by: Tad Williams
by Ciara Grey
In Tad Williams latest offering,
he has taken a different direction. This novel runs in
the Science Fiction vein. I have read his other novels.
His world building skills are excellent and his
characters are solid and believable. Rather than nit-pick
the usual things I want to focus on the style he uses in
the first of three novels, Otherland: The City of
Golden Shadow. For those writers who have the problem
of too many characters, maybe this will give you some
insight on how to handle the situation.
Otherland doesnt plunge into conflict or any
action right away. The way this story is
set up makes it difficult to get an idea of where the
author is headed. He starts with four sub-plots. As I
counted it, there are twenty-one characters that have
relevant bearing on the main plot. It takes a lot of work
as a writer to deal with that many main characters, and
it gives the reader a cluttered impression. The story
would have been better without many of them. In my
opinion, the number of sub-plots and subsequent
characters make the story drag.
Several chapters in, and you begin to see the main story
line emerge. He periodically bounces back and forth to
the earlier sub-plots and then back to the main. I felt
this to be very distracting. Instead of coming right out
and revealing the villainous characters and their agenda
he holds back on that information. While its
acceptable that a character in the story not know what is
coming, as the reader I would prefer to know. Would it
hurt the reader to know everything? No.
Amid all the plots and characters he borrows plot lines
from Jack in the Beanstalk and snippets from
Alice in Wonderland. I would have preferred a
fresher approach. The story is about an alternate
computer reality so why not invent something else? The
use of computer slang was limited and not difficult to
Towards the end of the book he begins to tie all the sub-plots
to the main story. He begins to bring the many characters
together into one group. It becomes more difficult to
read with most of the characters all in one place. I have
begun to read the second novel to see how he moves the
story along with this ponderous group.
I have to wonder if anyone who hasnt published one
novel could get away with taking this sort of direction?
The answer is, no. The majority of readers out there are
not drawn to a new style of writing all that much. They
like their stories straight forward. After all, the name
of the game is escapism. It isnt a real
escape if you have to work at figuring out what the
author is trying to do.
I give this book a rating of
* * *
* * * * = Un-put-downable, excellent reading!
* * * = Good value, interesting reading.
* * = Had potential, but could have been better.
* = Slow, difficult to read, could have been
* = Imminently