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Book reviews for "Betancourt,_John_Gregory" sorted by average review score:

The Well at the World's End
Published in Paperback by Wildside Press (March, 2000)
Authors: William Morris, John Gregory Betancourt, Lin Carter, and Gregory Betancourt
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Get this book back in print!!!!
I rank this book up there with the Gormenghast series and the Lord of the Rings. A fantasy masterpiece, it is the precursor for everything that came after. Yes, the archaic medieval language is tough to get into at first, but after ten or twenty pages it becomes natural to the mind and presents no problem. One sees that the language is part of the beauty. Overall, this book is like one of those medieval detailed tapestries, with kings, adventurers, knights and noble women trotting through forests toward distant castles. This is medieval romance at its finest, and because it dates from 1898, it is happily free of the Tolkien imitativeness that has so infected a large portion of modern fantasy. Forget Terry Brooks, read The Well At the World's End.

The Well, from which only the 'strong of heart' may drink.
Don't let the dismal fact that this book is twenty-zillionth on the bestseller list discourageth you.... it is well worth orderething.

I first came to this book through the published endorsement (hence, not personal) of the great C.S. Lewis, who made his first reading of the Well in November of 1914. He read it many times thereafter.

In my ONE reading of the two volumes, I can attest to the fact that this is a beautiful story, a rich fantasy, a vibrant fairy-tale with no fairies. Among other things... a love story. Strictly speaking, as regards genre, it is a "romance". The chivalric, bardic story of Ralph of Upmeads, the least likely of the King's four sons, who devotes his life to the quest of the Well at The World's End... a fabled well which promises to reward its discoverer with perpetual youth.

If you are in love with Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings (and who isn't) you should definitely consider having an affair with The Well At The World's End. Let me defuse the daunting issue of Morris's use of archaic language. Be ye warned, in every sentence you will constantly encounter words such as forsooth, hitherward, quoth, whither, rideth, erstwhile, deem, draweth, betwixt, and I wot not else. At first I thought this would be really intolerable. But I quickly adapted to it, and even found it kind of "not vile".

Remember... Volume 2 is essential. It's NOT a sequel, it's a conclusion. Get both volumes, and escape the world of car horns and remote control for a bit.

I applaud this new re-issue of what is definitely a fantasy classic. Previously, one had to search a hundred used-book stores to find it. Now it's a click away.

And as regards it's place on the bestseller list? I am reminded of the wise words of the great Henrik Ibsen, who once suggested that "the solid majority is always wrong."

Back to the Basics
You've got to wonder why people fall all over themselves in slavish imitation of Lovecraft and his "mythos" and yet nobody seems to have planned any literary adventures in William Morris' world of Upmeads. I've been interested in fantasy literature and its history for a while, and a week ago I finally sat down and read this book. I was expecting it to be better than Lord of the Rings, and it was. I've always preferred Lewis' Narnia to Tolkien's Middle-Earth, and Morris gives me another alternative (albeit the alternative that actually spawned both Narnia AND Middle Earth). Ralph and Ursula make one of the most affectionate, lovable couples to be found in fantasy literature, the physical descriptions of landscapes and clothing and people are all the more gorgeous for their archaic nature, and you even get as an occasional bonus William Morris inserting his pre-Fabian socialist ideas into people's mouths. If people are going to write imitative fantasy novels, they should start with THIS, and not Tolkien or Lovecraft.

The Book of Wonder
Published in Digital by Wildside Press ()
Authors: Lord Dunsany, Lin Carter, and John Gregory Betancourt
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Beautiful fantasy
It can only be guessed at why this book was out of print in the US until recently. In it, the reader can discover a charming collection of VERY short stories, which flit from whimsical to mythological, humorous to chilling. All are written in Dunsany's incomparable prose, which ranges from arch first-person narrative to stuff that sounds like embellished mythology.

In this you'll find centaurs, sphinxes, master thieves, about-to-retire pirate chiefs, kings trying to move an emotionless queen to tears, a magical window, a pair of feuding idols, and a delightful story called "Miss Cubbidge and the Dragon of Romance." In addition, this new reprint by Wildside Press has a beautiful cover of a young boy on a winged horse.

The stories are a little short -- much shorter than most present-day short fantasy stories -- but they are just amazing. A must-read for immediate suspension of belief.

Delightful collection
It can only be guessed at why this book is out of print in the US, though it can be obtained with other Dunsany works from the UK. In it, the reader can discover a charming collection of VERY short stories, which flit from whimsical to mythological, humorous to chilling. All are written in Dunsany's incomparable prose, which ranges from arch first-person narrative to stuff that sounds like embellished mythology.

In this you'll find centaurs, sphinxes, master thieves, about-to-retire pirate chiefs, kings trying to move an emotionless queen to tears, a magical window, a pair of feuding idols, and a delightful story called "Miss Cubbidge and the Dragon of Romance." The stories are a little short -- much shorter than most present-day short fantasy stories -- but they are just amazing. A must-read for immediate suspension of belief.

Should be read by all _Thief_ players. :)
Three tales of famous thieves are part of this collection. _The Book of Wonder_ consists of 14 of Dunsany's short stories (I've sorted them by title rather than order of appearance); it's in print as I write this, as part of the Fantasy Masterworks edition of _Time and the Gods_.

"The Bride of the Man-Horse" - Shepperalk the centaur headed from the first for the city of Zretazoola, though all the mundane plain lay between.

"Chu-bu and Sheemish" - The idol Chu-bu was worshipped alone in his temple for over a hundred years, until the day the priests brought in the upstart idol Sheemish to be worshipped beside him.

"The Coronation of Mr. Thomas Shap" - When Mr. Shap perceived the beastliness of his occupation as a salesman, he began to venture into the lands of dream and wonder as an escape.

"Distressing Tale of Thangobrind the Jeweller" - Thangobrind, a master thief operating behind a cover as a jeweller, is offered the soul of a Merchant Prince's daughter in exchange for stealing a diamond from the temple of Hlo-Hlo...

"The Hoard of the Gibbelins" - The Gibbelins maintain their hoard only to attract a continual supply of food...humans...

"The House of the Sphinx" - A visitor chances to come to the House of the Sphinx after a mighty deed has been done, and her servants are in a panic...

"How Nuth Would Have Practiced His Art Upon the Gnoles" - Nuth the incomparable is a master thief. "It may be urged against my use of the word incomparable that in the burglary business the name of Slith stands paramount and alone; and of this I am not ignorant; but Slith is a classic, and lived long ago, and knew nothing at all of modern competition..."

"How One Came, as Was Foretold, to the City of Never" - "Time had been there, but not to work I know not what bribe averted." But not even that Ultimate City is perfect.

"The Injudicious Prayers of Pombo the Idolater" - It is unwise to pray to one idol, only to become impatient and ask another idol to curse the first one; it's against their etiquette....

"The Loot of Bombasharna" - The seas are becoming too hot to hold Captain Shard and the crew of the pirate ship _Desperate Lark_. The sacking of Bombasharna is to be their last hurrah before retirement...

"Miss Cubbidge and the Dragon of Romance" - If princesses are in short supply, sometimes a dragon might have to kidnap the daughter of a member of Parliament.

"Probable Adventure of Three Literary Men" - "When the nomads came to El Lola they had no more songs, and the question of stealing the golden box arose in all its magnitude." The legendary thief Slith, along with two assistants because of the weight of the box of poems, are chosen to make the attempt.

"The Quest of the Queen's Tears" - Sylvia, Queen of the Woods, cannot love any of her suitors, but as a compromise, will consent to marry the first man who can move her to tears.

"The Wonderful Window" - The mysterious window was being offered for sale in the streets of London, and its price is all you possess.

The Sci-Fi Channel Trivia Book
Published in Paperback by Boulevard (Trd Pap) (November, 1996)
Author: John Gregory Betancourt
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Sink Your Teeth Into This One....
So...Your waiting your turn to get on the family computer,or your watching the Oscar's (hoping this will be the year they give a nod to sci-fi/horror films,)and they're having one of those musical numbers, or worse...your cable's gone out and you have to watch Star Trek IV with commercials....what to do? Pull out your copy of "The Sci-Fi Channel Trivia Book" and have some fun!
It claims it is the Ultimate Triva Challenge, and for Sci-Fi/Horror Buffs IT IS! There are 1,000 questions to challenge you and your friends. Test your knowledge on Movies, Television, and even Comic Books. The questions are divided into those three main topics, plus a fourth called "Wormhole" which has a little bit of everything.There are point values for each question ranging from 10-50 pts. and each pt. value has about 50 questions in each. Even some the 10 pointers are quite challenging. From Movies 10 pts: What football star was the other head in the 1972 Ray Milland film "The Thing With Two Heads?" From Television 50 pts: Name the Outer Limits episode where a couple is pursued by tumbleweeds controlled by an alien intelligence. In the book you do get to pick from multiple choice answers and the actual answers are in the back (NO PEAKING). There's a bonus section in the back also, a survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers on their favorit books, authors, etc.
What I really enjoyed about it is the wide variety of questions, if there's one subject your not great at, you'll get em on the next! Also you can play alone or with as many people as you want. This would make a great stocking stuffer for the sci-fi fan in your life (or for yourself).
"May the force be with you" Laurie

Not So Trivial Pursuit
The SciFi Channel has done it! They've challenged our minds and memories with simply oodles and oodles of great trivia questions. Separated into four categories (movie, television, comics and wormhole - a miscellaneous hodgepodge of questions) these questions get progressively more difficult as you move along through the chapters. The questions go from 10pts to 40pts and believe me, the 40pt questions will cause all but the most die-hard fan of the genre to run away screaming!

The only complaint I have is that looking up the answers in the back of the book is sometimes tricky since the questions are numbered 1-50 in EACH point range instead of a flat 1-200 in each category.

Another great aspect of this book, besides its potential for a great evenings fun with other sci-fi fans is the fact that it includes recommended reading lists and the lists of favorite books and movies of members of the SFFWA. Recommendation lists like this give fans a chance to cross into genres that they might never have entered without a little nudge.

A definite must-have for fans and collectors of sci-fi and it makes a great companion book to the cd-rom of the same name.

This book is cool!!!!!!!
This book is relly cool! I got a lot of the answers right on the trivia.

Cutthroat Island
Published in Mass Market Paperback by Forge (December, 1995)
Authors: John Gregory Betancourt, Michael Frost Becker, James Gorman, Bruce A. Evans, and Raynold Gideon
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Excellent detailing
This book is yet one of my most favorites. The detailing of this fine writen book makes you actually not want to put it down once you start to read it. The movie is wonderful, but the book takes you to the next level that the movie leaves out.

So if you are a person who craves more detailing in an action and adventure, this is the book for you. No lie, you will not be disapointed. Take my word for it.

The Hag's Contract
Published in Paperback by Tsr Hobbies (Mm) (June, 1996)
Authors: John Betancourt and John Gregory Betancourt
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Another great book from the Birthright Series
One of the best of the Birthright series i suggest reading all of the Birthright books myself.

The Mark of Zorro
Published in Digital by Wildside Press ()
Authors: Johnston McCulley and John Gregory Betancourt
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A pleasant romp through Spanish California
Most people are familiar with the story of Zorro, bland Caballero by day, masked rogue by night. This book, a reprint of the 1919 serial, is the genesis of many movies, several TV shows, and numerous other Zorro stories by McCulley. While not a great book, it provides a few hours of diversion.

The story revolves around a trio of suitors for Lolita: Diego Vega, spiritless heir to the largest fortune in California, Captain Ramon, commandant of the presideo, who is not above blackmail and deceit to achieve his aims, and Zorro, the masked rogue who defends the mistreated and downtrodden. The plot is predicatably familiar and McCulley demonstrates only an adequate writing style. That "The Curse of Capistrano" (only later retitled "The Mark of Zorro") achieved success is due to McCulley's blending of a spirited heroine, a dashing, daring hero, the timeless story of good versus evil, and some dashes of humor. The book also contains a fourteen page forward discussing the book from a historical perspective. I found this informative and a worthwhile addition.

While not as good as similar books, for example "The Scarlet Pimpernal", it is still an enjoyable way to spend a rainy afternoon. Shhh, shhh, shhh.

I wonder if Johnston McCulley had any idea what he was starting when he first wrote THE CURSE OF CAPISTRANO, as the story was titled when it was first published as a serial in a pulp magazine. Had it not been for Douglas Fairbanks, it would probably have ended with that one novel. I'm glad it turned out differently, as the Zorro legend has become such an ingrained part of our culture and sparked so many more stories, as well as movies and TV series! Don Diego Vega is a lifeless, spineless wimp--or so he would have the world believe. He won't engage in duels, won't romance pretty young ladies, won't engage in any of the activities expected of young gentlemen of that era. He only courts Lolita Pulido because his father has ordered him to get himself a wife, and even then, he does it in such a lifeless manner that Lolita can't stand him. All the while, however, he leads a double life that nobody knows about. At night, he dons a mask and costume, and calls himself Zorro (fox). As Zorro, he is everything Don Diego is not. He duels with soldiers and laughs as he does so. He romances Lolita in a passionate, yet gentlemanly manner, and defends her honor with a wicked captain. He persuades a group of young caballeros to stand up to tyranny, which in the end saves his life and Lolita's. THE MARK OF ZORRO is an exciting, adventure-filled, romantic novel. I recommend it to everyone.

An absolute classic!
Who could resist giving this book five stars? (Obviously, not many!) Johnston McCulley presents the first appearance of Zorro throughout the world in this classic novel of old Spanish California. Originally published in 1919 and entitled "The Curse of Capistrano", this novel is one of the most adventure-packed stories you're probably ever going to find! If you haven't read this book, you should!!!

A Voyage to Arcturus
Published in Hardcover by Wildside Pr (August, 2002)
Authors: David Lindsay and John Gregory Betancourt
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Unique proto-sci-fi psychodrama; brilliant descriptive prose
I was handed this book years ago by a friend at school, who had in turn been given it by another. I read it, passed it on to a friend and later found out that it was then read by several others before being lost without trace. It is an unforgettable book, extraordinarily rich in imaginative and descriptive brilliance, about one man's journey through a far-away world which may in fact be the mirror of his own psyche. While the writing can be at times turgid, it is more often inspired; the author has a great gift for description, and the various tableaux he describes remind one of the best bits of Tolkien, although perhaps even more evocative. But this is no "Lord of the Rings". Rather than enacting a classic tale of epic heroism, Lindsay takes us on a gripping journey through a planet where good and evil are not only locked in struggle, but cloaked in impenetrable disguise. It is the hero Maskull's task to unmask the truth, and thereby attain his own redemption. The real genius of this book lies in its ability to defy prediction. At no stage does the reader have the slightest inkling of where the narrative might be heading, or how the threads might eventually tie up; but one is nevertheless compelled to read on. A definite must-read for all sci-fi and fantasy buffs; would also be enjoyed by visual artists, psychoanalysts, anyone interested in pagan religion, or just anyone who likes great descriptive writing.

The world through sharpened sight
David Lindsay is one of the twentieth century's greatest and least appreciated geniuses. This, his first book, is also his best known, although it's debatable whether the science-fiction/Tolkien-fantasy crowd, into whose hands it has generally fallen, quite have the measure of its overarching ambition and audacious vision. Tormance, a planet of the star Arcturus, is a young world where raw particles of life flow and are trapped in the creations of Crystalman, the god of the visible world. Maskull, a human being, comes to Tormance from Earth and embarks upon an epic journey towards Muspel, the source of all genuine life, which is in constant danger from Crystalman's vulgar machinations. Maskull meets a succession of characters whose various philosophies and points of view represent the stages of his own spiritual progress, until finally he sheds his "Maskull" (mask, shell) self and awakes to the truth which Crystalman's world keeps hidden. The fight goes on, a fight in which pain is an ally and "nothing will be done without the bloodiest blows." This summary cannot begin to convey the complexity of this work nor do justice to its vast scope or the astounding variety of its invention. As he travels through the book's epic landscapes Maskull constantly mutates, growing new eyes, new arms and new organs, seeing new colours and encountering a member of a third sex. Almost everyone he meets soon dies, killed either by Maskull himself or by their own inability to evolve as he does - bloodiest blows indeed. Lindsay's prose is pedestrian and often clumsy, but always clear and never verbose; the story moves quickly, its most complex ideas given concrete shape rather than conveyed through abstract discussion. A Voyage to Arcturus is neither science fiction nor fantasy, but a vision in words, as raw, bleak and powerful as a Scottish mountain. The problems it raises are deathly serious and forever immediate.

Worth Searching/Waiting For
David Lindsay's "A Voyage to Arcturus" is difficult to categorize. The book has been labeled "Science Fiction/Fantasy," but it is much more. The novel's hero/Everyman Maskull starts out on a journey to the planet Tormance, but is quickly separated from his two traveling companions. Maskull's journey takes him on an unusual search for the discovery of the truths of the planet and of his own being. He meets several unusual but memorable characters who are so interesting they could each become the subjects of their own novels. The entire book deals with a search for the truth and the struggle between good and evil...and it's not always easy to distinguish which character is on which side.

This is a vast over-simplification of the story. The novel is rich, bold, and imaginative. The reader has absolutely no idea what is about to happen next as the story moves. I found the unpredictability (especially in light of current novels) very refreshing. Several reviewers are hoping for a film version of the book. Some novels should never reach the screen and this is one of them. First, no studio could produce the special effects necessary to bring the novel to the screen without cheapening the story. Second, I don't want to see George Clooney running around attempting to contemplate the meaning of life while playing a caricature of Maskull. Don't wait for the the novel and enjoy.

Fifty Candles
Published in Paperback by Wildside Press (May, 2001)
Authors: Earl Derr Biggers and John Gregory Betancourt
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Classism, Romance, and Murder
Fifty Candles - Earl Derr Biggers
Henry Drew was a ruthless capitalist who abused everybody in his life to further his own goals. He was surrounded by people who, although under his control, disliked him. During a mysterious birthday party where the cake has fifty candles one of these abused people hated him enough to kill him. As the story unfolds, romance blossoms between a young engineer and a young woman Henry Drew hired as a companion for his wife.
For fans of Derr's Charley Chan novels, Mr. Drew has a Chinese servant, Hung Chin-Chung, who is the subject of much stereotyping by the white characters. "Who done it?" and "Will the boy get the girl?" are the two themes that drive the action. The setting is the classism of the United States in the early 20th century. While it does not rise to the literary level of The Great Gatsby, another novel of this time covering similar class issues, this is an enjoyable work that is fun to read.

Lost In The Fog?
Who was the man, cloaked in fog, who escaped Henry Drew's garden? Was it the murderer? Why throw a huge party, when there's no reason to celebrate? And what does any of this have to do with a man deported to China fifty years before? Another Biggers classic that will leave you guessing until the very last page!

Serve It Forth: Cooking with Anne McCaffrey
Published in Hardcover by Warner Books (November, 1996)
Authors: Anne McCaffrey and John Gregory Betancourt
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A mediocre sidekick that proves that writers are not chefs
While my expectations for this book were never too high in the first place, I found that the "recipies" presented within are merely quick remakes of the already existing ones, sprinkled with outlandish names. If you are trying to gain insight into the nature of the writers whose recipies are compiled within, there are other ways to go about that goal.

Like SF? Like cooking? Get this book!
I love reading and writing, especially science fiction. I also love eating, and cooking, although I'm not a chef.
This book is an interesting look into the non-literary creative works of a group of writers compiled by Pern mistress Anne McCaffrey. None of these writers will ever be confused with James Beard or even Emeril Lagasse, but the reader does get insight into the comfort foods that keep these writers going. A good book, also, for those who think they're too busy to eat.

Fifty-One Tales
Published in Paperback by Wildside Pr (April, 2002)
Authors: Lord Dunsany, Lin Carter, and John Gregory Betancourt
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