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'A dazzling, exhilarating adventure joining 18th-century printer Nicholas Flood and his motley band on a quest for the infinite book...A joy for anyone who loves stories and a must for everyone who loves books.' Big Issue The year is 1717. Stung by the mysterious death of his only son, Count Ostrov renounces army life and retires to his remote island retreat. There, in mourning, he loses himself in his love of puzzles, turning the very fabric of his spectacular Slav castle into a giant, mechanical conundrum of revolving doors, moving floors and unstable staircases. The Count brings to this impossible castle the legendary English printer Nicholas Flood, and charges him with the task of producing a book without beginning or end. But no sooner has Flood set about his quest than he meets the Count's beautiful, brilliant and yet somehow damaged daughter, Irena. In the shadows cast by the wheels and cogs of the clockwork castle, Flood finds himself distracted from the task in hand, and instead begins work on another book entirely, a secret gift for a secret lover -- a tiny octavo volume with one word, Desire, gold-tooled on its more

Product details

  • Paperback | 384 pages
  • 128 x 194 x 24mm | 281.23g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • Flamingo
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 16
  • 0007128665
  • 9780007128662

Review Text

The publishers of this fascinating, phantasmagorical novel describe it as 'a glorious odyssey combining the gothic splendour of Tim Burton with the intellectual adventure of Umberto Eco'. For once, this isnt just publishers hyperbole: the bizarre vision of the director of Batman does rub shoulders here with the erudition and fantastic wordplay of the author of The Name of the Rose. Salamander is set in the year 1717. The enigmatic Count Ostrov is mourning the death of his son, and escaping from his grief in his enthusiasm for puzzles. He even converts his splendid Slav castle into a towering mechanical puzzle, with doors that revolve and staircases that move. The English painter Nicholas Flood is summoned across the ocean to produce for the Count a fantastic book which is to have no beginning and no end. But Flood is distracted from his monumental task by the seductive charms of the Count's beautiful daughter, although he senses that there is something strange about her. As the surrealistic machinery of the castle whirrs and grinds around him, Flood finds himself drawn away from his commission for the Count, and he begins to produce a different book entirely for the object of his infatuation - a small octavo volume with just one word engraved in gold on its spine: Desire. To read Whartons novel is to enter another world, and be entranced by prose of strange, glittering beauty. Perhaps the shades of other novels hang heavy (not just Ecos masterpiece, but Peakes Gormenghast also), but Salamander is a very individual and magical work in its own right. (Kirkus UK)show more

Review quote

'A magical tale of books and riddles, castles and countesses... Gloriously inventive.' Elle 'A quest for the Perfect Book, the ultimate, world-containing volume, which this wonder-tale records and likewise exemplifies. Wharton's prose style is flexible, poetic, inventive and always lucid. Beguiling.' Eric Korn, Guardian 'Everyday things blossom with wonder in Thomas Wharton's Salamander... a vigorous, imaginative novel about the power of reading and invention. Each of the criss-crossing storylines is a cinematic epic on its own.' Quill & Quire 'A magical tale spanning continents and time.' Eastern Daily Press from the reviews for Icefields: 'Wharton has a fine sense of description, dialogue that is as spare as the landscape and a subtle hand with narrative.' Publishers Weekly 'Wharton's crisp prose transports you to the edge of the glacier... This is a clean, pensive book that inspires contemptlation of one's own visions.' Time Out 'Crosses Ondaatje's The English Patient with Hoeg's Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow... ironic, brilliant and unforgettable.' Telegraphshow more

About Thomas Wharton

thomas wharton is the author of one previous novel, Icefields (1994), of which the Telegraph said: 'Crosses Ondaatje's The English Patient with Hoeg's Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow... ironic, brilliant and unforgettable.'show more