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Eternity Road Paperback – 2 Feb 1998

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Paperback, 2 Feb 1998

Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Voyager (2 Feb. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006483089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006483083
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 10.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 736,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Praise for McDevitt:

‘Magnificent vision’

‘Splendid. Not since Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama has the discovery of artifacts been treated so skilfully’
Baltimore Sun

‘Nail-biting tension… An incredible and memorable climax… This is what sf should be all about… .The best book I’ve read all year’

‘The big-vision, large-scale novel McDevitt’s readers have been waiting for’
Publishers Weekly

From the Back Cover

In the far, far future, the 20th century is ancient history.

Their archaeologists call us the Roadmakers, and believe us to be a civilization who found mythical significance in tarmac…They argue and conjecture over artefacts like the strange metal cans with the letters 'Pepsi' inscribed on both sides…And when they uncover an ancient book – a copy of Mark Twain’s 'A Connecticut Yankee in the Court of King Arthur' – they wonder at the values and traditions of our society.

Chaka is obsessed by the lost race of Roadmakers: her brother vanished on an expedition to research them. He went looking for Haven, the sanctuary to which the Roadmakers fled when plague savaged their world. But Haven is a myth, so the scholars say, a tale created by poets. Chaka has other ideas and she sets out with a motley crew of amateur explorers to prove them wrong…

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was the first Jack McDevitt book I've read. I wasn't disappointed.

I liked the concept. It was nice for the (near future) us to be the ones with the god like technology for once (perhaps not so nice us being dead through plague!). But it did make you think about what people would make of our technology now (let alone in the future when the plague hits), if there was that break in knowledge transfer.

The story is based around a quest to a place called Haven (Were the last of us went after the plague), to try acquire our tech and knowledge. It took a while to get going but once the had started found it took a while to get going but once it did it was a good yarn. The story never really plodded and the characters fit together well and are interesting enough. I liked the description of the places and the group of characters in the book do go travel through some very interesting ones.

I'm quite a prolific reader of sci-fi and apocalypse novels and I found some new ideas in here that I hadn't considered before which is always cool.

I noticed a few reviewers said they had problems with the tech available to the civilizations in the book and they couldn't understand how they had guns but not other similar technology. This wasn't a massive problem for me in the end when I read it. I just put it down to certain technology paths like electricity and metallurgy being missing. If you are like me and give your books a rough ride in terms of scientific or mechanical plausibility i'd say give it chance.

On the negative side, I felt the epilogue could have been a bit longer.
Anyway if you like apocalypse stories and are fascinated by images that urban explorers take of ruins you'll like this book.
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By Pb on 12 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover
I just recently came across my copy of Eternity Road and re-read it hoping to rekindle my youth a little. When I was a kid (13 or so) this was the first Jack McDevitt book I came across, indeed the first book in this sort of post apocalyptic genre I came across and I fell in love with it. My old copy is so battered and well read - I must have re-read it a half-dozen times over the years!

As an adult reader I can see its flaws - like another reviewer has mentioned it poses a lot of questions, and sets up a lot of mysteries but never comes to a satisfying conclusion about them - indeed never really tries to. As a kid I loved that, it left plenty of room for your imagination to roam, it allowed you to come to your own answers and pose your own questions. As an adult... well I'm kind of used to the the idea of it being the authors job to answer the questions he sets! Maybe my former self had it right though.

It is still a page turner, still well worth a read but its lost some of that edge that it had all those years ago. It also shows a hint of things to come with other McDevitt works set in different universes where characters do inexplicably stupid things for no good reasons (though perhaps these characters can be excused as their naivety at least stems from the low tech world they live in.)

As a child I remember feeling such a sense of wonder, and a devastating sense of loss about the ruins of the disappeared high-tec society our heroes are exploring. I can remember practically being in tears by the end. As an adult, those emotions aren't really replicated - but I wonder if that's more my fault than the book's, it is me that's become jaded, not the story that's lost it's lustre.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
the story picks up hundereds of years in the future and society is back to medievil style times with horseback and farms.
When an adventurer comes back to the village talking about finding books and dragons a few people from the village decide to go beyond the known land and travel to find these books and find out what happened to the 'Roadmakers' who built the massive structures that surround them every day yet they know nothing of.

They travel across a decimated America coming across relics of our possible future, coming across pirates and other civilisations.
It is a great book that I got through in a couple of days, very easy to read with relatable characters. I couldn't put it down and wish Jack McDevitt wrote more books based in this universe.
Not at all depressing considering the material so read for a jovial good time.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "kittenfun" on 17 Sept. 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Not the Best Mcdevitt - But nearly. While reading the book, you couldn't help wonder who were these people? Who built the roads they walked on? Were they one in the same? I imagine that's what you are supposed to feel - And it works. It's let down is the ending, another seemingly common theme in the mcdevitt books. Grand questions, but no answers. But, Still a damn good read
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 112 reviews
51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Kept My Interest! 21 Jan. 2002
By Kevin Spoering - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first novel by Jack McDevitt that I have read and I was impressed by his talent. ETERNITY ROAD is set approximately 1000 years in the future, a plague has decimated Earth's population, and in the United States, where this novel concerns itself with, small cities have banded together and formed the 'Mississippi League'. Ruins from the 'Roadmaker' era are everywhere and the 'Roadmaker' civilization is an enigma, with many questions unanswered. It is from the League that a second expedition sets forth in search of the perhaps mythical 'Haven' where knowledge was supposedly safeguarded after the plague, as civilization unraveled. The first expedition ended in disaster, with only one person returning from the sometimes dangerous wilderness, with an atmosphere of secrecy and intrigue. One person, Chakra, had a brother who was killed on the first expedition, and she wants to find out what happened to him, as the only survivor of the first expedition is the scholar Karik, who did'nt say much about what happened, adding to the mystery. There are several other interesting characters in addition to these.
As per another reader here I also found similarities between this novel and A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, a much older novel, and a fine read also. I found ETERNITY ROAD to be engrossing, I found myself reading more and more pages everyday to see what would happen, McDevitt is a master storyteller and very adept at character development and plot layout. In my view the only criticism I see here is that various machines from the Roadmakers were still operating after perhaps one thousand years, that stretches credulity indeed, I take one star off for that. As for comparing this novel to the standard of 'the end of the world as we know it' novels, which is EARTH ABIDES, the later is better, although ETERNITY ROAD is excellent nevertheless.
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
They Found What They Were Looking For, But I Didn't 5 Oct. 2004
By Whoop2Do - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was my first Jack McDevitt book.

It will not be my last.

I truly enjoyed reading this novel. McDevitt's style is smooth and his imagery is vivid. The environment in which he has placed his characters is very well realized. Loved the character of Avila.

But ultimately, this book was a grave disappointment. I don't think that I'm spoiling anything to say that the heroes find what they were looking for, but the end of their quest just failed to satisfy me. I don't know if it was my fault for expecting too much, being a sloppy reader, or what, but my building expectations were not met. I suppose I was expecting a major epiphany, a revelation of some import or even an O'Henry twist, but instead was greeted by the same feeling as receiving socks for Christmas...

Definitely an author I will try again, but with lowered expectations.
39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
Adventure SF - stretches credibility 12 Dec. 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm all for a fun SF-inspired adventure, especially one with a compelling quest in familiar environments. Eternity Road is about OUR civilization from the perspective of humans 1000 years from now that somehow have little to no remembrance of the people called "Roadmakers". Nor are they an advanced civilization, closer to 1850's technology and there is no form of government larger than a city. It has the makings of a fun road adventure starring a ragtag bunch searching for a historical treasure.
However, I was constantly bothered by stuff that seemed incredible. Why are books so rare? I'm sure most would have been destroyed over that long a period, but ALL except for six? Yet other Roadmaker artifacts survive that seem impossible - such as a magnetic train system that still runs daily routes and a computer AI that has become sentient, but can't provide much information about who the Roadmakers were. Worse, at one point, a lightning bolt restarts a computer system to help the travellers and move the plot along. I'm no theorist, but I don't see lightning as a reliable or controllable powersource for any future civilization.
Overall, I was not able to enjoy the book because I wasn't sold on these and many other aspects of the plot. Also, I found the author's writing style often "told" me what a character was like as opposed to showing me. It seemed like I was reading the author's notes to himself, which was annoying. I won't be reading any more McDevitt.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A quick, exciting, well-written tale 21 Oct. 2002
By Patrick A. Hayden - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Eternity Road is the first book I've read by Jack McDevitt, but it will most likely not be my last. McDevitt has a style and an ease with characters that is pleasant and subdued. He offers a vivid picture of a different future than the kind we like to imagine.
The book begins in a small community living on the banks of the Mississippi river, at least 700-1000 years from now. Our society, called "The Roadmasters" by the locals, were wiped out in the late 21st century by a plague of unknown origin. The locals know something about The Roadmsters, with some handwritten versions of classic literature remaining, and they constantly scour the ruins around them for clues as to how the great civilization that proceeded them achieved so much, and how it fell so quickly.
The story is about an expidition from the Mississippi river to the East Coast to search for a place called "Haven", where a hero of the past allegedly saved all the great information of The Roadmakers before the plague wiped out all traces. The group that makes the trip is actually the most interesting part of the story. They aren't deepli constructed, but they are better than just sketches, each with their own fears, desires, and hopes for the journey. What they find on their travels is fascinating, but the internal struggles of the group are just as entertaining.
The book is fast paced and delivers on excitement and speculation on what our civilization might be thought of once we are gone. The ending is a bit abrupt, but it answers our questions without insulting us. All in all a great read for sci-fi/fanatsy fans.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Engaging & Entertaining 4 Sept. 2010
By B. McEwan - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Ever since 7th grade when I read the short story, By the Waters of Babylon by Stephen Vincent Benet, I have enjoyed tales about post-apocalyptic societies. Jack McDevitt's Eternity Road is one such story and, while I don't think it is as good as some of McDevitt's other novels, it doesn't disappoint. Set about 1,000 years after a plague decimated an advanced technological people now called The Roadmakers (as in us today), the action centers on a small group of acquaintances from a settlement on the Mississippi called Illyria. Throughout their lives the group has heard tales of a place called Haven, where the knowledge of The Roadmakers has been preserved. For various personal, yet related reasons, the group decides to go in search of Haven.

Is the place real or just a comforting myth? How will the group find the right location, assuming it exists? Will they be able to access the Roadmaker's knowledge even if they find it? These and other questions are posed and discussed among the group as they make their way across much of the eastern US and southern Canada in search of Haven.

One of the chief pleasantries of this novel is the fun readers have trying to figure out what the group is seeing and what part of they country they are in as they make their way along the road. A "dragon" turns out to be a passenger train. A mysterious concrete trench is the Welland Canal between Lakes Erie and Ontario. McDevitt doesn't tell readers outright what the "ruins" actually are; you must figure each one out. And that's the real fun of it all.

While many of the criticisms leveled by some other reviewers are accurate, I did not find the novel's flaws serious enough to warrant giving this book a poor review. Overall is it both engaging and entertaining. McDevitt is one of my favorite science fiction writers and I highly recommend his novels, especially my two favorites Infinity Beach and Engines of God. Be sure to try those if you enjoy Eternity Road.
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