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Poul AndersonDickson is among the best storytellers we have ever had...one of the finest makers that our field has ever known.
Posted February 12, 2001
Here is a departure from the usual character point of view in the Childe Cycle, in that, this novel is of an Earthman (Old Earth) not that of a Dorsai or another member of the Splinter Cultures. We meet Mr. Tam Olyn, and (if you have read Dorsai, Tactics of Mistake, etc.) we are shocked to find that there are forces in the universe at work other than: power, honor, greed, fanatic religion, war, and duty. This Earthman is motivated simply by REVENGE. Tam Olyn's warped and mentally abusive childhood has prepared him to interact with the rest of humanity as an amoral psychopathic maniac with the goal of DESTRUCTION (capitalized for those of you who know what that means). His rise to power rivals that of Donal Graeme in Dorsai. In fact, this book is of the same timeline as Dorsai (whereas Necromancer, Tactics of Mistake, and The Spirit of Dorsai took us on a journey of the past); however, it is not necessary to have read Dorsai to fully enjoy this novel. Nor is it necessary to continue the Childe Cycle afterward because this book is totally satisfying in itself. We learn about the origins of The Final Encyclopedia and have a glimpse what that great human effort is all about. ***The front and back covers of the book focus on Jamethon Black, who's decision in this book is certainly pivotal; however, Mr. Tam Olyn - Earthman - is about whom this book is mostly concerned.***
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