to write something even cooler: A book with 200 foot tall giants who can fly and breathe fire.

But bigger isn't always better. In fact, bigger is only very occasionally better. Gandalf wasn't constantly calling down fire and lightning and he was cool as hell.

The odd truth is this: In fantasy, Less is More. It's the Chocolate Chip in your cookie. Yes, it's delicious. But you can't have a cookie that's *all* chocolate chip. It just doesn't work.

This book is a great example of that. It's a great example of how fantasy can be brilliant and marvelous and strange and compelling without clashing armies, maniacal wizards, or fire breathing dragons.

I feel like I should say more about it, but I can’t think of what else to say. Except, perhaps, that it’s probably the best book I’ve read in a year or so. And Sarah really liked it too, if that sways you at all…
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Reading Progress

February 16, 2010 – Started Reading
February 16, 2010 – Shelved
March 8, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-38 of 38 (38 new)

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message 1: by Rob (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rob Montgomery I just started reading his Thursday Next series. Really fun and inventive. You should check it out if you haven't already, pat.


Anna His Nursery crime series is pretty good, too, if a lot lighter than Shades of Grey


Alex Fayle Jasper Fforde turns me all weak-kneed fanboy... I've loved every single one of his books. His imagination and his worldbuilding skills blow me out of the water. His characters are surprisingly real given the intense unreality of the situations he puts them in.

My own review of this book is pretty gushy too.


Gilbert This. This is another reason to love Patrick Rothfuss all the more.


message 5: by Leon (new) - added it

Leon Aldrich If Google is the new God, then what is Patrick?


message 6: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome Housewives think it's very sexy.


message 7: by Chris (new) - added it

Chris Not read this book yet but one of my friends say its great and now you do too Pat so I will read it soon :)


message 8: by Nermin (new)

Nermin For a moment I thought you've given 5 stars to Fifty Shades of Grey.


Brody Agree 1000%. Jasper Fforde is so under read by the SF/Fantasy community. Pratchett and Adams readers should be gobbling his books up. I cannot wait for the next volume of Shades of Grey. Great review Pat, thanks.


Diane I love his Thursday Next series. I am on the waiting list for Shades of Grey at the library, but am stuck behind 70 or so people who I am sure are not looking for *this* Shades of Grey.


Agustín Leyenda Yeah, I read it a few months ago and really loved it. I'm a big Fforde fan since I started with Thursday Next years ago. Totally worth it.

However, Fforde have already said that the next book of this world (not from Shades of Grey, but a previous story) is not due until 2014... so, we won't have the next book until 2015 at least :(


message 12: by Kkb (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kkb Not only do I 100% agree about this being a fabulous book and that Fforde is exceptionally talented, but also this particular audiobook recording is really well done and enhances the narrative (whereas most audiobooks sound like a college lecture for sleeping through).


message 13: by Michael (new)

Michael Thrower Oh goodness Pat, I thought this was 50 Shades of Grey at first glance. I was like, "Noooooooo!!!"


message 14: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark I liked this more than Thursday next.


Chris Leib Absolutely loved this book! Waiting patiently for the next in this series. Everyone should read this book!


Jordan Ingram It took me a little bit to get into the story, but once I did I was pissed that I read the book before the next books in the series were out. :)


Jeanette Pat, I read this book based on your review, and I too am amazed, I agree with your review, I do not think I can describe it, So new and different.
Thank you!


message 18: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome Read Brian K. Vaughan's Saga.


Jacquie Vonhunnius I loved this book, so I went on to read the first Thursday Next book, The Eyre Affair. SO not for me. Very disappointed.


message 20: by Jon (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jon Parkinson Glad to see you giving this book some love. It's very under-read and deserves more readers. As good as it was the first time, it was even better the 2nd time through.


message 22: by Dawn Michelle (new)

Dawn Michelle Jasper Fforde is one of my favorite authors; I really need to bump this up the list.


Alytha I loved this book so much. The ending just hit me like a bomb though. Oh the feels!


message 24: by Robert (new)

Robert Carne Are you saying cookies made completely of chocolate would not be awesome? I beg to differ sir


message 25: by Chosan (new) - added it

Chosan Carson Awesome I'll put it on my list! Thanks Pat. Robert wouldn’t a cookie make of all chips just be candy? I wonder what percentage of cookieness must exist in order for it be considered a member of genus cookie?


message 26: by Scratch (new)

Scratch I'm just glad this wasn't about 50 Shades of Grey. *Phew!*

Normally I highly respect your recommendations, Pat, but you talked me out of this book. Understated fantasy isn't my thing. I am one of those people who puts up blood-red curtains against neon-painted wall murals, proclaiming, "More is more!"


Marcus I love this book. really hope he writes a sequel.


message 28: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura This is why I follow Patrick Rothfuss. This is the fourth or fifth new-to-me author I've added to my list because PR gave them a good review. I have yet to be disappointed!


message 29: by Andy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Andy I love Jasper. Wish the new one would come out someday. This is an excellent review for an excellent author for an excellent book.


message 30: by Cmoore (new)

Cmoore Makes me want to read this book.


Caroline Eising What I liked was the very precise way the rules of this world hang together - and how such a preposterous thing somehow made sense after reading the book!


message 32: by Jeanne (new) - added it

Jeanne When I first saw that Patrick Rothfuss had rated this five stars I thought my God,


message 33: by Jeanne (new) - added it

Jeanne When I first saw that Patrick Rothfuss gave this five stars, I thought Patrick has gone mental! Then I realized this wasn't the same atrocity that all those thousands of sex-crazed, literary imbeciles have all had their knickers in a twist over. Whew! Now I can safely add this to my ToRead list.


message 34: by • Tom • (new) - added it

• Tom • Patrick, if I were a reporter, my headline would say: Patrick says his next book will be about ninja dragons that fly spaceships. :-)


message 35: by Trisha Gagliardo (new)

Trisha Gagliardo I was also blown away by it to


Laura This book was fantastic. Too bad the sequel doesn't even seems to be scheduled. I keep trying to read his books to try and fill the void Terry Pratchett left in my life but Barnes and and Noble doesn't seem to want to keep him in stock. One day I'm going to have my own bookstore and keep it stocked with the full works of every single author I love.


message 37: by Jerilynn (new) - added it

Jerilynn Norton I read this book based on past experience with this authors writing. Of course, another 5 star book. LOVE IT... like other reviewers, hard to describe without giving away too much. perfect... Just perfect


message 38: by Saskia (new)

Saskia Hens I just wish part 2 would follow already. This book is in my all time top 5. If the next part is as good and he can round the story off into an x-logy of elegance, it may just rival my number one. Weird, complex, mysterious, challenging and engaging: that just blows me away. But even more mysterious: Jasper is not going anywhere with this (yet)?


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