River of Blue Fire

River of Blue Fire

4.3 42
by Tad Williams
     
 

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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

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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:
09/28/1999
Series:
Otherland Series, #2
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
704
Sales rank:
372,376
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.51(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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