The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business/The Manticore/World of Wonders

Written by: Robertson Davies

The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business/The Manticore/World of Wonders Book Cover
Who killed Boy Staunton?Around this central mystery is woven a glittering, fantastical, cunningly contrived trilogy of novels. Luring the reader down labyrinthine tunnels of myth, history, and magic, The Deptford Trilogy provides an exhilarating antidote to a world from where "the fear and dread and splendour of wonder have been banished."
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The Deptford Trilogy Fifth BusinessThe ManticoreWorld of Wonders Reviews

Janet
The Deptford Trilogy--A Canadian Bulgakov, if you can wrap your head around that--magical, dark, comedic, and mysterious. Robertson Davies deserves to be read and reread and reread.
Lida
I read the books of The Deptford Trilogy a couple of decades ago and loved them. They were clever, quirky, and entertaining, filled with rich characters. I don't know how I would feel about them today, but I know I loved them then.
Lisanne
Quick! How many Canadian writers can you name? (Other name Margaret Atwood, of course.) Davies is one of the best, and he shines here.
Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach :: The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History :: Strong Motion :: The Best American Short Stories 1995 :: The Cornish Trilogy: The Rebel Angels; What's Bred in the Bone; The Lyre of Orpheus
Céline Frenière
This is a book one should read more than once. It's a real classic. Robertson Davies was considered a national treasure in my native country Canada.
Kathy
Robertson Davies is, without question, one of the great writers of the twentieth century. The complexity and symmetry in his plot lines are amazing. Always an engrossing read.
Alex
Review to follow once I figure out what I want to say about this book. Let it be said now that it is one of the best books I've ever read.
Shari
There are so many things to talk about concerning this book. Three novels: FIFTH BUSINESS ; THE MANTICORE ; WORLD OF WONDERS -- each of them full of new material, information from many different lives and livelihoods that can lead the reader into other books, other subjects, because Davies gave them a mystique you simply have to investigate.

FIFTH BUSINESS: a term from European opera and I will not give it away, but the book is about Fifth Business. This book also discusses sainthood, what it mig There are so many things to talk about concerning this book. Three novels: FIFTH BUSINESS ; THE MANTICORE ; WORLD OF WONDERS -- each of them full of new material, information from many different lives and livelihoods that can lead the reader into other books, other subjects, because Davies gave them a mystique you simply have to investigate.

FIFTH BUSINESS: a term from European opera and I will not give it away, but the book is about Fifth Business. This book also discusses sainthood, what it might be, and refers to lesser known saints, all of whom are odd, unique, and often unbelievable. It also introduces us to the hometown boys whom we are to follow in this trilogy, and the boyish pranks that can change lives, sometimes seriously.

THE MANTICORE: Are you sufficiently well-read in Teutonic myth, in all mythology, to know what a manticore is? I wasn't. (I hate to admit that. But I know a manticore, as it happens.) Our manticore appears in Zurich at the Jungian clinic, desperate to sort himself out, and Dr. von Haller takes him (and us) through the shadowy corridors of the self to introduce us to the Self. We are only rarely talking about the Jungian psychological philosophy, but mostly of mythology as it relates to our individual lives and those shadowy places within us that are hard to face. It's a roller coaster ride and thrilling.

WORLD OF WONDERS: Wonders -- be careful! Such a word can lead into places you do not expect, where you might meet people you would rather not know, and some who are appealing and sweet. You wander through the carnival, the world of stage acting, always delving into the past, the deep self, the mythologies that relate to all mankind and are within us all. Surprises abound. Not terrifying, but edifying. The internal personalities we try not to show to the world or that we are not even aware of ourselves and would deny if we could.

There are illustrations by Peter Suart in this Folio Society edition out of London that are pertinent to the text; that confuse and only during reading further do they begin to make sense. Puzzles to be sought out, that add enjoyment and further mystery to this read.

I do not remember enjoying a read so absorbing, full of histories of mythology, opera, stage productions and acting, small-town life, absurd personalities, Spengler's great works and his Magian World View, and a great number of other odd subjects you are not expecting to find. All of it leading us to the a broader world which beckons us onward. The best of our selves and the worst of our selves -- it makes us 'wonder.'
Howard Cincotta
The Deptford Trilogy celebrates the virtues of old-fashioned storytelling, delivered in the magisterial tones of Robertson Davies, an outsized, white-bearded Canadian author, educator, and theatrical producer who died in 1995.

The key to enjoying these books is to dispense with one expectation of contemporary fiction: voice. Or more precisely, any voice other than Davies’s own.

Instead, think of these books as the work of a brilliant monologist who basically wants to sit you down, hand over a sni The Deptford Trilogy celebrates the virtues of old-fashioned storytelling, delivered in the magisterial tones of Robertson Davies, an outsized, white-bearded Canadian author, educator, and theatrical producer who died in 1995.

The key to enjoying these books is to dispense with one expectation of contemporary fiction: voice. Or more precisely, any voice other than Davies’s own.

Instead, think of these books as the work of a brilliant monologist who basically wants to sit you down, hand over a snifter of excellent brandy, and pronounce that he will now tell you his tales. (There is a one-man show of Davies waiting to be created for the right character actor.)

Davies creates three very distinctive protagonists for each volume: the scholarly miracle-haunted Dunstan Ramsey, the alcoholic brilliant lawyer David Staunton, and the abused child turned master magician Magnus Eisengrim. But all three speak in identical ornate fustian theatrical tones – as do most of the supporting cast – of Davies himself.

Fifth Business

The first volume opens with a fateful snowball thrown among children and ends with the mystery of that moment revealed (or so it would seem). It is the life story of schoolmaster and scholar Dunstan Ramsey, ostensibly as a rebuttal to a patronizing tribute on the occasion of his retirement. Davies weaves two stories in Fifth Business. One is Ramsey’s fraught relationship with wealthy Boy Staunton from childhood to Staunton’s mysterious death. But Davies’s real subject is a spiritual one: Ramsey’s quest to understand a life punctuated by the appearance of miracles, beginning with a premature birth, triggered by that snowball, which leads to his lifelong involvement with the mother, Mary Dempster.

Mary miraculously saves Ramsey’s brother’s life in Deptford, then later appears as a vision of the Immaculate Conception during World War I, when Ramsey is wounded and struggling in the mud and carnage of the battle of Passchendaele. He later encounters Mary’s premature son, Paul, who survived the brutal reality of actually “running away with the circus,” and has become a master magician.

Ramsey, who remains a skeptical Protestant by nature and background, makes the shrewd decision to pursue his private obsession with miracles and become a scholar of Catholic sainthood. Among his private saints he counts Mary Dempster, now a mentally damaged woman living in a mental hospital. In the course of the novel, Ramsey debates these issue of miracles and sainthood with various spiritual figures – mini-lectures that become a regular feature of all three books.

It is interesting to consider Fifth Business in its historical context. First published in 1970, the novel depicts the comfortable ethos of liberal Protestantism that was, in retrospect, enjoying its last days of cultural if not religious ascendancy in North America. Davies, in fact, takes great relish in employing the sharp needle of Catholic-inspired miracles and troublesome saints – and aren’t all true saints troublesome? – to puncture this comfortable consensus. But neither he nor his spiritual interlocutors anticipated the coming age of religious extremism, from politicized evangelical Christians to jihadist Muslims, that would pose a very different set of religious and political challenges to establishment religion, of whatever denomination.

The Manticore

The sparkle of Fifth Business dims somewhat in The Manticore as we leave the world of magic, saints, and mystery snowballs for an extended Jungian analysis – in Zurich, no less – of Boy Staunton’s dyspeptic and alcoholic son David. One problem: David is not a very sympathetic character, despite the evidence of his difficult upbringing by a hapless mother and overbearing father, and controlling housekeeper. (If you want a basic course in Jungian psychology 101, cast in fictional form, this is the book for you.)

The account he offers his analyst is, again, highly florid and formal. More critically, David displays zero sense of humor, and much of the story centers on a lugubrious account of the two children (David and his sister Caroline) living in a gloomy Toronto mansion with oppressive servants, their mother dead of grief and pneumonia, their father off fighting World War II as Canada’s Minister of Food.

The Manticore gains energy with David’s account of his career as a lawyer, and toward the conclusion, when he encounters the trio of Dunstan Ramsey, Paul Dempster (now known as the magician Magnus Eisengrim), and Eisengrim’s companion, the formidable Liesl. David, at last, achieves a measure of humanity – Davies effectively demonstrates how David has internalized his insights into Jung’s archetypes – especially when he is tested in a cave exploration with Liesl that becomes his dark night of the soul as well.

World of Wonders

With the final volume, we learn the life story of how the hapless premature Paul Dempster became the world famous magician Magnus Eisengrim. It is a harrowing tale of abduction and abuse, and eventual triumph. But also a mesmerizing and highly detailed account of the last days of old-fashioned carnival shows with their classic casts of freaks and geeks who performed as their roles as the fat lady, hermaphrodite, sword-swallower, magician, con artist – and where Magnus survives operating inside the card-playing automaton, Abdullah. (Just as anyone wishing a quick course in Jung can read The Manticore, anyone wanting detailed research early 20th-century carnival life should consult World of Wonders.

Eisengrim survives the carnival, and ends up with a theatrical company in Britain that also harks back to an earlier age with melodrama productions like Scaramouche. Davies’s portrayal of the company’s owners and leading actors, “Sir John” and “Milady” Tresize is a beautiful tribute to the theatrical traditions of an era that ended decades ago.

Davies’s knowledge and love of theater, along with Magnus’s bizarre life story, make this the most gripping of the three volumes, although it does sag when Davies’s feels compelled to debate metaphysical questions about Truth, God, and the Nature of Evil. Much better when he discusses tricks of stage makeup and how to use a convincing double.

And yes, in the end, we learn the final secrets of the death of Boy Staunton.
KATHLEEN
I read this book because Stephen King has mentioned it. I think he became quite interested in the operatic concept of Fifth Business: As Davies says, "Those roles which, being neither those of Hero nor Heroine, Confidante nor Villain, but which were nonetheless essential to bring about the Recognition or the denouement, were called the Fifth Business in drama and opera companies...". King uses it in his book "Revival." This was a long trilogy, but of course at the end of the first book, in which I read this book because Stephen King has mentioned it. I think he became quite interested in the operatic concept of Fifth Business: As Davies says, "Those roles which, being neither those of Hero nor Heroine, Confidante nor Villain, but which were nonetheless essential to bring about the Recognition or the denouement, were called the Fifth Business in drama and opera companies...". King uses it in his book "Revival." This was a long trilogy, but of course at the end of the first book, in which we get to know Deptford and its characters, Boy Staunton mysteriously dies, and then you're hooked for the next book, when his son, in therapy, tries to make sense of his father and himself. The third book reintroduces you to someone who vanished long ago from Deptford, and he tells the tale of a difficult and sometimes wondrous life all the way up to Boy Staunton's death. The first and third books are written from the viewpoint of the Fifth Business; the second from the son's viewpoint. There's a lot of philosophy that I could have done without, but I found the Jungian interpretations of the son's psyche quite interesting. TRIGGER ALERT: BOOK THREE DESCRIBES CHILD RAPE.
Bethany
In Fifth Business, Dunstan Ramsay writes a memoir letter to the headmaster of the school from which he retired, recounting all the odd details of his life. Some of the highlights include a fascination with a woman whom he believes is a saint and her premature son, his frenemy Boy, and all the peculiarities that make up each of our individual lives.
In The Manticore, the son of Boy Staunton travels to Switzerland to cure himself of alcoholism via therapy. He dives very deep into his psyche, and s In Fifth Business, Dunstan Ramsay writes a memoir letter to the headmaster of the school from which he retired, recounting all the odd details of his life. Some of the highlights include a fascination with a woman whom he believes is a saint and her premature son, his frenemy Boy, and all the peculiarities that make up each of our individual lives.
In The Manticore, the son of Boy Staunton travels to Switzerland to cure himself of alcoholism via therapy. He dives very deep into his psyche, and subsequently the readers psyche. It’s compelling.
In World do Wonders you learn the sad and sordid details of Paul Dempster's life. And some others. And you realize how hard life is for everyone. And how life just generally sucks until you die.
I recommend you don’t read this until you’re over 30. There’s a maturity required to fully digest the psychological components. I may need to read again at 50 to see if I pick up on a few more.
Richard Koerner
If I had only read the first two in the trilogy, I would have given it five stars. The last in the trilogy, 'The World of Wonders,' was, in my estimate, the least compelling. Despite my desire to be interested in Paul Dempster's metamorphosis from son of a parson to a world entertainer, I just could not get into it and found myself wading through the last part because I had to know the answer to the question of who killed Boy Staunton. Nonetheless, I still have a great desire to read more of Rob If I had only read the first two in the trilogy, I would have given it five stars. The last in the trilogy, 'The World of Wonders,' was, in my estimate, the least compelling. Despite my desire to be interested in Paul Dempster's metamorphosis from son of a parson to a world entertainer, I just could not get into it and found myself wading through the last part because I had to know the answer to the question of who killed Boy Staunton. Nonetheless, I still have a great desire to read more of Robertson Davies. The insight into the time period, to the Canadian Culture and spirit, and the beautiful prose make me want to try again.
Antonia Shiffman
Davies is a genius. There is nothing I enjoy more than witnessing his creative process unfold. Never a hole....always an artistic and humorous bend that binds two seemingly unassociated scenarios. Charater development never disappoints and the thousands of threads are artfully drawn together in an unexpected and always illusionary finale!! I just can't get enough of "The Wizard of the North"!!! I am grateful that he was so prolific since I must admit I am savoring his works to last my lifetime!
Susan
I would have given it five stars if I hadn't have had such a difficult time getting through the third book, World of Wonders, which I found monumentally boring. But the rest was beautiully written, with interesting characters and complicated relationships. The subject of memory is handled so well. A quote I particularly liked was. "We all forget many of the things we do, especially when they do not fit into the character we have chosen for ourselves".
Edwinnaarden
A very well thought out and entertaining book. I am not sure what I was expecting but it wasn't what I was expecting. On the one hand that was good as it was surprising and not run-of-the-mill. On the other hand it was a bit fantastical. It took a creative mind to write it. Having said that I'd recommend it but at 800 pages it's not for the faint of heart.
Drew Porter
This is a collection of three novels. It was interesting and readable, but there is a very long portion at the end but of the third book, World of Wonders, that ties the stories together. This last hundred or so pages really seemed to drag. I was too far into the books to not finish, but it was an effort.
Josh Yates
Some of the greatest and most enjoyable Canadian writing in the history of the country. Pure Jungain in scope and depth. Very much recommended.
Vienna
Every Canadian should be mandated to read the deptford trilogy!
Michael
I read this book about 40 years ago when I was going out with a woman from Toronto and she raved about Robertson Davies. It is a wonderful book. I think it's time for a re-read.
Malek
A series of three books by the wonder and magic, because it is actually focuses on the magician.
Elisabeth
Excellent mystery/whodunnit combined with interesting perspective changes between books.
Jessica
I simply cannot give this trilogy anything less than 5 stars.
Bill
Wonderful, jolly fun. Davies was a stage actor for many years, and there is an entrancing hammy element to his writing. This is an omnibus of three linked novels which tells the same story from three different viewpoints. The books are a grimoire of arcana, like hagiography, Jungian psychology, and, of course, magic. These are novels Orson Welles might have written. Davies never loses sight of the plot, however, and the overall picture that emerges considers the relationship between fate and ran Wonderful, jolly fun. Davies was a stage actor for many years, and there is an entrancing hammy element to his writing. This is an omnibus of three linked novels which tells the same story from three different viewpoints. The books are a grimoire of arcana, like hagiography, Jungian psychology, and, of course, magic. These are novels Orson Welles might have written. Davies never loses sight of the plot, however, and the overall picture that emerges considers the relationship between fate and randomness and the effect or lack thereof of family and childhood. Maybe I am overdoing the Jungian theme, but Jung looms over all three books and his worldview informs the Manticore. Anyway, Davies sent me on a side trip through a couple of Jung anthologies. The Deptford Trilogy is a book I am already recommending to friends.
Alexandra
This is a trilogy and the first two books were definitely 5 stars for me. I loved the main character of the first book and his view of the world. The style and depth of the book reminded me of the fine examples of Russian golden era literature - Dostoevsky in particular. I don't think there is a single thing I didn't like about the first book. So what gave me the most delight was:
* How the book is not just random highlights of someone's life, but really a whole life story with significant and m This is a trilogy and the first two books were definitely 5 stars for me. I loved the main character of the first book and his view of the world. The style and depth of the book reminded me of the fine examples of Russian golden era literature - Dostoevsky in particular. I don't think there is a single thing I didn't like about the first book. So what gave me the most delight was:
* How the book is not just random highlights of someone's life, but really a whole life story with significant and minuscule details jumbled together, because this is how life happens.
* How dull and insignificant this life might seam to an observer (but I couldn't stop reading it)
* The narrative given from an older person perspective and it took me a while to realize how actually rare it is.
* How your memory might betray you and how people see things differently. I even wondered if Julian Barnes' "Sense of an ending" had some roots in this story.

The second book was interesting and I liked how the narrative/autobiography was presented as a psychoanalysis. This was witty and fun. However, the voice of the main character sounded kind of the same, although it was a different person, much younger and from a different generation. The only thing that united both characters was how little they were interested in the opposite sex.

The third book... "Same voice" problem got even worse - the third character speaking with the same level of details and the same vocabulary as the previous two. In fact, all the people in that book sounded almost the same (except the camera guy asking for light all the time). And again the male character had very little interest in women, which made me question if it's something that author was specifically trying to avoid. The only woman who had a voice in the book was very man-like, so maybe he just didn't know how to write about them.

I flied through the first two books and then got stuck on the third one for quite some time.

Overall, 4 stars. Maybe it was a mistake to read all three books one by one without a break. I really loved the first book, but now I am not sure if I'll read anything else by this author...
Jim
I won't summarize the plot of this book because it will sound thin, and not do it justice. The plot is not really what the book's about, as I see it. The chronological and biographical plot of the book merely serves to support everything else going on in this book, and there's a lot going on here. The (sub)text(s), (sub)plot(s), archetypes, subjective self-analysis and magical thinking seems to me what this big book is about. I realize these words are all terribly vague and of limited value to t I won't summarize the plot of this book because it will sound thin, and not do it justice. The plot is not really what the book's about, as I see it. The chronological and biographical plot of the book merely serves to support everything else going on in this book, and there's a lot going on here. The (sub)text(s), (sub)plot(s), archetypes, subjective self-analysis and magical thinking seems to me what this big book is about. I realize these words are all terribly vague and of limited value to those reading this, now. But I can't do better without writing an essay. Really, only two things bothered me about the book. First, in one lengthy section of the book, a very smart cast of sophisticated characters are sitting around a table in an exotic setting discussing "God" and the devil in a way that seemed to imply they thought of these two -- god and the devil -- as if they literally existed; to me, these people were far too smart to believe in "God" or "the devil." I'm very happy to discuss or read of god or the devil as symbols or metaphor of man's better or darker nature. But please, let's not have lengthy discussion as if there was actually a big-G god or Devil. Second, at times there was far too much descriptive detail included, and for the life of me I can't figure out what it added to the work. There was even one part where a main character, a magician, was remembering 40 year-old facts of his life and felt compelled to justify his laborious inclusion of so many details to his listeners, explaining that he includes so much detail because he is a professional conjuror, and details are critical to his art. I rather felt that Davies was trying to justify the extreme level of detail he was subjecting his reader to. But in the end, I am happy to have read this book. It was a good story. Davies' use of language was excellent! It enriched my life while I read it and am sure I will spend time reflecting on it, imagining how I might incorporate some of it's magical thinking into my own life.
Dayna
Every time I come back to this trilogy, I get more out of it. This time it was pathos-o-rama, in the best sense. Davies is the best god for his characters-- or perhaps he is their priest, as the EVENTS that happen to them don't seem to have been orchestrated, no matter how poetic or horrible, and Davies seems to simply have transcribed them with a magical depth-- he sees (and shows) them exactly as they are, whether or not that's how they'd have us see them. Which is quite a trick in a largely f Every time I come back to this trilogy, I get more out of it. This time it was pathos-o-rama, in the best sense. Davies is the best god for his characters-- or perhaps he is their priest, as the EVENTS that happen to them don't seem to have been orchestrated, no matter how poetic or horrible, and Davies seems to simply have transcribed them with a magical depth-- he sees (and shows) them exactly as they are, whether or not that's how they'd have us see them. Which is quite a trick in a largely first-person narrative. The escape from, and yet in some ways eternal imprisonment in, a small, rural, North American town is a theme I well understand-- it in some ways necessitates the development of all sorts of internal mythological structures and battles, flips some permanent switch which casts the barest of daily details is a cosmological light. Then events themselves get out of the ordinary, (the world gone mad with war, stage magic and a half-life on the road, people with all sorts of deformities within and without who must struggle for a life) and it seems these wonderful misfits-- all of them, seekers of Something with a capital "S"-- were destined for levels of completion that nearly make one jealous. Personal, internal completion, that is-- not so many tidy endings are rewarded, here, but something about putting it all on paper makes these lives-- spanning from about 1911 up to the "present" of about 1972, all of which seem like Now-- whole, and wholly extraordinary. But not so very far out of reach for all that. Which is the point, really.
Christian Schwoerke
While employing the "plain style", Davies fashions a fascinating collection of characters and incidents in these three novels. A simple act of an errant snowball precipitates a premature birth and sets the whole thing rolling, with the small-town boys of Deptford, Ontario, growing up to inhabit a world of wonders. Each character's life is a wellspring for more information both about that character and others who inhabit the nexus around the snowball, which once rolling includes birth, life, rege While employing the "plain style", Davies fashions a fascinating collection of characters and incidents in these three novels. A simple act of an errant snowball precipitates a premature birth and sets the whole thing rolling, with the small-town boys of Deptford, Ontario, growing up to inhabit a world of wonders. Each character's life is a wellspring for more information both about that character and others who inhabit the nexus around the snowball, which once rolling includes birth, life, regeneration, and death. In between there's magic and derring do, degradation and abnegation, encounters with the devil and other facets of the psyche, war, love, betrayal, and meditations on saints, geneaology, dramaturgy, and watchmaking. It's a powerful blend of elements that is never less than fascinating, a complex of characters and situations that suggest a melding and counter-balancing of the jungian archetypes that constitute a self-aware novelist who allows himself to play in his work the roles of respectful hagiographer and teacher (Dunstan Ramsay), and arrogant conman and thaumaturge (Paul Dempster/Magnus Eisengrim).

Though I read this trilogy over a month ago, I'm now recollecting a wealth of varied incident and character, each some artfully highlighted aspect of the stone-in-snowball mandala that is this trilogy. I'd be highly remiss if I didn't read more of this erudite Canadian's works...
Laura
This book, well really three books in one, is good but it accomplishes the difficult feat of making the task of reading an 805 page trilogy both interestingly necessary and yet surprisingly tedious and unfulfilling. The plot to each is good, original, and well-developed but there's no resolution to almost anything. You accept this for the ends of the first two books (as all you are required to do is turn the page to start the next book in the trilogy), but once you reach page 750 and realize thi This book, well really three books in one, is good but it accomplishes the difficult feat of making the task of reading an 805 page trilogy both interestingly necessary and yet surprisingly tedious and unfulfilling. The plot to each is good, original, and well-developed but there's no resolution to almost anything. You accept this for the ends of the first two books (as all you are required to do is turn the page to start the next book in the trilogy), but once you reach page 750 and realize things are *not* going to be resolved and tie little into what happened in the first books, it's almost unavoidable to feel a bit anticlimactic even before you finish the book itself. The subject matter is great, (who doesn't love magicians, historians, and Canada?) and is told well, but without any sense of real drama. Half of the book focuses on a potential murder but you never get feeling of suspense or anticipation. Everyone just sits down and talks about how they feel about the situation. Which is interesting and is well written, but hard to maintain interest in after 200 pages.
Overall, these are good books, but I would recommend one rather than all three together. Because I have a feeling I would have pleasantly pleased & satisfied with one 300 page book that lacked a solid conclusion than a marathon of 3 books in 900 pages and felt that I wasted the last 200 pages just trying to find resolution to a increasingly diminishing plot.
Ellen
I first read this many, many years ago and I liked it enormously then. When I saw that it was recorded and available on Audible, I decided to listen to the entire trilogy back to back to back. When I first had read it, there were gaps between my readings of each volume as I waited for the next book to become available from the library.

This time, I experienced the Deptford trilogy in one seamless (well from day to day) event. It is a remarkable literary work.

A mean-spirited, but minor schoolboy I first read this many, many years ago and I liked it enormously then. When I saw that it was recorded and available on Audible, I decided to listen to the entire trilogy back to back to back. When I first had read it, there were gaps between my readings of each volume as I waited for the next book to become available from the library.

This time, I experienced the Deptford trilogy in one seamless (well from day to day) event. It is a remarkable literary work.

A mean-spirited, but minor schoolboy prank has unintended consequences that ripple through the lives of a group of people all living in a rural Canadian town. Those ripples affect Dunstan Ramsay most deeply and it is through his eyes primarily that we see the affects go on and on. It is Dunstan's mind, focused on the boundaries of history, religion and magic that shapes the book and the way we experience the other characters. Like all narrators, he is probably unreliable. But then so is each other voice we hear. Everyone tells his/her own history in ways that are most pertinent to our most intimate thoughts and experiences.

The reader gets fascinating meditations on saints and martyrs, on love and loyalty, on magic, illusion, and the power of will. Books to read and contemplate.
Greyeyedminerva
Technically I didn't finish this... I gave up somewhere in the third novel of the trilogy.
Despite this, I still think "Fifth Business," the first volume, is absolutely brilliant and one of the best things I've ever read. Dunstan Ramsay struck a chord with me, and I found his narration of the story perceptive and riverting.
The second volume, "The Manticore," is what did this in. The story is told as a series of (essentially) therapy sessions as the narrator (not Dunstan Ramsay this time) undergoe Technically I didn't finish this... I gave up somewhere in the third novel of the trilogy.
Despite this, I still think "Fifth Business," the first volume, is absolutely brilliant and one of the best things I've ever read. Dunstan Ramsay struck a chord with me, and I found his narration of the story perceptive and riverting.
The second volume, "The Manticore," is what did this in. The story is told as a series of (essentially) therapy sessions as the narrator (not Dunstan Ramsay this time) undergoes Jungian psychoanalysis. I appreciate the author's willingness to experiment with literary forms, but I'd have to say this is a failed experiment as it's a completely un-engaging way to tell a story.
The third volume failed to regain my interest, mostly because the narrator of this one (OK, the embedded narrator), the magician Eisengrim, while not unsympathetic, was so unlikeable. And while it's a testament to the author's skill that his characterisation of the narrator was so powerful that it made me lose interest in the story, again, not a good way to write a novel.
Maybe I'll give this another go eventually...
LaDonna
I do love a big fat book, and putting a trilogy together in one volume makes for some big fat reading. The Deptford Trilogy is especially thick because of the author's unique style and old fashioned monologues.
It's true that nobody talks like that anymore, if they ever did, but it's a fascinating read, and I enjoyed the Canadian flavor as well.
Fifth Business, part one of the trilogy, goes a long way toward setting the small-town Canadian scene, and giving you a good look at characters you'll be I do love a big fat book, and putting a trilogy together in one volume makes for some big fat reading. The Deptford Trilogy is especially thick because of the author's unique style and old fashioned monologues.
It's true that nobody talks like that anymore, if they ever did, but it's a fascinating read, and I enjoyed the Canadian flavor as well.
Fifth Business, part one of the trilogy, goes a long way toward setting the small-town Canadian scene, and giving you a good look at characters you'll be more fully introduced to later in the trilogy.
The Manticore, part two, bogged me down a bit with its Jungian philosophy and the protagonists self-absorbed therapy sessions (although really, what other kind of therapy can you get than self-absorbed?)
World of Wonders, part three, was by far my favorite, not only because it picks up the narrative pace again, but because it reveals a story I had been wondering about my whole way through the other two books.
All in all it's a good read and I'm sure I'll have more Davies on my hands soon, but I'm going to take a break with some Japanese horror fiction in between, just to mix it up a little.
Julia
I first read my mom's tattered copy of this triology in college. 10 years later, I couldn't recall the plot, but knew I was spellbound by it, so dove back in. It's great. Davies managed what seems to be a tricky feat in trilogies - weaving together three novels (novellas?) with different narrators (one narrator appears twice, at different phases in life) and distinctly different feels that shed light on the same captivating plot. Picking a favorite feels impossible, although on the one hand, "Th I first read my mom's tattered copy of this triology in college. 10 years later, I couldn't recall the plot, but knew I was spellbound by it, so dove back in. It's great. Davies managed what seems to be a tricky feat in trilogies - weaving together three novels (novellas?) with different narrators (one narrator appears twice, at different phases in life) and distinctly different feels that shed light on the same captivating plot. Picking a favorite feels impossible, although on the one hand, "The Manticore" introduces the belligerent narrator to a formidable (and formidably compassionate) opponent in the form of a female psychoanalyst, so of course I love that, and on the other, "World of Wonders" links past and present in a way that feels satisfying, but not too pat. But "Fifth Business"! Ahhh! Just read them. Also, notably given my own personal preferences, the female characters are as multidimensional as the males, and Davies has some interesting and subtle thoughts on the cultural phenomenon of masculinity.
Margaret
The Deptford trilogy revolves around the mysterious death (was it murder or suicide?) of businessman Boy Staunton; along the way it tells the life stories of Staunton's boyhood friend, Dunstan Ramsay; of Staunton's son, David; and of enigmatic magician Magnus Eisengrim. Though the books are full of Davies' trademark wit and erudition, I found that they didn't work for me as well as the Cornish trilogy or the Salterton trilogy, and the second and third books didn't live up to Fifth Business. I th The Deptford trilogy revolves around the mysterious death (was it murder or suicide?) of businessman Boy Staunton; along the way it tells the life stories of Staunton's boyhood friend, Dunstan Ramsay; of Staunton's son, David; and of enigmatic magician Magnus Eisengrim. Though the books are full of Davies' trademark wit and erudition, I found that they didn't work for me as well as the Cornish trilogy or the Salterton trilogy, and the second and third books didn't live up to Fifth Business. I thought too many of the characters downright unpleasant (and the lack of important female characters irritating), and though the magic and sleight-of-hand theme was interesting, I find I prefer the academic milieu of the other books to the small town and circus settings of these.
ddjiii
Very difficult to rate this book - I read it happily and without effort (the first 50 pages or so were somewhat slow), but even after finishing it I'm still not sure if I like it or not. Large sections of the book(s) are pure storytelling of various character's lives, and those sections are very compelling. Interspersed throughout using various framing techniques (of varying clunkiness) is a lot of speculating/philosophizing about what the stories might Mean, and those parts often seemed forced Very difficult to rate this book - I read it happily and without effort (the first 50 pages or so were somewhat slow), but even after finishing it I'm still not sure if I like it or not. Large sections of the book(s) are pure storytelling of various character's lives, and those sections are very compelling. Interspersed throughout using various framing techniques (of varying clunkiness) is a lot of speculating/philosophizing about what the stories might Mean, and those parts often seemed forced and I liked them a lot less. The book was written in the 1970s and although it's not counterculture (rather the opposite) it felt dated at times, not because of the stories but in terms of how it responded to popular culture. Despite all this the characters and their lives were interesting and I don't regret the read. I would try another book by the same author.
Meredith
I first read Fifth Business years ago in high school. I always intended to read The Deptford Trilogy.
This month I tackled it. Within a page I was reminded how much I love Robertson Davies's writing style. I enjoyed it across all three books which are very interestingly woven together.
Parts I particularly enjoyed were Dunstan's experience of the war in "Fifth Business", the depiction of Jungian psychology in "The Manticore", and Magnus's description of the theatre business in "World of Wonders". I first read Fifth Business years ago in high school. I always intended to read The Deptford Trilogy.
This month I tackled it. Within a page I was reminded how much I love Robertson Davies's writing style. I enjoyed it across all three books which are very interestingly woven together.
Parts I particularly enjoyed were Dunstan's experience of the war in "Fifth Business", the depiction of Jungian psychology in "The Manticore", and Magnus's description of the theatre business in "World of Wonders".
It is rare for a book to focus on the behind the scenes aspects of theatre, specifically stage management. Roberston Davies was married to a stage manager, and his description of stage management resonated with me, even 80 years after the time period he was writing about.
Everyone should read this trilogy. It was awesome.
"The marvelous is indeed an aspect of the real."
The Lonely Robot
The Deptford Trilogy is 3 books. The first book, Fifth Business, sets the stage for a cast of characters that reveal themselves over the entire series. I think Dunstan Ramsey is Robertson Davies himself, and I think the female character, Liesl, is one of the most memorable characters I have ever read - who inspired her??

The second book, The Manicore, was tiresome to me in places. Heavy into Jungian psychology which was interesting at times, impossibly boring in others. Good ending, though, so wo The Deptford Trilogy is 3 books. The first book, Fifth Business, sets the stage for a cast of characters that reveal themselves over the entire series. I think Dunstan Ramsey is Robertson Davies himself, and I think the female character, Liesl, is one of the most memorable characters I have ever read - who inspired her??

The second book, The Manicore, was tiresome to me in places. Heavy into Jungian psychology which was interesting at times, impossibly boring in others. Good ending, though, so worth sticking with it.

And the last book, the World of Wonders, ties a nice ribbon around everything. So if a book about magic, politics, the study of saints, psychology, and circus acts all with the peculiar bent of a Canadian sound interesting, then pick this up, cozy up to the fire, and have a good read.
Roger Keane
This book is amazing, mostly because it is so subtle and leisurely. As a previous reviewer noted, it walks the line between the plausible and the gothically surreal. It has two Davies hallmarks- a very erudite, intellectual approach to art and the self and moments of almost bizarre humor. The three novles in the trilogy are all very different in tone. It is the first, "Fifth Business", that really got me. The book is sprawling, but in a very comfortable way. Very few people can write twenty and This book is amazing, mostly because it is so subtle and leisurely. As a previous reviewer noted, it walks the line between the plausible and the gothically surreal. It has two Davies hallmarks- a very erudite, intellectual approach to art and the self and moments of almost bizarre humor. The three novles in the trilogy are all very different in tone. It is the first, "Fifth Business", that really got me. The book is sprawling, but in a very comfortable way. Very few people can write twenty and thirty page discussion scenes and keep them so interesting. It's been about a year since I picked up this first book by Robertson Davies and I am now working on the last novel of the Cornish Trilogy, having read all the Deptford and Salterton trilogies. Great stuff!
Don
This got off to a great start, with the story of the snowball and the premature birth of Paul Dempster, and his mother's descent into sainthood, but the latter novels in the trilogy never worked quite so well as 'Fifth Business'. Maybe because the central narrative characters in the subsequent novels weren't as sympathetic or interesting as Dunstable Ramsey. 'The Manticore' was readable as a case example of Jungian analysis, and that sort of thing is always intringing, but it didn't add a huge a This got off to a great start, with the story of the snowball and the premature birth of Paul Dempster, and his mother's descent into sainthood, but the latter novels in the trilogy never worked quite so well as 'Fifth Business'. Maybe because the central narrative characters in the subsequent novels weren't as sympathetic or interesting as Dunstable Ramsey. 'The Manticore' was readable as a case example of Jungian analysis, and that sort of thing is always intringing, but it didn't add a huge amount to our knowledge about the central characters. 'World of Wonders' is a rollicking story of a young lad's advance through the world of carnivals and theatre, but it didn't reach any huge psychological depths. I enjoyed it well enough at the level of an undemanding read, but in terms of the mystery of Boy Staunton's death, well.....
Dorothy
Very, very enjoyable read. Versions of shared and divergent history as told by three unreliably reliable narrators whose lives were framed, knowingly and unknowingly, by one event in thr youth of two of them. The plot is underscored by theories of and discussion on mythology in human history, the perdurability of magic and faith and Jungian archetypes in psych-social development.

The characters are eminently human without being trapped by ordinariness which elevates them. These are indeed fictio Very, very enjoyable read. Versions of shared and divergent history as told by three unreliably reliable narrators whose lives were framed, knowingly and unknowingly, by one event in thr youth of two of them. The plot is underscored by theories of and discussion on mythology in human history, the perdurability of magic and faith and Jungian archetypes in psych-social development.

The characters are eminently human without being trapped by ordinariness which elevates them. These are indeed fictional creatures which adds to rather than detracts from the reader's growing empathy for and interest in their stories.

I would have gone all the way to bright with five stars had the third installment been edited down a bit. It bogged a little. It for me here and there. That said, I was captivated throughout.
Duncan Ralston
A worthwhile read. Heavy with metaphor and meaning. Of the three books, I found Fifth Business best, though there were parts of all three that held my interest. The cave at the end of The Manticore was extremely visual and thought-provoking, the scenes from Magnus Eisengrim's childhood haunting and tragic and funny.
The three books are tied together by the central character of the first book, Dunstan Ramsay, and the death of his friend/enemy. The second book is very loosely tied to the first, and A worthwhile read. Heavy with metaphor and meaning. Of the three books, I found Fifth Business best, though there were parts of all three that held my interest. The cave at the end of The Manticore was extremely visual and thought-provoking, the scenes from Magnus Eisengrim's childhood haunting and tragic and funny.
The three books are tied together by the central character of the first book, Dunstan Ramsay, and the death of his friend/enemy. The second book is very loosely tied to the first, and hasn't much to do with it aside from the death of one of the characters in Fifth Business. If you're interested in psychology, like I am, The Manticore is steeped in it.
Overall, a very interesting series that never lost my attention. I will be reading more Davies at some point, I'm sure.
Lee
i started reading "world of wonders" many years ago when it was left in a guest house we were staying in. i found it fascinating b/c of the references to magic when intertwined with the "magic" of storytelling and fiction. i lost the book before finishing it, wound up buying "the deptford trilogy" and started at the beginning of the trilogy, "fifth business." finished that and i was in the middle of the second book "the manitcore" when i lost *that* book. okay...i'm buying another copy and i'm g i started reading "world of wonders" many years ago when it was left in a guest house we were staying in. i found it fascinating b/c of the references to magic when intertwined with the "magic" of storytelling and fiction. i lost the book before finishing it, wound up buying "the deptford trilogy" and started at the beginning of the trilogy, "fifth business." finished that and i was in the middle of the second book "the manitcore" when i lost *that* book. okay...i'm buying another copy and i'm going to finish this one! it's too good and the characters are too fascinating!
That was a while ago..finally finished ... Actually finished it about 9 months ago, but I haven't
updated this... gimme a break!
Eva Silverfine
I read this trilogy many years ago and liked it very much. I picked it up again recently and again enjoyed a good read. Although the narrators seem at times a bit stodgy and dated, it is still a pleasure to have the company of the intelligent and perceptive narrators that populate these novels. The strongest of the three is Fifth Business, which works fine as a stand-alone novel. The Manticore, unless one is particularly interested in Jungian analysis, is the weakest of the three, particularly a I read this trilogy many years ago and liked it very much. I picked it up again recently and again enjoyed a good read. Although the narrators seem at times a bit stodgy and dated, it is still a pleasure to have the company of the intelligent and perceptive narrators that populate these novels. The strongest of the three is Fifth Business, which works fine as a stand-alone novel. The Manticore, unless one is particularly interested in Jungian analysis, is the weakest of the three, particularly as a stand alone. The World of Wonders is rich and engaging, although at one point it quite deliberately leads one through a dense stretch of detail. Recommend for those who enjoy journeys of the mind.
Jeannie
For some reason I had a hard time warming up to Dunstan Ramsay, the main character. The first book sets up for the big question that doesn't get answered until the last book. It's an in depth autobiography of Dunstan growing up in rural Canada. The second book is told through the eyes of Boy Staunton's son as he's getting pscyho analyzed in Switzerland. This was my least favorite book. However, I must say that I was really interested in the last book, World of Wonders because it was a fascinatin For some reason I had a hard time warming up to Dunstan Ramsay, the main character. The first book sets up for the big question that doesn't get answered until the last book. It's an in depth autobiography of Dunstan growing up in rural Canada. The second book is told through the eyes of Boy Staunton's son as he's getting pscyho analyzed in Switzerland. This was my least favorite book. However, I must say that I was really interested in the last book, World of Wonders because it was a fascinating story of Paul Dempster and how he ended up in the circus with a bunch of sideshow freaks and honed his magic skills to later become the greatest magician of his time. This book was a lot more fun full of weird and crazy characters.
Craig
This is a fascinating vacillation between awareness & denial, as identities flux, characters cross paths, and time passes. Masterful character development! So much so that at times I quite struggled to get through it, that the characters were so real, in so much pain.

As tends to happen, I find the second book of Davies' trilogies to be slightly tedious. In this case, it's because it's told in a therapy session/ diary format, and I find that to be a bit to "telly" rather than "showy." Also, t This is a fascinating vacillation between awareness & denial, as identities flux, characters cross paths, and time passes. Masterful character development! So much so that at times I quite struggled to get through it, that the characters were so real, in so much pain.

As tends to happen, I find the second book of Davies' trilogies to be slightly tedious. In this case, it's because it's told in a therapy session/ diary format, and I find that to be a bit to "telly" rather than "showy." Also, the character of David is working towards the self awareness that Dunny has in the first book as opposed to being there like the other characters, so David is a more frustrating character to deal with.
Lacey Losh
The Deptford Trilogy does a wonderful job of interconnecting the lives of it’s three main characters. They were all born in the town of Deptford in Canada, and while each book focuses directly on the life of just one character, both Fifth Business and World of Wonders (books 1 and 3 of the trilogy) share the same narrator.

I found Fifth Business very interesting, but my favorite book of the series was The Manticore. It was fun to read one novel right after the other. I think I got the most out of The Deptford Trilogy does a wonderful job of interconnecting the lives of it’s three main characters. They were all born in the town of Deptford in Canada, and while each book focuses directly on the life of just one character, both Fifth Business and World of Wonders (books 1 and 3 of the trilogy) share the same narrator.

I found Fifth Business very interesting, but my favorite book of the series was The Manticore. It was fun to read one novel right after the other. I think I got the most out of the books, reading them when all the details from the previous books were still fresh in my mind.
Kenzie
I wanted to give the trilogy five stars because I love Robertson Davies' thesis (that myth, magic, and dreams are an often cast aside in modern society for lighter, sanitized, and more rational versions of reality, or something like that). I really loved Fifth Business and The Manticore. I would have loved World of Wonders, but there was a point where the story lost its momentum. Thankfully, Davies had set up enough of a mystery that I was determined to see how it would be resolved.

I wouldn't r I wanted to give the trilogy five stars because I love Robertson Davies' thesis (that myth, magic, and dreams are an often cast aside in modern society for lighter, sanitized, and more rational versions of reality, or something like that). I really loved Fifth Business and The Manticore. I would have loved World of Wonders, but there was a point where the story lost its momentum. Thankfully, Davies had set up enough of a mystery that I was determined to see how it would be resolved.

I wouldn't recommend reading the books out of order. I read the The Manticore a few years ago and didn't get nearly as much out of it as I did when I read the whole trilogy.
Julia Phillips
I am going to confess up front that Robertson Davies generally sits at the top of my list of favourite authors and he has some talented writers breathing on his neck.

The Deptford Trilogy, which comprises ‘Fifth Business’, ‘The Manticore’, and ‘World of Wonders’, is outstanding. It's a fantastic (in all senses of the word) mix of magic, mystery, and myth that grabs the reader on page one and simply never lets go. Almost impossible to describe, this book is truly amazing in its breadth and scope. I am going to confess up front that Robertson Davies generally sits at the top of my list of favourite authors and he has some talented writers breathing on his neck.

The Deptford Trilogy, which comprises ‘Fifth Business’, ‘The Manticore’, and ‘World of Wonders’, is outstanding. It's a fantastic (in all senses of the word) mix of magic, mystery, and myth that grabs the reader on page one and simply never lets go. Almost impossible to describe, this book is truly amazing in its breadth and scope. I'm running out of superlatives. Read it!
Rachel
Three novels in one linked together by this Boy Staunton character who gets killed. Liked the way it was written, the well-developed characters, the view of Canadian life and religion in early-to-mid-1900's and the fact that it pretty consistently held my interest (meaning, it's a little dense, yet I wanted to read just about every page instead of skimming). A little heavy on the psychotherapy in part two and a little too into magic (and autobiographical dialogue) in part three; overall, a more Three novels in one linked together by this Boy Staunton character who gets killed. Liked the way it was written, the well-developed characters, the view of Canadian life and religion in early-to-mid-1900's and the fact that it pretty consistently held my interest (meaning, it's a little dense, yet I wanted to read just about every page instead of skimming). A little heavy on the psychotherapy in part two and a little too into magic (and autobiographical dialogue) in part three; overall, a more intriguing-than-not focus on the quietly lunatic fringe.

Ann
I enjoyed reading these three books again. The first book in the trilogy was as great as I remembered, and I liked the other two, but not quite as much as the first one, or as I had the first time around many years ago. The settings and experiences covered in these novels are extremely wide-ranging, from rural Canadian carnivals to Jungian analysis in Vienna to a made-for-TV movie about an 18th century magician.

As wonderful a writer as RD is, I was shocked at an incredible factual error: there I enjoyed reading these three books again. The first book in the trilogy was as great as I remembered, and I liked the other two, but not quite as much as the first one, or as I had the first time around many years ago. The settings and experiences covered in these novels are extremely wide-ranging, from rural Canadian carnivals to Jungian analysis in Vienna to a made-for-TV movie about an 18th century magician.

As wonderful a writer as RD is, I was shocked at an incredible factual error: there is a description of a carnival orangutan - WITH A TAIL. Who's to blame, author or editor?
Lynn
I love Robertson Davies. I am immersed in the story and the story-teller before completing the first page of his novels. These three - Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders - are typical of Davies in that they are in-depth stories of quirky Canadian characters - in this case all from the small town of Deptford - filled with wisdom and humor and a deep understand of human nature. The stories are sweet, gritty, ironic, depressing, funny, very creative. You will wish you knew these fa I love Robertson Davies. I am immersed in the story and the story-teller before completing the first page of his novels. These three - Fifth Business, The Manticore, and World of Wonders - are typical of Davies in that they are in-depth stories of quirky Canadian characters - in this case all from the small town of Deptford - filled with wisdom and humor and a deep understand of human nature. The stories are sweet, gritty, ironic, depressing, funny, very creative. You will wish you knew these fascinating characters.
Kathey
Our book group read the first of the trilogy, The Fifth Business. I enjoyed it - liked the writing style, the characters. I found myself likening some of the characters and plot to Gatsby. Since I enjoyed it, I read the second in the trilogy, too. It was a psychological study of one of the sub-characters from his own perspective as he examines his own live and, subsequently, his father's. I didn't finish the third of the trilogy. I didn't find it nearly as "inviting" as the first two.
I do recomm Our book group read the first of the trilogy, The Fifth Business. I enjoyed it - liked the writing style, the characters. I found myself likening some of the characters and plot to Gatsby. Since I enjoyed it, I read the second in the trilogy, too. It was a psychological study of one of the sub-characters from his own perspective as he examines his own live and, subsequently, his father's. I didn't finish the third of the trilogy. I didn't find it nearly as "inviting" as the first two.
I do recommend the first two books, tho.
Robin Evans
These were assigned back in Uni but re-reading them now it seems I only ever read the first one. I re-read the first with ease -- although a little dismayed at the cardboard female characters (did I miss that originally or did I just erase it from my memory?). Made it about three quarters of the way through the Jungian therapy middle book and now it is time to put it down. Husband suggested we skip ahead in case it gets more interesting, but if that's the case I'd rather just put it down and sta These were assigned back in Uni but re-reading them now it seems I only ever read the first one. I re-read the first with ease -- although a little dismayed at the cardboard female characters (did I miss that originally or did I just erase it from my memory?). Made it about three quarters of the way through the Jungian therapy middle book and now it is time to put it down. Husband suggested we skip ahead in case it gets more interesting, but if that's the case I'd rather just put it down and start fresh with a different book.
Gethsemane
Yet another recommended to me based on my personality, this by my drama teacher no less. It's quite the boggle of a read, and quite convoluted at times. But oh man, what ride, it's fantastic! In a way, it's great feeling that so far in my life only great novels have reminded people of me whether to recommend, characters, or the feelings that come from the novels themselves. I recommend this one also, to the world.
Andrew
Great series by a great author. Was quite disturbed by the initial event in the third book which brought my rating down a star. Not because the book was any less brilliant, but because I consider fiction an escape and when I'm disturbed in my escape, I tend to be a bit resentful. I suppose it's good that the character learns and recovers from the experience, but if that every happened to someone I know, I couldn't recover, I'm afraid.
Tamie
I'm not sure how I feel about these books. They weren't anything like I thought they would be - they are very slow moving - definitely not page-turners, yet I kept reading all three books in the trilogy. You definitely have to read it as a trilogy - I don't think the books make much sense on their own because each one is a piece of the story. They are certainly well written and there is a lot of meat to them - but yet I'm not gushing about them and I can't figure out why.
Mark Everton
Robertson Davies is a consummate and captivating writer. He could be described as 'old school' - proper, formal, classical even - never flashy, coarse or striving for effect. His plotting is immensely skillful and his characters come right off the page. Davies was clearly a very wise and erudite man and one with a great deal of humanity - there is so much in this trilogy that engages your brain and touches your heart.
Glenn
I enjoyed this book.I would like to give it 4 1/2 stars but do not know how to add half a star if it is all possilbe. It is a book full of insights into human nature and emotion. He develops his characters giving them a personalities and characteristics that make them believable. Faults and virtues lay the ground for the plot

Characters in this novel have a purpose and are not introduced as useless details to fill pages and show imagination.
Anne
this trilogy is in some ways the most complete book i've ever read and i've just read it for the 3rd time. The 3 separate books have characters and themes in common. What place has magic, wonder and myths in our lives today? Davies writes in The Plain Style the main character Dunstan Ramsey is a proponent of, but it is rarely boring....it's difficult to write 864 pages with few boring passages!
I know that I will read this again and again.
Ann-Marie
Having read Fifth Business years ago I was not excited about rereading it. The passage of time and a little maturation accomplished wonders for my appreciation of this book and after completing it, I moved on to The Manticore, also excellent. The World of Wonders lagged a bit only in comparison to the first two - it is somewhat wordy and heavy on subplots - but it too tells a good story along the way ultimately addressing the question posed in Fifth Business: who killed Boy Stanton?
Glen
Wonderful read ... I can appreciate that there are those that might struggle with it due to its size and the need for the author to give in depth explanations in a complicated story ... However the storyline itself was deep, full of realism, and well researched by the author. The characters were real and the reader ends feeling that he/she will miss them ... Always a good book when I feel like that ...
Darlene
Robertson Davies is one of my all-time favorite authors and this was my favorite trilogy. He wrote pretty much all in trilogies, which I loved. (He may have died before he finished his last one).In this one, each book tells basically the same story but from different points of view, which was really interesting. I think World of Wonders was my favorite of the three but all of them were exceptional.
Benjamin
Trying to sum up this book in a paragraph blurb would be absolutely impossible. Davies is a master of juxtaposing hilariously grotesque images with amazing and moving philosophy. Davies believes that the world is what we perceive it to be, and that the modern scientific explanation is but one legitimate view. If you want to read a book that will make you laugh, think, and learn a little about theatre and Jungian psychology, this is the book for you.
Friend the Girl
I came across the Deptford Trilogy through a co-worker, who insisted that we read all three installments to start our new book club. I'm usually not a fan of franchises or any sort of thing involving sequels or prequels or that just doesn't stand on its own in general. But wow! I can't wait to read the last two novels, since I had to relinquish my borrowed copy and have yet to get my own (lazy bum). You honestly can't tell it's fiction, it's that good.
Janet
The Deptford Trilogy--A Canadian Bulgakov, if you can wrap your head around that--magical, dark, comedic, and mysterious. Robertson Davies deserves to be read and reread and reread.
Don
A tale originating in the town of Deptford (Canada) in the early 1900's that spans 3 generations. Intricately woven the story is told in a trilogy of novels at a slow pace. Much as I enjoyed the first 2 novels I couldn't convince myself to finish the 3rd. Well written but very slow paced.
James Webster
What a great author Robertson Davies was. This is dense, meditative, intriguing and, often, downright funny. Riffs on the subject of the subjective, memory and point of view and is thoroughly entertaining at the same time. Not sure I've ever given five stars before.
Sheila Banning
Robertson Davies knows his worlds so well he can present them to the reader from multiple overlapping perspectives - lives intersect and diverge just as in life. Beautiful language, excellent story-telling, and a relentless spark of hope flow through all his work.
Sandy
A very satisfying story following an odd assortment of folks (one-legged private school professor, giantess/heiress, world class magician from desperately poor, tormented young life) throughout their lives, beginning in Canada and continuing in Europe and briefly in Latin America.
David
Excellent read, something different. Great ending to first volume, the second a little heavier and the third nicely interwoven with the first and finally answering the question who did kill Boy Staunton. Well written and some nice insights into magic.
Mary Dean
I am excited about reading this trilogy again. I read these books when Davies was still alive. Their impact was profound and want to revisit them today and see what speaks to me. They are part of my permanent collection.
Andy
Fantastically fluid storytelling in the first book; more of the same in the latter two but diluted by clumsy framing devices and an increasing tendency to on-the-nose analyze his own stories right in the text. Still, excellently readable and very pleasant company.
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