By: Tad Williams
This series has been both intriguing and fascinating, but is altogether too long. It has great ideas and poses some interesting questions about where society is headed, and the possibility of immortality through technology, but is a little too drawn out and tends to lose its momentum. I wonder what it would have been like if it were condensed. There just seems to be a little too much filler in between the good stuff.
I also feel that the author could have taken more advantage of the creation of a myriad of simulated worlds in the Otherland network. Many of them fell along classical lines and weren’t as imaginative as I would have wanted. Often, the story would overstay its welcome in a particular world. In this novel, I felt too much time was spent in ancient Greece, particularly the Odyssey and the Trojan War. Now if you have a particular interest in either of those things, then I suppose it’s great, but for me, I feel like I’m too familiar with those subjects, making it far less captivating.
Dread is as terrifying as ever in this volume, and more information is revealed about his origins as well as what the Grail Brotherhood is really up to. I would say that these two elements were the most interesting. I’m still puzzled by Renie and !Xabbu’s relationship, which seems to be heading more and more into a romantic direction but without ever actually getting there. As hard as I try I just can’t seem to picture them together in that way, especially since he hasn’t had a human sim for the better part of the story. Something about !Xabbu’s gentle nature, makes him seem an odd match for Renie’s more forceful personality. Perhaps I should be more open minded.
Ultimately, I wish this were the last book in the series, not because I want it to be over with, but because at this point I just want to see how it all turns out. After spending at least two thousand pages in Otherland, it feels like it’s about time for a conclusion. Maybe I’m just impatient. Unfortunately, I have another nine hundred pages to go. I think I’ll take a break for a while.
I’m not saying this is a bad book or a bad series. In fact, I think a fair amount of it is quite brilliant, and you can see how the author put a lot of time and effort into the details. If the whole series were cut in half, I think it would be amazing. If you have the time and the will to stick with it, I think it is definitely worth reading, and I have every intention of finishing it. Until next time…