The Whorl, a giant starship world whose origins are shrouded in legend, is ruled by strange gods and peopled by a human race changed by time. By the author of The Book of the New Sun. National ad/promo.
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Wolfe's first novel since Pandora by Holly Hollander (1990) is a vivid and compelling evocation of life inside an interstellar spacecraft so huge that a whole world of cities and wildernesses exists within it, and so old that its origins and purpose are mere legends to its inhabitants. Patera Silk, a young priest in one of the city of Viron's poorest temples ("manteions"), receives a mental message from one of his gods, an enlightenment which invests his life with urgent meaning. On the same day, however, he learns his manteion had been sold for back taxes and may well be dismantled. Armed with the conviction of his revelation, Silk enlists the aid of a local but decent-hearted thief, intent upon breaking into the mansion of Blod, the new owner of the manteion, to convince (or even force) him to guarantee its survival. From that point on, Silk is drawn even deeper into the shady world outside his temple walls. But for all its interest, the plot is hardly the most powerful element. The atmosphere of Wolfe's spacecraft seduces and amazes, details and mystery piling upon each other to yield a sense of palpable otherworldliness. The environment of the long sun--so called because the ship's cylindrical interior is lit by a central tubular "sun" extending the length of the ship--comes energetically alive, and readers will be grateful that this book begins a four-volume series. If this first taste is any test, Wolfe has embarked on an epic to rival his acclaimed Book of the New Sun.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The first installment in another multivolume, far-future saga (like Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun tetralogy, 1980-87), set inside...well, something--a supercolossal spaceship? a ringworld? a Dyson sphere?--that has its own sun, seasons, and a land surface that curves up in the distance to form the sky; until recently, this world's numerous ruling gods communicated with humans via ``Sacred Windows'' from their remote Mainframe home. Here, in a poor, decaying section of the city Viron, augur and religious leader Patera Silk receives enlightenment from a god, the Outsider, only to learn that his temple has been sold in lieu of unpaid taxes to the rich businessman Blood. Somehow, Silk must persuade Blood not to demolish the temple and redevelop the neighborhood. So Silk breaks into Blood's heavily defended villa, intending threats or bluff; after various weird incidents, Silk sustains a broken ankle and obtains Blood's undertaking to sell the temple back to Silk for twice the original price. Silk also agrees to exorcise Blood's bordello--the scene of a number of unpleasant and ultimately murderous hauntings. A typically unsettling, utterly mysterious blend of sacrifice, spies, exorcism, cyborgs, ghosts, androids, robots, genetic engineering, gods, computers, and what-all. The clever plotting, solid characters, and intriguing backdrop work splendidly in close- up, but their larger significance remains annoyingly unexplained, indeed barely even intimated. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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