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Wyvern [Hardcover]

A. A. Attanasio
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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From Publishers Weekly

Fans of adventure yarns may relish this blend of fantasy and historical fiction if they take to the author's baroque, tinted prose and lush imagination. Jaki Gefjon, son of a native Borneo woman and a Dutch sea captain, starts life as witch-doctor's slave and apprentice. Later kidnapped by pirates, he befriends his captor, Trevor Pym, famed for his dreaded man-of-war, the Wyvern. Jaki falls for Lucinda, the headstrong daughter of Pym's arch-rival, Captain William Quarles. Crammed with intrigue, pirates' battles, curses and visions, this seafaring saga takes Lucinda and Jaki from the South Seas to India to the New World. Various plot strands interweavethe encroachment of colonialism on the world of spirits, Jaki's hard-won self-acceptance after abandoning the role of European gentleman, the clash of duty versus romance as Lucinda defies her father. But the cardboard characters defeat the book's epic and historicl pretensions. Attanasio's previous novels include Radix , a Nebula Award nominee, and Arc of the Dream.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Seventeenth-century adventure awaits readers in Attanasio's ( Radix ) novel. Jaki Gefjon is a half-breed, raised among headhunters of Borneo and trained as a "soul catcher" (medicine man). Drawn by the mystery of his Dutch father into a European way of life, Jaki joins pirate captain Trevor Pym under the fearsome serpent banner of Wyvern to combat the mercantile empires exploiting Asia. Jaki's saga is laced with mysticism as he struggles to understand the meaning of his life, buffeted by competing cultures. His mother, his mentor, Jabalwan, the pirate Pym, and his English wife help him to progress to self-knowledge. This solid adventure/fantasy is recommended for popular fiction collections. William C. McCully, Park Ridge P.L., Ill.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Novel Ever May 18 2004
By mtgreen
Format:Hardcover
I've read alotta great books.
I've listened to alotta great music.
I decided quite awhile back that picking "the Best of..." is something that defines to others what one's sense of culture is all aboot. So - in that sense, and of course with the understanding that there really is no such thing:
Best Album Ever: Abbey Road.
Best Novel Ever: Wyvern.
If you can relate to my album choice then that probably has no bearing on whether or not you will admire this fine piece of fiction laced with the incredible metaphysical observations that seem to reinforce my own worldview: adopted from several sources including this book. Ivy league MBA's probably should pass. Oh - one other thing: for some reason I found the first 89 pages or so rather slow going on the first read. They're now perhaps my favorite part. Has anyone mentioned Candide yet?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read! April 11 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read this book many years ago and loved it. When I recently came upon it again I read it again and if anything I enjoyed it even more. Thank you Mr. Attanasio!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  60 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A devastating culmination Sept. 4 2000
By Bob Satori - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you are a fan of Mr. Attanasio's earlier works this seems to be the point where his theme of human potential and suffering finally concludes with a subtle but tragic realization.
If you have never read Atanasio's work this would be a fine place to start.
Wyvern is perhaps the most consistently violent tale I've ever seen from the author, but it is never gratuitous. This is a terribly moving story that will stay with you for many years, no mere work of light fiction for an evening's entertainment.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the two greatest adventure books of all time Jan. 8 2002
By Randall J. Crook - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When I first read Tolkien's trilogy in 1971 I never thought that I would find any adventure that I liked as well until I read Wyvern while on a backpacking trip. I have since reread it twice and find it as facinating as the first read. I can't believe that it is so difficult to find. I cannot recommend this adventure story highly enough.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional. Unforgettable. June 22 2005
By Kerryah - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This was the first Attanasio book I ever read, but certainly not the last. However, nothing has ever eclipsed the magnificence of Wyvern. I've never found anything else (by any author) that quite matches this in its sweeping scope. The setting is also wonderfully exotic and refreshingly different from most books in the historical fantasy genre.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Borneo sorcerer in colonial times May 11 2013
By ChristophFischerBooks - Published on Amazon.com
"Wyvern" is an amazing blend of historical fiction with some elements of the fantasy genre.
Starting in Borneo in the 17th Century, a time when European colonisation has only just taken foot in Asia, the Spanish and the Dutch wars cast their shadow over the area and British and Pirate ships are making the seas a dangerous place.
In the middle of all this are the tribes of Borneo and their own struggles with each other and the intruders. Attracted by alcohol and other imports trade is booming and affecting the standards of life.
In an attempt to secure his leadership over other tribes Batuh allows his wife to seduce a Dutchman to gain advantage and Jaki/ Batu is born out of this unlikely Union. Batuh owes a life to sorcerer Jabalwa who claims Jaki/ Batu and has him work for him as soul catcher.
Growing up with sorcery and traditional tribal customs and healing Jaki comes of age in the volatile world, becomes a sorcerer himself and carries on in the epic journey that is his life; meeting his new Duitch 'father', leading him to love and further travels.

This book seems immaculately researched, a labour of love and written wonderfully with care, thought and attention to detail. For my personal liking the amount of detail and description got at few occasions in the way of the flow, but maybe I am just an impatient reader. (I have said the same about C.J.Sansom, so A. A. Attanasio is in good company). I certainly feel I learned a lot of history and was reminded of aspects of colonial and 17th century history that I had forgotten, which made this a very enjoyable and engaging read.

I loved the description of tribal mythology and customs, it felt very authentic and I am amazed how such an ambitious project about a location and time that surely must be difficult to research location and time could be portrayed so well.

The fantasy and sorcery aspect of the novel worked well for me, I am not a huge fan of it but it served well to contrast the modern world and the ancient belief systems, laying interesting doubt over the arrogance of the modern over the old and traditional, as Europeans meet the ancient tribes.

The narrative at the beginning of the novel seemed a little jumpy and for me did not work well. However, the story soon set steady on its curse and reached a satisfactory if somewhat open ending.

A winning combination if you don't mind your fantasy to have some serious aspect to it, or your history to have an element of fantasy. A certain must read for anyone who would like to learn more about the place and times.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique-Exceptional- Captures the essence of the heroic quest March 27 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Through dark mysticism, violent beauty and the emotionally charged background of adolescent life, Attanasio characterizes the developement of the hero in true archetypical value. His adventurer stumbles and charges through love, war, death, piracy and philosophy as he encounters the world with a sword in his hand and medicine man in his heart. truly unique in concept and execution.
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