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City of Golden Shadow

(Otherland #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  26,643 ratings  ·  994 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.
Mass Market Paperback, 780 pages
Published January 1st 1998 by DAW Books (first published December 5th 1996)
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Brynn There is some very graphic imagery at one point in the book depicting a violent fetish sort of thing. That's the worst you'll get, along with a spatte…moreThere is some very graphic imagery at one point in the book depicting a violent fetish sort of thing. That's the worst you'll get, along with a spattering of other upsetting descriptions of things like dead bodies in the mud during the Paul chapters or whatever.
If I was considering whether to let a young kid read it I would say probably not, just because of the (pretty infrequent) graphic imagery. (less)

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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  26,643 ratings  ·  994 reviews

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Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: williams-tad
A very complex, unique series, mixing up different genres, never boring because of Williams´ talent and feeling for language, it describes one of the possible, awaiting futures, making dystopian cyberpunk seem empty in contrast to this rich, colorful, postcyberpunk worldbuilding. I have the suspicion that the inventors of the cyber and post cyber genre names just wanted to pimp, because there is not so much difference.

William's style reminded me a bit of Neil Gaiman, just expanded to the ultima
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
” The world was all mud and wire. The war in the heavens was only a faint imitation of the horror men had learned to make.”

Tad Williams is one of the few who can write fantasy and science fiction with the same amazing skills. He’s a born storyteller, too bad he’s underrated. But it’s the readers’ loss.

I think City of Golden Shadow is the most complex story I have read so far. It’s a post-cyberpunk at the base, with the most intricate VR I have ever encountered in a book. It's not an easy read,
Jun 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
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.)
Sep 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Tad Williams has been one of those authors I'd never really gotten around to even though he's a pillar of fantasy literature. Technically, I did read his story contained in Songs of the Dying Earth (which was excellent), but never one of his mainstays such as Otherland and his epic, Memory, Sorry, and Thorn series.

Apparently that day has come and I've officially read Tad Williams. And what did I think? I hate to say this, but mostly meh.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy City of Golden Shadow, but
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
3.5 Stars
This was a fascinating epic science fiction story that explored ideas of virtual reality in a fun, yet intellectual way. Published in 1996, some of the concepts felt a bit dated, while in other places, the author’s vision of the future was remarkably close to reality. Blending together genres, this book felt different than the science fiction I have read. 

As a piece of epic science fiction, this novel was quite long with several different character perspectives that eventually started t
David Katzman
Aug 06, 2021 rated it liked it
This is my second book by Tad Williams. I didn’t much enjoy The Dragonbone Chair, which I reviewed here. Based on recommendations of this series, I wanted to give him another chance. I fear Tad Williams just isn’t for me.

City of Golden Shadow was a step up in some ways from how I felt about The Dragonebone Chair...which wasn’t bad per se but just didn’t grab me. This novel had a relatively interesting plot and at least one or two interesting characters. It was a step-up in overall quality for me
Kitty G Books
I'm giving this book a 3.5* rating which seems a little harsh to me becuase I genuinely really really enjoyed it. Honestly, the only reason it's not quite scooping the 4*s is becuase although I really enjoyed it, it's a 900 page book and it's only just starting the overall plot by the time you reach the end.

This is probably one of the most surprising books I have read in a while as it's a slightly older fantasy/sci-fi crossover (pre-2000s) and so I kind of assumed it would be a classic style. It
Michelle F
This series has become one of my most reread collections, and this first book has a lot to do with that.

In the big picture, Otherland, book 1, is almost entirely set up for the main (huge) story-line that follows. Although there is a frustration in coming to the end of it and realizing that the “journey” hasn't even started yet, it remains the most stand-out of all the books – for me, anyway. Perhaps it is because as the true story unfolds in the following installments, the movement and challeng
Matt Standley
Mar 04, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a ride! Absolutely loved this book, and I'll be starting part two right away. Wonderful world created by Mr Tad as usual. Written in his kaleidoscopic style, with every chapter returning to another character. I had to get used to it the first 200 pages, but as you get to know the characters it was easy to follow. Plus, that really keeps you reading because you want to know what happens two chapters away! It's a tad long (pun intended) so buckle up for a journey! ...more
Executive Summary: Slow in places, but this story really works for me. Interesting world building and decent characters has me looking forward to the continuing on this series.

Audio book: George Newbern does an excellent job with this book. Good inflections and emotion, as well as a variety of accents. He is definitely a narrator that adds extra enjoyment to the book.

Full Review
My only experiance with Tad Williams prior to this book was his urban fantasy book The Dirty Streets of Heaven. I w
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I picked up this book I initially thought it was fantasy... and for some reason to do with faerie - it really isn't. Well, not very much!

Otherland is a story about a virtual world where people can shop, meet up, have businesses, play games, or anything you really want to do! Think if you will of the evolution of the internet. It actually sort of reminds me of OZ in the anime Summer Wars.

Something has gone wrong and children are falling into comas and having seizures, and some people are dis
Wanda Pedersen
My previous experience with Williams’ writing was his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, so this book was a bit of a shock to the system! While that series took place in a rather mediaeval setting, this one is set in the future and largely in virtual reality.

One thing that remains consistent is the size of each book, being rather brick-like. It took my about 170 pages before I was convinced that I really wanted to read this volume. It reminded me of a lot of books that I’ve read before. The littl
Jan 24, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Audiobook from Penguin Audio
Narrated by George Newbern
Length: 28.75 hours

I hate to admit this, but I judged this book by the cover at first. I knew nothing about the book when I started listening, I hadn't even read the blurb in the description. I saw a fantastical-looking image on the cover and, knowing that Tad Williams typically writes fantasy novels/series, I just assumed it was a fantasy novel. I was wrong. This is actually a cyberpunk book, a quite good one at that. There was only one down
Jul 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Anthony Ryan
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Williams' near-future sci-fi epic is a compelling exploration of the social/psychological costs and benefits posed by the advent of true virtual reality. A disparate cast of heroes find themselves trapped in an array of artificially constructed realities where death is an all too real possibility. Williams' pedigree as an epic fantasy author is evident in the scope of the narrative and the presence of a dark lord of sorts lurking at the heart of this web of invented worlds. Reading the whole ser ...more

This is the second series that I’m reading from Tad Williams and I have to say that I’m really impressed of how different it is compared to his most famous series, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, although personally I quite liked it even if it’s not outstanding.
In this series Tad Williams changes his style and goes to Science Fiction but he also raises his skill level as he has mixed Cyberpunk, lots of mystery and a touch of Fantasy that, I believe, makes all the difference!

The story is set most
Nov 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: never-finished
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
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I bought this one about a decade ago, tried reading it, enjoyed it, but then stopped somewhere halfway through, and when I got back to it, I knew I had to start from the beginning, because it had been too long, and then I just never did.

I'm so happy I finally sat down with this book. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Yes, it's slow, there's a lot of set-up and Tad Williams could probably cut a few hundred pages from (all?) his books and not lose much plot, but I loved every page.

This came more than a
An Odd1
Jan 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Luke Burrage
Cyberpunk but with the emphasis on non-punk elements.

Full review on my podcast, SFBRP episode #281. Really.
Feb 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
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
I started out reading the hardcover, which had been gifted me and really did want to finish reading it, but was having difficult because I couldn’t carry it around with me. After 2.5 years I was about ready to give up, when the audiobook was finally released. It still took me 6 months to listen to it.

The novel is made up of 4 or 5, maybe more, individual stories, which seem to have nothing to do with one another. It isn’t until about half way through this brick when ever so tenuously bits of st
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this, lots of different worlds and good characters. No resolution at the end though, will just have to get the second book in the series to find out what happens next.
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
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Tad Williams is a California-based fantasy superstar. His genre-creating (and genre-busting) books have sold tens of millions worldwide, in twenty-five languages. His considerable output of epic fantasy and science fiction book-series, stories of all kinds, urban fantasy novels, comics, scripts, etc., have strongly influenced a generation of writers: the ‘Otherland’ epic relaunches June 2018 as an ...more

Other books in the series

Otherland (4 books)
  • River of Blue Fire (Otherland, #2)
  • Mountain of Black Glass (Otherland, #3)
  • Sea of Silver Light (Otherland, #4)

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