Nikki 's Reviews > Sea of Silver Light

Sea of Silver Light by Tad Williams
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's review
Jun 04, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: speculative-fiction, cyberpunk

The Otherland series by Tad Williams consists of four books: City of Golden Shadow, River of Blue Fire, Mountain of Black Glass and Sea Of Silver Light. I'm not going to review each one separately, just talk about my general impressions of the whole. Sci-fi isn't really my genre, though I do love it, so I can't speak for accuracy of the technology described or anything -- just my reactions to the plot and characters. The series isn't one you get into lightly. The books average about 1000 pages each, and -- for me at least -- it's not easy going.

I loved the characters. There were very few I didn't like much -- the psychopath, Dread, for one, and of course the big baddie, and Del Ray Chiume because he was just an ass. But the main characters -- mostly Renie, !Xabbu, Martine, Jonas, Orlando and Fredericks -- really captured me. I was rooting for them all along. I thought there were maybe too many characters, and that the books could have been seriously slimmed down by cutting down on a few subplots. Or simplifying some of them a bit. A lot of things only came together at the end, so it was hard to see why some of them were relevant.

The love stories, I thought, were handled well. Much better than Miriamele and Simon, from his fantasy series, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. They actually had me rooting for them, in fact, rather than getting annoyed at them, and one in particular was so carefully built up, from book one right through to the last book, that I cheered when I read the bit where they got together.

There were a lot of different ethnicities involved in the book. I thought that was handled quite well, too. A bit of resentment between different races, a bit of tolerance -- a range of reactions that felt realistic and not at all like the author was subscribing to them.

I did love the way everything came together in the end. When I read Williams' fantasy series, I was about ten steps ahead of the characters at all times. This time, I was discovering everything pretty much along with the characters, which was... interesting. It made it a more difficult read, I think, but then, I'm much more versed in the clichés of fantasy plots than I am in the clichés of sci-fi.

Anyway, I loved the ending -- the more or less happy, but also kind of bittersweet, ending. Everything was resolved nicely, while still leaving room for the future.

I'm not sure I'll reread the books, though I enjoyed them a lot. It felt like such a mammoth undertaking! Still, they were interesting and absorbing, and much less predictable than Memory, Sorrow and Thorn.

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