Book Cover
Title The Centaur
Series ---
Author Algernon Blackwood
Cover Art ---
Publisher ---
First Printing 1911
Category Fantasy
Warnings None

Main Characters

O'Malley, Dr. Stahl

Main Elements Centaurs

There are certain persons who, independently of sex or comeliness, arouse an instant curiosity concerning themselves. The tribe is small, but its members unmistakable. They may possess neither fortune, good looks, nor that adroitness of advance-vision whi rest is missing

Having read one book that lead me to Blackwood's The Wendigo I followed up with The Centaur, both of which can be downloaded for free on

Now I knew this wasn't your standard story, but I didn't realize it was more a philosophy book than anything else. About our place in the world, especially if we can dismiss our earthly bodies and seek to join our spirit with that of the living Earth.

But it can be read as a mystery/fantasy where O'Malley meets a pair of strangers while travelling the Mediteranean by ship. He is oddly drawn to them, sensing that they are more than they appear, that they are "bigger" then what he could perceive with his eyes alone. And they in turn recognize his sensitive nature and welcome him, try to guide him to this other plane of existence beyond the material world.

And yes, there are indeed Centaurs in this story, don't think I'm giving much away given the title and the major hints along the way. So like I said, you can read it as a fantasy story with ancient mythological creatures running about. But I also liked the ideas being explored, so if you are seeking a potential answer to "What am I, why am I here" you can also give this a try, the centaurs are not so much literal as they are symbolic (depending on how you choose to read this book).

The spiritual aspect is blanced by the sceptic, the Doctor. Who while he does believe (though he doesn't want to admit it) in this spiritual existence, he still clings to his logic and science, tries to study the other, learn from him without having to go beyond his own comfortable boundaries. To give up the material world and find the real meaning to life, the true joy. Is this spiritual world real, or all in the unstable mind of a fanciful dreamer, a mere disorder of the mind? Is it even possible to know?

And what amounts to a narrator, neither a spiritual man nor a scientist, just a friend of the flighty O'Malley who tries to understand him even as he describes him to us.

I will warn however, it is very...very...VERY...repetitive. At first you don't mind it so much, but it goes on, and on, often covering the exact same concepts, only very slowly expanding upon them. Fortunately I was reading this on my commute to work so I only had to absorb it in small increments, it is something that would get very frustrating to read in a large chunk. It would have been quite a beautiful story if it wasn't so darn long. But I'm still glad I read it, gave me some good food for thought. And to tell the truth, its not too often you come across centaur-centric novels!

Posted: January 2016


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