The novel is a mixture of fantasy , alternate history and science fiction. The novel received the prime Polish award for sci-fi literature, Janusz A. Zajdel Award , in The universe of the book is similar to ours with one major exception: instead of laws of physics as known to us, the universe is ruled by Aristotle 's metaphysics , and to a lesser extent by Hegelian philosophy. There are no atoms or other particles , just five elements. All Matter is composed of those five elements, mixed in proportions determined by the Form.
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More Details Original Title. Hieronim Berbelek. Zajdel Award for Novel Other Editions 8. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. Sort order. Apr 08, Vlad rated it it was amazing Shelves: fantasy , science-fiction , favorites , polish-literature. This deserves universal acclaim; it's a shame that Dukaj is little known outside Poland. Easily a peer to China Mieville, or even more.
These are really Other Songs; take Ted Chiang's boldest quasiscientific fantasies and multiply by ten. There's a wholly different universe here with physical laws of its own those developed by Aristotle, to be precise.
This book is destined to be read again and again, even if it feels somewhat cold now and then. Well, ice is no less colder but it's st Amazing. Well, ice is no less colder but it's still beautiful, isn't it? I hope this book gets translated into English soon so I can start shoving it down the throats of everybody I know. Chemistry, medicine, social dynamics and political systems evolve differently to ours, and the author goes into great depths to d I hope this book gets translated into English soon so I can start shoving it down the throats of everybody I know.
Chemistry, medicine, social dynamics and political systems evolve differently to ours, and the author goes into great depths to describe how this all ends up working. Sounds exciting? Queue titanic sieges, wars between Gods, expeditions into the heart of Africa, mythological beings, cities on the moon, flame powered Iron Man steampunk armor, interdimensional magic swords, epic space battles and eldritch abominations from out of time and space posing an existential threat to mankind.
Throughout the book I felt like much of the story and language and philosophical musings between characters went over my head. Oddly I would say this book is more sci-fi than fantasy, only that the science works by very different rules to our own world. Questions of what it means to be human, whether we are directed by free will or by fate, and how one may begin to understand and affect that which is by its very nature unknowable. I think the book will really benefit from multiple readings as I doubt anybody would be able to take this all in in one go.
View all 3 comments. This was absolutely epic in scope, but I had realllllly mixed feelings about it. It plays "what if the world worked according to Aristotle etc. There are some very blatant portrayals of racism specifically aimed at African Black people and in general inequality in society where This was absolutely epic in scope, but I had realllllly mixed feelings about it.
There are some very blatant portrayals of racism specifically aimed at African Black people and in general inequality in society where characters justify slavery, colonialism, imperialism and so on really easily - and act on it with great abandon. Obviously not the author's views, and the book deliberately seems to avoid turning into Warhammer-style torture porn, but when characters are casually and blatantly cruel, that makes it even more chilling.
In a nutshell: this is a very thought-provoking book, but be aware that it presents a world that is brutally antidemocratic and oppressive down to the laws of physics yes, really and that this is not really challenged by the characters that's kind of the point. Even more terrifyingly, sometimes we as readers cannot tell whether some in-universe features are really as terrible as the protagonists think, or whether their thinking so actually MAKES those things terrible, etc.
This is my third Dukaj book and all of them were quite different! Will want to review at more length once we are mostly finished moving I just wanted to warn you about this. Mar 03, Danuta rated it it was amazing. But I am amazed and fascinated by Dukaj's take on history, language, his masterful creation of new words, his limitless imagination.
Fantasy ace at large! Not sure, if I reach for such literature again, but this was time well spent and appreciably enjoyed. Splendiferous entertainment! Mar 04, Zhivko Gospodinov rated it liked it Shelves: thriller. The book was truly one of a kind, nothing else I've read comes even close to that. Hard steampunk fantasy, relatively easy to smell the scent and the atmosphere.
Probably it's a must for any steampunk fan or a fan of Socrates, Aristoteles and the early age philosophers, ancient and rusty concpets of world order.
However I would never recommend this to the casual reader, as Dukaj's got made up like a hundred and even more entirely new for me words. I've read it in bulgarian therefore I have n The book was truly one of a kind, nothing else I've read comes even close to that. I've read it in bulgarian therefore I have no clue on how those words would come up in another non-polish language , however it's hard and challenging read.
Still rewarding though. May 23, Molenade rated it it was amazing. Absolutely a fascinating book. I read it every year or so and 5 stars is what I would always give it. Great book. I havn't read such well written book for quite a long time.
View 1 comment. Apr 21, Tomasz rated it did not like it. I liked how the world of book was created. But the story is terribly boring. It has about pages and since I just started to skim. Aug 23, Tornike rated it liked it. I was unable to grasp many parts of the plot, especially the second half.
I don't think I liked or cared about any single character in the book. However, the fictional universe is magnificent and I really wish there was more worldbuilding.
I also loved that many words are borrowed from Greek and how "Skoliodoi" affects language. Very original book but far better as concept than a story.
Feb 27, Kamil Pieczonka rated it really liked it Shelves: fantasy , audiobooks. I'm disappointed by the ending of this great story. Maybe I didn't get it. Aug 30, Karolina Baudelaire rated it it was amazing Shelves: fav. All these positions give a lie to the thesis, as if science fiction was simple, easy and pleasant, not demanding.
It's time for Stephenson now; it's like that, he also builds Peanatema on neologisms and throws it into a new world, but at the end there's a dictionary. We will not experience this here, we will have to learn to swim during the first pages I have mentioned. Nagroda Fandomu Polskiego im. Janusza A. Zajdla za rok Home sweet home! Feb 25, PannaMarysia rated it it was amazing. I've just finished it and I can't find words to describe, explain why this book is a masterpiece.
I'm still shaken and scramble for suitable description, but what I can say with certainity is that I've never read anything quite like it; an image of a fascinating world, so complex, well designed, and before you know it- understandable, even though it is so different from our reality.
I can find certain similatiries with "Dark Matters" by Pullman, true. A grand, bold view of "what if the Aristotle w I've just finished it and I can't find words to describe, explain why this book is a masterpiece.
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