The Anubis Gates ★★★★★

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Title: The Anubis Gates
Series: ———-
Author: Tim Powers
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 353
Words: 162K

I’ve read this multiple times before and so I was wondering how this would turn out. After my recent experience with On Stranger Tides I had high hopes though and thankfully, this not only met those hopes but exceeded them.

Some old used up has-been magicians are trying to bring back the old gods of Egypt into our modern world (well the 1800’s through 1980) but with magic drying up like a raisin, things don’t quiiiiite go as planned. One of them gets possessed by Anubis and pretty much turns into a body switching werewolf. Another side effect is that time holes open up and people from our time figure it out and a dying tycoon takes advantage of it for his own purposes. Then the main character gets stuck in the past and has to deal with various other mad magicians who also cycle through time (they are trying to change history but their efforts simply make it happen, of course) and there is murder and mayhem and romance and lots and lots of weirdness. I loved every second of it. The magic was just different enough that it didn’t affect me like in Powers’ other books and for that I am grateful.

The only weak point is the ending. Once the main character accepts that he is now an obscure poet in a new body (that body switching Anubis guy causes a LOT of problems), Powers takes us through his life in about 10 pages and then right at the end, when he’s like 60 or something, (at least if I did my math right) he gets to live his own life. It was a very amateurish attempt to deal with Free Will and Pre-destination. That wasn’t the main point of the book, but it was a theme and I didn’t feel that how it was handled was very professional.

For a book that I am giving 5stars too it seems like I should have more to say. But since this is at least my 3rd read, if not more, simply being able to enjoy the story and saying so is going to have to be enough.

This re-read has convinced me to seek out Powers’ earlier work, The Drawing of the Dark. From my experience, the further into the past I go with Powers, the better I like his stuff. DotD was published in ‘79 so if my hypothesis is right, it should be right up my alley and possibly the book I like best by him. Only time will tell.

I’ve included the original 1983 cover, because just like with Santiago, this image is what is burnt into my brain to be associated with this story. While some of the later covers look very nice and all, they’re just not the same garish awesome that I want. The little picture up above is clickable for a much bigger version for those who are curious.


49 thoughts on “The Anubis Gates ★★★★★

    1. Heh, yeah, no science beyond some vague “I can predict where the gates will be” but even that is called into question because the old magicians can predict it too.
      So, lots and lots of magic…


      1. Probably not for me then. I always dig my heels in a bit when there’s a lot of magic going on. There aren’t a lot of rules when it comes to magic, so anytime the author needs to have something happen he can just do it with a wave of a wand or sprinkle of pixie dust. But that’s just me.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Re Free Will vs Predestination. I guess Brendan (an admirer of Ashbless) decides to honour the memory of the poet by being true to the life he led? He doesn’t have to (ie, he has a choice) – plus maybe going off piste would screw around with the timeline? So he has a moral obligation as well.

    There was a TV episode years ago (the Twilight Zone or its equivalent) in which an Elvis impersonator ends up becoming Elvis after making a very similar choice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, he IS Ashbless. It’s one of those time loop things 😀
      But like I said, it is only touched on vaguely and is probably good enough of an explanation for a teenager.

      Was it the Outer Limits? Or the updated TZ? I’ve seen the original TZ and really liked it but tried one of the newer versions and really didn’t care for it. I like the sound of that episode though 🙂


      1. But does Brendan compose the poems? Or just know them off by heart? It’s years since I read The Anubis Gates, so I can’t remember.

        The Elvis episode seemed pretty good to me at the time (it must have been made in the late eighties) – the story basically played around with how the devout young Elvis became the King of Rock’n’Roll and how they seemed like two different people, the story’s thesis being that they were.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Both. That’s why it is so weird. He IS Ashbless but only because he studied everything but because he studied everything, he was able to create them, thus creating the situation allowing him to study the poems. 😀

          I shall have to see if I can track that down. It sounds interesting.


  2. A 5-star Booky book recommendation. I’ve added it to my list. This is one of those titles that keeps popping up over the years and whispering “read me,” a bit like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors. Oh no, that’s “feed me!” Good to see such an enthusiastic review from you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’ll enjoy this when you eventually read it. While the ending is a bit rushed, I think that’s the biggest weakness and really, how much of a real weakness is THAT? Compared to a pregnant Joker, right? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Okay, the ship is back in the bay. Oof! Back to rereading Foundation: not sure how long that review will be yet. It will feature free will talk. Maybe I´ll do one big review for the entire trilogy, not sure yet if I´ll immediately continue with book 2 if I finish 1.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Colour me intrigued…
    Someone recommended Powers books to me haven’t started on them yet but I think just shifted up my TBR should be a nice transition from my current Skynet fixation more magic …less science


    Liked by 1 person

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