The Anubis Gates

March 27, 2017 at 5:00 pm (Reads) (, )

anubisThe Anubis Gates by Tim Powers


I’ve read The Anubis Gates before, about fifteen years ago. I loved it. It was convoluted and hard to follow, but once everything fell into place, I could see how it was a perfect story, well-written and engaging enough to stick with me for years to come. I had been thinking about re-reading it for a few months, and eventually broke down and bought the audiobook. I figured a re-read would be easier for me to follow as an audiobook than a new-to-me book.

When re-reading a favorite book, there’s always the risk of losing how you feel about the story, but there’s also the chance that you’ll find a new appreciation for it. With The Anubis Gates, it was a little of both. On the one hand, that moment of awe when all the disparate pieces of the story join together is gone, since you already know how it’s going to end; on the other hand, you can see how well Powers put the entire story together and appreciate his talents that much more. It’s a little like reading Shirley Jackon’s “The Lottery”: that first time, it’s shocking; the next time, it’s even more chilling as you see how she built up the tension.

The story is about Egyptian magic, time travel, and English poetry, but it’s also about perseverance, courage, and history. Like I said up above, it’s convoluted, but it’s worth it. I see other reviews that mention how the story meanders a lot at the beginning, but every tangent he includes at the start of the story is important to how the story develops. It’s brilliantly constructed, populated with characters you’ll love and hate (appropriately, of course), and it has an ending that’s fitting without being forced.

I have to take some time to talk about the reader, Bronson Pinchot. I only know him as Balki from Perfect Strangers, though I know he’s done much more than that, and had I not known that he was the narrator, I never would have guessed. His narration is natural, and his accents are convincing and distinctive. Of the audiobooks I’ve listened to, they tend to be either dry or over-the-top, but Pinchot captures the right amount of animation to the reading to make you feel a part of the story instead of just being spoken to.

Toward the end of the book, I started losing track of the story, but I blame it on being an audiobook, not on the story or the narrator. Sometimes I find it hard to pay attention to someone speaking, no matter how much I’m into the story. It’s made me realize that audiobooks aren’t for me. Adaptations are fine, but my attention span isn’t one that’s conducive to straight audiobooks.

In another fifteen years, I’ll probably find the itch to re-read this again, since it’s just that good. It’s a classic — deservedly so — and worthy of revisiting every so often. If you haven’t read this one yet, you should.

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