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Otherland: City of Golden Shadow Bk. 1 Paperback – 5 Mar 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Paperback, 5 Mar 1998
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Product details

  • Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; paperback / softback edition (5 Mar. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857236041
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857236040
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 4.9 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 220,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Tad Williams made his name in fantasy with the immense "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn" trilogy (1988-93). His "Otherland" quartet, opening with City of Golden Shadow (1996), is mid-21st-century SF set in an ultra-sophisticated software universe containing countless worlds. This episode features a deadly nature reserve of giant insects, a poisoned Oz, a madcap cartoon reality, London as in The War of the Worlds, 16th-century Venice, Xanadu, ancient Egypt, the Odyssey's Ithaca and the Drones Club. Otherland is the playground of the monstrously rich and unscrupulous Grail Brotherhood, who hope for on-line immortality and are abducting children's souls into their VR system. Opposing them is the enigmatic "Circle", plus a handful of ordinary folk who've penetrated Otherland and are trapped there, floating from world to world on the digital river of the title. There's a spy in this group, though; Otherland's operating system is becoming unstable; the Nemesis program that hunts down software anomalies seems murderously out of control...

Williams writes fluently and evocatively, conjuring up a vivid succession of virtual realities as he manipulates numerous storylines inside and outside Otherland, climaxing with multiple cliffhangers. It's slightly frustrating, though, that halfway through the series we've learned little more--especially about the tantalizing suggestion that Otherland is a metaphysical threat to "real" reality--than emerged in book 1. Next volume: Mountain of Black Glass. --David Langford --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

True speculative grandeur (Time Out)

The ultimate virtual-reality saga, borrowing motifs from cyberpunk, mythology and world history (SAN FRANCISCO Chronicle)

On an epic scale . . . a big colourful new novel full of real-world conspiracy and virtual reality wonders, with characters worth caring about (LOCUS)

One of the best works of science fiction I've ever read (Katharine Kerr)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 20 Dec. 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although I am a big fantasy books fan, I usually avoid science fiction books, since a large percentage of them are just cyberpunk nonsense and very badly written and it is hard to get hold of a real masterpiece once you read the classic ones. Having read (and loved) the Williams fantasy books, I decided to give Otherland a try and never regretted it: the book stands among the (say 10) best I ever read (classic literature included).
Williams is really talented and the book is exceptionally well-written. The author takes great care to set up the characters and the background,while there are some great ideas in the book. Being a computer scientist, I am happy to say that this is one of the few books where even most of the wildest technology-related ideas manage not to sound silly and have an actual basis. Williams is perhaps a bit influenced by other SF books, but the result is a very original and gripping story that stands out from the usual SF stuff. Just one advice: be prepared that all four Otherland books should be considered as one book in four volumes, after finishing each one of them the story does not come to any kind of end, you must be ready to get the next one.
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Format: Paperback
I bought Otherland for around £2 second-hand (and knowing aboslutely nothing about Tad Williams) and I have to say it's much better than I'd expected.
I've been systematically avoiding Tad Williams for fear of disappointment (not being a huge fan of the newer Fantasy / Sci-Fi novels) but this one blew me away - it's superbly written with plausible plots and characters (a rare combination) in addition to some truly horrific and breathtaking moments. I swam through the book in three days and loved every last word of it.
I can understand the technological criticisms some have levelled at it but, as a programmer, I cannot personally see much which is not conceivably achievable (besides, sci-fi ought to be, at least in part, fantastic :) It *is* cleverly done though - not once in the book did it seem, in any way, to be a detached experience.
Is it flawed? Absolutely... almost all books are. However, the flaws it does have in no way detract from the experience of reading it. Give it a try - personally I hate the idea that I might have never read this one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read the first in the Otherland series. Half way through and had to stop for studies. I am really looking forward to getting back to it again.
It combines science fantasy and the computer gaming culture in an interesting way which keeps you on your toes trying to guess who is doing what, when and where. A great mental workout.
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This is the first part of a four volume epic. The concept is mind blowing and Mr Williams guides us through the complex plot with skill. The character development is particularly good and your interest in them means that you read this way too fast, just to find out what happens to them.

I have two complaints and they relate more to Mr Williams' editors than to the man himself: The whole series is way too long. Many of the lands we visit along the way are frankly boring and we spend too long in them. Interestingly it is the virtual reality worlds that have this problem more than the real-life ones. Paul Jonas' experiences in a World War I simulation go on forever, for instance. My second complaint relates to the use of "who" and "whom". Surely there is someone in Orbit Books can search through the text and correct these.

But, aside from these quibbles, I highly recommend this - but make sure you buy all four, because you will not want to stop before the end!
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Format: Paperback
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.
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