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Literature / Imajica

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Written by Clive Barker, Imajica is the story of five dominions that make up the system of the Imajica. Earth is the fifth, separate and unlike the other four.

John Furie Zacharias, alias Gentle, is left empty and purposeless after his breakup with Judith, until a meeting with Pie, a shapeshifter who's neither man nor woman, that starts Gentle on a pilgrimage through the dominions to find out who he is.

Judith too begins craving to explore these new worlds. Soon, they are all drawn into a power-play between the mysterious Sartori, a cabal of mages who wish to keep the dominions secret, and a being who may very well be God.

Warning, this story contains psychology, drugs, lots of (strange) sex, gore, references to a lot of religions and feminism. But hey! It's Clive Barker.


Tropes found in Imajica:

  • Abusive Parents: And how! Gentle to Sartori and Judith in a way, Gentle's parents and maybe Charle's parents too, though the last one is up to debate.
  • Adult Fear: The child under your protection is abducted, raped, and murdered.
  • Aerith and Bob: Naming conventions in the other Dominions are somewhat... unconventional, so beside characters from Earth like Clem, Oscar, and Judith, we have characters from the other worlds like Peccable, Huzzah, and Hairstone Banty to name just a few.
  • The Ageless: The Feit of Holding can enable maestros to achieve this, although it cannot reverse the aging process and thus they are frozen at whatever age they learned it.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Sartori. Mass murderer, sadist, power-drunk. But in the end, he's just Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life.
  • Alien Sky:
    • The Fifth Dominion is Earth.
    • The Fourth Dominion has a greenish gold sky during the day and it takes on a purple hue at night.
    • The Third Dominion has Binary Suns.
    • The Second Dominion has a comet for a sun.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Sort of; these creatures are from other worlds. Some of them speak their own language, but many of them speak English, sometimes with an accent.
  • All-Loving Hero: In the last third of the book, Gentle: well, he was pretty nice to begin with, but he's really ready to love anybody in the universe even if you tried to kill him several times over.
  • Alternate Universe: The other four Dominions.
  • Amnesiac Hero: Gentle, by his own request.
  • Anatomy Agony: Then again, it's Clive Barker, what do you expect?
  • Ancient Artifact: Several, but the most prominent is the blue stone Judith gets.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Tabula Rasa, who is trying to prevent the Reconciliation of the Dominions.
  • And I Must Scream: Celestine is trapped in a mummified body for hundreds of years.
  • Animate Dead: Several throughout the book. While some magic wielders use it exactly like you would expect from a Necromancer, other occurrences seem closer to Mind Screw.
  • Another Dimension: Again, the other Dominions.
  • The Antagonist: Sartori to Gentle; it later gets subverted to hell and back.
  • The Antichrist: Hinted at: the baby of Sartori and Judith looks like that, but it's subverted when it's a nice little girl who comes to the world.
  • Antihero: Gentle is a womanizer, hedonist and copycat artist.
  • Anyone Can Die: wouldn't be Clive Barker without some characters you like suffering a gruesome death.
  • Art Imitates Art: Gentle is talented enough to create perfect copies of famous paintings. No wonder it's that easy for him, he managed to create a copy of him and Judith as well. It gets subverted at the end, when after 700 years of existence, Gentle starts to work on his own true piece of art: A cartography of the reunited Imajica.
  • Astral Projection: Used a lot by Maestros, and a key part to achieve a full reconciliation.
  • The Atoner: Gentle.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Pie looks like what you would consider beautiful, be it a man, a woman, your mother...
  • Back from the Dead: Estabrook, and Dowd several times. Both of them end up dead again later on.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: For some reason, the souls of the dead are aimlessly wandering among the dominions. They shouldn't.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Pie knows something about Gentle, but despite the latter's efforts, he never breaks Pie open. Actually subverted, Pie would love to tell him everything, but due to the magic he used to make Gentle forget his past, every time he tries to explain it all, Gentle loses consciousness.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Many character falls under this trope but most prominently Pie. He's nice, good looking for everyone, but if pissed off, you're as good as dead.
  • Big Bad: Sartori? Hapexamendios? None of them? It's played with until the end. Turns out to be Hapexamendios.
  • Bigger Is Better: The first dominion is rumored to be one enormous city. It is, and it's actually the body of God himself.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: BIG time, dear God!
  • Bittersweet Ending: Yes, the Imajica is finally one again, yes, Gentle finally finds Pie and they reunite for eternity. But countless lives were lost in the process, and cleaning up the mess in the first dominion (and in the others too) will take ages.
  • Black-and-White Morality: At one point in the story, it really feels like "light versus dark". But it slowly shifts to Grey-and-Gray Morality. Ultimately, no one really knows who's where anymore until the very end.
  • Black Comedy: Has shades of this; despite the shitload of people dying around them, some characters can't help but point out the fun of these deadly situations.
  • Blind Obedience: Doesn't seem like it at first, but Pie to Gentle.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Eurhetemec; despite traveling through worlds with hundreds of species, no one seems to fully understand these.
  • Body Horror: This being Clive Barker, it shouldn't come as a surprise. And once Gentle starts hallucinating, things get really scary.
  • Boring, but Practical: The pneuma. Attack, defense, blowing up walls... Despite being in worlds where maestros have mastered thousands of spells, Gentle is fine with just one.
  • Break the Cutie: Seems to happen to Judith at first, but she's stronger than that, mind you.
  • Breath Weapon: The pneuma.
  • Cain and Abel: Charlie Estabrook and Oscar Godolphin.
    • Later on Gentle and the Autarch Sartori.
  • The Caligula: Sartori. A God Am I? Check. Highly drugged and debauched? Check. Kills whoever contradicts him? Check. Let a city burn? Check.
  • Catchphrase: It's a circle.
  • Celibate Eccentric Genius: Dowd plays with that trope. He's been celibate for over two hundred years, is definitely eccentric, and sees himself as a genius actor. Others not so much.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The blue stone.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: You'd think he's just a minor character with no power or relevance whatsoever, but Clem fulfills this role twice!
  • The Chosen One
  • Clear My Name: Gentle, once he remembers his past.
  • Cloning Blues: Judith is the clone of Quaisoir and the Autarch is the clone of Gentle.
  • Civil War: And how! Mid-way through the book, things get really messy.
  • Collectible Card Game: The book spawned its own. With artworks by no one else than Clive Barker himself.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Pie uses everything at his disposal to ensure the safety of the people in his party.
  • Cosmic Entity: God, of course.
  • Crazy Awesome: The maestros. Gentle admits to himself that they are at best not completely here and at worst psychotic arsonists. Doesn't stop them from being dangerously efficient, mind you.
  • Crazy-Prepared: In a sense, most of the maestros qualify for this. They tend to keep a large number of protection spells up all the time.
  • Creepy Child: Huzzah is ugly enough that Gentle is startled at first. It's subverted later as she reveals herself to be helpful and as cute (character-wise) as possible.
  • Crossing the Desert: There's one in the second dominion, he probably didn't see so many people in the last century.
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Dawn of an Era
  • Death Is the Only Option: What Sartori thinks near the end of the book.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It's easier to list who actually isn't. All the major protagonists fall into this trope at times.
  • Death of Personality: Shattering events tend to do that to characters. Namely erasing your own memory for Gentle, and the other way around, when absolutely all the memories of his previous lives come back.
  • Designated Acceptable Targets: Chances are that once you learn that the Nullianacs feed on innocence (usually in a similar form of reaping young girls, just worse), you won't give a shit about them anymore.
  • Determinator: Judith, Gentle, the goddesses count probably too.
  • Devoted to You: When Judith meets Oscar, she almost instantly falls into this trope. She has been created to be like that toward the Godolphin Family.
  • Die or Fly: This is how Gentle discovers his powers, known as the pneuma.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Burning down villages is a normal activity for the Autarch. You don't want to know what he does when he gets REALLY pissed off.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Gentle doesn't even try to understand what Judith is doing in his room, as long as she's naked.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Dowd is a good servant, albeit snarky. But once he gets loose he takes every careful step to exact revenge.
  • Does Not Like Magic: The Tabula Rasa is here to make sure that no one in the Fifth Dominion uses any. They are woefully unprepared when Sartori returns to Earth.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Gentle doesn't want to kill his other self. It doesn't work out.
  • Doom Magnet: Gentle. Seriously, every places he wanders gets reduced to ashes.
  • Doorstopper: With the appendix included, it clocks in at about 900 pages.
  • The Dragon: Dowd kinda filled that role for Hapexamendios for a time. In the end, it seems more like the Nullianacs are demoted to this, though we never see them in action.
  • Dramatic Sit-Down: Once Sartori finally understands that he was created to fulfill the reconciliation, he sits down in the middle of the circle, puts the stone back in place and takes the place of Gentle whom he just wounded. Precisely with the intent to stop the Reconciliation. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • The Dreaded: Hapexamendios. Maybe.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Apart from inducing strange hallucinations and sex with random people, creauchee doesn't seem to bring much good.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The creatures inhabiting the In Ovo.
  • Embodiment of Virtue: In a book that references Jesus several times, along with Christian symbols, it had to befall on someone. It's Gentle. And Sartori is the Embodiment of Vice... For a time, that is, the roles get blurry as the plot goes on.
  • Enemy Mine: Kind of, between Gentle and Athanasius. The later tried to kill the former. But they are both ready to set aside their differences to prepare the reconciliation.
  • The Epic: Several adventures to complete one big quest that will change the whole universe? Check. Lots of different characters who go through their own trials? Check. Meet God? Check. Kill him? Check that too.
  • Erotic Eating: One of the most literal examples ever. Judith discovers a book where two lovers eat each other in what she considers a terrific fashion. She later enjoys it herself.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Part of what makes Sartori more ambiguous than straight up evil.
  • Evil Counterpart: Played straight at first, it then gets subverted to hell and back.
  • Face Framed in Shadow: Sartori always stays partly in the shadows once he's back in the fifth dominion. This stands in contrast with Gentle who seems to attract light.
  • Failed Future Forecast: The Boston bowl.
  • False Soulmate: The supremely attractive Judith feels a great attachment to her husband Charlie Estabrook despite his lack of apparent charms and her hating a lot of things about him. Later, when she meets Charlie's brother Oscar Godolphin, it turns out that the attachment was entirely due to the brothers' similarities because Judith is an artificial person programmed to be Oscar's perfect woman. Her actual programming was "to serve the men of the Godolphin line in perpetuity"..
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: ALL of them. But most prominently Huzzah.
  • Fanservice: The way female protagonists are described during sex falls under this trope.
  • Fate Worse than Death: You'd think dying puts an end to most of your problems, right? Not when your spirit wanders aimlessly for all eternity. It's one of the plot points that something stops souls from having peace. Also Celestine, being kept in a hidden basement mummified for centuries after being raped by God and giving birth to the child.
  • Flash Back
  • The Fog of Ages: Gentle and Judith can only remember the last ten years. Subverted with Gentle, who asked Pie to make him that way.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Judith instantly falling in love with Oscar Godolphin is an obvious hint that something is definitely off with her.
    • More subtly, Tick Raw's reaction when seeing Gentle. The acute reader will remark that Tick isn't so much upset by Gentle's lack of manners, but rather because he was expecting another personality.
  • Freudian Excuse: The Autarch, being the clone of Gentle, he struggles to find a place in the world that's not taken by his "brother". Unfortunately, this tends to make him The Antagonist.
  • From Bad to Worse: "Let's make the reconciliation happen". Hard enough when a lot of people are actively trying to avoid just that. Then it becomes "Let's make the reconciliation happen before the Autarch turns the whole Fifth Dominion into a wreck". And then it still gets worse: Maybe the reconciliation itself is going to obliterate all the dominions.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The autarch. No one even knew he existed at first. He ends up as the ruthless ruler in three of the five Dominions. It helps that he's Sartori.
  • Gendercide: It is rumored that there were Goddesses spread across the Imajica once, but they were all wiped out by Hapexamendios.
  • Glass Cannon: Gentle once he gets the pneuma. He's able to lay waste in epic proportions, but on the other side, you can just hit him with a stick and he's out.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Gentle does not often live up to his name.
  • God: Hapexamendios.
  • God Is Evil: Played with; until the end, it's unclear what he really wants.
  • Groin Attack: It's a world of over-powered mages and creatures, sure, but kicking one's groin can still be safely considered one of the best attacks.
  • Guardian Angel: Pie seems to fulfill this role for Gentle at first (he's not very good at it, sadly). Later, it's Clem and Tay who fulfill this role.
  • Happily Married: Gentle and Pie. They don't stay together for long, though.
  • I Have Many Names: Gentle is also known as John Furie Zacharias, the Reconciler, Sartori, and many other names.
  • Haunted House: The 28 Gamut Street, but only for Gentle. It's unclear if it's just Little Ease playing with him or if there is really something haunting him.
  • Heroic BSoD: Gentle. A couple of minor ones early on, then Little Ease gets its hooks into him...
  • Herald: The murder attempt on Judith pushes pretty much every major protagonist in the book to go on a journey.
  • The Hermit: Many maestros are kind of forced into this way of life to avoid retribution from the autarch. Somewhat downplayed with Tick Raw who, albeit being a maestro and therefore supposed to be hunted down, lives in the middle of a city thanks to the fact that he scares the living shit out of the authority, who pretends he doesn't exist.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Interesting example here as it goes both ways, once Gentle takes the role of the messiah he acts as the all-loving one and, well, Jesus Christ himself. But fighting Sartori along the way makes him dangerously close to the Antichrist at times. Sartori goes exactly the other way around, making you wonder who is the messiah and who is the bad guy in the first place.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: God almighty manages to fry himself with his own fireball.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Judith, and Gentle gets the silent version.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted, and how!
  • I See Dead People: A little magic in knowledge is necessary, but it still means that lots of people can see them. Actually a plot point as the dead souls can't find the way to the afterlife.
  • It's Personal: Gentle and Judith both feel empty, hence the moment they understand there is another world out there, they both seek it with desperation to find a purpose. Also, Gentle again when Sartori tries to kill him outright, he shows that they're definitely clones by showing him the same courtesy.
  • Knight Templar: Surprisingly averted most of the time. Despite having tons of power (well, he is God after all), we rarely see Hapexamendios using them. They may have been used to drive off the Goddesses at one point, but it's unclear how exactly he managed to do that. There is one moment near the end of the book where a character who could fit this role is met. And that's about it.
  • Kung-Fu Jesus: Gentle takes the mantle of the messiah, spreading love everywhere. Doesn't stop him from throwing people out of the window, though.
  • Like a God to Me: Sartori was this to Lucius. And he still is, tough Lucius now calls himself Chicka Jackeen.
  • Made of Iron: Dowd. All right, he's not exactly human to begin with, but he shrugs off enough that others around him wonder how could anyone take that much punishment.
  • The Mentally Disturbed: Quaisoir, special case here as she managed to bring that up herself by an abuse of drugs. Well, being married to Sartori didn't help either.
  • Mind Rape: Courtesy of Little Ease. Later leads to a Split-Personality Merge.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Sartori's hat. Enemy? Slay him. A revolution? Let them burn this city and themselves to rebuild it. A competent sidekick whose loyalty was never in question? Sure, kill him too.
  • Morality Pet: If it weren't for Quaisoir, and later Judith, the Autarch believes he probably would have been an even worse tyrant.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Gentle, once he learns how Judith and Sartori were born.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Big time, it's the reason why Pie works as an assassin and a whore when we first meet him. Namely, 200 years prior to the events of the book, Sartori wanted to forget his disastrous action, including the existence of Pie. To Pie's question about what he should do now, Sartori plainly answered whore or assassin. It meant "whatever you want", but Pie, as a slave, followed exactly what he said.
  • No Place for Me There: Central theme for several major characters. Gentle, Judith and Sartori get the most of it.
  • Not So Omniscient After All: God, but he's far from the usual monotheist representation, so it's not that surprising.
  • Not So Different: Well, apart from the physical resemblance of a few characters, it also gets debatable who is the good and the bad one.
  • Numbered Homeworld: The Dominions. People on Earth do not know of the others, though.
  • One-Word Title
  • Papa Wolf: Hurting Huzzah when Gentle is near isn't exactly a good idea.
  • Prison Episode: In the Third Dominion, when searching for Athanasius, Gentle and Pie end up stuck in a prison surrounded by not-that-friendly water.
  • Quest for Identity: One of the major ideas in the book. It's the reason why Gentle starts travelling trough the dominions, why Judith wants to go after him. And later, for Judith and Sartori, find out if they are just empty clones or more than that.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Gentle. Also, Pie.
  • Ritual Magic: Severely downplayed. There are rituals to perform for some spells, that's true. But every Maestro admits that they are disappointingly simple. When the ritual itself is impressive, it just means that the one performing it has no idea of how the spell works.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Special case as it's done by Gentle's pneuma, filled with his wrath. He immediately regrets it and tries to stop it.
  • Running Gag: The Merrow Ti' Ti'.
  • Sanity Slippage: More a roller-coaster than a slippage, actually, it goes up and down while doing strange figures in the middle. Worst offenders being Gentle and Sartori.
  • Survived the Beginning: The plot gets really started with a failed assassination attempt on Judith.
  • Shining City: Yzordderrex is rumored to be this. And later it's the Mega City of the First Dominion that seems to be this. 'Seems' is the important word here.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: The Autarch, who rules the Second through Fourth Dominions largely by virtue of being a supremely powerful maestro.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Kind of happened a first time when the fifth dominion lost its connection to the others. Could also happen to ALL the dominions if the reconciliation is completed... Although no one really knows what's going to happen next.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Gentle. He starts quite weak but ends up able to wreak havoc on a daily basis.
  • Tragic AIDS Story: A subplot introduces an openly gay male couple who are friends of the Christ-like protagonist Gentle. One of the gay men, Taylor Briggs, dies of AIDS near the beginning of the story, while his partner Clem survives and goes on to help the protagonist. It is mentioned in passing that both men were in a lot of open relationships during the 1970s and "slept around" a lot, back before HIV became public knowledge; but only Taylor, the party animal, contracted HIV, while his partner was plain lucky and never did, something for which Clem feels Survivor Guilt. Subverted Trope in that both men had been lovers for a long time and their love and relationship are depicted in a very positive light. Later on, Taylor returns as a ghost and reunites with Clem. At the end of the story, after the Reconciliation of all five realms, when all the souls of the dead of Earth and the other four Dominions are free to travel on to... somewhere else, before he departs, Taylor asks his lover not to forget him, but to go on with his life.
  • Undying Loyalty: It could hardly be called anything else when you stay true to your master for 700 years of living, and even in death.
  • Unintentional Backup Plan: Well, Sartori forgetting everything wasn't exactly in the plan of God. He still somehow manages to get through in the great scheme of things.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Played with. Gentle launches a pneuma shortly after the death of Huzzah, but immediately regrets it. But the pneuma itself, fueled by his fury, starts rampaging through the city.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Sartori, the last tier of the story is a non-stop Breakdown from him.
  • Wham Line: " It's a circle!".
  • You Are What You Hate: Celestine hates Judith for getting laid on a regular basis. Mainly because she wasn't raped by God like she says, she was perfectly willing at the time and saw it as an honor.
  • You Monster!: Sartori gets that remark often. And in an interesting example, Gentle himself, once he takes the role of the Messiah, seems to be seen like that by Judith.


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