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Life is too short to enter Otherland
on 17 December 2014
I managed to read the Otherland quadrilogy twice: the first time in hardcover, when it was first published between 1998 and 2002. I finished the second reading (on e-reader) yesterday. To be frank I didn’t quite make it to the end the first time, I abandoned the first tour halfway through the third book. I simply gave up, the story didn’t go anywhere and didn’t have any point or pace anymore.
The second time I made it through all to the end. Otherland certainly is an intriguing story and has original and fascinating characters. Its major flaw is it is simply too long. Way, way too long. The entire story could –and should--- have been told in two volumes instead of four. Editing is an art in itself and, apparently, not one of Mr Williams's strengths. Making it to the end took quite an effort. The first volume is fascinating, but at the end of the second volume the storyline bogs down and hardly develops anymore. It becomes a neverending description of world after world, landscape after landscape, emotion after emotion, thought after thought. The characters think and talk a lot but act very little. Getting past the point where I gave up during the first reading and proceeding to the fourth volume was extremely annoying and took a huge effort. I was becoming increasingly irrritated again by the lack of development and the continuous postponement of the final confrontation and conclusion. I held on by sheer willpower. The series ending was a blessing but, up to a certain extent, also a letdown. Little wonder with a build-up that took three and a half 900+ page volumes. Just finishing it was bliss. Now I can read other books again. In retrospect I am glad I bought and read the Otherland series, and the overall experience was rewarding, but I will most certainly not read it again. Life is too short for that.