Mountain of Black Glass by Tad Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Mountain of Black Glass is the third of Tad Williams' four Otherland books, but it is definitely not least. Paul Jonas finds himself in the role of Odysseus, confronting yet another incarnation of the winged woman who haunts his dreams. His ultimate goal, given to him by the bird woman, is to find Troy, but soon he is thrown into a nightmare as he is forced to live through the tribulations of his famous character in reverse order.
Meanwhile, Rennie, Martine, !Xabbu, Florimel, T4b, and Emily 22813 (from the Oz simworld) find themselves in a building. Not just any building, but one that stretches to infinity. Yet, like in the other worlds, they find and are able to follow the river. On the long trek through balconies, hallways and cavernous ballrooms, Florimel, Martine and T4b finally reveal their histories and motivations for responding to Sellers' call to Otherland. And then, disaster strikes.
Long Joseph, Rennie's dad, and Jeremiah are still monitoring Rennie and !Xabbu in the abandoned military facility, but their stories diverge when Joseph, tired of waiting, escapes on a foolhardy quest to see his son and maybe find something to drink. Of course, he makes things worse, adding to the danger when the organization who murdered the woman who was Rennie's friend and Jeremiah's employer takes note of and begins to follow him. Meanwhile, Jeremiah, left alone finds the silence, and perhaps his sanity, shattered when the unthinkable happens: the phone rings.
My favorite duo, the ailing Orlando and his pal Fredericks now travel through ancient Egypt, where Osiris (a.k.a. Felix Jongluer, leader of the Grail Brotherhood) reigns. Soon, they find themselves irresistibly drawn to a strange temple. But the mysterious winged woman (who they remember as the sleeping woman from the freezer) had released The Wicked Tribe into their care, and these flying monkey children have a plan that just might help Orlando and Fredericks survive their encounter with the looming structure.
The villains don't stand idly by while the heroes make their way through the simulation. Dread plans his revenge against his former comrades, attempting to unlock the power of the golden lighter. Jongleur makes deals with key members of the Grail Brotherhood as the final preparations for the immortality ceremony are put in place. Dulcie, one time co-inhabitor of the sim who spied on Seller's heroes, finds herself equally drawn to and frightened by her charming employer, Dread. And the forces put in play to keep Rennie and her friends from investigating the Otherland network and Grail Brotherhood and closing in on her physical location. And, of course, there is the ever present threat of The Twins, the nasty duo that haunts nearly every simworld.
The tension and worry for the wayward heroes mount ever greater as the story progresses. The villains are heartless and clever, unrelenting in their personal and combined quests. The rich simworlds include both the familiar and the legendary, and those with a familiarity with the Iliad will find they cannot help to wonder just how closely the tragic tale will affect those caught up in its story.
I love this third installment in Tad Williams' Otherland series and would highly recommend it to people who enjoy epic sci-fi novels and who don't mind a story that takes its time. Those who have made it this far into the series will find that this is perhaps the best one so far.
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Missed my reviews for Otherland 1-2? Check them out here:
City of Golden Shadow (Otherland #1) by Tad Williams
River of Blue Fire (Otherland #2) by Tad Williams
Have you read this series? Let me know what you thought in the comments.