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Chthon [Mass Market Paperback]

Piers Anthony
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 12 2012
Chthon was Piers Anthony’s first published novel in 1967, written over the course of seven years. He started it when he was in the US Army, so it has a long prison sequence that is reminiscent of that experience, being dark and grim. It features Aton Five, a space man who commits the crime of falling in love with the dangerous alluring Minionette and is therefore condemned to death in the subterranean prison of Chthon. It uses flashbacks to show how he came to know the Minionette, and flashforwards to show how he dealt with her after his escape from prison. The author regards this as perhaps the most intricately structured novel the science fantasy genre has seen. It was a contender for awards, but not a winner.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love is Hate, but the Flower Knows Feb. 9 2003
Format:Hardcover
Anthony arrived on the science fiction scene with quite a bang with this novel. So much of a bang that it was nominated for the 1968 Hugo award, losing out on the award itself only to another truly brilliant work, Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light.
Anthony introduces a multitude of ideas in this work: a flower that shows whether or not your significant other truly loves you, a galaxy-spanning 'message' that kills humans in its path by hypothermia, a naturally formed inorganic based consciousness, a type of grub that quite literally eats absolutely everything. But the most significant idea is a genetically modified type of human, the minionettes, all physically identical and the very picture of absolute female perfection, who have their emotional circuits inverted, where the kindest thing you can do to them is hate, abuse, deride, and punish them.
Anton Five, knowing nothing of her true nature, has the misfortune to fall in love with one of these minionettes, a love that is an obsession, a mixture of real love and conflicted hate, as the object of his emotions, after only three brief encounters, goes to space. It becomes his mission in life to track her down, even at the expense of his farm and a rejection of freely offered true love by a daughter of the family of Four. And due to this obsession, he eventually is sent to the prison planet Chthon, where the prison is the naturally formed caves and tubes formed by ancient volcanic action and that no one has ever escaped from. Within this prison are real monsters, truly horrifying and very unique, many of which are seen only from offstage or half-seen, and the very indistinctness this lends to these creatures adds to their effect. Some of the images of this section gave me nightmares for years after the first time I read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Almost as great as the entire Xanth series! Nov. 8 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Though the Xanth series was (im almost certain) one of the first series that any one ever read on this author, i found that the immense amount of sheer brain capacity needed to assertain every little metaphorical and ever single sub-based plot screwing in this book was alot more "mature" then from his previous more childesh books. Though they are not childesh in content literature, only really in characters. I have found that in most books he has incredible amount of beutifully puzzling puns and writing that i wish to assertain one day, al in all i definetly rate this book up there. If anyone else is interested , check out Barry B. Longyear, He wirtes an incredible fiction called the Godbox although it is quite rare and difficult to get ahold of , i suppose you can start at your local library. Anywho , thanks and hopefuly Piers pulls through with a few more good books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Piers Anthony's First...and Best Book Oct. 18 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Wow. Incredible. For his first book, this is his best by far. Having first read only the Xanth books, and then the entire Bio of a Space Tyrant series, I was expecting another kind of kiddish book with adult overtones. But no, this very adult oriented book was way beyond my expecatations, the plot twists and turns are amazing. Always gripping, Piers Anthony at his best.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a very good book by a very good author. June 8 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The science was very intriguing, and I have to say that this was a very good read. It is not something you can understand on your first try, though. For me, it two readings to understand it. You only understand it once you are done reading it, and then you want to read it again with understanding. This book is hard to explain. Just read it, You'll like it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love is Hate, but the Flower Knows Feb. 9 2003
By Patrick Shepherd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Anthony arrived on the science fiction scene with quite a bang with this novel. So much of a bang that it was nominated for the 1968 Hugo award, losing out on the award itself only to another truly brilliant work, Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light.
Anthony introduces a multitude of ideas in this work: a flower that shows whether or not your significant other truly loves you, a galaxy-spanning `message' that kills humans in its path by hypothermia, a naturally formed inorganic based consciousness, a type of grub that quite literally eats absolutely everything. But the most significant idea is a genetically modified type of human, the minionettes, all physically identical and the very picture of absolute female perfection, who have their emotional circuits inverted, where the kindest thing you can do to them is hate, abuse, deride, and punish them.
Anton Five, knowing nothing of her true nature, has the misfortune to fall in love with one of these minionettes, a love that is an obsession, a mixture of real love and conflicted hate, as the object of his emotions, after only three brief encounters, goes to space. It becomes his mission in life to track her down, even at the expense of his farm and a rejection of freely offered true love by a daughter of the family of Four. And due to this obsession, he eventually is sent to the prison planet Chthon, where the prison is the naturally formed caves and tubes formed by ancient volcanic action and that no one has ever escaped from. Within this prison are real monsters, truly horrifying and very unique, many of which are seen only from offstage or half-seen, and the very indistinctness this lends to these creatures adds to their effect. Some of the images of this section gave me nightmares for years after the first time I read this book.
Anton is a fully delineated character, not very likeable - in fact he's amoral, selfish, a loner, single-minded, and at least something of a psychotic. But there are occasional glimpses of a different man hiding inside, one capable of giving and receiving love, who knows pity and can empathize with other's misfortunes. The story, outside of all the fantastic ideas so casually tossed around, is really about his development into a fully rational human who can allow his emotions full sway when appropriate.
The story construction is rather unique, using both flash-backs and flash-forwards from his time in prison. This is deliberately done, as there are a set of parallels/contrasts between the actions in the prison and the actions at other times in Anton's life, which help illustrate the man and his changes. This construction has the disadvantage of lessening the suspense, but the added meaning given by this structure more than compensates for this. At least part of this book can be viewed as an allegory for the travels of a man through the stages of life, and Anthony buries quite a bit of symbolism inside his creations.
The power of this book resides in the changes Anton goes through and its tremendous imagery coupled with some truly different and unique ideas. Be prepared to put as much effort into reading and comprehending this book as it would take for a classic 'literary' novel - this book is a far cry from the grade-B space-operas of yesteryear.
--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Piers Anthony's First...and Best Book Oct. 18 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Wow. Incredible. For his first book, this is his best by far. Having first read only the Xanth books, and then the entire Bio of a Space Tyrant series, I was expecting another kind of kiddish book with adult overtones. But no, this very adult oriented book was way beyond my expecatations, the plot twists and turns are amazing. Always gripping, Piers Anthony at his best.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shiva is his heart, Minionette is her love April 19 2009
By Jari Aalto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Aton five finds himself in a prison. Not just any prison, but sentenced to a planet, in hot dark tunnels. He must work as a underground gem slave to earn his daily bread. He must escape. Badly. And he doesn't care how many slaves he must lure to take part of his plan; to become his sacrifice. He is Chaos. This is a story of Aton 5, son of a wealthy world where Hvee flowers -- who flourish only in virtue -- are grown. At age of 7 he had heard siren's melody in the woods. An fairy sitting in a hillock. So beautiful, that her hair is firing black and red. She kissed him telling: he would not find anyone as beautiful as her. At age of 14, after agonizing 7 year waiting, Aton found him again. Now matured, starting to understanding his emotions, the fairy returned with his melody. And she kissed him once again. And now she's gone. And Aton is lost. But the melody won't stop. He had to find her. And for his love he was sentenced to Chthon, the prison.

This is a dark novel. About dangerous love whose subject is alluring Minionette. About forbidden love that is not allowed to spread in galaxy. The planet of the Minionette race is a buried secret. Swept out of the galactic navigation archives so that nobody would ever get lured. The emotions of Aton, the search for his Minionette turns the skies upside down when he understands the truth. Not just about the Minionette but himself too. He is incurable; the madness of Chthon, the prison, was already living in him. The rest of the series are Phthor (1975), Plasm (1987; by Charles Platt) and Soma (1988; by Charles Platt).

Five (5) stars. Written in 1967, the is no other novel like it even today. The destruction, inverse emotion telepathy, pain and pleasure is is quite well realized. The sheer capacity needed to ascertain every little metaphorical and ever single sub-based plot in the novel is mind digging. The dark abyss of the Minionette can't be understood in one reading. No wonder the book took 7 years to write. After reading, you want to start all over again to see if you captured it all.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book Feb. 15 2005
By Allanon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you're looking for just another book by Anthony, that's the wrong address! Anthony`s books usually are light read, without any comlexities of caracters or plot. This one is nothing like this! It's really a mature book (altough first one?). Just great read! I highly reccomend it...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, imaginative science fiction fantasy at its best! Nov. 4 2013
By Drew4021 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I absolutely agree with the other reviewers here and echo the importance of not revealing too much of the plot that may spoil such a wonderful read for others. I was fortunate to encounter this book as a teenager when my voracious appetite for science fiction and fantasy got me through sometimes two or three novels a week in addition to school work and other activities. I would rate Anthony as one of the greats and highly recommended along with authors like Bradley, Orson Scott Card, Clark, Fred Saberhagen and Guy Gavriel Kay among others.
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