Tad Williams is one of those authors where I will go out and buy anything that he has written. I’m such a big fan in fact that if he was to release a series of shopping lists and reminder notes that he has written then I would probably already have it on advance order from Amazon... My face has gone red just typing this but it’s true.
It wasn’t always like this though. It was about ten years ago and I had pretty much everything that Tad had written fantasy wise, I wasn’t sure whether to get started on the new ‘Otherland’ series that I had noticed in the bookshop. I was on a real fantasy fix back then and this science fiction series was a little too far outside my zone, it was seven pounds for the first (admittedly very thick) book and my budget couldn’t stretch that far! Thank the Book Gods for birthdays, that’s all I have to say. I ended up with a copy of ‘City of Golden Shadow’ and was too busy getting into a tale of two worlds to have time to wish that I’d picked this book up sooner...
Renie Sulaweyo is drawn into a mystery spanning continents and lands across two worlds when her little brother falls into a coma while online. Rumour of a golden city draws her ever onwards and she comes across several others who have also fallen under the spell of the same vision. Someone wants these people to find ‘Otherland’, a virtual world created by the world’s elite. What will Renie and her friends do though when they realise that they are stuck in Otherland and cannot leave? And who is the mysterious Paul Jonas...?
Whether you’re a fan of Tad Williams, or not, you won’t be able to escape the validity of the accusation that once again he’s written a series that sometimes almost drowns under the weight of excessive padding. Otherland is made up of countless smaller worlds and Williams doesn’t want to leave any of them until he has told you everything he can about them. What you get as a result is a series where the balance shifts away from the plot and towards the world building, almost to the point of no return. If you’re not a fan of the minutiae of world building then you may want to steer clear of these books!
I’m a fan though and I loved it.
Williams really pours himself into each of these worlds and this ‘personal feel’ is evident in both the background and the characters moving through it. Personally, I was sad to leave each world (the world of ‘The Looking Glass’ and the one with the giant insects have always been my favourites, Felix Jongleur’s Egyptian world gave me the shivers...) but this was tempered by the fact that I was about to go somewhere new and discover a whole load of great stuff.
You have to dig for it but there is a story here as well and Williams does very well to keep everything going for as long as he does (considering all the strands he had to weave), I wasn’t too convinced by the ending but the journey there was more than worth it! The ‘Otherland’ series is chock full of ordinary people doing very brave things in a world that’s more dangerous than they first realised. Jongleur is a very dangerous individual but Dread is far worse.
I was gripped, by the story, the whole way through and definitely begrudged the time I had to spend waiting for the next chapter!
I came to the ‘Otherland’ series as I was a fan of Tad Williams; I stayed because of the story itself. If you’re after a series with plenty to chew on then you could do a lot worse than check this out...
The ‘Otherland’ series comprises...
‘City of Golden Shadow’
‘River of Blue Fire’
‘Mountain of Black Glass’
‘Sea of Silver Light’