Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Physiognomy Hardcover – Large Print, Dec 1 2002


See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover, Large Print
"Please retry"
CDN$ 185.55 CDN$ 25.32

Join Amazon Student in Canada


--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (December 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786249072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786249077
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 16.6 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
The world that Ford creates in The Physiognomy is compelling, detail-rich, and difficult to forget. I think even the most suspicious readers will be charmed by his depiction of the Well-Built City and the details like the miners who have inhaled so much dust that they turn to stone.
Unfortunately, his grip on characters isn't quite as good. While Cley is engaging on a certain level, as a reader I was ultimately unable to care about either his goodness or his badness. If Ford could have made him matter just a little bit more, then it wouldn't have felt so empty at the end.
Despite the flaws, one of the most original fantasy reads I've had in a long time.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Physiognomy is a story in three acts, in which protagonist Cley shows his despicable nature, then travels through purgatory and is given the chance to redeem himself by doing right by those he had wronged. It's a simple story arc, told against a dark and surreal backdrop: The Well-Built City, crafted in the image of the mind of it's maker, the Master, Drachton Below. The territorial town of Anamasobia, inhabited by plebians whom Cley sees as almost bestial. The sulphur mines of the island of Doralice, run by twin brothers and an intelligent monkey. Not to mention Cley's vocation: Reading the nature of people by measuring the character of their faces and bodies.
Ford proves to be an able scripter, and despite its sometimes-gruesome subject matter the book is filled with dark humor, often taking the form of some character saying something totally unexpected. Cley's predicaments are often novel and challenging, and the story moves right along. Small touches fill out the story and make the whole place seem vivid and real... at first glance.
The Physiognomy's greatest weakness is that it never really gets below the surface of its story. Physiognomy is an impressive device, filled with the potential for all sorts of moral quandaries, but its use diminishes quickly and drastically after the first third of the book. The nature of the Well-Built City is never really explored, the ramifications of (essentially) living in someone's mind not really plumbed. For that matter, Cley himself is something of a cipher. We don't really know where he came from, what led him to Physiognomy, or why he stays in his position. Greed? Ambition? Fear? Devotion to the Master? All seem plausible, but none any plausible than any other.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have mixed feelings about Jeffrey Ford's science fantasy novel The Physiognomy. While I rank it above the average, it's still frustrating to read a book with so much potential so needlessly wasted. Jeffrey Ford had great ideas for it but I didn't like the way he handled many of them. I'll let you know about my biggest gripes in a minute, so keep reading.
For this review, I split the novel into three parts. Act one is, in my humble opinion, the best chunk of the book. Here we witness as Cley, renowned physiognomist of the Well-Built City -- the urban brainchild of overlord genius Drachton Below --, is sent to the rural landscapes at the edge of the known world on a trifling mission he's not very pleased to carry out. Cley is a cruel and conceited individual, intelligent but at the same time blinded by his own knowledge and an addiction to a drug known as Sheer Beauty. With a charming personality such as this, it's no surprise he vents his frustrations on the hapless peasants, whom he rates pathetic creatures after only a quick glance at their physiognomic traits. Jeffrey Ford shows great talent for dark humour in his portrayal of Cley, but it's a pity it only lasts for the first part of the novel. Granted, Cley isn't a character you could easily identify yourself with, but I still liked him a lot at this stage. (...)
Cley is also perhaps the only truly well-developed character in The Physiognomy, while all the others seem flat by comparison. Unfortunately for him, though, things are about to change.
The story goes a bit downhill from here. Luckily not into the Forbidden Zone of Badness, but downhill nevertheless. For starters, things happen too damn fast at times, especially from the second act on.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While it's being shelved under science fiction, and while it no doubt is science fiction, The Physiognomy feels more like fantasy for most of its length. Two thirds of the novel are spent outside the dystopian Well-Built City (which itself has an interesting mix of old and new technology), setting for only the last third of the book. We don't get in touch, for those two thirds, with the technological advance of the City, and that explains the fantasy feel.
The story is interesting, though The Physiognomy feels incomplete. That's because it's part of a trilogy (the next novels are Memoranda and The Beyond). Cley, the protagonist, is a physiognomist, which is a state function- the state being under the totalitarian rule of Drachton Below, a man with a severe god complex - that combines, in a fashion, the functions of investigator and judge. Remember Judge Dredd? Cley is almost like Dredd, only he doesn't execute people. People are executed by a gas that inflates their heads until they pop. Not by the physiognomists themselves. Those only point their fingers at certain people, and find out if they're guilty of a crime by the measurements of their bodies. They can also predict the future using the same science, the Physiognomy. The Physiognomy was created by Drachton Below so...you get the picture.
At the beginning of the story, Cley is a corrupt, morally disgusting individual. He is sent by Below to investigate a crime in the 'territory'. That's the starting point in a journey of, say, self and world discovery, and soon enough Cley is one terrific guy (suspension of disbelief necessary, for sure). The Physiognomy is well done and entertaining, and very worth the read. I would have appreciated more solid world building (things are sometimes just too vague), but the novel is fast paced and interesting, with very surreal imagery (if you're into that, the book's a treat). I'll read the next two.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.

Product Images from Customers

Most recent customer reviews

Search


Feedback