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on June 27, 2002
This is the 5th book in the Riverworld series.
The main character is now only Burton, although the story does focus on other characters in his party for brief amounts of time.
The main plot here is having reached the tower and solved its mystery the party must now solve the mystery of a Renegade in control of the tower. The story centers on this and also the pleasures they take by using the almost god-like power of the computer in the tower.
This is a pretty good novel but the boring sequences from the last one are here in spades and now come in the form of intricate backgrounds of each of the characters. Also there is a strange weirdness you may feel while reading this because of the fact that the whole book 326 pages takes place in the tower in a relatively short period of time. This is where many other reviewers got the notion that the Author just threw this book in to make some cash.
Still it's exciting to follow Burton around without the hindrances of a huge amount of people and one thing I can say about this novel and the one previous is that towards the very end there is a point where everything is explained. It's kind the equivalent of the bad guy in Scooby Doo removing his mask and explaining why he "could have pulled it of if it weren't for those darn kids." And these points are very exciting and make you sit up and pay attention since basically this is exactly what you've been waiting to find out for 5 books.
Note: There is one very specific discrepancy I would like to point out. It's around page 28, and it's where the party is talking about living together because of the Renegade, Turpin asks Frigate if he's ever been in the slammer and Frigate replies only in his own personal one. THEN Burton thinks to himself that Frigates statement wasn't true because Frigate had been a prisoner several time including under Hermann Goring(this took place in To Your Scattered Bodies Go, and Burton was there also).....Well this is very strange because it was later revealed (in The Dark Design) that the Frigate that was in Goring's prison with Burton was not the same Frigate as the one in the tower currently! And Burton Knew this! So he should not have thought. Anyone that has read this far will know the story behind the two Frigates I don't want to reveal too much. But that's a pretty bid mistake.
----In regards to the other reviews of this series that I've written, I'd like to say a few words concerning the series as a whole...
Well over all I'd say this is a pretty good series. I could have used some editing in some places and some more info in others. But I have to say the feeling I had when I finished the last couple lines of the last book was a good one. I wanted there to be more after 5 books I was surprised and saddened that it ended. So unless you have nothing better to do go ahead read through this and skip over the stuff that is boring because believe me you won't be missing anything. Otherwise if your really bored you can just read every word of it, that's what I did the first two times I read the series.
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VINE VOICEon December 27, 2001
As other, less generous reviewers below note, this is not necessarily indispensible-- you can read the 4-book Riverworld series without reading this and feel completely satisfied with its denouement. But Farmer is always thought-provoking, and I was pleased to have read this additional (and unquestionably final) chapter in the saga. As Farmer so often does, here again he completely confounds expectations and reverses the "truth" of the previous books. Philosophizing here as in all his other works, he tackles themes that flow through his entire oeuvre-- morality, immortality, free will, theology... there's little he misses along the way. So, if the Riverworld series is your cup of tea, and the first four books pleased you, this is a solid bet-- don't miss it for the final pieces of the puzzle.
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on February 28, 2001
After starting with a *Bang!* in 'To Your Scattered Bodies Go,' the series went steadily downhill. According to the Foreword in 'The Dark Design,' the Riverworld saga was originally intended to be a Trilogy. It would have been better to have stuck with that plan. Book Four was okay, though I groaned when I read the last line; it fairly screamed "unnecessary, just-for-the-money sequel coming!"
'Gods of Riverworld' basically lives up to that expectation. It adds nothing to the series. Some of the lead characters react and behave differently in this book than in the previous four; some of the situations are likewise unbelievable and inconsistent, as other reviewers have noted. Several interesting characters, whom we've come to care about during the series, play no part in this book, while other completely uninteresting and superficial characters are brought in for "walk-on" roles.
Perhaps the author thought this was a brilliant plot twist, but the end result is a tiresome book that serves as an unfortunate end to one of the most promising concepts in Sci-Fi literature.
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on November 14, 2000
The author really should have resisted the temptation to add this last volume to a projected four-volume series. He obviously had nothing new or interesting to add, so we must suppose that he needed to pay off a new car or boat and so added this travesty of the earlier volumes. Not only does he not resolve any of the unanswered questions left at the end of volume four (which were tolerable ambiguities), but he completely destroys the essential world view and philosophical leanings that he developed in the earlier volumes. If you want a sense of completion to the series, stop with volume 4 and imagine anything else that you want to address anything you find unresolved. No matter what you decide upon, it doubtless will be better than the incredible drivel into which this volume descends. This is a volume destined to grace the bottoms of garbage pails everywhere.
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I really enjoyed the first 4 volumes of the series, even though I had some small gripes about them. This one, however, is simply a book nobody needs. The plot`s basically been finished at the end of No. 4, and though I won't spoil the fun by revealing the gimmick of the this book, I might safely tell you, that it doesn't really offer any great new insight. What we have here instead is a typical sequel: The author doesn't really have anything more to say, but since the readers are willing to buy another volume, the author's gonna write it. The reslt is a book filled with situations that are anything but credible. Would you believe, for example, that people decide not to do anything about an armed takeover of their home, because they don't want to miss a party they've been invited to? Or that they spend days pursuing an unknown person that causes strange things to happen - and then one day they just stop doing so, because they just find something else to do? It just doesn't work - and that goes for the whole book: It just doesn't work. Read the first four and skip this one - or if you must read it, get it from a library.
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on June 3, 2005
One of the questions I hear most often from sci-fi and fantasy fans is "But what happened next?" This is the reason the most successful series have so many subsequent books and fan-fiction stories written; when a world is evocative, you want to hear more.

The Riverworld story was absolutely finished with Book 4, and Farmer could easily have stopped there. However, he was curious about what might transpire when the power of the Riverworld falls into the wrong (?) hands, so he continued the series for one more book.

Do not attempt to read this book without reading the rest of the series, and don't feel that you have to continue if you were satisfied with the end of The Magic Labyrinth. Gods of Riverworld brings the story to a more definite close, albeit not one that I particularly liked.

Note that one of the book's two protagonists is Peter Frigate, who many readers (including myself) found absolutely an insufferable example of author egotism. If you'd had enough of Frigate by the end of book four, you're probably not going to like book five.
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on May 10, 2005
At first I was going to rate this book 2 stars. Then once I finished I realized I liked it better, and raised my rating.

This book is definitely the worst in the series. While the other books show the difficulties and struggle of people trying to get to the tower, spanning several years and with many different conflicts and enemies, this book takes place in a realatively short time in a small space, the tower or giant grail.

Filled with overlong backgrounds on many of the characters, this book is mostly a discussion on various points of philosophy, not really a continuation of the Riverworld saga.

The first few pages, a few pages in the middle and the last half chapter all progress the story and were the redeeming quality of the book. The rest was a buch of irritating dialogues and asides describing character histories.

If you liked the other books in the series, be prepared for disappointment. Still I did enjoy knowing what happened to the characters after they got to the tower. If you skim the backgrounds and the philosophy discussions, this book is a nice one to have read.
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on October 17, 2005
The unfavorable reviews of this book kept me from buying it. But finally I couldn't resist finding out how Farmer closed out the series. Buy, was I pleasently surpirsed. Of the 5 RiverWorld books in the series, book 1 was my favorite while book 5 is my second favorite.

Book 5 closes the show sure but what leads to the close is fascinating to me. The discussions the characters have is stimulating and the events that occur in the tower are entertaining.

Don't let the unfavorable reviews disuade you from reading this book. If you liked the existential undertones in the previous 4 books, you'll really like this one.
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VINE VOICEon June 17, 2010
These comments concern the novel "Gods of Riverworld" by Philip Jose Farmer (1918-2009).

Last year I finally was able to read the four Riverworld books in sequence something I have been meaning to do for quite some time. The books titles and year of first publication are as follows: "To Your Scattered Bodies Go" (1971), "The Fabulous Riverboat"(1971), "The Dark Design"(1977) and "The Magic Labyrinth"(1980). I was motivated sufficiently to post comments on each book here on Amazon.

Speculative fiction aficionados and admires of Philip Jose Farmer's writings should consider reading theses intriguing books. Having said that I must be honest. I was disappointed with the conclusion. After four books Farmer leaves the reader dangling on a narriative cliff and then as a final shove informed us that "The Magic Labyrinth" would be the final book in the series. Well, authors can change their minds and this brings us to the "true" final volume "Gods of Riverworld" published in 1983. Perhaps not, wouldn't it be like Farmer to have his estate publish a "lost" volume found in his papers. We can only wish.

First a word of caution. If you have not read any of the Riverworld" books you should do you self a favor and at least read "To Your Scattered Bodies Go" prior to "Gods of Riverworld" you have been warned.

"Gods of Riverworld" takes up at the conclusion of "The Magic Labyrinth". The story starts with an apparent murder and the survivors in the tower set out to find the guilty party. Farmer drops that plot thread until the end of the book and instead spends the next several hundred pages with lively intellectual conjectures and speculations concerning the nature of our souls, resurrection, afterlife, good and evil and an incredible replay of Alice in Wonderland with homicidal robots playing all the characters.

For this reader the attraction of the Riverworld books is the thought provoking concepts the author proposes and the very obvious portions where the novel turns into autobiography.

In my humble opinion this series will eventually be Farmer's true lasting literary legacy. Although I do greatly admire "Jesus of Mars" and his non-genre "Fire and the Night" the Riverworld" books are the first titles I would recommend to a new reader.
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on September 29, 2012
The original Riverworld was probably my favourite scifi book of all time, probably a tie with Ringworld. Unfortunately, the theme for Riverworld has gone too cerebral and is no longer a compulsive and enticing read. For someone looking for the original thrill of Riverworld, this is not the same type of book.
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