Saturday, July 2, 2011

Review: River of Blue Fire by Tad Williams

At the conclusion of the first book Reni and!Xabu having finally entered into the computer-simulated world of otherland had met Sellars, the man who left them clues to get onto the network, plus a group of other people in the same situation, namely having loved one's in a mysterious coma. The meeting was disrupted when Dread, an agent of one of the grail brotherhood, killed Atesco the owner of the mayan-like virtual world they were in. The group was able to escape in the confusion but unbeknownst to them Dread is disguised as a member of their group. The group are soon scattered and forced to make their way through a series of virtual worlds where the consequences of even the slightest mistake could be deadly. Meanwhile Paul Jonas, a mysterious man trapped within the network, memory begins to return and he finally begins piecing things back together.

Like the first book Williams has succeeded in developing a cast of interesting characters with very distinct viewpoints. Most of the action takes place within the virtual worlds and Williams has come up with a few doozies;A cartoon kitchen, an ice age, a warped version of Oz to name just a few. The few scenes in RL (real life) are dedicated to new characters Olga, an online actress who stars in a children's serial and Ramsey the lawyer of Orlando's parents. These two characters seem to have stumbled on a connection between Olga's show and the coma children are falling into but Williams keeps a tight lip on this, just offering tantalizing glimpses. I enjoyed the mystery element that was added by having Dread disguised as one of group and I must admit had fun sifting through the clues William's left to his identity.

There was just one tiny issue that bothered me. Having grown up in Durban, South Africa I was impressed with how well he portrayed the region in the first book. Everything from the layout and the atmosphere was spot on. In this book Renie's father Long Joseph catches a lift with an Afrikaans truck driver, who when speaking says Yah a lot. Ja is the Afrikaans word for yes and is spelt quite differently. A minor blemish I know but after all the obvious research Williams has put in it was a notable oversight.

Overall Williams has once again delivered an interesting read. 8.5/10.

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