The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente

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This is the story of a place that never was: the kingdom of Prester John, the utopia described by an anonymous, twelfth-century document which captured the imagination of the medieval world and drove hundreds of lost souls to seek out its secrets, inspiring explorers, missionaries, and kings for centuries. But what if it were all true? What if there was such a place, and a poor, broken priest once stumbled past its borders, discovering, not a Christian paradise, but a country where everything is possible, immortality is easily had, and the Western world is nothing but a dim and distant dream?

Brother Hiob of Luzerne, on missionary work in the Himalayan wilderness on the eve of the eighteenth century, discovers a village guarding a miraculous tree whose branches sprout books instead of fruit. These strange books chronicle the history of the kingdom of Prester John, and Hiob becomes obsessed with the tales they tell. The Habitation of the Blessed recounts the fragmented narratives found within these living volumes, revealing the life of a priest named John, and his rise to power in this country of impossible richness. John's tale weaves together with the confessions of his wife Hagia, a blemmye--a headless creature who carried her face on her chest--as well as the tender, jeweled nursery stories of Imtithal, nanny to the royal family. Hugo and World Fantasy award nominee Catherynne M. Valente reimagines the legends of Prester John in this stunning tour de force.

About Catherynne M. Valente

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Catherynne M. Valente began September's adventures in installments on the Web; the project won legions of fans and also the CultureGeek Best Web Fiction of the Decade award. She lives with her husband on an island off the coast of Maine. She has written many novels for adults, but this is her children's book debut.
Published October 26, 2010 by Night Shade Books. 352 pages
Genres: History, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Habitation of the Blessed

Publishers Weekly

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In 1165, a letter ostensibly written by the distant Christian king Prester John describing a kingdom of wonders rocked medieval Europe.

Oct 25 2010 | Read Full Review of The Habitation of the Blessed


It’s a rewards which one read will find in metastasis, because the book includes a historian’s type in, the nominee of two very fantasy awards Hugo and World Fantasy awards, which has been said, and the nominee being also a brilliantine writer of the most sought for genre of fantasy.

Feb 23 2011 | Read Full Review of The Habitation of the Blessed

Portland Book Review

I bet you will find something that will interest you 5 stars for a cleverly devised mystery set in PDX a must read for the tween reader in your family Brother Hiob von Luzerne is a missionary in the area of New Byzantium (modern-day ...

Jul 22 2011 | Read Full Review of The Habitation of the Blessed

Shelf Awareness

Like people are worried about the e-book now, I'm sure 1,000 years ago they were saying books will never take over from scrolls.

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Escape Pod

The Habitation of the Blessed has at least four major narrative tracks — the story of Hagia, fierce and beautiful, who forces Prester John to see her as a person and not just as an upsetting body, the story of Imtithal and the queen’s children, Prester John’s own story, and the story of the monks...

Dec 18 2010 | Read Full Review of The Habitation of the Blessed

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