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Midnight at the Well of Souls [Paperback]

JACK L. CHALKER , Peter Goodfellow
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Broad in scope but shallow in execution Jan. 15 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"Midnight at the Well of Souls" is a book with a great deal of potential, which is the main reason I found it to be such a grand disappointment in the end -- most of that potential goes unrealized, and the book is a rather trite (and not terribly well-written) example of what's wrong with much of modern science fiction.
Mind you, the ideas in the novel are intriguing. The concept of the Well World, for example, is fairly original and has a lot of potential for easily delving into many different cultures and alien races. Unfortunately, the idea is not explored nearly as well as it could be, and is really only a superficial device to serve the plot... such as it is. The different alien cultures and races of the Well World are only explored thinly, with no sense of richness or history in it. The different races seem to be created for their wierdness factor than any actual examination of different cultures.
What's worse is the story itself isn't all that great. Remove the concept of the Well World, and you have a fairly standard quest framework. The main character has a "mysterious" (but rather predictable) origin, but his personality is still a carbon-copy hero from any swashbuckling space opera. Think Han Solo and you've pretty much nailed him. The other characters only seem to act as foils for how his story is told. Throw in some alien sex here and there, a standard "universal translator" device to get over the problem of different languages, and end with a very predictable conclusion, and what the story amounts to is... not much.
Without the concept behind the story, it's really pretty bland. The plot moves along sluggishly, with several blatantly obvious passages of exposition masked as character dialogue.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant imagination. A classic book. Sept. 7 2003
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is the book that launched Jack Chalker as an SF heavyweight and it's easy to see why. Full of fun characters, a brilliantly realised world and a fascinating plot it's a terrific adventure from a master story.
Other reviews will give you the plot in more detail. I simply want to recommend Chalker the writer. I've read pretty much everything he's published and I always look forward to his new books. This, though, is certainly one of his greatest. It's a great shame that mainstream SF critics have ignored or impugned his work because it's as good or better than a lot of the dross that's out there (and I include some of the so-called masterworks that have been swathed in awards). Thankfully he has a loyal legion of fans that have followed his career.
And this is also a great prequel to the War of the Well which is told the four volumes that followed this one. You don't have to read them all, as this a stand alone novel, but if you enjoy this one as much as so many others have then you'll certainly want to read more about Well World and the War of the Well novels are also superior entertainment on a large scale.
Basically, try anything of Jack Chalker's. He's an underrated master of the fantasy/sf genre.
Look also for The Four Lords of the Diamond series, The Rings of the Master series, the Dancing Gods novels and his lone short story collection, Dance Band on the Titanic.
The War of the Well is told in Exiles at the Well of Souls, Quest for the Well of Souls, The Return of Nathan Brazil and Twilight at the Well of Souls.
Dont wait. Go seek them out. You won't be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A big, bold, colorful sci-fi adventure Nov. 12 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Jack Chalker's "Midnight at the Well of Souls" is a science fiction adventure tale that one could describe as an ambitious epic, yet written with an often whimsical sense of fun. The novel is full of colorful characters, weird locales, and imaginatively conceived alien species.
The story's hero is freighter captain Nathan Brazil, a human male who is noted to be a maverick and a loner in "an age of extreme conformity." While carrying a motley collection of passengers on his ship, Brazil answers a distress call. Soon he finds himself on the Well World, a bizarre planet divided up into hundreds of biospheres and home to hundreds of different civilizations. Oh, and each newcomer to the planet can expect to find him- or herself transformed into a different species! "Midnight" charts the odyssey of Brazil, his allies, and his enemies across this strange and wondrous world as they seek the answer to an ancient mystery.
"Midnight" is a novel of ideas as well as a fun and exciting adventure; Chalker deals with such issues as history, drug addiction, crime, social organization, literacy, and more as the story unfolds. Chalker cleverly delves into the life cycles and sexual behaviors of the various Well World species, which include intelligent plants, a centaur-like race, and many more. The motif of transformation, including gender-changing, is intriguingly handled throughout the story.
Chalker makes reference to "Alice in Wonderland" at one point in the book, but the book, curiously, reminds me more of L. Frank Baum's classic Oz tales. And Chalker's vision of science, civilization, and history reminds me a bit of a less horrific, more light-hearted H.P. Lovecraft. Overall, a lot of fun, and written in a very engaging prose style. If you like this book, try "Lord Valentine's Castle," by Robert Silverberg.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Meh
The story and characters are terrible. Plot juvenile. Dialogue, character motivation, etc., very immature. The writing is barely high school. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Ilzamar
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Sci-Fi of the 20th century
Hands down one of the best sci-fi series I have ever read. R.I.P. Jack.
Published 3 months ago by Julie Ang
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!!!
This book has it all!!!! The greatness of it is in the mixup of si-fi and fantasy. for too long did si-fi fans have to deal with the same style plot,the same characters and for... Read more
Published on Nov. 9 2003 by elvenc
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read
A wonderfull story that can be read on so many different levels, that you can always find something new in each reread that you didn't catch before.
Published on April 1 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars The best science fiction you will ever read.
There are not many books I read more than once. This is one that over the years I have read at least five times. Jack L. Chalker created a not so well known masterpiece. Read it. Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2000 by AS Atwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet another book to answer Big Question
I don't know why, but some unfortunate reason Midnight at the Well of Souls seems familiar to Simak's Goblin Reservation. I don't know why. They share very little. Read more
Published on June 26 2000 by Alex
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourites
Book 1 of the 'Well World' series
This story could be set in the far future -- or a parallel one. Read more
Published on June 7 2000 by Ken Coar
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, light, action-packed and fascinating.
I like sometimes the books that give you a small rest from heavy thinking. This is not "DUNE" or "RINGWORLD" or "UBIC". Read more
Published on May 27 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Series List
A short while ago, someone emailed me asking for a ordered list of the books in this series (they got my email address from an earlier review). Read more
Published on Sept. 23 1999
2.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive
I read this book, as well as another one. Well, this one was ok, but the other one( I no longer remember then name) was... exactly the same book, with exactly the same plot. Read more
Published on May 15 1999 by Omer Belsky
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