I desperately want to give Caldé of the Long Sun four stars as I have been keenly fixated on exploring the previous two novels in the series. Also, I read this third book of 300 pages in the series in merely two days, so it's obvious I was still captivated by Wolfe's prose and plot. BUT the book starts abruptly and continues to stagger and waver until the very end. It's like the book itself received a good conk on the head and isn't able to walk straight... much like the characters in Caldé of the Long Sun.
As in Lake of the Long Sun (book 2) when the characters were strained through hardship the main cast themselves changed in attitude and speech transforming them for the worst. It was difficult to follow them even though they should have been familiar after reading about them for 500+ pages. The change was unwanted. In Caldé of the Long Sun, this strain becomes overbearing when the hardships pile upon injury which stack upon disconnectedness. The characters' profiles which were molded in Nightside of Long Sun are shattered. It is difficult to sympathize with a cast you have since grown distant from through unfamiliarity.
What causes this abrupt change is a series of head concussions, perpetual bodily injury, insomnia, starvation and over activity of Auk and Silk. Their thoughts are poorly formed and wandering as they draw up improbable scenarios, talk to long dead individuals and skew their own memories of the past. These passages are not reader friendly; I found myself frustrated when encountering each delusional monologue. How many times can Silk get shot, knocked unconscious, bruised, battered and beaten? While dragging yourself through Caldé of the Long Sun you'll be surprised how often; and then sigh as you encounter injury after injury.
Some of the more minor characters come and go from the plot without knowing what happened to them, if they have left or have died or are just quiet. I found myself rereading entire pages to see where the characters have disappeared to and often gave up and wrote it off. Granted, it's easy to lose someone in a dark tunnel during the 200 pages of darkness, darkness, darkness.
There are parts of Caldé of the Long Sun which perk my interest in reading about the generation ship which the entire cast find themselves on and how everything seems to by alphabetized (sibling, class seating, villages, etc). I even became intrigued with new mysteries like the Plan of Pas, the greater importance of the Outsider and the Windows. I' eager to read the last book in the series as I expect all these mysteries to be meticulously unwrapped and enjoyed like a Christmas present.