Friday, September 17, 2010

Otherland: River of Blue Fire

Otherland: River of Blue Fire by Tad Williams
Otherland Series , #2
DAW Books, 1998
Hardcover, 634 pages
ISBN-13: 9780886777777
very highly recommended

Otherland. In many ways it is humankind's most stunning achievement: a private, multidimensional universe built over two generations by the greatest minds of the twenty-first century. But this most exclusive of places is also one of the world's best kept secrets, created and controlled by an organization made up of the world's most powerful and ruthless individuals, a private cartel known - to those who know of their existence at all - as The Grail Brotherhood. And now a small band of adventurers have penetrated the veil of secrecy that prevents the uninitiated from entering Otherland. But having broken into the amazing worlds within worlds that make up this universe, they are trapped, unable to escape back to their own flesh-and-blood bodies in the real world.
My Thoughts:

River of Blue Fire is part two of the massive four part Otherworld series by Tad Williams. There is a helpful synopsis of story at the beginning for those who don't immediately start the second part after finishing the first.

River of Blue Fire features a more adventures in virtual reality worlds, many of which are twisted versions of other novels, like The War of the Worlds or The Wizard of Oz. The online explorers are trapped in the virtual reality world, Otherland, created by the evil Grail Brotherhood and are following the river, which is the gateway to other worlds. While they are trying to figure out how to survive in the virtual worlds, there are others who are trying to unravel several related mysteries in the real world.

It is in the author's note found at the beginning of River of Blue Fire that Tad Williams addresses the lack of an ending to part one (and two):
"The only note of discomfort has been from some readers who were upset by what they felt was the "cliffhanger" nature of the first volume's ending.
I understand and apologize. However, the problem with writing this kind of story is that it's not really a series - it's one very, very long novel..."

And so the saga continues. I'm planning to keep going and start part three, perhaps right away. The various storylines and characters are all still intriguing and captivating, but, more importantly, it is complicated enough that I don't want too much time to lapse between reading the next book.
very highly recommended


There was snow everywhere - the world was white. Foreword, opening

He had been thinking and thinking, but he was no nearer to an answer. He seemed to be sliding through space and time, like something out of the more excessive kind of science fiction story. He had traveled across a boy's-adventure Mars, he remembered, and through somebody's cracked version of Alice's Looking Glass. pg. 3

Nothing around you is true, and yet the things you see can hurt you or kill you, the golden gem, the voice from the harp had told him. Whatever these men were, true or false seemings, hey were at home in this world in a way hat Paul most decidedly was not. pg. 5

If someone had told her that she would be transported to what was for all purposes a magical land, where history could be rewritten at a whim, or people could suddenly be shrunk to the size of poppy seeds, but that at least for this moment, her most pressing concern would have been the absence of cigarettes, she would have thought them mad. pg. 20

Perhaps that bullying ten-year-old hadn't deserved such angry reprisal, but he had never bothered Stephen again. Someone always had to stand up for the weak and the innocent. If she didn't do all she could, she would spend the rest of her life beneath a shadow of failure. And then, even if Stephen died, he would always remain in limbo for her, a ghost of the most real sort - the ghost of a missed chance. pg. 56

"TRESPASSERS WILL BE EXECUTED" it proclaimed in huge black letters. At the bottom, in smaller print, was written: "By orders of His Wise Majesty, the Only King of Kansas." pg. 148

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