Cloud Cuckoo Land

by Doerr Anthony

Paperback, 2021



Call number





"From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of perhaps the most bestselling and beloved literary fiction of our time comes a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring novel about children on the cusp of adulthood in a broken world, who find resilience, hope, and story. The heroes of Cloud Cuckoo Land are children trying to figure out the world around them, and to survive. In the besieged city of Constantinople in 1453, in a public library in Lakeport, Idaho, today, and on a spaceship bound for a distant exoplanet decades from now, an ancient text provides solace and the most profound human connection to characters in peril. They all learn the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to the paradise of Cloud Cuckoo Land, a better world. Twelve-year-old Anna lives in a convent where women toil all day embroidering the robes of priests. She learns to read from an old Greek tutor she encounters on her errands in the city. In an abandoned priory, she finds a stash of old books. One is Aethon's story, which she reads to her sister as the walls of Constantinople are bombarded by armies of Saracens. Anna escapes, carrying only a small sack with bread, salt fish-and the book. Outside the city walls, Anna meets Omeir, a village boy who was conscripted, along with his beloved pair of oxen, to fight in the Sultan's conquest. His oxen have died; he has deserted. In Lakeport, Idaho, in 2020, Seymour, a young activist bent on saving the earth, sits in the public library with two homemade bombs in pressure cookers-another siege. Upstairs, eighty-five-year old Zeno, a former prisoner-of-war, and an amateur translator, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon's adventures. On an interstellar ark called The Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault with sacks of Nourish powder and access to all the information in the world-or so she is told. She knows Aethon's story through her father, who has sequestered her to protect her. Konstance, encased on a spaceship decades from now, has never lived on our beloved Earth. Alone in a vault with sacks of Nourish powder and access to "all the information in the world," she knows Aethon's storythrough her father. Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Konstance, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, the young Zeno, the children in the library are dreamers and misfits on the cusp of adulthood in a world the grown-ups have broken. They through their own resilience and resourcefulness, and through story. Dedicated to "the librarians then, now, and in the years to come," Anthony Doerr's Cloud Cuckoo Land is about the power of story and the astonishing survival of the physical book when for thousands of years they were so rare and so feared, dying, as one character says, "in fires or floods or in the mouths of worms or at the whims of tyrants." It is a hauntingly beautiful and redemptive novel about stewardship-of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart"--… (more)

Media reviews

Yes, libraries are awesome, and we all love books. But the artificial convolutedness of “Cloud Cuckoo Land” is not enough to confer any additional depth on Doerr’s simple, belabored theme, a theme that thumps through the novel insisting that every character kneel in reverent submission.
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Doerr does not overstate the importance of the story-within-a-story. If anything, he makes a point of reminding us again and again how easy it is for books to be lost across the ages — the staggering number of histories, tales, songs, account books, speeches, poems and stories that never made it
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through the meatgrinder of history....There are no heroes or villains, no global plots, no secret societies bent on controlling this lost manuscript. There's just a book thief, a boy and his ox, a messed-up kid who lost his best friend, a man putting on a children's play, a girl talking to a supercomputer....It is a book about books, a story about stories. It is tragedy and comedy and myth and fable and a warning and a comfort all at the same time. It says, Life is hard. Everyone believes the world is ending all the time. But so far, all of them have been wrong.It says that if stories can survive, maybe we can, too.
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This is a novel so full that, if it can be said to be 'about' anything, perhaps it is about how things survive by chance, and through love. But the book is also keenly aware of the fact that humans have basically exhausted our chances, and it is time for a fierce and tenacious love to step up –
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by sharing and passing on what is mended and changed, like Diogenes’s book, with its delights and consolations – to save what we still have on Earth, and what is ours, as well as what we enjoy here, though it isn’t ours ... With all its tenderness for human life and animal life, and libraries, this novel nevertheless acknowledges that civilisation continues to insist on not going anywhere without packing its poisons.
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“Cloud Cuckoo Land" ... is, among other things, a paean to the nameless people who have played a role in the transmission of ancient texts and preserved the tales they tell. But it’s also about the consolations of stories and the balm they have provided for millenniums. It’s a wildly
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inventive novel that teems with life, straddles an enormous range of experience and learning, and embodies the storytelling gifts that it celebrates. It also pulls off a resolution that feels both surprising and inevitable, and that compels you back to the opening of the book with a head-shake of admiration at the Swiss-watchery of its construction.
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“Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you” wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.—and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"—the author did exist, but the text is
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invented—Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space....As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.
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User reviews

LibraryThing member Hccpsk
“For the librarians, then, now, and in the years to come.” How can a book with that epigraph be anything but amazing? Spoiler alert--it is amazing. Cloud Cuckoo Land is that rare book you simultaneously read as fast as you can anticipating every word, yet want to slow down so you can read it
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forever. The story hardly bears description as it sounds ridiculous--four periods in time revolving around an ancient text about seeking paradise. From 15th century Constantinople to a group seeking new worlds on a spaceship, all the characters connected to this story of Aethon, and somehow to each other. It's about people and their connections, struggles-both internal and external, the environment, libraries, and everything else. Doerr’s world-building, story-telling, and complex emotional characters make Cloud Cuckoo Land a truly extraordinary novel and a must-read for everyone.
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LibraryThing member hemlokgang
What a fantastic novel! One story, written in ancient Greece, intertwines with fascinating characters from the 1400s into the 2060s. The story is about a magical, fantastical journey of a simple shepherd to another world. It is a story of man's self-destructive behavior, about man's tendency to
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want more & more & more. It is a story about the ideal versus the reality of the ideal, and the deeply satisfying value of just living life. Above all, it is a story about the eternal value and power of the written word! Let's hear it for books!!! Marvelous characters, fast-paced plot, and great , clear, prose. A must read!
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LibraryThing member thewanderingjew
Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr, author; Narrators, Marin Ireland and Simon Jones
Gosh, I was really waiting for this book from Doerr. I loved his other books, but this one is a little confusing, although still captivating. It travels back and forth in time from the past to the present to the
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future and features five characters that he eventually knits together in the end with what I hope was a cohesive message that I understood.
The characters range in age from young adult teenagers, Anna, Omeir, Seymour and Konstance, to Zeno, an octogenarian. Each has a unique, individual story. Anna and Omeir are characters in the 15th century, in 1452 during the war in Constantinople. Seymour and Zeno are characters in the 21st century, around 2020, a time when the environment is front and center politically. Konstance is a character from sometime in the future. Her family chose to participate in an experiment and she has never known life anyplace else but on the spaceship Argos. She shares her life with a computer character named Sybil who is supposed to know all there is to know.
Each of the characters is searching for something, and throughout, the story of Cloud Cuckoo Land, supposedly written by Antonius Diogenes, connects them through time and space. The worlds they occupy are spinning out of control with manmade disasters or natural disasters that are somehow exacerbated by man. There is war, pestilence, disability, cruelty, hunger, poverty, disease, environmental destruction, out of control technology among many other issues that pop up in all societies coupled with a smattering of compassion that is interspersed between the pages, as well. Some characters are gentle, some obedient, some are kind and some cruel, some honest and some reckless, but all find a way to interconnect in the end as the performance of Cloud Cuckoo Land is almost ready to be performed, by a group of students who love the story, although it is silly and highly unbelievable. Like the phantasmagorical story, so is the novel, and one must suspend disbelief in order to make the connection with the characters, as they too, connect with each other’s dreams at different times of history and the future.
Several disparate themes recur throughout the book. Books are an important theme as are superstition, fear, sadness, education, animals and other trusted creatures (owls, birds, dogs and donkeys), and, above all, the environment. Not to be left out are pandemics and disasters, wars and destruction, betrayals and dysfunction, disabilities, race and homosexuality. With all of these recurring unfortunate themes, the book supposedly offers hope for the survival of mankind. I am afraid, I did not entirely agree. The descriptions were often too graphic for me and the stories too bizarre. Still, one theme came through for me in the end, and that was…be careful what you wish for, sometimes it is disappointing, and what you already possess is likely far better. Simple is often more satisfying than complicated, and books may hold the answers to everything.
Because of the confusing timeline and thread of utter fantasy grounded in real problems, I believe the print book would be a better choice than the audio, although it is superbly performed and each character has a unique tone and personality.
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LibraryThing member LynnB
This novel was engrossing. I can't say I loved it, but I sure found it compelling. Incredibly imaginative. Magnificent writing.

The book contains four stories. In the past, Omeir is a rural boy conscripted into war, where he meets Anna, a seamstress who works in the palace. In modern time, Zeno is a
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teacher who, along with several young students, becomes an unintended hostage in bombing by teen-aged Seymour who is protesting urban development. And in the future, Konstance has just turned 13, having been born on a space ship bound from a dying earth to a new, habitable planet she wont live long enough to see. What links these three stories is an ancient myth by Diogenes about a man trying to transform himself in order to reach paradise.

On page 473, one of the characters describes the myth as “Part fairy tale, part fool’s errand, part science fiction, part Utopian satire”. That is also a description of this novel. It is a story of interrelationship, commonalities among human beings across time and space. It's about the power of a story and how that power manifests itself with different people: a quest for knowledge, the power of hope and imagination; a need to connect with others and with the world.

Okay, maybe I did love it.
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LibraryThing member RonWelton
Anthony Doerr in Cloud Cuckoo Land has one of his characters quote Homer: " 'That’s what the gods do,' he says, 'they spin threads of ruin through the fabric of our lives, all to make a song for generations to come.' ” This touches on what the author does in crafting Cloud Cuckoo Land. The
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thread for him is an imagined ancient work, Cloud Cuckoo Land by Antonius Diogenes, Folio I, the tale of a nincompoop shepherd, Aethon, who, after viewing a performance of Aristophanes, The Birds believes in the existence of the magical land in the clouds and believes he can be metamorphed into a bird to reach there. The tale and the imagined codex appears a force in the lives of the main characters. Zino Ninis, "an octogenarian in a canvas coat; his boots are fastened with Velcro; cartoon penguins skate across his necktie." who teaches the tale to elementary students; Seymour Stuhlman, an autistic young man who finds the tale as a kind of redemption after years of suffering; Konstance, a ten-year-old girl aboard a spacecraft in its fifty-fifth year of its mission sometime in the future and who leans on the tale; an orphan named Anna, who lives in Constantinople and who discovers the codex; and Omeir, a drover in the army of Sultan Mehmed II, who is instrumental in the preservation of the codex.
Doerr notes that he intended the novel as a paean to books. It is that but I think it is also a paean to the human condition. It is a fascinating read.
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LibraryThing member dele2451
A book for true book lovers, especially those with a passion for ancient texts and literary preservation. I like his interplay between medieval history, current events, and the future. Doerr does not disappoint. A great gift for the special librarian(s) in your life.
LibraryThing member vernefan
From the Pulitzer Prize Winning Author of “All the Light We Cannot See”, Anthony Doerr has just released his new novel titled “Cloud Cuckoo Land”! The book is over 600 pages, meaty in size and story, so this review is quite a bit longer than my usual but necessary in order to give you the
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scope of the magical layers this literary gem will unfold for you.

With extraordinary writing skills, this author to me, is a master story teller. His ability to transport readers into breathtaking worlds is surely a cut above the rest, and certainly makes him worthy of being an esteemed member of the Pulitzer family in the category of fiction. Is it similar to "All the Light We Cannot See”? No, not at all. In fact the author jumps off the diving board into a whole new realm and does it quite brilliantly.

To say that I have never read such a creative and clever story such as “Cloud Cuckoo Land” is simply the truth. This is a story about a story told in 4 stories. Yes, that is what I just said.

Fact: In ancient Greece, there was an author named Antonius Diogenes who wrote a fantastical fairytale-like story called “The Wonders of Thule”. Today only fragments of 12 pages remain. With snippets of Homer’s Odyssey, The Golden Ass of Lucius Apuleius, and what I think reminded me of the journey that Pinocchio took, the tale is of a poor shepherd boy who embarks on a wondrous pilgrimage wishing all along that he could be transformed into a bird.

Within four different narratives of people in three different times and places, Anthony Doerr deftly interlaces the wise old Greek fable into each of their lives in the most creative and unique ways possible.

Current times. Inside a small town library in Idaho an elderly Greek man named Zeno Ninis is directing a group of children who are acting out a play of "The Wonders of Thule", when a young and troubled young man named Seymour enters the building planning to set off a bomb.

Ancient Istanbul 14th century. The lives of a young girl named Anna and a young boy named Omeir collide in desperate times with their individual stories of tragedy and survival. Omeir was born with a cleft lip leaving him ugly enough for his parents to sell him and his two pet oxen to a Sultan on crusade planning to attack the city of Constantinople. Anna and her sister are orphans raised by a wealthy Greek man who employs them as master embroiderers. When her sister falls ill, she learns of a young man who scrounges for anything worth selling in order to eat. When Anna becomes his assistant in theft she finds a valuable codex copy of "The Wonders of Thule".

Far in the Future. On a spaceship named the Argos, teenager Konstance lives with many families who are traveling to a distant planet after Earth has been devastated from fatal environmental disasters. When Konstance was a child her father read a bedtime story to her. It was called "The Wonders of Thule". When a deadly virus mysteriously leaves her the sole survivor onboard the Argos, magical advanced technology helps Konstance uncover many secrets of the real truth behind the Argos’ mission.

Anthony Doerr weaves a glorious carpet of connecting threads that lie within each of the character’s stories individually and as a whole so well, that by the time you come to the end you will be in awe of his ability to narrate such an incredible tale. I can only hope he will win another Pulitzer prize for this beautiful novel that seriously knocked my socks off. This book will make you appreciate the talent this author renders up to his readers.

I usually give a star rating to my reviews, but honestly there are no high enough stars for books like this. Buy it, read it, be inspired! Feel the magic and the wonder of books! Thank you Anthony Doerr!
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LibraryThing member adzebill
Utterly charming love letter to libraries and librarians; three different timelines hundreds of years apart cross-pollinate and come together in a very satisfying whole.
LibraryThing member bibliovermis
It took me a long time to get into this book—this is a problem I often have with stories that jump around through time and between main characters: every time I start to get into one story, and get to know one set of people, I feel like our conversation is rudely interrupted by the next segment.
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But, by the time I finished the book, I cared about all the characters in all their times, and was very invested in all their stories and how they fit together.
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LibraryThing member Narshkite
I expect that those of you who read and liked All the Light We Cannot See will also like this. I am happy you will. This is not a bad book at all. Doerr is a good storyteller. That said he has two problems (these are my issues, obviously he is counting his money -- people seem to love these
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First, this is insanely overwritten. Crazily overwritten. There is a lot of wildly over-descriptive writing to no purpose whatsoever. This book could have easily been at least 150 pages shorter without losing anything in terms of impact. I read whole pages that did nothing but set a scene that had already been set (often repeatedly - each time Doerr returns to a place he describes it again) or advance the story. This is an issue for me -- you decide if it is an issue for you. BTW, this is also a problem I have with Stephen King, and it goes without saying that most people love his books.

Second, why are there so many stories, and why are the sections so short, careening between centuries and settings? It is like reading Twitter feeds. I said in my initial comments that this is the turducken of books. One story in another in another in another. As with turducken, I am awed by someone's ability to fit together three incompatible birds seamlessly and then bring them together into a unified whole. And like turducken each of these seamlessly pieced together elements would taste better on its own. Poultry tastes better with its bones and with its skin crisped by direct heat. Also, when birds are glommed together each loses its essence surrendering to generic birdiness. Duck and turkey should not taste the same. Turducken (and this book) are a celebration of form over substance, of craft over art. There are so many stories with so many colors but when brought together they all blend into brown.

In the end this is a very accessible book, super easy to read (I am a fast reader, but I do not generally blast through 600+ pages in a week while also reading other books and also living a life.) I read and listened to the book (audio is so much easier on the subway especially with a 600+ page book) and I adored the narration on this as one would expect with the brilliant Simon Jones and Marin Ireland on the job. I will say that having the text as well helped me keep things straight that might have confused me with just the audio.
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LibraryThing member BooksForDinner
My goodness was this great. How I do love a ripping yarn that is also deep, thoughtful art. Very rare, He's done it two times in a row, now. I think I welled up at some point during every one of the great relationships in this book. A really gifted author.
LibraryThing member tamidale
Immersive and clever story! I knew going into reading this new book that some readers had some issues with this story. I approached each chapter as a short story. It wasn’t long until I began to see how each separate story shared a common thread with the others. It covers ancient times, the
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present day and the future world, linking them all with a common story that has been preserved throughout history.

Anna, a young orphan in Constantinople, learns to read, eventually finding the story of Aethon, which she reads to her dying sister. The book is a source of comfort to them during their difficult times.

Omeir, a poor village boy ends up in Constantinople and meets Anna as they both flee the city which was under siege. Omeir helps Anna keep the book safe throughout their journey.

These two stories connect with a man named Zeno, who lives 500 years later in the United States and spends his days in the local library. Zeno, who also knew Greek, translated the story of Aethon and is helping a group of children perform a play of the story.

Konstance, who lives in the future, also knows the story of Aethon, as it was told to her by her father. These four unlikely timelines, connected by Aethon, show us how we are all linked to each other both during our time on this earth and beyond.

I thought this was a clever, well done tale, that was so different from anything I have read. It is one book I could see myself re-reading in the future. Readers of historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction will not want to pass this one up!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Scribner for allowing me to read an advance copy and give my honest review.
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LibraryThing member sleahey
This wonderfully complex novel manages to convey multiple very different stories that have common threads in such a way that each one is equally important and engrossing.
LibraryThing member Carmenere
The much anticipated novel by the author of All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, is just weeks away but truth be told, Cloud Cuckoo Land, is vastly different from Doerr's preceding novel. The novel still contains richly drawn characters under difficult circumstances and vivid locales as did
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All the Light... but in Cloud Cuckoo Land Doerr has combined genres to offer the reader historical, science, and contemporary fiction rolled into one complex, challenging and sometimes confusing 640 page book.
Cloud Cuckoo Land encompasses multiple time periods, locations and characters making the first half of the book a struggle to enjoy and the richness, depth and backstory of the characters Doerr created became overshadowed by the time leaps.
The reader is transported to Lakeport, Idaho 2020 where the lives of an elderly man and a young man become entwined, Constantinople, in the mid 1400's where Anna first becomes acquainted with an ancient text, which will affect everyone in the novel, and Omeir of Bulgaria who is on his way to invade Anna's village and lastly, into the future aboard a spacecraft where Konstance and her fellow travelers struggle for survival.
It's quite a lot to digest, however, all roads lead to the ancient text in a somewhat leap of artistic license.
Overall, Doerr's work is creative, the writing top notch, the characters are well drawn and the locales, well described. I certainly recommend it for its originality and prose however, the novel seemed a bit sluggish at first, continue on, it is the second half of the book which propelled me forward.
Thanks to NetGalley for affording me the privilege to read the ARC of Cloud Cuckoo Land.
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LibraryThing member jnmegan
Zipping back and forth through time, Anthony Doerr links past, present and future in his recently published Cloud Cuckoo Land. Fantastically well-written and balanced, Doerr’s work contains multilayered symbolism and is packed with allusions to other works that pervade our culture. The unspooling
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story of Aethon and his quest to arrive in Cloud Cuckoo Land creates a connecting thread between disparate people. The author explores the endurance and resilience of stories throughout time, whether it be in written or verbal form. It espouses the idea that a classic story can fulfill the needs of each reader/listener due to its universality and flexibility. This particular fable survives the ravages of time, circumstance and neglect. Remnants of a damaged book are discovered by Anna who reads her interpretation of it to her sick sister during the siege of Constantinople in the 1450s. The tale then unites Anna and Omeir, formerly forced into opposing sides of the conflict, now mutually dedicated to preserving the tattered pages. The second plotline takes place in present-day Idaho, where the farcical story is adapted for a play. The children who become enrapt with Aethon’s adventure are rehearsing in the town library just when Seymour, a troubled teen, sparks a deadly protest. The third narrator is Konstance, a young pioneer being transported to another planet in the far future. She is on her own restoration mission to resurrect the tale she was told by her father. The reader will be enchanted by the characters and the book that is so influential in each of their lives. The characters are masterly crafted, sympathetic even when engaged in bad acts. Cloud Cuckoo Land is both a hero’s tale and a bildungsroman inviting its own preservation to be shared by readers— current and future.

Thanks to the author, Scribner and Edelweiss+ for an ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.
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LibraryThing member susan.h.schofield
I'm not sure where to begin - this book is unlike anything I've read. It was absorbing and beautifully written. It is actually several stories linked together by the story of Cloud Cuckoo Land. It spans centuries and continents. I enjoyed Zeno's story the most and had the hardest time getting into
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Anna and Omeir's stories. It will not be a book for everybody - it is not your typical novel. Thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC.
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LibraryThing member CarleyShea
Thanks to NetGalley and Scribner, I received an advanced e-copy to read. This is an honest review.

I've found myself once again fully enveloped in the world of an Anthony Doerr novel. I was so enamored by All The Light We Cannot See, I was at the same time excited and wary to give this book a
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chance. Cloud Cuckoo Land successfully mixes elements of historical fiction and science fiction, Greek myths and climate change, into a totally cohesive story.

Cloud Cuckoo Land connects a group of characters from multiple time periods, places, and circumstances through an old Greek codex of the same name. From 15th century Constantinople, to a town in present day Idaho, to a spacecraft in the near future, Doerr was able to weave together all of these lives so beautifully without any of the stories feeling disjointed from the rest. Every character felt fully formed and I was able to empathize with each of them. There were also some really great and unexpected twists in the books that made it really hard to put down, especially as I neared the end and all of the information started to come together and reveal itself.

All in all, I'd say if you're a fan of Doerr's style or looking for a new book to read that doesn't sit staunchly in one genre or another, this would be an excellent choice.
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LibraryThing member kimkimkim
Anthony Doerr is an incredible writer of words, sentences, thoughts and images but perhaps not always cohesive stories. But maybe that was never his intention. I had some difficulty becoming engaged in the story but never the words. How were all the disparate parts going to come together or rather
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would they, or rather was it ever intended? Don’t know. But at some point, after studiously avoiding this book, I found myself reading and reading and picking up the book when I had so many other things that needed doing. I do not find Doerr’s books quick reading and I say that in the best sense.

Ultimately I came to love so many of the characters, the timelines, the places (especially the “second story of a dilapidated public library in a little town in central Idaho”) and all the implications of all the prejudices and the knockout question of “How do men convince themselves that others must die so they might live?”.

So many thoughts and questions which could be treatises, stories, books:

“Strange how suffering can look beautiful if you get far enough away.”

“The world as it is is enough.”

“The past, present and future walked into a bar. It was tense.”

More to the point in this book;
The past, present and future walked into a library. It was intense.

Thank you NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for a copy
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LibraryThing member SignoraEdie
Gave up after 20%
LibraryThing member VanessaCW
This fascinating epic is told by way of three quietly interconnecting timelines, one set in the 15thC, the second during the 20thC and present day, and the third is set a little way into the future. They are all connected by an ancient codex, a folktale about a man who wants to be an owl, and
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it’s the journey to this connection which takes the story forward.

I thought this was an amazing read, so thought provoking. I think it would be ideal to discuss at a book club. So much to talk about. It’s beautifully written and I loved how all the stories interweaved and connected, making me think. There’s that word again! But it really is about connections and also hope for the future, being thankful for what we have and being careful what we wish for. In a way it’s quite the adventure story, there’s some mythology and it touches on the ecosystem, deforestation. An imaginative, clever, absorbing and wonderful safari across time.
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LibraryThing member Carolesrandomlife
What a strangely beautiful book! I was very impressed by All the Light We Cannot See by this author and knew that I wanted to read more of his work. Then I saw the title of this book and wondered what exactly I had signed myself up for. This was definitely a different kind of read which juggles
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multiple points of view spanning centuries. Once I got into the story, I didn’t want to put this book down and ended up reading more than half of it in a single day.

There is a lot going on in this book. It was wonderfully written and the characters were incredibly well done. I was so invested in the lives of these characters that I was sad when it changed to a new perspective only to start the process all over again. My favorite characters in the book might have been Moonlight and Tree (yes, I loved the oxen) and my heart ached with the things that they went through in this story. We see those oxen from Omeir’s point of view. He is a boy that has been enlisted along with his oxen to be a part of an invading army in the 1400s. We also see Anna at this same point in time. She is an orphan living in Constantinople with other women who embroider the priests’ robes. In the present time, we meet Zeno, an older gentleman, who is helping a group of children with a play at the local library. I really loved going back in time to see all of the key points in his life. Then there is Seymour who hasn’t had it easy and has decided to do a big thing to make a statement. In the future, we meet Konstance who has lived her whole life on a ship headed to a new planet.

Are you confused yet? I was at first. Each of these characters and periods in time is linked by a story of a man named Aethon called Cloud Cuckoo Land. I loved seeing each of the small pieces that connected these stories take shape. There were times that I was really worried about each of these characters and I was amazed by just how real they felt to me. Each of these characters had their own story which became a vital piece in this larger tale.

I would highly recommend this book to others. The story worked for me on every level with its fantastic characters and beautiful writing. I will definitely be reading more of this author’s work in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Scribner via NetGalley.
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LibraryThing member khoyt
I am not going to write a review for this book simply because that would be too daunting a task. All I can say is, "read it for yourself". It is at once fascinating, exhilarating, tragic, whimsical, heart-rending, unpredictable, and witty. The characters are realistic. The story is original. There
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are quote-worthy sentences and thought-provoking ideas. Read and be amazed.
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LibraryThing member hubblegal
What an amazing, unique, heart breaking, exhilarating literary journey I traveled over the past few days! Absolutely loved it.
LibraryThing member reader1009
audio fiction, sci-fi/fantasy (14 hours)
narration skips between different characters within different storylines in the distant past, the more-or-less present day, and the distant future -- each story is immersive and interesting, all seemingly linked together by a longing for or desire to connect
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with the fictional paradise of "Cloud Cuckoo Land," as well as a particular reverence for libraries/books, which I guess is a perfectly reasonable thing for an author to write about but does feel trite after a while, even if I am a librarian. I think I would enjoy this better in print format rather than audio; the suspense/pacing of the three storylines are necessarily uneven, and this is easier to remedy with skimmable print.

I did enjoy All the Light We Cannot See (in print format) but I could easily abandon this one after listening to a couple hours. I'll stick with it a while longer, but we'll see how it goes.

update: made it to 3 hours, pausing for now to read something else but may come back to it.
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LibraryThing member eduscapes
CLOUD CUCKOO LAND by Anthony Doerr is much more than a simple work of historical, fantasy, or literary fiction. It defies categorization by connecting past, present, and future with stunning descriptive prose and diverse storylines that ultimately merge into a satisfying conclusion. Although the
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disjointed storylines can be confusing to follow, it’s worth the effort.

As a fan of Pulitzer Prize winning Anthony Doerr’s short stories and novels, I find this to be the next step in his evolution as an author.
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

9.21 inches


0008478651 / 9780008478650

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