Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club

Mythago Wood 1986 USA cover

Mythago Wood (1984)
1985 World Fantasy Award winner

USA 1986 Berkley paperback
274 pages (left)

USA 1991 Avon paperback
cover art by Thomas Canty
274 pages (right)

Mythago Wood 1991 USA cover

From the back cover of the 1986 Berkley paperback
       Enter Mythago Wood . . .Three square miles measured from the perimeter - yet almost infinite within. A place where time expands and distorts.  Where mysterious forces tap primal fears and desires.  Where myths gain flesh and blood, forged in the crucible of imagination and man's dark subconscious.  Where love and beauty can haunt a man's dreams, and obsession can drive him to madness . . .

From the back cover of the 1998 Voyager UK paperback
       Mythago Wood caused a sensation when first published in the mid-eighties.  Here was a mythical fantasy adored by the critics and loved by readers of all tastes from an author at the height of his powers.
       The mystery of Ryhope Wood consumed George Huxley to the point of madness.  After his death, his sons take up his life's work.  What they discover goes beyond all conception.  For the wood is a realm where myths gain flesh and blood, tapping primal fears and desires subdued through the millennia.  A realm where love and beauty haunt your dreams and propel you into the terrifying freedom of insanity.

Read for group discussion on August 11, 2004

Part of this book appeared in a different form as the novelette (or novella depending on how words are counted) "Mythago Wood" by Robert Holdstock published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) September 1981 issue.
Mythago Wood voyager UK cover Mythago Wood UK Earthlight cover Mythago Wood F&SF Sep 1981 Mythago Wood Arbor House
1998 UK Voyager paperback,  319 pages
cover art by John Howe
2003 UK Earthlight paperback, 400 pages
cover art by Larry Rostant
Sept. 1981 issue of F&SF
cover for "Mythago Wood"
cover art by Barbara Berger
Arbor House (book club edition), 215 pages
cover art by Christopher Zacharow

How we each rated this book
Dan - Amy 8 stack of books 10   Wow! Don't miss it
8-9  Highly recommended
7    Recommended
5-6  Mild recommendation
3-4  Take your chances
1-2  Below average; skip it
0    Get out the flamethrower!
U    Unfinishable or unreadable
-    Skipped or no rating given
Cheri - Barb -
Aaron 6 Cynthia -
Jackie - Ron 5
Christine 6 Deb 5
Mike 6 Stephanie -
Gary 8    

Aaron's Commentary  Robert Holdstock - Mythago Wood

Mythago Wood is worth reading for the interesting concept of the mythagos, legendary figures created out of mankind's mythology and collective unconscious.  Holdstock spins this idea out nicely, with the clever twist that the humans in the story in turn assume the role of mythic figures from the mythagos' legends.

For all that, I don't find the novel as successful as it might have been.  The narrative is quite dry and for the first two-thirds of the book, before Holdstock finally takes us into Mythago Wood, it is difficult to feel absorbed in the story or emotionally connected to the characters.  I wonder if it might not have been more effective for Holdstock to start the book a generation earlier, so we could experience the conflicts of the main characters' father - including his resentment toward his own sons and his guilty choice to abandon his wife for the unattainable ideal woman - instead of reading about them second-hand in brief excerpts from his journal.

What do you think? Your comments are welcome. Please send them to

Robert Holdstock (1948- ) is a UK author of fantasy, as well as horror, and science fiction.

1981 BSFA (British SF Association) Award for short fiction "Mythago Wood"
1984 BSFA Award for novel Mythago Wood
1985 World Fantasy Award for novel Mythago Wood (tie)
1988 BSFA Award for novel Lavondyss
1992 World Fantasy Award for novella "The Ragthorn" (with Garry Kilworth)
1992 HOMer Award for horror novel The Fetch
1993 BSFA Award short fiction "The Ragthorn" (with Garry Kilworth)

Mythago Wood Cycle
Mythago Wood (1984)
Lavondyss (1988 UK, 1989 USA)
The Bone Forest (1991 UK, 1992 USA; collection containing 8 stories)
The Hollowing (1993 UK, 1994 USA)
Merlin's Wood (1994 UK), novel plus 2 stories
Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn (1997 USA, also titled Gate of Ivory (1998 UK))

The Merlin Codex
Celtika (2001 UK, 2003 USA)
The Iron Grail (2002 UK, 2004 USA)

Other Books
Eye Among the Blind (1976 UK), sf novel
Earthwind (1977 UK), sf novel
Where Time Winds Blow (1981 UK, 1982 USA), sf novel
Bulman Returns (1984) TV tie-in novelization
One of Our Pigeons is Missing (1984) Bulman 2, TV tie-in novelization
Necromancer (1978 UK), horror novel
The Fetch (1991 UK) retitled in USA as Unknown Regions (1996), dark fantasy novel
Ancient Echoes (1996)

Short Story Collections
In the Valley of the Statues and Other Stories (1982 UK), sf/fantasy
The Bone Forest (1991 UK, 1992 USA)

Film Novelization
The Emerald Forest (1985 UK), film set in the Amazon jungle

As Editor
Other Edens (1987 UK, with Christopher Evans)
Other Edens II (1988 UK, with Christopher Evans)
Other Edens III (1989 UK, with Christopher Evans)
Stars of Albion (1979 UK, with Christopher Priest)

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1978), illustrated book
Alien Landscapes (1979 UK, with Malcolm Edwards), illustrated book
Tour of the Universe: The Journey of a Lifetime (1980 UK, with Malcolm Edwards)
Magician: The Lost Journals of the Magus Geoffrey Carlyle (1982, with Malcolm Edwards)
Realms of Fantasy (1983 UK, with Malcolm Edwards)
Lost Realms (1985 UK, with Malcolm Edwards), art book

Writing under other names, pseudonyms
As Robert Faulcon he wrote the horror Night Hunter Series The Stalking (1983 UK, 1987 USA), The Talisman (1983 UK, 1987 USA), The Ghost Dance (1983 UK, 1987 USA), The Shrine (1984 UK, 1988 USA), The Hexing (1984 UK, 1988 USA), The Labyrinth (1987 UK, 1988 USA). UK omnibus editions of the Night Hunter series that contain two books per volume that are billed as “Robert Holdstock writing as Robert Faulcon” - The Stalking (1987 UK omnibus), The Ghost Dance (1987 UK omnibus), The Hexing and the Labyrinth (1989 UK omnibus).
As Richard Kirk he wrote the 3 out of 5 of Raven Series books about a woman warrior: Volume 1: Swordmistress of Chaos (1978 USA, with Angus Wells), Volume 2: A Time of Ghosts (1978 USA), and Volume 4: Lord of the Shadows (1979 USA).
As Chris Carlsen he wrote the fantasy Berserker Series Shadow of the Wolf (1977 UK), The Bull Chief (1977 UK), and The Horned Warrior (1979 UK).

As Robert Black he wrote horror screenplay novelizations Legend of the Werewolf (1976 UK), and The Satanists (1977 UK); and novel Death Angel (1988 UK).

He wrote several media tie-in books in The Professional series, based on a 1970s-1980s British action TV series, as Ken Blake: 10: Cry Wolf (1981 UK), Operation Suzie (1982 UK), 13: The Untouchables (1982 UK), and 15: You'll be All Right (1982 UK).

Mythago Wood: The Official Robert Holdstock Web Site
Green Man Review: Robert Holdstock's Ryhope Wood (Mythago Wood cycle) series
The SF Site Featured Review: The Mythago Cycle
Geoff Taylor : Robert Holdstock UK Book Cover Art Gallery
Science Fiction Weekly Interview - Robert Holdstock (2004)

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This page was last updated October 14, 2008