Eternity Road

Eternity Road

4.1 37
by Jack McDevitt

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The Roadmakers left only ruins behind — but what magnificent ruins! Their concrete highways still cross the continent. Their cups, combs and jewelry are found in every Illyrian home. They left behind a legend,too — a hidden sanctuary called Haven, where even now the secrets of their civilization might still be found.

Chaka's brother was one of those who

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The Roadmakers left only ruins behind — but what magnificent ruins! Their concrete highways still cross the continent. Their cups, combs and jewelry are found in every Illyrian home. They left behind a legend,too — a hidden sanctuary called Haven, where even now the secrets of their civilization might still be found.

Chaka's brother was one of those who sought to find Haven and never returned. But now Chaka has inherited a rare Roadmaker artifact — a book called A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court — which has inspired her to follow in his footsteps. Gathering an unlikely band of companions around her, Chaka embarks upon a journey where she will encounter bloodthirsty rirver pirates, electronic ghosts who mourn their lost civilization and machines that skim over the ground and air. Ultimately, the group will learn the truth about their own mysterious past.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Sarah Flowers
McDevitt's post-apocalypse novel is in the tradition of Andre Norton's Star Man's Son (Ballantine, 1952) and Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker (Summit, 1980). A thousand years in the future and hundreds of years after a global plague, remnants of the old world remain-roads, ruined cities, occasional bits of self-sustaining technology. A small band of explorers, led by a determined young woman named Chaka, leave their Republic of Illyria in the Mississippi River Valley and journey north and east to find the legendary Haven, where, according to tradition, the Roadmakers left a storehouse of knowledge. Along the way, they encounter ancient cities and technologies, pirates, a crazy balloonist, friends, love, and death. At times McDevitt's dichotomies between past and present are disconcerting: why should the Illyrians have kept the technology to make guns, for example, but lost the technology of the printing press? But the characters are appealing, the story moves along nicely, and the ending is not totally predictable. Mostly, teens will have fun knowing things the Illyrians do not-like where they are (Chicago, the Erie Canal) and what they are seeing (computers, cars, railways). VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P S (Readable without serious defects, Will appeal with pushing, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Kirkus Reviews
Post-disaster odyssey from the author of Ancient Shores (1996), etc. Far-future Earth is littered with decaying monumental structures built by the mysterious Roadmakers, who, according to tradition, succumbed to a lethal plague. Now, the Mississippi-based republic of Illyria has developed an early-medieval technology where, none too believably, firearms are crafted but steam engines and printing presses are unknown. Of an expedition sent to locate Haven, the fabled repository of Roadmaker technology and artifacts, only Karik Endine returned—and he had nothing to say of his journey or what he found. After Karik drowns himself, bequeathing to young silversmith Chaka Milana the only known copy of a Mark Twain novel, the question remains: Where did Karik get the book? So Chaka organizes her own quest, including scholar Silas Glote, Karik's son Flojian, woodsman Jon Shannon, soldier Quait Esterhok, and former priestess Avila Kap. On their journey, far to the northeast, they will encounter vast ruined cities, flying trains, bandits, still-functioning computers, slavers, reclusive engineers, and crazy old balloonists; three travelers will die before the survivors reach Haven to discover the fate of the previous expedition and the source of Karik's mystifying book.

Solid characters and a consistently intriguing plot (though McDevitt's grasp of the details isn't always secure): an uplifting tale (cf. David Brin's The Postman), well up to previous standards.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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6.72(w) x 10.94(h) x 1.11(d)

Read an Excerpt

Eternity Road

By Jack McDevitt

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright ©2006 Jack McDevitt
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0061054275

Chapter One

It is a fond and universally held notion that only things of the spirit truly endure: love, sunsets, music, drama. Marble and paint are subject to the ravages of time. Yet it might be argued that nothing imperishable can move the spirit with quite the impact of a ruined Athenian temple under a full moon.

There was something equally poignant in the wreckage the Roadmakers had left behind. One does not normally equate concrete with beauty. But there it was, formed into magnificent twin strips that glided across rolling hills and through broad forests, leaped rivers, and splayed into tributary roads in designs of such geometrical perfection as to leave an observer breathless. And here, in glittering towers so tall that few could climb them in a single day. And in structures whose elegance had survived the collapse of foundations and roofs.

The engineering skills that created them are lost. Now the structures exist as an integral part of the landscape, as familiar to the children of Illyria as the Mississippi itself. But they no longer serve any function save as a tether to a misty past.

Perhaps most striking, and most enigmatic, among them is the Iron Pyramid. The Pyramid dominates the eastern bank of the river. Despite its name, it is not madefrom iron, but from a metal that some believe is artificial. Like so many Roadmaker materials, it seems to resist rust and decay. The structure is 325 feet high, and its base measures approximately a quarter-mile on a side. It's hollow, and the interior is given over to vast spaces that might have been used to drill an army, or to conduct religious exercises.

Roadmaker cups and combs, dishware and jewelry, toys and knickknacks have been excavated from the ruins and now fill the homes and decorate the persons of the Illyrians. They too are made of material no one can duplicate; they resist wear, and they are easy to keep clean.

Rinny and Cohn rarely thought of the ruins, except as places they'd been warned against. People had fallen through holes, things had fallen on them. Stay away. There were even tales that the wreckage was not quite dead. Consequently, adolescents being what they were, they favored the ancient concrete pier a mile north of Cohn's home when they wanted to drop a line in the water.

On this day, rain was coming.

The boys were fifteen, an age at which Illyrian males had already determined their paths in life. Rinny had established himself as a skilled artisan at his father's gunmaking shop. Cohn worked on the family farm. Today both were charged with bringing home some catfish.

Rinny watched the storm build. When it hit, they would take shelter in Martin's Warehouse at the foot of the wharf. Martin's Warehouse dated from Roadmaker times. But it was still intact, a worn brick building with its proud sign announcing the name of the establishment and business hours. Eight to six. (The Preservation Society kept the sign clean for tourists.) Cohn shifted his weight and squinted at the sky. "Something better start biting soon. Or we're going to be eating turnips again tonight."

So far, they had one fish between them. "I think they've all gone south," said Rinny. A damp wind chopped in across the river. It was getting colder.

Rinny rubbed his hands and tightened the thongs on the upper part of his jacket. On the far side, a flatboat moved slowly downstream. They were rigging tarps to protect themselves from the approaching storm. "Maybe we better think about clearing out."

"In a minute." Colin stared hard at the water as if willing the fish to bite.

The clouds were moving out over the river from the opposite shore. A line of rain appeared. Rinny sighed, put down the carved branch that served as a fishing pole, and began to secure his gear.

"I've got a bite," said Cohn. He grinned. "That's better."

"Right. One each will go a long way."

Cohn tried to bring it in, but it resisted. "It's tangled up in something." He pulled hard but the pole bent close to breaking. There was a dark mass in the water. "What is that?"

"It's not a fish," said Rinny, disappointed.

A boot surfaced.

A boot with a foot in it.

Cohn dropped the rod and the foot sank back into the water.

"I don't understand it." Flojian Endine stood away from the bed so Silas could see the body.

Karik seemed to have shrunk year by year since his abortive expedition. Now, in death, it was hard to remember him as he had been in the old days. "I'm sorry," said Silas, suspecting that he was more grieved than Flojian.

"Thank you." Flojian shook his head slowly. "He wasn't the easiest man in the world to live with, but I'll miss him."

Karik's cheek was white and cold. Silas saw no sign of injury. "How did it happen?"

"I don't know." A sketch of a wandering river running between thick wooded slopes hung on the wall. It was black-and-white, and had a curiously unfinished look. The artist had titled it River Valley. In the right-hand corner he'd dated it, and signed his name, and Silas noticed with a mild shock that it was Arm Milana, one of the people lost on the Haven mission. The date was June 23, in the 197th year since the founding of the city. The expedition had left Illyria March 1 of that year, and Karik had returned alone in early November. Nine winters ago.

"He liked to walk along the ridge. See, up there? He must have slipped. Fallen in." Flojian moved close to the window and looked out. "Maybe his heart gave out."

"Had he been having problems?"

"Heart problems? No. Not that I know of." Flojian Endine was a thin, fussy version of his father. Same physical model, but without the passions. Flojian was a solid citizen, prosperous, energetic, bright. . . .


Excerpted from Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt Copyright ©2006 by Jack McDevitt. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jack McDevitt is the author of A Talent for War, The Engines of God, Ancient Shores, Eternity Road, Moonfall, and numerous prize-winning short stories. He has served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, taught English and literature, and worked for the U.S. Customs Service in North Dakota and Georgia.

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