Eternity Road

Eternity Road

by Jack McDevitt

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061054273
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/04/1998
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 575,781
Product dimensions: 6.72(w) x 10.94(h) x 1.11(d)

About 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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Eternity Road

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 made from 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 religiousexercises.

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. . . .

Eternity Road. Copyright © by Jack McDevitt. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Eternity Road 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Here's the deal. Just get through the first 50 pages and you're golden. The front end it slow as well as confusing. Push through that to the good stuff.
Annibebe More than 1 year ago
I liked this book even though it had some flaws. The story took a while to get going. Also, when the Illyrians were on their quest, it would've been nice to be able to recognize some of the remnants of the "roadmakers" handiwork - besides the roads. Either way, I would recommend this book to folks who like post-apocalyptic reads.
WA_Karen_Lebeter More than 1 year ago
This SciFi book will appeal not only to those that love the "after the apocalypse" books, but alternative history ones also. This takes place after the apocalypse, but before we regain all that was lost. Think about living around 1860. It has some romance, lots of thrills, and a long quest to search for long lost information. What they find along the road is amazing. The future starts long after our future so they will find things you never expected. A fascinating read. I love maps and live in the northwest, so I had to read it with an atlas so I could try and follow their path (it wasn't easy).
MorHavok on LibraryThing 3 months ago
In the future civilization as we know it has ceased to exist. A great plague has ravaged the populations of the world. Few peoples have survived this. Some congregate in small communities, while others have formed a new series of civilizations. The Mississippi League is one of these. They have a quaint old time kind of life among the ruins, bridges and highways of the past. Most people living here are accustomed, and happily numb to life. But for a few they wish to know who the ¿Road Makers¿ were. Where did all the fantastic technology and knowledge of theirs go? And what happened to them? These are the questions of many of the academics. There have always been rumors of this place named Haven. A place where all the knowledge of the previous world was accumulated. A previous expedition to Haven failed, with only the leader returning alive. With his death questions arise about the fate of the first expedition. Did they actually reach it? Does it exist? What happened to the members of it? For some these questions weigh down so much they set off on another expedition to find the fabled Haven.McDervitt does an excellent job of displaying a world built on the ruins of the Road Makers. Alas he doesn¿t do quite as well in his characters. I never felt a real connection to any of the characters. Not only that but since this was a stand alone novel so far, the author rushed a ton on their development, feelings, thoughts etc. Thus when they are somewhat needlessly killed off you don¿t feel anything. No dramatics at all. Usually I appreciate an author who will kill characters but in this case, especially after finishing the novel, it feels like it would have been better had they been present throughout the adventure. Or this book may have been a lot more interesting had it followed the first expedition. McDervitt has a style of writing that is easy to read, and gives a good feel for the landscapes you travel through. I would read, and re-read many passages trying to figure out what sort of thing the ruins would be. This was not in a negative way, as they are described quite well, but you have to have a more abstract sort of mind for them to just pop out at you. The whole adventure was thrilling seeing how this post apocalyptic world had changed, and stayed the same. That said there is not a lot of action in this novel, and it is more of an adventure novel. There are some trials and tension points, but its just a lot of book about moving through the landscape. I¿d recommend this book for people who are fans of McDervitt or post apocalyptic novels. Otherwise stick to his space novels, which are much better.Favorite Quote:¿Any world that produces intelligent creatures will necessarily appear to have been designed specifically for them. It is impossible that it should be otherwise.¿ (215)
psybre on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This book was disappointing on so many levels that I went back and read all of the Amazon reviews to see how I could possibly have entertained the notion that I would enjoy this book. I was hoodwinked by a large number of members giving this book 5 stars, instead of paying attention to the large number decrying it as the worst book they have ever read and explaining in great detail the following impurities: * "The characters have no functional use of "Roadmaker" technologies, yet they apparently can make guns and spectacular homes (though reportedly there is no art/architecture/music and the culture is vapid and dull)." * "I'm no theorist, but I don't see lightning as a reliable or controllable powersource for any future civilization." * "It seemed like I was reading the author's notes to himself, which was annoying." * "Highways are still called highways. Cars are called hojjies." * "So much of 'Eternity Road' is ridiculous and contrived (beginning with the premise!) that it becomes annoying." * "The book is liberally sprinkled with these kinds of undeveloped facts ..."I am also in direct opposition in opinion to the current six reviews here. I do not recommend this book to anyone.
Bubwolf More than 1 year ago
Mr. Mcdevit always treats us with his books. If you yearn for the days of Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke etc. you will not be disappointed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MM1_OBrien More than 1 year ago
Imagine a world that in some ways is much like our own, and in other ways is completely different. Jack McDevitt skillfully portrays a world where the unknown and the known are the same thing. A world that exists years after one humanities strongest and brightest periods of existence. There is still a human race in the world, yet they are immensely different from what we know today. They still act like us, but their motivations for survival are different and their understanding of the world is rooted in fear. In “Eternity Road”, the point is not merely to survive but to figure out what happened to the “Roadmakers” and what is next. The “Roadmakers” produced a world that is beautiful and, at the same time, confusing to everybody living through the time that this story is based. We follow one society and their journey for answers and a sort of salvation. There are not many societies left in this “new” world but ours, the “Illyrians”, is similar to all the others surviving here. They are lost in a world that was constructed using technology long, long forgotten. They have homes and clothes and some of them can read and invent, but the majority of them are like those in the Middle Ages. Most of the population is low intelligence work force merely existing, but as with any culture there are those who dream of more. Just as we begin to come to understand “Illyrian” society, we are torn away by an expedition setting out to discover the fate of a previous expedition. The first groups mission was to find a mythical place that supposedly held the answers to all the mysterious items left behind and the culture that created them. They consisted of adventurers, philosophers, and intellectuals, yet the only person to return is leader of the expedition, Karik Endive. Upon his sudden and mysterious death, he bequeaths a book to the sister of one of the people on the expedition. It is this book, “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court”, that inspires this young woman, Chaka Milana, to create the second expedition. In this society books are rare, and are gateways to view the “Roadmaker” world. The expedition has two real goals. To discover the fate of the previous group and to discover the fabled “Haven” where vast stores of knowledge are believed to exist. It is thought that the first group must have found it because of the book that Karik returned with. This search for answers is symbolic for how we, as a society, always feel there is more out there. More for us to learn and discover. Often the question arises for the reader, why go through so much for so little. In this view of a post-apocalyptic world, one cannot stop pursuing answers at any cost. In “Eternity Road”, Jack McDevitt weaves a masterful storyline that shows us that knowledge should be our most cherished quality and we must strive with all of our might to find answers for the unknown.
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