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The Architecture of Desire Hardcover – Aug 8 1991


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (Aug. 8 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593019520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593019528
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.2 x 2.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 599 g

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Gentle follows her baroque fantasy Rats and Gargoyles with this semi-sequel, featuring two of the previous novel's characters in a far different milieu. The White Crow, aka Valentine, Master Physician of the Invisible College, and her husband, the Lord-Architect Casaubon--both masters of alchemical magics--have retired to the White Crow's estates outside of London. This alternate 17th-century England evokes that of Cromwell's Protectorate, with a few playful changes; here the monarch (Queen rather than King) remains alive, a rallying point for the royalists, and the Protector is a woman as well, General Olivia. The occasional historical figure appears (for example, the anatomist William Harvey) as the White Crow and Casaubon find themselves unwillingly drawn into the intrigues between the two factions. An old friend, Pollexfen Calmady, brings Casaubon to the city to help build a temple--"the eye of the sun"--for the Protector, while a puritan woman, Desire-of-the-Lord Guillaime, induces the White Crow to help in a scheme to encourage the Queen to go into exile. But when Calmady rapes Desire in the White Crow's home, events begin to spiral toward catastrophe. Where the previous novel was at times too complicated and over long, this one errs on the other side, sometimes feeling compressed, its turns of plot underrationalized. But Gentle's witty prose and the unusual and intriguing atmosphere of her world more than compensate.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

As the reigning Protector-General and the deposed Queen Carola play an intricate game of plot and counterplot for the control of London, the Lord-Architect and his Master Physician wife become drawn into a web of conspiracy--on opposite sides. The author of Golden Witchbreed (NAL, 1985) and Ancient Light (NAL, 1990) broke new ground in Rats and Gargoyles ( LJ 3/15/91), creating an alternate world in which magical and alchemical principles formed the basis of science and fledgling technology. This sequel represents both a carefully thought-out application of those same principles to affairs of state and a rousing story of intrigue and old-fashioned adventure. Libraries who have already discovered Gentle's unique talent will definitely want this title.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful near-miss... Dec 18 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Gentle, here, portrays a fascinating world -- an alternative Protectorate England -- with filth and luxury, magic and hard-eyed politics, juxtaposed. I was disappointed at the shortness of the book therefore. There seems to be so much here -- and the author keeps so much to herself.
The characters are interesting, truly "different", especially the large and less than hygienic Casaubon. The protagonist, the physician/sorceress/warrior White Crow is violent, conflicted and ultimately quite real. The mercenary Pollexfen has his moments, especially on the gallows. But other characters get short shrift. Both the Protector Olivia and Queen Carola could be far deeper than they are here. Toward the end of the book, I found White Crow's motivations unclear, to the point that I wasn't really sure what she intended to do.
Gentle writes well and has established that through a number of excellent books. She also pulls no punches. Architecture of Desire is cold and brutal, to be sure. It also contains some strange, dizzying POV shifts, and the indeterminacy of the conclusion bothered me. But the imagery is stark and stunning.
Another near-miss here concerns the plot. One plot line, that of a massive public structure which cannot, or should not, be built because the tainted royal blood used to sanctify its foundations has attracted demons -- is fascinating. I love the themes of architecture, cosmology and the human soul, and they fit the time period very well. But Gentle has chosen to focus on what for me is a less original and interesting plot, that of White Crow's and Pollexfen's dual rape of a woman named Desire and the choice White Crow must make when the mercenary ends up about to be hanged. As I've said, I found the end alarmingly unclear: is White Crow going back to Casaubon and their young children... or not?
I recommend this as a pill against milksop literature, but not without some reservations.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Deserves more attention (and better reviews) Dec 7 2004
By Sean C - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The summary above is adequate, but the reviews that have already been printed about this book don't do it justice, and the one-star review is simply unfair in a world where Terry Goodkind books get four stars. It's true that while this book features the main characters from the incredible Rats & Gargoyles, the world they live in has changed drastically. In fact, Gentle seems to have relocated them to a very different world, albeit one that shares some of the history from the first book. And yes, it's jarring at first, but so what? I read this book first out of the three stories about these characters, and it's a brilliant stand-alone book, as each of the other two is. The characters are flawed, haunted, appealing, and seductive, and the story is both heartbreaking and rapturous. I love this book; I liked it better than Rats & Gargoyles in many ways. It's more driven by character and less by fantasy. If you continue reading about the White Crow and Causabon, be prepared for another change in scenery in Left to His Own Devices; these characters seem to inhabit a shifting world, or perhaps Gentle sees them inhabiting more than one world, like Moorcock's Eternal Champion? Anyhow, I hope to see the collected White Crow on the shelves soon; it'll be a very good buy.
6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Book didn't live up to promise of Rats & Gargoyles Sept. 28 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Rats & Gargoyles presented an alternative univererse with a wide variety of sympathetic and yet difficult characters. Its emphasis on urban life and its center, literally the dwelling place of the gods, is flipped into a decaying destructive core in the Architecture of Desire and is now anachronistically positioned in Cromwell's England. The characters which were sympathetic are now not only capable but do commit crimes of the heart and body.
The net effect is a shallower novel than the original and one which allows for no continuity with the larger opus although it uses the same characters.

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