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RAPTOR [Mass Market Paperback]

Gary Jennings
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1 1993
In the great cities of a dying empire and on the battlefields of Roman legions, Thorn, an abandoned waif, witnesses human beings at their most brutal and their most noble. Reprint. NYT.

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From Publishers Weekly

In the opening pages of Jennings's ( Aztec ) massive, audacious historical novel about the Gothic conquest of the Roman Empire, Thorn, the hermaphrodite hero/heroine, is seduced first by a monk and then by a nun. Evicted from a monastery and a convent, Thorn is then schooled in the ways of the world by the grumpy, blasphemous woodsman Wyrd. Rugged yet sensitive, usually dressed as a man, Thorn is to elim fragment raptorial (i.e., predatory) in his thirst for lovers, male and female, and for adventure. He serves as field marshal, sidekick and spy for bloody Theodoric (A.D. 454-526), king of the Ostrogoths, depicted here as a benevolent despot. For all its sexual titillation and gory battles, this majestically paced epic with its unconventional hero consistently rewards as it leads readers through exotic byways of the fragmented Roman Empire, delving into pagan customs, Christian mysteries, corruption, slavery and the tolerant Arianism embraced by the Goths but condemned by the Catholic Church as a heresy. Through the androgynous Thorn, attuned to the war betwen the masculine and feminine sides of his nature, Jennings subtly explores the gender-based roles imposed by society. Spiced with medieval flavor, the novel will captivate readers willing to commit themselves to a long, detailed, sometimes ploddingly written but ultimately intoxicating narrative.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Jennings (Spangle, etc.) takes over 900 pages to tell the epic story of Thorn, a fifth-century Goth wanderer who becomes friend and counselor to Theodoric the Great, the Ostrogoth king who temporarily revitalized the decaying Roman Empire. Thorn, a most unusual hero indeed, is a hermaphrodite. While Thorn's dual sexuality may prove off-putting to some readers, particularly because of his many and often graphic sexual encounters (even though most are recounted with good humor and sly wit), his nature does provide for some interesting perspective on events. He learns of his unique nature when he is raped in a monastery and then becomes himself a seducer in a convent, all at the age of 12 and all without knowing exactly what he's doing. Sent packing, Thorn spends valuable time as companion to a crafty and knowledgeable old Roman centurion-turned-woodsman and a winter passing himself off as a rich nobleman in a city on the edge of the Empire (learning to exploit both his male and female aspects all the while). When he finally joins his countrymen, the Ostrogoths, he discovers that their young king, Theodoric, was the stranger who saved his life in the woods after he was bitten by a poisonous snake. Thorn immediately enlists in Theodoric's cause and serves him throughout his historic conquest. His ability to act as either man or woman serves him, his king, and their cause very well indeed. In the most improbable adventure of all, he encounters an evil ``twin'' who shares his sexual duality. An impressive, often violent saga that allows readers to experience a richly re-created time and place through the eyes of a hero unlike virtually any other in fact or fiction. Along the way, it also offers some thought-provoking critiques on Christianity and its origins. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing May 19 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
At first, when I started reading this book, I got sort of grossed out, but then I thought that Thorn couldn't help his ambigous nature and I kept on reading it.I found it fascinating, Thorn's both acceptance of himself and his shame seemed very real. He seemed like sort of a Forest Gump character to me. What I mean by that is that he wasn't exactly a freak or a monster, but he was simply and painfully human, with all his judgement's and prejudices stripped away, because he himself was unique. So I liked the character. I also liked some of the secondary characters, particularly Worm. The descriptions made me feel like I was right there. In this book, I felt, more than any of the other's I've read by Gary Jennings, he was able to strip away the curtain of time and clarify what it would have really been like to live back then. One sentence, particularly seems to evoke the entire mood, of a much darker time. That's when Jenning's describes the mideval world as mostly forest, with civilization scattered and hard to come by. It seemed to me that that must have been how it really was. I give it four stars only because the last 200 pages seemed to drag off and get very unbelievable. But beside that, this book stayed with me for a long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy it for what it is April 7 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I must just add my words of praise to all those before for this absorbing, entertaining and often confronting book. My friend Sue had long raved about Gary Jennings' writing, but I never indulged until she insisted I read her copy of Raptor (five years later, I realise I haven't returned it!).
Thorn is an unusual protagonist, and whether you love or hate him/her, one you will not forget in a hurry. Sometimes (and this is what lost one star) I would find myself thinking "Oh yeah? As if!" when Thorn got out of yet another scrap by demonstrating yet another skill. Like so many main characters in novels of this type, Thorn is just a little bit too amazing to be be entirely credible, and I found myself wondering how Theodoric, an actual historical character, possibly managed to rise to his greatness if Thorn was only a figment of Jennings' imagination!
However, once you take the leap of faith to accept that besides having ambiguous gender characteristics (although I always saw Thorn as essentially male) and considered an incredibly handsome man and an exceptionally beautiful woman, Thorn also had been endowed with superhuman strength and endurance, a strategic brain to rival any chess master, treachery, deviousness and guile second to none, survival skills and instincts of a bushman, and loyalty only to himself and Theodoric, you find yourself accepting the story for what it is, a competently written, entertaining, absorbing work of fiction, that brought with it some awareness of the past.
Like other reviewers, I was keen to find out more about Theodoric, and was interested in how Jennings showed Vandals have been vilified down through the ages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book To Read March 29 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read this book back when it first came out. I just happen to see it on the shelf and decided to buy it to read. I found it very compelling, descriptive, adventurous, emotionally uplifting due to the characters durability, wit and strength and over all good reading. I am in search of another copy as the book I had I lent to somebody and did not get it back. I do hope that it is published again. I found it very interesting from a historic point of view. I am an Australian Aboriginal and I don't pay much attention to European history, but this book is something else. I don't know if this a true account of actual events but it is interesting and informative never the less. I wonder if this would be good as a big cinema movie. I think it would be interesting viewing because of the mix of events and emotions, the historical background and the action it would involve. Oh well this is my opinion and I stick by it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb in every way. Feb. 26 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
After "The Journeyer" I felt that there was bound to be a let down with his next couple of books. While "Spangle" was really good, "Raptor" showed that Jennings was 100% back on track. After I finished the novel, I got out the encyclopedias to learn more about Theodoric and his times. Absolutely amazing book! My only complaint is that the novel got a wishy-washy review in The New York Times Book Review that probably scared away a lot of readers. Not his hard-core fans, but the ones who know little or nothing of Jennings' great books. It's too bad that one mis-directed soul can have such a big influence. This book is A+++.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Book July 28 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Raptor is on my list of favorite books, and although it may not be everyone, everyone deserves a bit of a jolt every now and again. The story of Thorn, although difficult to imagine is extremely interesting to follow and although the reader sometimes wonders if this is plain fiction or fantasy, the reader might not care. Of the three Gary Jennings books I've finished (Aztec, and Aztec Autumn were the other two, I never got far into Journeyer) Raptor is by far the best. It may have been the history of the Goths and the decadence of Rome or the far-from-infrequent sex scenes, but regardless of why, Raptor is an astounding book.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome, I wish it was available for "Kindle" - ...
Superb, awesome , I wish it was available for "Kindle" - I want read and reread this book
Published 2 months ago by Maria Brogowski
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, Powerful, Erotic GO BABY GO
Now I've read AZTEC, Spangle, and Raptor! Jennings is my new favorite author. I second a previous review that Raptor is not as good as AZTEC but what a searing story, you really... Read more
Published on Dec 26 1999 by Bookman
5.0 out of 5 stars Tells how war really is and how firendship uphold everything
this book is the best book I have ever read it gave great backround imformation about all of the roman leaders and of theodoric the great. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad but not as good as Aztec
This is my second Gary Jennings book (I read aztec 3x) and while I liked it well enough, I thought that it wasn't nearly as well executed as Aztec. Read more
Published on Aug. 12 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for everybody...
I loved this book. This book was given to me by a friend who also loved the story. Things being such as they are, I passed this book along to friends of mine who love to read as... Read more
Published on April 10 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. It has stayed with me for years
I read this book many years ago when it first came out. I had forgotten the title and have searched for the past 3 years for it. I hope they republish it. Read more
Published on Feb. 28 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely superb in every way.
After "The Journeyer" I felt that there was bound to be a let down with his next couple of books. Read more
Published on Feb. 26 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars This book educates and facinates the reader.
I found this book because I was looking for information about Theodoric the Great, who is supposed to be an ancestor of mine. Read more
Published on Dec 1 1998 by Ruthfam@aol.com
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