City of Golden Shadow (Otherland, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

City of Golden Shadow (Otherland, #1) (Otherland #1)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  15,120 ratings  ·  488 reviews
Renie Sulaweyo, a teacher in the South Africa of tomorrow, realizes something is wrong on the network. Kids, including her brother Stephen, have logged into the net, and cannot escape. Clues point to a mysterious golden city called Otherland, but investigators all end up dead.
Published (first published 1996)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Robert Jordan level wordulency,
plus SF internet idea outdated before its publication date,
minus appealing writing style,
divided by Michael Springer's mid-semester attention span,
times 90-bunjillion pages in four volumes,
equals "FUCK YOU, TAD WILLIAMS, YOU GO TO HELL! YOU GO TO HELL AND YOU DIE! YOU FUCKIN' DIE! WHAT THE FUCK!" *Throws book against the wall, then walks over and urinates on it*

(Okay, so I actually just took it back to Half Price Books. Whatever.)
Let me just start by saying this: the first time I finished this series, I immediately went back and started reading it again. I can't think of any other series that I've done that with.

This is one of Tad Williams' "economy-sized manuscripts," similar to his fantasy classic Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. Similar in size and scope, anyway - four giant tomes chock full of all things awesome. It's a series of grand scope, amazing scale and great imagination, well worthy of your time. Seriously, top-shel...more
Matt Standley
I think Renie's quote from the middle of the book sums up my feelings entirely:

"...We still don't have any answers or any way to bring my brother back, and the search just seems to get more complicated and more vague. If this were a detective story, you'd have a body and some bloodstains and footprints in the garden - it's definitely a murder, and you've definitely got clues. But all we have here are things that seem a little strange, bits of information that might mean something. The more I thi...more
I don't know what to think of this book. I liked it, but I was confused, so I looked up some reviews on Amazon, and then decided that I didn't like it based on what people said, but then I kept reading, and then I liked it a lot and made my peace with it being just the first part of a four-book series, and then I was totally into it, and then they spent too much time on the villains and their complicated pseudo-Egyptian mythology simulation, and I am sick of completely evil antagonists who are c...more
Jeffery Moulton
I picked this book up on a whim, not realizing that it was just the beginning of four very long books with a myriad of characters and challenges. Fortunately, the book and the series are both amazing.

The Otherland series takes place in the near future where the Internet has become fully interactive with rich people literally able to plug themselves into the net and others using less effective virtual reality equipment. In this world, a varied group of people stumble upon a secret plot put in mot...more
An Odd1
I got to p76. "Otherland" by Tad Williams starts with assorted quilt squares I didn't have the patience to wait for assembly. WW1 mud-soaked Paul explodes, climbs a cloud high tree-stem to a trapped bird-woman, chased by a Giant to awaken back in the trenches. South African college tutor Renie guides bushman !Xabbu through basic virtual reality scenarios, rescues her 11-year old brother from a dangerous sim club, then loses him to a coma, three weeks after her drunk father kicks the boy out to l...more
Alle begeisterten Rezensionen stimmen: Dieses SF-Epos, und so kann man es wirklich nennen mit seinen 1000 Seiten a 4 Bände ist atemberaubend und eine Achterbahnfahrt der Fantasie.

Perfekt ist eine zukünftige eigentlich nicht mehr ferne Welt konzipiert, in der sich die Menschen sowohl im Realen Leben RL als auch in virtuellen Realitäten VR bewegen. Mit einer Schnittstelle am Kopf als User Interface, kann man in den künstlichen Welten auch fühlen, riechen schmecken und manche finden auch nicht mehr...more
Let me just start by saying this: the first time I finished this series, I immediately went back and started reading it again. I can't think of any other series that I've done that with.

This is one of Tad Williams' "economy-sized manuscripts," similar to his fantasy classic Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. Similar in size and scope, anyway - four giant tomes chock full of all things awesome. It's a series of grand scope, amazing scale and great imagination, well worthy of your time. It's a complex, int...more
(Whole story - All four volumes)This is, without a doubt, the best series novel I have ever read. Multiple plot lines in a fantastic world that slowly twist and turn until they eventually merge. A simple beginning, children falling into comas for no apparent reason, leads to an epic quest typical of fantasy but applied to science fiction, the historical novel, Victorian children's literature, detective fiction, myth and much, much more. A large cast of unforgettable characters, written beautiful...more
I love this series. I read it years ago, picking it up only because of the cool cover. It's not the type of book I usually read. I'm not a fan of cyberpunk lit. But then again, Otherland is far from typical. Heck the main characters are black South Africans (unlike in District 9, Tad's rendering is realistic and free of prejudice).

*Smile*, little did I know that years later, my novel would be bought by the very editor who worked on this awesome series.

I'm on page 268 and I'm enjoying it in the s...more
Jun 07, 2007 Meg rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WoW players

I've read lots of Williams before and thought he was excellent, though I remember specifically avoiding this one because it's sci-fi, not fantasy. I was quite disappointed when it came out, actually, that he switched genres like that when I'd eagerly awaited new installments of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn before this came out.

It's good that I waited. It came out in 1996, in the very early days of the WWW and, I belive, very few MMORPGs beyond MUDDs. (Heh...lots of acronyms there). But about 75% of...more
Tad Williams is really known as a fantasy writer, but this sci-fi series was quite interesting. There are four books in this series and they're pretty mammoth in size, but definitely an interesting read. Lots of virtual reality/parallel world kind of stuff, with some Egyptian mythology thrown in the mix.
This novel, to me, is 780 pages of nothing. With five main characters, there is a lot of running around, random descriptions that seem to me are pretty uneccessary, and a LOT of confusion. When a new chapter starts, there is a tendency of character switching, so you are left with a few pages just trying to figure out which character you are focusing on. If Williams only focused on Renie and !Xabbu, I would have been content with this novel, considering that's where most of the focus is on, anywa...more
I read the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series and loved it. I read it twice and have autographed copies to save. I enjoy epics. I enjoy detail. I enjoy science fiction, computers, virtual reality, anthropology, history, sociology, political intrigue and all the other individual elements of this series. Unfortunetly, I really disliked this book.

I liked the little girl who got messages through her computer, and I liked the sick boy who created a virtual reality that was easier to live in. Other than...more
This review is for book 1 of the Otherland series.

If possible I would have given this book 4.5 stars. My only reason for not giving it 5 stars was because of its length. I do not want this to be a deterrent, because I highly recommend this book. However, when you know you have 3 other books to read in order to complete the series, it gets to be a bit overwhelming.

Tad Williams is incredibly talented at description among other skills he utilized to create this story. For some I can see how this co...more
In the first installment of Tad Williams "Otherworld" series the reader is introduced to a future where the net and virtual reality are readily available to anyone with enough credits. A virtual reality professor at a South African University, Renie Sulaweyo, becomes good friends with her student, !Xabbu, one of the last remaining African Bushmen. Renie and !Xabbu become entangled in a conspiracy involving the most powerful and dangerous men in the world. The scope of what needs to be done is mo...more
This review is for all four Otherland books, starting with 'City of Golden Shadow'. Mild spoilers to follow.

Instead of traditional fantasy, Tad Williams takes on near-future SF with this four book series exploring the limits of virtual reality. He follows an group of people around the globe who are in various ways involved in investigating a spate of video-game playing children falling into seemingly permanent comas. This ends up uncovering a conspiracy of international tycoons trying to achieve...more
Aug 29, 2007 Peter rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is one of the best Sci-Fi Series ever. Basically there's LOTR, then The Baroque Cycle, then Otherland. The concept enables you to have everything, magic and hard science and multiple worlds that make a logical sense.

It delivers on everything The Matrix could not live up to.
Rich Taylor
City of Golden Shadowis set, for the most part in Virtual Reality (or VR for the aficionado). The basic story line is a young South African professor loses her younger brother to a coma induced by his travels in VR. She is accompanied by !Xabbu, a South African Bushman lamenting the loss of his native way of life.

I enjoy reading Tad Williams, including Otherland, but he is an author who never rally rises above very good. This, the first book in a four book series, suffers from the fact that Mr....more
Ricky Ganci
This book, and indeed, this series, is huge. There are a lot of words in Tad Williams’ series, and most of them are pretty interesting. It took a while—a long while—for me to get interested in this novel, and if it were not for the repeated encouragement and assurances about the series’ quality, I wouldn’t have made it past the first part break. I don’t have a favorite character yet, but I do really like !Xabbu and Fredricks, because they’re the only real dynamic characters in the story so far....more
Here I go and give up, finally. I didn't finish, although maybe I will, one day. Maybe I won't.
There are many ideas in Tad Williams' "Otherland" that are quite interesting, and there's a lot in it that could've made it a great book. But it didn't, and the problem causing this fact is mostly the author's way of going on for ages without coming to a point. Any point. I'm quite aware that there are different characters he wants to introduce, but throwing in whole chapters of not much happening with...more
Holly Droske
I read Tad Williams MS&T fantasy series as a young teen, and me and my cronies all loved it. I was super psyched when this series came out, and bought all three books together (I didn't learn about it until an in-store appearance when the third book was released in hardback, thanks to living in the dark ages in Texarkana, TX with no internet at my ripe, young age). I remember reading this to within probably 50-100 pages of the end, then somehow, life got in the way. That was 14 years ago. I...more
I first read this book over 10 years ago. I'm not sure why, but I never actually finished the series. Re-reading this as a 30-year-old, and rereading it in an age of smart phones and tablets, is fascinating. I've been constantly impressed with how well the technology in this universe has aged in comparison to real-world tech advances. This either speaks to the author's decent predictions of the near future, or his ability to write technology in a way just vague enough to let our imaginations fil...more
Jeff Forcier
I ran out to get its sequel before I even finished this volume, just to ensure I'd not be stuck with a cliffhanger during travel. I also rarely buy books anymore, opting for the library. tl;dr 2+2 = this book is pretty amazing.

Excellent storytelling, characterization, plotting and world building (and boy does this book/series have a great trope for world building!) Pacing is good much of the time but there are definitely spots where it drags & the author is overall pretty wordy. I only rarel...more
Nora Nix
This is sincerely one of the most amazing series I've ever read.

Tad Williams has the uncanny ability to take a million plot threads - none of which seem to have anything to do with each other - and weave them into a masterful tapestry by the end.

"City of Golden Shadow" was a book I picked up by chance, and then couldn't put down. I devoured its hundreds upon hundreds of pages and moved right on to the next. The bright, shiny, and yet slightly foreboding future of the world and the technology tha...more
Mar 15, 2014 Uninspiriert rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers with love for detail, slow plot development and complexity
One of my favorite series.

Let me say this first: once you get through book one and two, you will love this series.

I had a hard time reading the city of golden shadows, because before I read it, I never encountered a story written with such a love for detail and slow plot development. The story is really told from the beginning of the beginning. The start is V E R Y slow. And complex. You don't get the complexity of the whole story in the first book, but you get a hint. Both are a plus for the st...more
William Parham
May 25, 2012 William Parham rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Tolkien, Tad Williams, and early Greg Bear
As I sat down in the darkened theater to watch M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable I experienced a moment of almost psychedelic dislocation as the film began. Without preamble of any kind, the words "There are 35 pages and 124 illustrations in the average comic book" appear on the screen. The screen is then quickly filled by several lines of similar comic book statistics. I didn't know what was going on. I felt almost light-headed at the shock. I wondered if I was in the wrong theater, seeing a mov...more
Oct 02, 2007 Dayna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sci-Fi lovers
This book is another has many stories within the story. It takes place in the future and is about the creation of a virtual world called Otherland that possesses an artificial intelligence so powerful that it can entrap its users. The Otherland was created by a rich and powerful group for unknown motives (there are 4 volumes to the series), but it seems they especially likes to prey on children. The heroes of the story are the ones who try to investigate the situation and who discover the means...more
I was really excited to be sucked away into a hefty series. I was vastly disappointed. This just moves toooooooo slooooow. Maybe it's the fact a virtual world doesn't seem so imaginative as it would have when this book came out, but I've read other comparable books in the last 5-10 years that remain gripping even though their future has started to become reality. Maybe I will try this again in the future, but I doubt it. I loved the aboriginal character and I wanted the real action to get going...more
I re-read this series every couple of years. I don't like any of Tad William's other books too much (well. they're probably just fine but I only tried reading them after my high-fantasy phase had mostly passed, so it's not really fair for me to judge) but I think that this series is really fantastic. These books fall under the category of books I like so much that I will totally flip out and be a big whiny asshole nerd-on-the-internet if they ever try to make a movie of them. So embarrassing. Wh...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Otherland soundtrack... 1 61 Nov 22, 2008 07:57PM  
  • The Gap Into Power: A Dark and Hungry God Arises (Gap, #3)
  • The Endymion Omnibus
  • Caverns of Socrates
  • Neverness (A Requiem for Homo Sapiens, #0)
  • Stormwarden (The Cycle of Fire, #1)
  • The Reality Dysfunction 2: Expansion (Night's Dawn 1)
  • Jack the Bodiless
  • Black Sun Rising (The Coldfire Trilogy, #1)
  • Foreigner (Foreigner, #1)
  • Conventions of War (Dread Empire's Fall, #3)
  • Absolution Gap (Revelation Space, #3)
  • World Without End (Moontide and Magic Rise, #1)
  • Epiphany of the Long Sun (The Book of the Long Sun, #3-4)
Tad Williams has held more jobs than any sane person should admit to—singing in a band, selling shoes, managing a financial institution, throwing newspapers, and designing military manuals, to name just a few. He also hosted a syndicated radio show for ten years, worked in theater and television production, taught both grade-school and college classes, and worked in multimedia for a major computer...more
More about Tad Williams...
The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #1) Stone of Farewell (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #2) To Green Angel Tower (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #3) To Green Angel Tower, Part 2 (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #3; Part 2) To Green Angel Tower, Part 1 (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, #3; Part 1)

Share This Book

“He had once thought it was strange to have a friend you'd never met. Now it was even stranger, losing a friend you'd never really had” 21 likes
“...Coca-Cola and fries, the wafer and wine of the Western religion of commerce.” 18 likes
More quotes…