Read The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams Online


Charles Walter Stansby Williams (1886 - 1945) was a British poet, novelist, theologian, literary critic, and member of the Inklings. Although Williams attracted the attention and admiration of some of the most notable writers of his day, including T. S. Eliot and W. H. Auden, his greatest admirer was probably C. S. Lewis, whose novel That Hideous Strength was at the time rCharles Walter Stansby Williams (1886 - 1945) was a British poet, novelist, theologian, literary critic, and member of the Inklings. Although Williams attracted the attention and admiration of some of the most notable writers of his day, including T. S. Eliot and W. H. Auden, his greatest admirer was probably C. S. Lewis, whose novel That Hideous Strength was at the time regarded as entirely inspired by Williams's novels....

Title : The Greater Trumps
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781502505118
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 148 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Greater Trumps Reviews

  • Richard
    2019-05-08 03:42

    "The Greater Trumps" is a powerfully conceived work brilliantly constructed on the basis of the ancient Tarot Card Deck. Williams studied the works of A.C. Waite and his novel is apparently using the images created for the Rider Deck designed by Patricia Coleman-Smith under the direction of Waite. The images of this deck were a perfect focus for the imagination of Charles Williams who was able to transfigure their already powerful iconic meanings into transcendental images of profound spirituality. To the deck itself he adds a strange board with the images represented by moving figures based on those in the deck. Throughout, Williams links the desires, actions, decisions, and personalities of various characters to their equivalents in the 22 cards that form “The Greater Trumps”. The characters themselves are quite unusual. Nancy is deeply in love with the rather sinister Henry Lee who sees her primarily as a tool to learn to control the Greater Trumps and thus gain tremendous power. Nancy’s father Lothair Coningsby has possession of the original Tarot pack which contains the most accurate representations of the images. However Mr Coningsby sees the world as an utterly matter-of-fact physical reality with no deeper spiritual dimension. Thus, the cards are useless to him. However, they are his, and he has no intention of giving them to Henry or Aaron Lee, Henry’s even more sinister uncle—the possessor of the dancing figures on the board.Then there are two sisters. Aaron’s sister is the terrible, mad Joanna who lives in a nightmarish world of evil hatred infused with Egyptian mythology searching for a dead child. Sybil Coningsby, Lothair’s sister is the opposite. She worships the creative Love which infuses the universe and has become a mystic aware of the world but untainted by it.Sybil is probably the triumph of the book. It is exceedingly difficult for an author to create a believable and interesting character who is also very good. Consider how Fielding failed in Tom Jones. Squire Allworthy is the touchstone of goodness, generosity, etc. And he is quite boring. Is one interested in Satan or Christ in "Paradise Lost"? Sybil is very much a figure personifying the saintly mystic. Some have called her a “female Christ”. Thus she could easily become a mere icon without a distinctive personality. But she has gone through suffering and anguish to achieve her inner calm. Henry is aware of Sybil’s special nature:“She’s got some sort of a calm, some equanimity in her heart. She—the only eyes that can read the future exactly, and she doesn’t want to know the future. Everything’s complete for her in the moment.”She acts as a foil to her brother who is uninterested in—and perhaps afraid of—spiritual energy and vision. But she loves her brother dearly and this is because she knows that deeper than his irritating ways and petty concerns lies the capability of love—which reaches its fruition at the end. Nancy trusts her and perhaps is on the path that will allow her to find the same calm as her aunt. At one point as she faces the hateful Joanna—the evil parallel to Sybil—she has a vision of the terrible anguish that lies behind such despair:“The litany of anguish poured out as if it were the sound of the earth itself rushing through space, and comfortless for ever the spinning globe swept on, turning upon itself, crying to itself; and space was the echo of its lament, and time was the measure of its sobs.”This vision appals Nancy. It is a possible future. “Joanna stood in the way; beyond her the way led to Sybil. She could see Sybil—ever so far off, in that descent upon which the great stairs opened.”Moments like this resonate through the novel. They make for fascinating reading.

  • Sørina
    2019-04-26 23:30

    Here is a summary and review of this novel on my Charles Williams website:

  • Sam Schulman
    2019-04-19 22:16

    It's hard to describe Charles Williams high Anglican fantasy religious novels of manners without sounding like a character in a Charles Williams novel - I pick them up, find myself falling into another world, finish it, recommend it to someone else - and then I look at the book again, and find it unreadable and the experience I had undiscoverable - sometimes I can't even find the words I remember so well. Imagine a novelist engineered by grafting CS Lewis onto Henry Green rootstock - with a crossing from Graham Greene at his most sin-obsessed, and a bit of Stella Gibbons but without the irony. Or think of certain Tolkien characters, but all wearing cloche hats or good county tweeds, and located very much in the lower upper-middle-class of the 30s. In a typical novel, two young women meet on a London bridge - there are taxis around, buses, tugboats in the Thames, all is normal; they walk into the park, have a rather fraught conversation, but you imagine them well dressed and at least in CW's phrase semi-educated and semi-cultured, - and while you are trying to figure out the significance of the conversation, the narrator ends the chapter: "Then the two dead girls walked out of the Park." Or in this novel, after a Christmas eve storm, the meditations of a maiden aunt spilling into the Great Dance: - "hot drinks--yes; and a hot bath--yes; and a complete change [of clothes]--yes. Drinks and baths and changes were exquisite delights in themselves, ... and in general movemement for repose, repose for movement, and even one movement for another, so highly complex was the admirable order of the created universe." The other secret - is that despite his limitations, CW is a far greater myth-maker than his friendly acquaintance TS Eliot (more than CS Lewis too, though I can't read very much of him) - a mythmaker in the Blakean sense, who starts with the Christian myth, but is not afraid to go far beyond it at times, Dante-esque in its ambition to encompass the whole in a man's ordinary experience.So - on to The Greater Trumps. We have the slightly unpleasant and slightly unpleasant lower upper-middle-class London family - widowed father, 19-ish daughter, 13-ish son, maiden aunt. Father is annoyed at his daughter, who to be fair seems very affected - we learn that she is engaged to a young barrister the father calls a "gypsy." Only we learn that it isn't just an insult - he really is a Gypsy - and the novel revolves around the mystery of the Tarot cards (a myth which I for one have always found rather tedious). But they're not. And the way the novel bursts through the seams of Christianity without fear - encompassing Gypsies, the Egyptians who the Tarot claim to derive from (though they do not, the novel says), "or Jew or Christian heretic - Paulician, Bogophil, or Nestorian" encompassed in a very 1930s conception of the universe as a Dance - well, it's a wonderful argument for the West, and makes me proud to have been a part of it. A really surprising and continually thrilling novel, my favorite of .

  • Bonnie
    2019-05-03 21:21

    This and the following books by Charles Williams are not like any other books I have ever read. They bent my mind out of shape and sort of gave it a new shape, if that makes any sense.They are very well written and very good mystical stories with real meaning.

  • Brandon
    2019-05-21 02:43

    I really wanted to like this one, but it just doesn't work as a story. And, stylistically, it was a little too self-conscious. (I imagine Williams at his writing desk looking over his shoulder at the works of Virginia Woolf on the shelf.) As for his theology, a bit too fuzzy, a bit too romantic for my taste; and, regrettably, marked with that smug self-satisfaction typified in the theological writings of his fellow Inkling C.S. Lewis.

  • Bob
    2019-04-24 00:41

    Summary: An legacy of a singular pack of tarot cards that correspond to images of the Greater Trumps arranged in a dance on a platform of gold in the retreat of a gypsy master drives his grandson to risk love and life to uncover the powers of the cards.Charles Williams is known as one of the members of the Inklings who wrote supernatural fantasy thrillers. Lesser known was his interest in the occult arts, particularly through the influence of A. E. Waite and his Fellowship of the Rosy Cross. This work reflects some of those interests, centered around the Tarot. Lothair Coningsby, an English civil servant of undistinguished refinement, inherits a small legacy from a friend including various packs of cards. Among them is a most unusual early set of Tarot cards representing the Greater Trumps, a suit of twenty-two cards. As it happens, his daughter Nancy is deeply in love with Henry Lee, a descendant of Gypsies, whose grandfather, Aaron is a master who has devoted his life to the studies of occult mysteries. In his home is an inner sanctum with a gold table on which the figures of the Greater Trumps are arranged in the dance. When Henry sees the cards he realizes that they are the exact visual counterparts of the statues on his grandfather's table. To bring the cards together with the statues would be to unleash great power, and great insights into the mysteries of the universe.Henry explains their powers to Nancy:“It’s said that the shuffling of the cards is the earth, and the pattering of the cards is the rain, and the beating of the cards is the wind, and the pointing of the cards is the fire. That’s of the four suits. But the Greater Trumps, it’s said, are the meaning of all process and the measure of the everlasting dance.”There is only one problem. Coningsby will not part with the cards. So Henry and his grandfather invite the Coningsbys to spend the Christmas holidays. This includes not only Lothair and Nancy, but also Sybil, the most spiritually centered, who seems to have a mystical communion with the world about her, and brother Ralph, a young man who lives in a common-sense, practical world. Coningsby reluctantly brings the cards and permits them to be tested in the presence of the figures, which come to life in a glorious dance. When Coningsby continues to withhold the cards, Henry determines to "borrow" the cards, and use them to whip up a super cyclonic snow storm to strand Lothair, out for his Christmas walk, and bring about his death.He succeeds in whipping up the storm, but Nancy catches him in the act, disrupting his efforts, but also the power to end the storm. Lothair is saved when Sybil braves the storm, and with the help of Henry's half-crazed Aunt Joanna, brings him back to the house. But this is only a temporary respite as the unleashed powers behind the snow storm threaten the destruction of the house, and all those in it.Is there a power greater than that unleashed by the cards? When arcane knowledge cannot save, is there anything else that can? Nancy, Sybil, and even Lothair and Henry in their own ways choose in different ways to lay down their lives. Will they succeed, and what will happen to them in the process? What will happen to crazed Joanna, and will she find the lost child?Like William's other works, seemingly unremarkable people in an ordinary English village and manor house become caught up supernatural events reflecting unleashed spiritual powers in a sequence of fantastic and sometimes bizarre events (like the gold cloud). Christians who have reservations reading about the "occult" may decide this work is not for them. Yet what Williams portrays is both the perils of the pursuit of spiritual power and hidden knowledge, and the great power of love.

  • Chris Zull
    2019-05-20 02:25

    A couple of weeks ago my Dad and I went to John K. King Rare and Used Books in downtown Detroit (a remarkable place, I highly recommend it) for the express purpose of seeking out the novels of Charles Williams. For those familiar with the name, he is mostly remembered as "The Third Inkling." The Inklings were an informal early to mid-twentieth century Oxford literary group that famously included C.S Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield, amongst others. I recently read a stellar book about The Inklings, and it kindled for me an interest in Williams' work. My Dad and I were able to find three of Williams seven novels, in three different sections of the store, amusingly; the three sections being general fiction, Christianity, and fantasy. Williams wrote what have been called "spiritual thrillers," with his High Anglican faith always carefully weaved into the books' mystical themes and plot lines. Amongst those who greatly admired Williams' novels were C.S. Lewis, T.S. Elliott, W.H. Auden, and Dorothy Sayers. The three novels of his that Dad and I found were Many Dimensions, Shadows of Ecstasy, and the one being reviewed here, The Greater Trumps.So, what about the actual book, you ask? I liked it but didn't love it. Williams had an incredible imagination and was a profound thinker, of that there can be no doubt. There were moments in the plot that thrilled me, and there were ideas that stimulated my intellect; at other times I was frustrated by the obscure syntax and by the sense that I wasn't quite "getting" what Williams was after. I really want to hunt down copies of his three most highly regarded novels, those being The Place of the Lion, Descent into Hell, and All Hallow's Eve. My Dad at one time owned paperbacks of the latter two; we scoured his house, but they seem to have been lost. I see they are available on Amazon, although when it comes to rare books, that always feels a little like cheating... I will definitely read more of this fascinating writer's work, I find him to be worth the considerable challenge his style presents. Others may well disagree...

  • Dave Maddock
    2019-05-19 23:25

    Williams could have done so much more than he did with the raw material of the novel's premises, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The "original" Tarot deck is rediscovered by a Gypsy family who are guardians of its companion set of magical figures. Supernatural mischief ensues when they attempt to steal it and wield their combined powers. CW's Romantic Theology heavily informs the plot.What I enjoyed most about this novel in comparison to the previous four, is that it is the least overtly Christian. If not for a few passages on the Athanasian Creed and knowledge of his quirky theology, one could read this as "generically" supernatural fiction. It is also interesting that the holy object is entirely occult in origin in contrast to the Graal and Stone (War in Heaven and Many Dimensions respectively) which are both rooted in Abrahamic faith. This has a universalist subtext that will not sit well with typical Christians (I can hear my Bible college professors shouting "syncretism" as if that's an insult), but I consider a strength. The portrayal of Romantic Theology can also be read non-dogmatically, even secularly--although this effect is destroyed by reading his Outlines of Romantic Theology as I am doing now.P.S. Check out The Oddest Inkling's review as well.

  • Eve
    2019-05-06 03:34

    Williams is the least known of the Inklings, the group of writers who met weekly in a pub in Oxford. (The others are C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Dorothy Sayers.)Like Lewis, he was a devout Christian, and all his novels, adult fantasies, are written to teach something. His background is complex, though. He was active in several esoteric groups for years before committing to Christianity and I find the influence those teachings as dominant as the Christian themes in his books.The Greater Trumps is about the Tarot and serves as a good introduction to it. It's full of frightening scenes and the characters are well-drawn.I think all of Williams' novels are worth reading as curiosities, as introductions to esoteric ideas, or as very original understandings of Christian thought.They're pretty compelling as novels, too, but they're dated....less...more

  • Kilian Metcalf
    2019-05-03 02:31

    I don't have the vocabulary or the depth of intellect to analyze the attraction I feel for the novels of Charles Williams. I've each one at least four times, and I nurture the hope that if I keep reading them, eventually I will understand them. Part of the problem is that his writing is deeply imbue with Christian theology, and yet he was a friend of the occult as well, a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn. His understanding of Tarot is as deep as that of Christianity. In this book he merges the two, or rather reconciles what might appear to be contradictions and conflict between them.All his books tantalize this way with the feeling that there is something in the subtext or just on the edge of understanding, that if we could fathom, all would be revealed.Endlessly fascinating.

  • J.A.
    2019-05-18 23:27

    This was assigned reading in one of my college courses, presented, in the words of my professor, as a graphic example of how not to write a book. My professor was right. This is NOT how a book should be written. I resented the time I had to spend reading this dreck.

  • Ann
    2019-04-26 21:40

    My favorite of CW fiction.

  • Sean Meade
    2019-05-12 23:25

    I think I enjoyed this book the least of Williams's novels I've read so far. The supernatural aspect was ok (Tarot cards). But most of the action took place in one locale, and that didn't really succeed. The characters were mostly unlikable, which is not my preference. I found myself skimming to the end for plot because I stopped caring about the esoteric descriptions.I really liked the character of Sibyl and what Williams did with her, but it wasn't enough to redeem the rest of the book.Worth reading for Williams devotees, or if you want to be a completist.

  • Jason Walsman
    2019-05-04 22:24

    Somewhat strange, slowish plot. One really cool character makes this a 3-star instead of a 2.

  • Adrian Fulle
    2019-05-19 21:16

    ExcellentGreat read. Very mysterious and the writing creates a unique mood. Williams is a master craftsman. It's hard to believe thiswas written so long ago,

  • Steven Tryon
    2019-05-05 04:37

    Very fine. The wonder and power of simple, unaffected love. The earlier of Williams' works are celestial conflict revolving around antagonist, protagonist, and and one solitary human being in the middle with extraordinary choices forced upon her. The Greater Trumps contains all that, but the resolution is of a different sort but, to me, quite satisfying. The entire book is, as expected, surreal.

  • Sienna
    2019-05-11 23:44

    I wanted to like this so much more than I did, though I seem to be defending it against the two-star rating that's probably more accurate. Today, Williams is remembered, if at all, as one of the lesser-known Inklings, after Tolkein and Lewis, his spiritual themes distinguished by a rather mystical bent. This is the first of his works I've read and the one that piqued my interest most of all, its title referring to the major arcana of a very unusual deck of tarot cards. One unexpected side effect of reading on a Kindle is the sudden prevalence of percentages: I know that I found the first quarter very engaging, the second a struggle (49% was a killer), the third a bit better, and the final section wildly inconsistent, with a satisfying ending. The plot itself is straightforward, and the characters are well-crafted, odd and flawed and strangely likeable, all of them. Williams's approach to the narrative switches between these figures, hinting at and sometimes overtly telling us their true motivations. It's worth noting that the women are the stars, stronger and more insightful than their bumbling, misguided male counterparts, who nevertheless seem possessed by a weird kind of integrity. I adored both Sibyl — "I'm getting mythical" <3 — and Nancy. And yet. And yet... the material I thought I'd like most of all, the internal mysticism, falls flat. I kept comparing it unfavorably to another recent read, William Hope Hodgson's House on the Borderland, in which the narrator's visions are vivid, memorable and deeply unsettling. Similar passages in The Greater Trumps felt forced and tedious, the images surprisingly muddled for a book about creation and symbolism, populated by seventy-eight miniature pieces of art.However, the good bits are very good indeed, as in this quote from Nancy to her beloved:"It was sweet of you to pick out a nice soothing way of doing what you wanted," she said. "Some magicians would have put him in a barn and set it on fire, or forced him into a river and let him drown. You've a nice nature, Henry, only a little perverted here and there. All great geniuses are like it, they say. I think you must be a genius, darling; you take your job so solemnly. Like Milton and Michelangelo and Moses. Do you know, I don't believe there's a joke in all the Five Books of Moses. I can't see very well, Henry, but I think you're frowning. And I'm talking. And talking and frowning won't do anything, will they? O, hark at it! Come along, my genius, or we shan't save the world before your own pet blizzard has spoilt it."She's as wise as she is funny:She kept her hands very still, wondering at them. They had been so busy, with one thing and another, in the world, continually shaping something. What many objects had rested against those palms — chair-backs, cups, tennis-rackets, the hands of her friends, birds, books, bag-handles, umbrellas, clothes, bed-clothes, door-handles, ropes, straps, knives and forks, bowls, pictures, shoes, cushions — O, everything! and always she had had some purpose, her hands had been doing something, making something, that had never been before — not just so. They were always advancing on the void of the future, shaping her future.Her father, too, is the source of some gems:Every now and then the English language appeared to Mr. Coningsby almost incapable of expressing his more delicate shades of emotion. But then life — getting other people to understand exactly what you meant and wanted and thought and felt — was a very complex business, and, as he never wanted to push himself on others, he was usually satisfied if he could lightly indicate what he was feeling. One mustn't be selfish — especially on Christmas Day.(Indeed!)If there had been more passages like these, I could have enjoyed this book as much as I wound up appreciating it: love rather than interest. But it is definitely interesting enough to recommend.

  • Glen Grunau
    2019-05-15 04:35

    How come I keep coming back to the novels of Charles Williams? As one of the lesser known of the infamous "inklings" that included J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis, his wrings have not captured the imagination of nearly so many as have these. I do not return because of the ease of reading Williams; I often get bogged down in his awkward descriptions and meandering writing style. But I can think of three reasons: 1) His mastery of mystical theology and his prioritization of inner transformation over outer performance; 2) His unveiling in each of his novels a transformed protagonist who invariably serves as an inspiration for my own inner journey; 3) His emphasis on the incarnation of spiritual reality in a physical world - the thinning of the veil between the seen and the unseen world.In The Greater Trumps, he chooses the most unlikely avenues for such incarnation: an ancient deck or Tarot cards. His transformed protagonist, Sybil. The mystical theology theme, love.I will let a few quotes carry the remainder of this review:1) “Who’ll try first?” she went on, holding out the Tarots. “Father? Aunt? Or will you, Mr. Lee?"". . . “Really, Nancy. I’d rather not — if you don’t mind,” Sybil said, apologetic, but determined. “It’s — it’s so much like making someone tell you a secret.”. . . “She’s got some sort of a calm, some equanimity in her heart. She — the only eyes that can read the future exactly, and she doesn’t want to know the future. Everything’s complete for her in the moment. It’s beautiful, it’s terrific . . . "2) “And what,” Mr. Coningsby said, as if this riddle were entirely unanswerable, “what do you call the hypothesis of Christianity?” “The Deity of Love and the Incarnation of Love?” Sybil suggested.3) Love would have been sufficient by itself but . . . the more one lived with that the more one found that it possessed in fact all the attributes of Deity.4) She turned to her habitual resource. She emptied her mind of all thoughts and pictures: she held it empty till the sudden change in it gave her the consciousness of the spreading out of the stronger will within; then she allowed that now unimportant daily mind to bear the image and memory of Nancy into its presence. She did not, in the ordinary sense, “pray for” Nancy; she did not presume to suggest to Omniscience that it would be a thoroughly good thing if It did; she merely held her own thought of Nancy stable in the midst of Omniscience.These are some of the gems that make for me the reading of each Charles Williams novel a treasure hunt. Despite my impatience is slogging through the difficult passages, the hunt was once again worth it.

  • Petia
    2019-04-22 02:41

    Стълбата над ветровете Чарлз УилямсЛюбовта е по-силна от всяка магия...Отдавна не ми се беше случвало да попадна на книга, която крие своите магически нюанси някъде по мистериозните пътища на историята, която разказва. Ето защо останах някак очарована от тази книга, която още със самото си заглавие „Стълбата над ветровете” те довежда до мисълта, че по страниците й ще откриеш нещо вълшебно. И това е точно така...Още в началото се запознаваме със странните и чудати членове на семейство Конингсби – строгият Лотеър Конингсби, децата му Ралф и Нанси, и леля им Сибил, която е вечно усмихната, добра и никога за нищо на се сърди. Мистерията около това семейство още повече се задълбочава, когато получават подарък от стар приятел – тесте карти Таро, които, както вероятно подозирате, крият някаква древна магическа тайна. Когато семейството приема предложението на потайния годеник на Нанси – Хенри – да празнуват Коледа заедно с неговия дядо, приключението вече е набрало нужната скорост и започва спонтанно. Може би е добре да отбележа, че Хенри е от цигански произход и неговия род (в това число и дядо му, който притежава странни танцуващи фигури, и старата му леля, която прилича на вещица) е много свързан с легендите и преданията за картите таро. А и намеренията на Хенри изобщо не са толкова добронамерени. И точно на Коледа, в навечерието на Рождество Христово, се случва нещо, което естествено няма да ви кажа, защото вече достатъчно издадох. Повествованието отчасти граничи с ориенталска приказка и фентъзи разказ. Смесват се няколко митологии с цигански предания и поверия. Думите са така поставени една до друга, че заедно прочетени излъчват вълшебство. Искам да обърна особено внимание на главите „Сибил”, „Нанси” и „Джоана”, в които действието е по-скоро като съновидение от магията и е допълнено с много красиви разсъждения за природата на доброто и злото. Много лека и приятна за мисълта книга, особено ако сте настроени за фантастични сюжети. Единствената ми забележка е прекалено малкият шрифт, който от време на време изморява очите, но когато се навлезе в историята това почти губи значението си.И така прекрасна и вълшебна история. Препоръчвам ви!https://jivotatestvardikorici.wordpre...

  • Paul Dinger
    2019-05-15 00:20

    I did enjoy this book despite it's very real flaws. I have to admit that I have a grunging admiration for Williams. I have long searched for this book since I was first introduced and then mesmerizied by All Hallows Eve way back in college. Since then, piece by piece my love for his work was built not just by his strange novels, but by his theology. What is there not to admire? Williams went his own way and created his own theology, even recreating the word theology in a way. This book is about order. The tarot cards of the title represent order. Laid out as they are, but that is incomplete. There are evil doers who want to possess the secrets of this order. However, order is not what you think it is. Certain forces do disrupt orders, fools of a sort. In that disruption order is restored by love, love for family love for sons and even love for those who don't deserve it. This is presaged early on in a wierd way by a character who corrects a bumper sticker that says, "Love God or go to hell". She corrects it by saying "Love or be in hell." This sums up Williams' strange and idiosyncratic 'theology' and is the theme of this book. Two gypsies Aaron and Henry see the tarot cards are a literal representation of order. By their discovery of an 'original' deck, they think they can control the universe. What they don't understand is how it moves and what makes it move, which is the figure of the fool. Now, this plot isn't just what the book is about it is an attempt to explain what is unexplainable. As such, this is its drawback as it tries page after page to explain what resists being put into words. A good novel requires action and doesn't do well with exposition, especially a novel that wants to an entertainment which this clearly does want to be. That, and it really doesn't make sense. I wonder if Williams is trying to understand as he writes and here it fails him. When he talks about the nature of love, he does so in such a way to make it truly come alive. When he writes about what disrupts the universal order, he is on much less firm ground. One remembers what Picassio said of William Blake, it was explained to the master that Blake was drawing pictures of what he alone could see. Picassion said, "he should have seen them twice." Williams would have been wise to heed that.

  • Aaron Heinly
    2019-04-25 22:39

    Charles Williams is a weirdo. But he's still the shizzy!Upon an ancient golden table, golden figurines perpetually move "by some magnetism of the Earth" to the "Great Dance" - that is, the rhythm of all things that happen in this world. The table and figurines are half of a set. The other half is the original Tarrot cards. Together, it is believed, they have the power to explain eachother's mysteries, and maybe even manipulate time, space, and the elements. By some great coincidence (or movement of the Dance) 2 families are brought together who each have one half of the set. But when the peices are reunited, all hell...and heaven break loose! A demonicly powered blizzard with an intent to murder is summoned. The cards are lost and the storm rages out of control bent on destroying the Earth. An extrodinarilly ordinary young woman with a recently reborn heart of love enters into the Dance supernaturally, transending time and space, and gives strength to those in time and space who might need it. On top of all of this, there is the constant meddling of an old hag who was driven mad some 50 years ago when she gave birth to a still born child even though the cards said she would give birth to a god. Now she fancies herself the Egyptian goddess, Isis, and believes her son, Horus has been kidnapped and imprissoned in the blood of the young girl and must now be released through the shedding of blood. But, perhaps, the most spectacular thing in this book is the character of Sybil who is both your average, kindly 60 year old Christian woman and more powerful than all the powers of death and darkness. Williams may be a little hard to read and a little harder still to understand but duelly worth it for the reward!

  • Noël DeVries
    2019-04-28 01:35

    Charles Williams to me, in his own words:If it was Love that the old womanwas praising now, the shrill voice didn't quite sound like it. But itmight be; with the sweet irony of Perfection, one could never tell. Itwas never what you expected, but always and always incredibly more....That sovereign estate, the inalienable heritage of man, had been in her, asin all, falsely mortgaged to the intruding control of her own greedydesires. Even when the true law was discovered, when she knew that shehad the right and the power to possess all things, on the one conditionthat she was herself possessed, even then her freedom to yield herselfhad been won by many conflicts....She attempted dutifully to enjoy and failed, but while sheattempted it the true gift was delivered into her hands.......a fanatic in a train who had given her a tract: Love God or go toHell. It was only after a number of years that she had come to theconclusion that the title was right, except perhaps for go to--since thetruth would have been more accurately rendered by be in Hell. She wasdoubtful also about God; Love would have been sufficient by itself butit was necessary at first to concentrate on something which could bedistinguished from all its mortal vessels, and the more one lived withthat the more one found that it possessed in fact all the attributes ofDeity. She had tried to enjoy, and she remembered vividly the momentwhen, walking down Kingsway, it had struck her that there was no needfor her to try or to enjoy: she had only to be still, and let thatrecognized Deity itself enjoy, as its omnipotent nature was.

  • Spotsalots
    2019-05-17 01:18

    I've always admired Williams' work, and while this one had never been at the top of the list for me, I was curious to see what I thought now. Certainly no one else has ever written quite like him either in terms of style or ideas, which is part of his appeal.This time around I concluded that the first half of the book was the most successful--that is to say, before the supernatural aspect becomes dominant. Since Williams could quite brilliantly convey mystical and supernatural states and ideas, it is disappointing that that doesn't come off as well in this book. In part I think that is because it is not quite clear enough how the golden figures operate and to what extent they are moving unusually once the Tarot cards have scattered. But it is also that really the entire second half of the book is an extended climax, which I don't think works well dramatically. While the supernatural snowstorm and the confused efforts of the various characters are considerably more interesting to me than car chases in action movies, I did find myself experiencing some of the same impatience I feel whenever I have to sit through a car chase scene, a sense of "get it over with already, so much excess movement is tedious."Nonetheless, the book remains a subtle and beautiful investigation of psychological and spiritual states.

  • Jeanette
    2019-05-17 04:19

    "Whether we understand every line of a Williams novel or not, we feel something deep inside us quicken as Williams tells the tale." ( i )"Williams is one of those rare authors one longs to know and query in person about important things." ( ix )"'Some by cards and some by hands,' he said, 'and some by the stars.'" (10)"She enjoyed everything - and he, he enjoyed nothing." (39)"She looked down at the hands that lay in her lap. 'Hands,' she said. 'Can they do it?' 'They can do anything,' he said. 'They have power.'" (53)"'I think you're a little inhuman,' he said. 'You're everything that's nice, of course, but you're terrifying as well.'" (58)"'I think it's long,' he said, 'since you have wished yourself anything but what you are.'" (58)"She - the only eyes that can read the future exactly, and she doesn't wan to know the future." (96)"Henry said, 'Is it foolish to give oneself to a purpose and die if it perishes?' 'Disproportioned, don't you think?' Sybil suggested. 'One might die rather than forsake a cause, but if the cause forsakes you --- ? They're pathetic creatures, your lonely romantics. They can't bear to be mistaken.'" (130)"...looked more lovely, though more ruinous, than she had thought any mortal thing could look..." (253)

  • Keith Davis
    2019-04-23 23:32

    A very strange Fantasy novel with cryptic religious elements. The plot involves the attempts by a few characters to get control of the original set of tarot cards from which all other decks are copied. With the original deck the user cannot manipulate the future rather than just foretell it, also each suit bestows a degree of control over one of the classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. The description sounds like the plot of a classic quest fantasy, but in execution it is more like an Edwardian English parlor room novel. Charles Williams was a colleague of Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, but his fiction never achieved the popular recognition of the later two writers. Williams includes Christian messages in his fiction, but he hides it behind supernatural and occult references that many Christian readers may find distasteful. Still, any fan of eclectic pre-Tolkien Fantasy would be advised to give Williams a try.

  • Melynda
    2019-05-15 02:32

    Charles Williams, like all the Inklings, was weird as hell. He worked at an academic publishing house, which he regarded as a kind of knightly devoir, and conducted more-or-less courtly love affairs with a little bdsm glitter sprinkled over them, while taking part in an Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn-y church thing. His novels are surprisingly entertaining, suspenseful, and well-written--how Clive Lewis must have hated him for that, after the disaster that was the Perelandra books!The Greater Trumps is about the original pack of Tarot cards, and the immense power that they contain to bring about the end of the world. As in most of Williams' books, avatars of the Elder Gods appear, including an old woman who is actually Isis and Innanna. The casual racism that runs through all of Williams' work is well to the fore in some spots, alas--the reader is warned.

  • Conrad
    2019-05-01 03:39

    Definitely one of the strangest novels I can recall reading. It centers on a mysterious set of golden figures which moves across a golden table, and a set of Tarot cards which matches the figures and holds the key to understanding the movement (dance) of the figures. The dance represents the activity of all things in the universe. The golden figures are held by an old gypsy but the cards are owned by the father of the gypsy's grandson's lover.Suffice it to say that things get completely out of control when the gypsies try to obtain the cards in order to bring them together with the figures. The resulting chaos reminded me of 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice' meets the esoteric elements of 'The Green Mile'. Obviously, Charles Williams tried to infuse it with a lot of symbology - I'm not sure how well it comes off for the average reader. All in all, an interesting look at the Tarot.

  • Victoria Evangelina Belyavskaya
    2019-05-08 22:42

    ~A DRAGGING DANCE~I was ever so excited. My love, Tarot, was about to meet my other love, reading novels, and dance together to the sounds of life going by...But it was a boring dance; the musician did not perform well. The sentences towards the end of the book seemed to repeat each other over and over and the ending was quite unsatisfactory though a predictable and wished-for one. I dragged myself to the end of the book, to the end of the snow fall just to make sure I was not missing something.... oh no, I was not!I am looking forward to find a GREAT Tarot+novel book!Victoria Evangelina Belyavskaya

  • Bruce Mohler
    2019-04-25 23:21

    Like all of Charles Williams's books, something supernatural invades the natural world. In this case, (view spoiler)[a deck of Tarot cards ("the originals"), which are brought near a tray of golden figures which move in accordance with "the Great Dance". Proximity unleashes great power.Also part of the Dance are people, some of whom wish to learn how to harness that power for better or worse, and others which move in the Dance adoring Love (God). Those who want to harness the power come out worse for wear; those who adore Love pass through the storm. (hide spoiler)]

  • Kelly
    2019-04-20 21:15

    This is an unusual novel by a lesser-known Inkling who was also an Anglican Kabbalist. An obsessed father-son team uses tarot archetypes to unleash elemental forces which are eventually tamed by a Christian mystic. Think Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, and Dan Brown colluding to produce a churning avalanche of imagery, punctuated by what is probably sound spiritual advice. It would make good anime. As a novel, it was sort of B-grade, a flimsy vehicle for what the author had to say, but it's better than a lot of what's out there.