Probably one of my all time favorite series of books. This book is the beginning of an absolutely fantastic series that will captivate you from the beginning and not let go until the very end. I rarely reread a book but I would gladly reread this series.
Nancy S. reviewed City of Golden Shadow (Otherland, Vol 1) on
Helpful Score: 6
Very well-written, as all Tad Williams books are. It takes you to a place where the concept of computer-land is brought to reality. The
characters are fairly well-developed, but the creation of the land inside cyberspace was brilliant.
This is one of the best virtual reality/internet-taken-to-the-limit series I've ever read. The storyline is just plain excellent - keeps you on the edge of your seat, and you just can't turn the pages fast enough... the characters are great, and the creativity and newness of the concept is really, really interesting. Read this one.
When Renie Sulaweyo's younger brother, Stephen, returns from the Net after visiting Mister J's, a virtual reality equivalent of the Hellfire Club, she's worried about him. When his next Net trip leaves him in a coma, Renie is terrified and angry. Soon she discovers evidence that other children have lapsed into comas under similar circumstances. A professor of computer science and an adept user of the Net, Renie retraces Stephen's trail and enters Mister J's but barely escapes with her own mind intact. After her adventure, she discovers that someone has downloaded into her computer the impossibly complex image of a fantastic golden city. Then her apartment is fire-bombed, she loses her job and another professor whom she has recruited to help her decipher the mystery is murdered. It's clear that Renie has angered someone with almost unlimited power, but she remains determined to save her brother. In the first book in what is projected to be, in effect, a single, enormous four-volume novel, Williams (Memory, Sorrow and Thorn) proves himself as adept at writing science fiction as he is at writing fantasy. His 21st-century South Africa, where blacks run the government and pursue careers but where whites control most economic power, rings true. His version of the Net, although obviously indebted to Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and other novels, is detailed and fascinating. Best of all, however, are Williams's well-drawn, sympathetic characters, including Renie and her family, her student !Xabbu, the mysterious invalid Mister Sellars and a host of other folk, all of whom hope to solve the mystery of the terrifying VR environment called Otherland.
In the future, the internet is not a place accessed while sitting on a chair in front of monitor - it's a place your mind travels to, your virual reality self dressed in any number of sim personas, depending on how much you can afford to spend.
A new 'world' is shown to a few select people. A golden city that seems more real than anything they have ever seen on the net before. Each person attempts to travel to this place for his or her own personal reasons.
When discovered, it proves to be more than any of them bargained for. Virtual reality worlds, full of the amazing, the 'what ifs', the past, the future and anything you could imagine.
Matt D. reviewed City of Golden Shadow (Otherland, Vol 1) on
This book is a set-up for the rest of the series. It is hard going at first since he has to set up each individual character. Once you get into the story you get hooked. If you haven't read the series yet a helpful hint is make sure you have the next book on hand before you finish one. The author doesn't waste time ending each book but just leave the story to continue on to the next one.
I read about 200 pages of the 779 pages before I stopped. Paucity of likable characters? I did like the two main ones, but they seemed suspended in an unlikable world...maybe I'm disliking cyber-fiction...