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RIVER OF DANCING GODS [Mass Market Paperback]

Jack L. Chalker
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 12 1984 del Rey Fantasy a del Rey Book
Joe and Marge, minutes away from death, are rescued and brought from Earth to the magical world of Husaquahr by the wizard Throckmorton P. Ruddygore to battle the forces of Hell itself!
--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
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing fantasy Jan. 22 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a lightweight but nevertheless entertaining fantasy novel. What makes this book stand out is Chalker's taking on the cliches of fantasy. If this wasn't clearly a parody, it would be nothing more than a routine novel. Certainly, the plot involving two "real world" individuals who must go to a fantasy land to save it is nothing original; it's how Chalker plays with the standard conventions that makes this an above average story.
There are flaws, admittedly. The characters are rather bland and often fit into the cliches that Chalker is trying to ridicule. Also, too much time is spent on the set-up (around 60% of the book) and too little time on the actual adventure (and the final battle is somewhat anticlimactic). However, if this viewed as only volume one in a larger four volume story, perhaps the setup isn't too long; after all, Tolkien took a couple hundred pages to get his fellowship moving.
This book is a fun, quick read. I recommend it especially to people familiar with fantasy as they'll understand the humor more readily.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful introduction to a whole new world June 9 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was the first true series of medieval fantasy books I had ever read and it was fantastic. Jack Chalker starts us here in our own time and then spins us into another world with our heroes Joe and Marge, two loners who are picked up off a lonely road and brought to the new world, by the sorcerer Ruddygore.
Chalker does a great job with character development, allowing us to follow both Joe and Marge through their transformations into legends. He keeps the action moving along and even gives the readers some humor as well. Ruddygore's importance to the story is noted in almost every situation, since he seems to have affected everybody and everything around him.
What I like about this book (and the Dancing Gods series in general) is that Chalker shows us real imagination in every situation he throws his characters in. Joe the barabarian isn't your typical barbarian hero so it makes sense that he shouldn't be in typical situations. Joe's problems are recognizable to the reader which helps us get into the character, and yet only Joe could solve them. Marge isn't your average changeling magic-user either, although we don't follow her nearly as closely as we do Joe the barabarian.
Chalker's style of writing is also very easy to follow. It flows well and isn't cluttered with lots of words you would need a dictionary to look up. I'm not saying that his writing is simple, it isn't, but it's not written above the reader, either. It is a very enjoyable book and Chalker does us the favor of wrapping up the story as well. You can follow Joe and Marge in their next adventure or, if you don't like it, you can stop here and be content in finishing the book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusing fantasy Jan. 22 2002
By mrliteral - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a lightweight but nevertheless entertaining fantasy novel. What makes this book stand out is Chalker's taking on the cliches of fantasy. If this wasn't clearly a parody, it would be nothing more than a routine novel. Certainly, the plot involving two "real world" individuals who must go to a fantasy land to save it is nothing original; it's how Chalker plays with the standard conventions that makes this an above average story.
There are flaws, admittedly. The characters are rather bland and often fit into the cliches that Chalker is trying to ridicule. Also, too much time is spent on the set-up (around 60% of the book) and too little time on the actual adventure (and the final battle is somewhat anticlimactic). However, if this viewed as only volume one in a larger four volume story, perhaps the setup isn't too long; after all, Tolkien took a couple hundred pages to get his fellowship moving.
This book is a fun, quick read. I recommend it especially to people familiar with fantasy as they'll understand the humor more readily.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable take on the genre Sept. 19 2005
By David Harper - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Like Joel Rosenberg, Jack L. Chalker's work belongs to the often-ignored subgenre of gritty fantasy, the kind in which good guys die, bad guys aren't always evil, and even heroes are, in the end, only human. While readers often decry high fantasy for being 'unrealistic', many of them are disappointed when they open a gritty book and discover that it has left them unsatisfied. Most of us, after all, are seeking escape from reality - we'd rather see heartwarming tales of victory against all the odds rather than read about our hero losing everything he holds dear.

If you're in this group, you might just like this early offering from Jack L. Chalker. Readers familiar with this author will notice the same trend, but it has not yet fully developed into grittiness. Instead, we are presented with a relatively quirky fantasy, using a storyline that always manages to sucker me in: someone from our world enters a fantasy world. (If you like that theme, I recommend 'In the Net of Dreams' by Wm. Mark Simmons)

Chalker's take on this theme is surprisingly original, with a world that was inadvertinely created as a reaction to God's creation of our own world. Leaving this secondary world to His angels to finish, this new world ended up with many loopholes in its natural laws - loopholes that can be exploited by people who know how: wizards and witches, in a nutshell. Over time, the most powerful formed councils to plug these loopholes - and ended up creating reams of new laws instead, like any bureaucracy, some of which tend towards the ridiculous. "All barbarians must be exotic, but be of no particular nationality." Each chapter is headed by one of these laws, which gently poke fun at the entire genre of fantasy - but are very much real in this world. Christianity plays a large role in 'River of the Dancing Gods', but don't mistake it for a religious book - there are several themes in it that might prove surprising.

As a childhood favorite, I picked up this book again in a used bookstore one afternoon when I had several hours to spare. It made for a pleasant way to while away the time, but as I read it again, I noticed more gratuitious titilation than I'd recalled from memory. The whole series seems torn between the adult (themes of life - divorce, custody of children, mortgages) and the gleeful adolescent (a world in which the Law requires beautiful women to be scantily clothed, and nymphs grow in power the more often they...er...well, you know). Fans of Piers Anthony's work will probably find it similar, if more realistic. However, I ended up feeling hesitant to recommend it to my wife. It's certainly not erotica, but it's got enough 'tease' in it that some people will be offended.

Like my experiences with Piers Anthony's novels, I found re-reading them to be less enjoyable the older I get - but they continue to be well-written books that fans will enjoy, especially if they happen to be young men. Luckily for fans new to the series, they are all commonly available in used bookstores, giving you plenty of new reading for a nice price.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful introduction to a whole new world June 9 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was the first true series of medieval fantasy books I had ever read and it was fantastic. Jack Chalker starts us here in our own time and then spins us into another world with our heroes Joe and Marge, two loners who are picked up off a lonely road and brought to the new world, by the sorcerer Ruddygore.
Chalker does a great job with character development, allowing us to follow both Joe and Marge through their transformations into legends. He keeps the action moving along and even gives the readers some humor as well. Ruddygore's importance to the story is noted in almost every situation, since he seems to have affected everybody and everything around him.
What I like about this book (and the Dancing Gods series in general) is that Chalker shows us real imagination in every situation he throws his characters in. Joe the barabarian isn't your typical barbarian hero so it makes sense that he shouldn't be in typical situations. Joe's problems are recognizable to the reader which helps us get into the character, and yet only Joe could solve them. Marge isn't your average changeling magic-user either, although we don't follow her nearly as closely as we do Joe the barabarian.
Chalker's style of writing is also very easy to follow. It flows well and isn't cluttered with lots of words you would need a dictionary to look up. I'm not saying that his writing is simple, it isn't, but it's not written above the reader, either. It is a very enjoyable book and Chalker does us the favor of wrapping up the story as well. You can follow Joe and Marge in their next adventure or, if you don't like it, you can stop here and be content in finishing the book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars May be my favorite Chalker. April 10 2005
By frumiousb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
River of the Dancing Gods is a quirky intelligent fantasy novel that manages to be a compelling read while holding up the entire genre for gentle parody.

Marge and Joe are not your typical fantasy heroes, but are probably all the better for not being typical. Marge is a down-at-the-heels 30-something waitress/housewife. Joe is a trucker who somehow lost the plot along the way. Together they meet a strange character called Ruddigore, and the adventure begins.

This was a re-read for me, and as I recall the rest of the series does not live up to the promise of this one. Still, a decent place to begin with Chalker. There is significantly less of the sniggering 12-year-old boy humor that can make Chalker so irritating at times. Should appeal to readers who like fantasy of the Xanth and Spellsinger variety.
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book April 22 2014
By Stephen Sorcic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
An amazing series that I've loved for years now. I never had my own copy and I didn't know where to look until now. Book was old, but in great condition and came to me quickly. I enjoyed it all the more for that!
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