Breanne's Reviews > City of Golden Shadow

City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams
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's review
Dec 22, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi

Paul is a soldier in WWI who keeps leaving the battlefield to enter a world of dreams, where children's stories come to life and he is not quite sure what is part of the dream and what is real.

Renie inhabits a future earth where it's more common to live in virtual reality than real life. Renie's little brother is constantly on the Net, visiting people and places that Renie isn't sure she entirely approves of. But when her brother mysteriously falls into a coma Renie suspects it has to do with the Net, and her investigation has her diving into the Net and down the rabbit hole in search of the truth.

This book was fascinating, bewildering, dark, and at times really had me questioning what was real and what reality even meant. But it's not a philosophical exploration of reality, this is an elaborate science fiction thriller. The book starts out with several very different threads; it had me wondering what they could possibly have to do with each other. But over time the author slowly pulls them together until everything, amazingly, starts to make sense. I have to admit that it took me about two-thirds of the book to get really interested, and for an 800 page book, that is quite a commitment for me. And while things start to make sense in the end, the author still leaves some questions unanswered and quite a substantial cliffhanger, which was another frustrating thing. Usually if I invest hours into an 800 page book, there should be enough resolution to make it seem worth the while. Still, I liked it, I just wish I had more time to delve deeper into this series.

I didn’t realize until I was done reading this that it was published in 1996 – practically the dark ages of the internet in my opinion. The worlds he crafted here were so much like Second Life and MMORPGs like World of Warcraft that I thought he must have played those and built his story around the ideas. The fact that this book predates all of that is almost baffling. But even though our online experiences in the last 15 years have come a long way, the visionary online worlds created for this book are no less amazing - especially when the story breaks through their boundaries.

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