River of Blue Fire

( 42 )

Overview

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. Though their purpose in creating Otherland is still a ...

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River of Blue Fire

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Overview

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. Though their purpose in creating Otherland is still a mystery, it may not remain so for long. For they have exacted a terrible price from humanity in the process, and even their highly organized global conspiracy cannot hide the nature of their crimes forever.

And now a small band of adventurers has 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. And as dangers and circumstances split their party into small, widely scattered groups, their only hope of reuniting lies in returning again and again to the River that flows—in one form or another—through all the worlds.

But the odds seem to be completely against them as they—and the one outsider with whom they might join forces—become hopelessly lost in realms where an Ice Age tribe's fears can only be quenched in blood...where insects are as large and deadly as dinosaurs...where they are caught in the war between a man made of straw and one made of tin...where cartoon ads take on a life of their own...where humans strive to survive in the aftermath of an alien invasion...and where one among their party is actually The Grail Brotherhood's most terrifying weapon—a sociopathic killer who has never failed and whose current mission is to make certain that not even one member of this little invasion force lives long enough to reveal the truth about Otherland to the people of Earth...

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his first work of SF, Otherland: City of Golden Shadow (1997), bestselling fantasist Williams (To Green Angel Tower) introduced one of the most impressive virtual-reality landscapes ever created. Otherland, a gigantic realm consisting of untold numbers of virtual universes, is the creation of the mysterious and evil Grail Brotherhood, a cabal of billionaire capitalists, ruthless gangsters and corrupt government officials. Bent on discovering the secret of eternal life, they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal, even the deaths of hundreds of children whose minds have been trapped on the Net. City of Golden Shadow told the story of a small band of virtual explorers who dared to enter Otherland without permission, some for adventure, others to save the children ensnared on the Net. In this second volume of a projected four-book series, the quest continues. As often happens with middle entries in a series, there are a few problems. Despite a six-page summary, readers unfamiliar with City of Golden Shadow may have trouble figuring out the complex backstory. Further, with little to tie the various plot threads together at either end, the book lacks an obvious structure. Still, Williams is an exciting and endlessly inventive writer whose character development is particularly strong, and his fans should roundly enjoy this volume while looking forward to the remaining installments. Editors: Betsy Wollheim and Sheila Gilbert. (July)
VOYA - Kevin Beach
Tad Williams, popular author of another fantasy series entitled Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, has his own Web site where readers exchange theories and trivia about his characters. This series is projected to fill at least four volumes. Volume two picks up where the original book (Otherland [DAW, 1996/VOYA June 1997]) left off, with the various 21st-century characters caught in a cyberspace dreamscape presumably controlled by a secret society known as the Grail Brotherhood. Unable to go off-line, the rag-tag group, each with his or her own reason for being there, follows the river that takes them from one grid to another in Otherland, each landscape more bizarre than the one before. They seek answers to why they or their relatives lie in coma states as their minds remain trapped in the virtual realm. The main character is once again a confused Paul Jonas who is relentlessly pursued through the various scenarios. The other main characters, including two Africans, a teacher, and a bushman, lead the rest of the personalities through other fantastic panoramas. Add to this plots involving a serial killer, the world's oldest human, the host of a children's TV show, an old man who secretly monitors the activities on-line, and the efforts of the various cybernauts' family members who watch over the characters' real bodies. Stories enticingly criss-cross as the plot slowly beings to thread together. The characters are interestingly drawn as they divulge their secrets. Attention to plot twists and the unexpected keeps the reading entertaining; still, the typical YA reader may not want to invest energy in a series that is already over 1,600 pages in two installments. Excellent, imaginative writing definitely make this a must for the audience of fantasy and cyber-fiction readers. VOYA Codes: 5Q 3P S (Hard to imagine it being any better written, Will appeal with pushing, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Library Journal
Trapped in the top-secret virtual world known as Otherland, a small group of online explorers travel along a river of possibilities in search of a way back to the real world. This sequel to OtherWorld: City of Golden Shadow (LJ 11/15/96) delivers a kaleidoscopic array of dreamscapes and nightmare worlds that form a setting for a complex tale of conspiracy and betrayal. Williams displays a prodigious talent for spinning multiple variations on a theme as he alternates between real and virtual worlds. This fast-paced, ambitious blend of fantasy and sf belongs (along with its predecessor) in most fantasy collections.
Kirkus Reviews
Second chunk of Williams's vast four-part doorstopper about Otherland (City of Golden Shadow, 1996), an exclusive and impregnable virtual reality created by the evil Grail Brotherhood. Various good guys—amnesiac WWI soldier Paul Jonas, teacher Renie Sulawayo, blind researcher Martine Desroubins, the strange, crippled, mysterious old Mr. Sellars, etc.þhave banded together to try to prevent the Brotherhood from doing, well, whatever it is that they're planning to do, with the control of everything (both real-world reality and the anything-goes cyberspace of Otherland) at stake. Patience, patience. The author apologizes for not providing proper endings for each individual entry, but he's actually writing one single book, thousands of pages long, that's broken up into chunks for practicality's sake. Now you know. For the rest, even with Williams's helpful synopsis, it's a dreadful struggle to remember who, what, where, when, and especially why.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780886778446
  • Publisher: DAW
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Series: Otherland Series, #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 704
  • Sales rank: 166,639
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Tad Williams has held more jobs than any sane person should admit to—singing in a band, selling shoes, managing a financial institution, throwing newspapers, and designing military manuals, to name just a few. He also hosted a syndicated radio show for ten years, worked in theater and television production, taught both grade-school and college classes, and worked in multimedia for a major computer firm. He is cofounder of an interactive television company, and is currently writing comic books and film and television scripts as well. Tad and his family live in London and the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find Tad Williams at tadwilliams.com. 

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 42 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(24)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 42 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 16, 2011

    Talk About a Stretched Out Premise...

    I read the first book in this series exactly 10 years ago. I loved the story, I loved the characters, and I loved the world that Williams' vision of virtual reality made possible. Then I got to the end, or lack thereof, threw the book down in disgust and it wallowed at the back of my bookshelf for a decade. Call me silly, but I like my books to have at least some form of resolution to at least something that is going on. I want more questions answered than raised.

    Cue 2011, when I'm finally done with school and have more time to read. And I figure my patience is much more improved. I guess not. I got about 80 pages into this books, and realized that nothing had really happened yet.

    And a giant bug world? Really?

    I could tell I was in for another long haul of crazy dreamscapes with a slower-than-glacial-movement plot. Virtual reality is wild and exciting, I get it.

    And all so that we can find out the Grail Brotherhood fuels their world by siphoning human consciousness, or something weird and basic that does not warrant four books to get there- what a marketing ploy. After a couple chapters of giant bugs that had nothing to do with anything, I quickly stopped caring about who this Brotherhood was or why they were even trapped in the system.

    If you have a lot of time, are a fast reader so you can actually find out what the end to this abysmally long series is, or are just downright patient, give it a look. Williams has an engaging writing style and a great talent for character creation. If not, go read his one shot, War of the Flowers (one of my favorites).

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2008

    it answered my questions

    The first Otherland in the series made very little sense to me until I read River of Blue Fire. It gave the first book a purpose for existing. Tad Williams is a gifted author and he displays his talent by using generous amounts of metaphors and similes. This book is recommended for those who appreciate the art of good literature but if all you want is the bottom line than don't bother to read the Otherland series. btw !Xabbu's monkey avatar reminded me of another sidekick monkey named Boroba who was in a Isabel Allende novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2013

    loved them all

    over 3000 pages of great reading. Scifi at its best

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    Great book

    The plot is just so thick and there are so many story lines that are interwoven yet still connect to one another to create a complex storyline that keeps me guessing and wondering how it will end. I usually like fantsy books but for a book with no swords or elves i have to admit i still find it an immensely enjoyable series :) i kniw the first quarter of the first book seems odd and unappealing but stick with it the book! It only gets better and better, just fight through the beginning and i promise you will be rewarded for your efforts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2012

    Shellpaw looks at Lilysoul

    Yes please teach me she says flicking her small tail

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2012

    Shimmerstream

    Make a nest for her and he kits

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012

    Masterpiece

    Tad Williams shines and once again proves his brilliance with developing real people you can invest in

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  • Posted August 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    River of Blue Fire is a flood of information in the Otherland series.

    River is starting to feel like a very enjoyable journey through the four part series. The first book was really slow going, bordering line too much character development. This book, the second in the series feels like is building the ground work for the next book in the series. The look forward instead of building the past has been much easier to read. Can't claim to miss some of the characters which have been sixed at this point, and I am not crazy about a few of the new characters still surviving. I can only hope Emily snaps out of her behavior in another "world" or she drops off line. Can't say I am enjoying the whining brat. I am starting to cheer for Orlando & Sam more and more, it may be because of their literary references that I am bonding with their characters more than the others, not sure yet. Anyway, looking forward to the third book in the series I am torn between my story line guesses being true or finding an unexpected delightful twist from the author. Maybe a little of both will happen in the next book, until then.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2003

    Better than the first one...

    This one was better than volume 1. I found that it kept me interested. Yet again, the novel ends abruptly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2002

    River of Blue Fire review

    Renie and her companions continue to wander the virtual worlds of the Grail Brotherhood's Otherland. The Otherland system is a series of virtual worlds designed to make the members of the brotherhood live forever. She is searching for answers to her brother's death-like coma. She believes it was caused by the network. This novel continues her search and reveals some complications like Renie and her companions cannot go off-line and will die if killed in the virtual world. Also they must search for a man named Paul Jonas and find a black mountain that reaches up into the sky. Tad Williams vividly describes the virtual worlds and the characters that inhabit them. Each of the main characters is unique and life-like. The plot thickens continuously through the novel and you're kept guessing as to what is really going on. If you liked the first book you're sure to enjoy the second as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2001

    Purely amazing!

    Tad williams has created the most realistic and intersing virtual world ever emagined. The complexity of the story and the intertwining of the characters completely backs up the massive sureal experience. I finished this book at two in the morning last night, i loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2000

    Tad, you are the man!

    This book takes you on a journey to the virtual corners of reality while keeping it real and beleivable all the way. The characters develope throughout the whole series. Tad Williams is the modern day master of Trilogies- too bad they can't keep it all in three novels(see Memory, Sorrow and Thorn)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2000

    Williams is Fresh!

    Want to try something new? Do it baby, get out of the middle-earth syndrom fantasy, at least for one book. This is unique, Williams writes very well, not always the case in this genre. River of Blue Fire, what a great title, is a wonderfully entertaining read. I will be starting Mountain of Black Glass, another great title, soon! Keep it coming Tad ol' boy!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2000

    Good book...

    Otherland: vol II was a great title, even if a bit confusing at times. I had never read (or heard of Tad Williams) before Vol. I, but after finishing Vol II, I'm glad I have. Vol III looks promising as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2000

    Interesting Series

    If you liked book #1, keep reading. If you didnt... you may as well stop... Book 1 was more interesting/entertaining than #2. I do hope #3 picks up the pace a bit.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2000

    He does it again!!

    Tad Williams does it again!!! The first book in the Otherland series was fantastic, but this one had me sitting on the edge of my seat for WEEKS!! Can't wait until I finish the third one!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2000

    Should I Finish the Series?

    The first one was great; I finished the thing in a few days. Vol. II has me wondering whether or not it's worth wading through another 1600 pages or so to get to the end of the series. Vol II has no real plot development or character development; we just follow our heroes through one simulated world after another. It seems like Williams is trying to impress us with the number and variety of imaginary worlds he can envision, without fully developing any of them. I am going to read Vol III, however, simply because Vol I was so good. I'm *definitely* waiting for the paperback, though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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