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Burning Tower Paperback – 18 Jan 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; New Ed edition (18 Jan. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841492183
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841492186
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 135,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Praise for Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle: 'Superb detail ... shudderingly believable' FRANK HERBERT 'Outstanding ... the best ever, by the best in the field ... the ultimate combination of imagination and realism' Tom Clancy 'Truly remarkable' TIME OUT 'Niven has created another sumptuously detailed triumph of the imagination' SFX --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The sequel to THE BURNING CITY - a powerful and original fantasy novel from the bestselling authors of THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"You don't know about me without you've read a book called" . . . Huck Finn's opening to his autobiography is particularly appropriate here. This book can't be enjoyed, almost not read, unless you have completed "The Burning City", its predecessor. For starters, your first question will be "what time period does this take place in?" A little research reveals you'll be many thousands of years off - in the wrong direction! Appearing at first like one of the standard post-nuclear holocaust fantasies, it turns out to be many millennia in the past. Niven and Pournelle have violated a guideline of trilogy writing. If you pick up this book assuming it's a "stand-alone" novel, you will be sadly disappointed. If you start it as a fantasy adventure story, you will find much excitement, adventure and, of course, travel. What's a fantasy story for if not to go on quests in distant lands? Well, that's not quite the case here.
Location questions are dispelled by the maps provided. The story takes place in Southern California. In what's now called the Los Angeles Basin, there exists a multi-layered society. There are Lords and Ladies, Lordkin, who seem to be minor aristocrats, and the kinless - the bottom of society. As with today, bushfires are a matter of concern in this arid environment. A fire sets off this story in revealing the rivalry within the aristocrat clans and threats from other clan groups. Ameliorating this rather medieval scene are the merchants' wagon trains. To keep commerce flowing, wagon trains are pretty much left in peace, except by bandits - and "terror birds".
The terror birds, which almost elude physical description, become the core of the story. They seem to be an archaeopteryx with an attitude.
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Format: Paperback
This sequel to The Burning City is a curious mixture of myths from the native American legends, some facts gleaned from archaeology, and outright fantasy. I think the fantasy wins hands down, but there is enough of the real geography for us to be able to work out where it all takes place, and the authors help us with this in an after-word.

Burning Tower is the heroine, and the object of our hero Sandry's affections, so on the top level it is a boy chases girl story. But the economics, politics and the magic are tangled into a fantastic epic where one is never quite sure who might survive. The ending is satisfactory, but leaves a door wide open for a third book.

I felt it lost track in a few places, and was less effective than the first book, which I thought was worth a genuine five stars, and in a couple of places I even wondered if perhaps authors Niven and Pournelle should have stuck to Science Fiction. I strongly suggest one reads the Burning City first to best appreciate Burning Tower. Further reading in the same universe as extra background could also include The Magic Goes Away Collection partly by Niven with assistance from several other excellent authors.

Overall, I am glad I bought this book; it made excellent reading for the plane and coach journeys on a recent holiday.
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Format: Paperback
Not one of their very best, but, as usual, well written.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9a3b3528) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a3cf1f8) out of 5 stars A Good One 8 Feb. 2005
By Joe Hennessey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Burning Tower is the daughter of Whandall Feathersnake, the hero in the authors' previous book, 'The Burning City'. This is her adventure in a world filled with other facinating, lively characters, even an emperor who knows the meaning of "have a heart". There are many good things to say about the story; but, if I said more, it would ruin the surprise. What you really need to know is that the story gets more interesting with every page, draws you in, and keeps you turning pages until the very end.

Were it all true, the background material would be worth reading even without the story. The book includes a mosaic of different cultures presented in enough detail to be convincing. There is a description of Chaco Canyon that should increase the number of tourists visiting NW New Mexico. (The Nageezi Chamber of Commerce will want a copy of this book.)

The reader will learn a little about a lot of things from how to set a backfire to stop the spread of a wildfire to the use of chariots in battle, and more than one would expect about the terror birds that used to live in times past. Lovely creatures that will remind you of Kipling's line "Once we feared The Beast-when he followed us we ran" (The terror bird in this book is probably the Titanus Walleri.)

And, after reading this story, you will only want right-handed hummingbirds in your garden. I kid you not.

Yet there is a downside to this book, Niven and Pournelle have written a story that makes magic plausible leaving you with the guilty feeling you get from actually having liked a fantasy novel.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a3cf24c) out of 5 stars The magic continues 2 Dec. 2006
By E. Lawrence - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A reviewer above said these books [Burning City and Burning Tower] appeal only to hardcore Pournelle & Niven readers, and added that even they should only buy the books at discount.

I heartily disagree.

It's not Shakespeare, it's not Conrad, but it's not silly or poorly written. While the plots are not as tight as some English & writing teachers would strive for in a writing class, I would not call them haphazard at all. And while some characterization is weak, I'm willing to accept that given the relatively large cast of characters in this book (Burning Tower) and its prequal. I found the characterization for the major characters and the descriptive writing to be pretty good. For something really bad, try reading "1865". Or rather....don't read '1865' or, '1910' for that matter.

If the one or two poor reviews posted here have not dissuaded you from reading Burning Tower or Burning City, you might be interested in knowing that the background world is taken from a collection of stories titled "The Magic Goes Away". That book inspired a sequal "The Magic May Return".

As reviews here have mentioned, magic was once common, but went away because it was made possible only with the presence of "manna". So people literally used up the manna and the magic went away.

The first book (Burning City) tells the story of a young man who leaves a city that seems to be magic-poor, yet is still dominated by a fire-god and magic. He leaves the city has adventures and later returns. On one level it is a simple adventure/coming of age story. On another level it is about

how a city/society is changed when it is exposed to the greater world.

The second book (Burning Tower) is on one level a quest: Find out why the terror birds are attacking the caravans. On another level it is a love story about two people from different worlds. He is a Lord. She is a semi-nomadic trader. On an even higher level, it is about how people react when they realize a precious resource is going away. After you read this book, substitute the word "oil" for "manna" and then use your imagination.

I found both books interesting and fun to read. Note: while Burning Tower stands on it's own, it obviously helps the reader to have first read Burning City.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a3cf684) out of 5 stars Not Just Another Unicorns and Magic Yarn - "Real" Legend 16 Dec. 2007
By Scotch7 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This "Unicorns and Magic" book is in realty a clever telling of folk legends from the days long before the coming of white people to Southern California and Western Mexico. My only quibble is this is disclosed in the after-words (Notes),and I would wish it a preface. Start there.

I want to read it again, but first I'll take in "The Burning City" the first book in this series. Events in the prior book in this series, are refrenced constantly in "Burning Tower." However modern movies and books jump timelines regularly. Modern storytelling references events never written all the time. It really doesn't matter which book brings you to this saga.

I had not previously read "The Burning City" when I picked up "Burning Tower." I was at Orycon and felt like buying something to read (imagine that!). Knowing nothing about this or the prior book, I knew that I trusted Pournelle and Niven to tell a tale worthy of my time. I trusted them as authors and editors, both alone and especially together. "On the gripping hand" is their words, and you hear that all the time outside of fandom.

I had misgivings about these authors doing a "Unicorns and Magic" book. Not my normal genre, nor I thought, theirs. Or so I thought. The first half of the book didn't pull me in, but didn't push me away either. The characters and situations were rich and textured, and I kept turning pages. The evil that the protagonists fight seemed a stretch but that was before I read the after-words in the "Notes" section.

How did Jerry and Larry handle this genre? Just fine. You will love the ending.

Legends are told and retold, heard and re-heard. That's what makes 'em legend. The wonderful discovery that these tales are based on real legends is significant. It is not necessary that you believe these stories. It is however vital that you understand: a hundred generations have.
17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a3cfa50) out of 5 stars California dreamin' 13 May 2005
By Stephen A. Haines - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"You don't know about me without you've read a book called" . . . Huck Finn's opening to his autobiography is particularly appropriate here. This book can't be enjoyed, almost not read, unless you have completed "The Burning City", its predecessor. For starters, your first question will be "what time period does this take place in?" A little research reveals you'll be many thousands of years off - in the wrong direction! Appearing at first like one of the standard post-nuclear holocaust fantasies, it turns out to be many millennia in the past. Niven and Pournelle have violated a guideline of trilogy writing. If you pick up this book assuming it's a "stand-alone" novel, you will be sadly disappointed. If you start it as a fantasy adventure story, you will find much excitement, adventure and, of course, travel. What's a fantasy story for if not to go on quests in distant lands? Well, that's not quite the case here.

Location questions are dispelled by the maps provided. The story takes place in Southern California. In what's now called the Los Angeles Basin, there exists a multi-layered society. There are Lords and Ladies, Lordkin, who seem to be minor aristocrats, and the kinless - the bottom of society. As with today, bushfires are a matter of concern in this arid environment. A fire sets off this story in revealing the rivalry within the aristocrat clans and threats from other clan groups. Ameliorating this rather medieval scene are the merchants' wagon trains. To keep commerce flowing, wagon trains are pretty much left in peace, except by bandits - and "terror birds".

The terror birds, which almost elude physical description, become the core of the story. They seem to be an archaeopteryx with an attitude. Having attacked the merchants' wagons, they've also destroyed whole villages and besieged a town. Having upgraded from solitary attacker to group assault, the birds are clearly becoming a serious threat. Are they being guided using magic? Lord Sandry joins the Feathersnake caravan to find out. He encounters the gypsy beauty queen Burning Tower [you never learn the source of the name] and romance flares. Oh, yes. As a virgin, Tower is allowed a "bonehead" - a unicorn - for a mount. It's all quite genre stuff. Sandry, the Hero of this tale, doesn't have a quest. He's just riding shotgun for the commercial travellers. Still, he's allowed some heroic activity with a bit of help from his [girl]friends.

The framework of this fantasy fable is that "there's gold in them thar hills". Gold is one of the sources of "manna" [magic] that makes things happen in this rather disjointed tale. So is petrified wood. The problem with magic is that once introduced by an author[s], there are no limits to its use. Magic is available to certain types who use others as pawns in power struggles. In this bizarre Southern California environment, it is gods who wield that power most significantly. Unless they are turned into myths, which depletes their prowess. Magic, like gold in a later age, is being depleted. Dire predictions for the future permeate this story, and the result will surely be depicted in the next volume. However, i will not be learning the accuracy of the predictions. I haven't yet worked out how Atlantis found it's way to the Pacific Ocean before sinking, as this novel implies. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
HASH(0x9a3cfb34) out of 5 stars Secret history 30 Mar. 2013
By Benjamin Espen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Burning Tower picks up a year after Burning City concludes, Yangin-Atep is myth, the Greenroad is open, and no one knows how Tep's Town will survive exposure to the outside world. The focus of the book is on the budding romance between Sandry, the finest young Lord of his generation, and Burning Tower, the youngest of Whandall Feathersnake's children. Whereas in Whandall's story, we saw an entire lifetime in one book, Burning Tower slows down time so that we can see Sandry and Tower begin to love one another, and overcome the obstacles that could keep them apart.

Sandry and Tower come from different worlds. Sandry is Lord Sandry, representative of the legalistic and militaristic Lords of Lordshills. We get to see much more of the Lords' society in Burning Tower, see what they do and why they do it. Tower's mother and father represent the other two factions of Tep's Town, the kinless and the Lordkin, but Tower is more a child of the Hemp Road.

Dynastic politics is both bane and boon to Sandry and Tower. Normally, Lords marry within their own kind, but Whandall's escape from Tep's Town and subsequent success as a merchant prince has both elevated his status and set in motion a chain of events that threaten to undermine the power of the Lords, and the stability of Tep's Town. The possibility of marrying into a trading empire allows Sandry the opportunity to follow his heart, and it leads him from Tep's Town, across the Mohave, up the Mogollon Rim, and past Meteor Crater to Aztlan.

As a secret history, Niven and Pournelle based this book upon existing art, legend, and archeology, with their own special twists. I greatly enjoyed their version of the foundation myth of the Aztecs. There is a little bit of fun metahistory, some unusual tidbits thrown in for color, and perhaps just a bit of snark towards bureaucracy. A really, really, fun book. Anyone who likes Niven and Pournelle will like this one, and fans of secret histories should as well.
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