Top critical review
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Finishing the series on a real low
on 8 December 2009
Many of us were intrigued by the Riverworld, as it was presented in the short story, 'Riverworld', and 'To Your Scattered Bodies Go'. Why was everybody who had ever lived resurrected, in a world where death was only a temporary setback, and where cultures clashed on a daily basis? Who had terraformed the river planet, and where were they? How would they react when their fortress at the north pole was threatened?
By the end of the fourth book, all these mysteries had been answered. There were some inconsistencies and plot holes, but it had basically been a thundering good adventure story and character drama. Now, our heroes find themselves inside the citadel of the people who had set everything up. They have incredibly complex machinery at their disposal, and vast powers as a result. What will they choose to do?
As it turns out, not very much. The travails that the surviving characters face in this last Riverworld book are trivial; even comical. An adventure that started with an interesting juxtaposition of stone age and ultra-tech falls flat once the Big Secret has been resolved. We're left with a third-rate whodunnit and some computer blather. A real disappointment, to round off a story that had kept me guessing and wondering for ages.
Only buy this book if you really, really feel the need to complete your collection. Otherwise, leave things as they are at the end of The Magic Labyrinth.