The Deep (John Crowley)

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First edition (publ. Doubleday)
Cover art by John Cayea[1]

The Deep is a novel by John Crowley, originally published in 1975.

A visitor arrives from elsewhere on a strange medieval world where the two factions, the "Reds" and the "Blacks", struggle for supremacy through battle, murder and treachery.

It soon becomes apparent that he (it) is only superficially human. Damaged in a skirmish between Protectors and the Just at the start, he and we spend the rest of the book finding out how and why he was made and sent. Early, Fauconred quotes their book: "the world is founded on a pillar which is founded on the Deep". This turns out to be true.

Whilst a war of succession plays out, the visitor becomes secretary, then recorder; and travels to the edge of the world to meet Leviathan, an immemorial creature who built the world to shelter his sleep from the heaven stones. Meanwhile, the slow stable world which has been immortal because repeating for uncounted years begins to spiral into the unknown path of development.

Crowley has said that his first, unfinished, novel was about the Wars of the Roses, but this novel owes more to the life and wars of Edward II.[citation needed]


Aldiss and Wingrove praised The Deep as "a remarkable first novel, well written and darkly true to human nature." They described it as "a complex novel of many layers [whose] people live and breathe and die horribly in [its] pages.[2]


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