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When the gods of the Whorl speak to him about the future, clergyman Patera Silk begins a quest to save his church and his people, the citizens of a giant spaceship on a generations-old voyage to a forgotten destiny. Reprint.
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Wolfe continues the saga begun in Nightside the Long Sun with this curious mix of science and medieval culture in which gods possess people and robotic police patrol mysterious underground passageways. Patera Silk, a young cleric, attempts to ransom his parish buildings from creditors; in the process he uncovers a larger conspiracy involving the government of Viron and even the gods he worships. Emerging from the underground with his new knowledge, he finds himself chosen as leader ("Calde") of the masses and is simultaneously arrested. As a hero, Silk is good-natured but he lacks the energy and complexity required by his role. He often seems slighty lost, a lack of direction mirrored by the slowly developing narrative, which picks up only shortly before the finish. While the language is often inventive ("deadcoach" for horse-drawn hearse), it proves equally distracting; nor are the secondary characters distinctly depicted. Reference is made to the next volume of Wolfe's projected tetralogy, increasing the sense that this book is little more than a bridge between more important segments.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The second volume in Wolfe's inspired new tetralogy, The Book of the Long Sun, continues looking like an sf masterwork in the making. Returning to the expansive, cityscaped interior of the Whorl, a massive space-faring vehicle whose origins are shrouded in legend, Wolfe resumes the story of Patera Silk, a cleric from a poor parish who turns thief to buy back his church from the wealthy crime lord, Blood. Silk plots to extort the required sum from Blood's hired physician, Dr. Crane, who, Silk discovers, is spying behind his employer's back. Following Crane's trail, Silk quickly finds himself entangled in the stratagems of operators shadier than himself and unwittingly stumbles on deeper secrets behind and below the Whorl. Wolfe excels at his own brand of richly textured mythmaking, embracing elements of magic without veering into fantasy. What emerges is a captivating narrative involving pious cyborgs, corrupt holy men, and mysterious high-altitude flyers, with subterranean tunnels, archaic technology, and televised messages from gods. Volumes three and four are avidly awaited. Carl Hays
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