Reviews

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Stephenson has quickly established himself as an A-list writer of epic-length fantasy. His mammoth novel Cryptonomicon (1999) was as long as the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, and then there's the multivolume Baroque Cycle, which offers a world of another time and place that is so tangible that reality seems flat and dull by comparison. He does the same thing here in this astonishing novel, taking us to a world similar to Earth, where society is divided between the avout, who live in a sealed-off monastery and devote themselves to science and philosophy, and the saecular, whose daily lives are taken up with more mundane concerns, such as reproduction, recreation, and business. Every so often, residents of the monastery venture out into the saecular world but never for very long. Then Erasmus, the novel's narrator, and his fellow avout are shocked to learn that they are being sent out into the other world to save it from certain disaster. Stephenson's novels have always contained more than one level, and Anathem continues that practice, its surface story serving as a launching pad for multiple meanings, both metaphorical and allegorical. The novel is beautifully written (fans of Adam Roberts' ornately written science fiction will see some similarities), and, even though it runs to nearly 1,000 pages, it feels somehow too short, as though we're made to leave this carefully constructed world and return to our own before we're quite ready. A magnificent achievement.--Pitt, David Copyright 2008 Booklist


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

On the world called Arbre, time runs in counterpoint: the ponderous flow of ritual and study behind the doors of the great "maths," or monasteries, against the constant flux of cultural change in the world outside. Devoted to scientific rather than religious practice, these sanctuaries maintain an austere and ceremonial cloistered existence for decades, even centuries, before opening briefly to see what has changed. Every so often, major outside events break the great cycle and force the maths to change. Fraa Erasmas, a not especially distinguished member of one of these cloisters, finds himself at the center of one of these events and, as so often happens, ends up trying to save the world. Stephenson (Cryptonomicon) is not afraid to spend as much time as it takes to explore everything that interests him, whether it's the geometry of cake cutting or the particulars of a 1000-year-old collection of assorted garden furniture. In less skilled hands this might be tedious, but here the layers of world building are the foundation for an enthralling tale that, even at over 900 pages, is over almost too soon. For some fans, this may be a welcome return to sf after his epic historical trilogy, "The Baroque Cycle," but readers with an interest in science and philosophy will also enjoy it--there are dozens of famous ideas and theorems half-hidden throughout the novel. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/08; includes a bonus CD with music composed for Anathem.]--Jenne Bergstrom, San Diego Cty. Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Scholars safe behind the walls of a 3400-year-old monastery are called upon to leave their sanctuary and help a world on the edge of doom. With a one-day laydown on September 9; with an 11-city tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.