From Library Journal
Set in a future in which humankind is served by a multitude of sophisticated machines, MacLeod's accomplished first novel describes a world much different from ours yet instantly recognizable in all important ways. Father John, sent to what was once Northern Africa, labors gamely to heal the sick and bring the word of Christ into the lives of the pagan Borderers, natives forced to live outside the boundaries of European civilization. Noting that a large number of the natives are dying of the same disease, myeloid leukemia, he starts to investigate a native plant that the people use as an intoxicant. Although banning the koyil leaf would seem to be a logical solution to reducing the large number of deaths, Father John encounters realpolitik, which dictates that moral decisions are secondary to maintaining the status quo. Father John's life is complicated by nagging doubts about the validity of his faith and his attraction to a Borderer woman. MacLeod's somewhat bleak vision of the future is energized by his evocative writing and his ability to create realistic characters who struggle mightily with questions of belief, love, life, and death.-?Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
By about 2170, the Endless City occupies the entire coast of North Africa; its Borderers live in poverty and squalor under a perpetual cloud generated by global warming and climate control. Though Father John Alston (``Fatoo''), of the Pandera presbytery, has lost much of his faith, he continues to offer the Borderers spiritual comfort and such medical aid as much as he is able (his own implants keep him safe from Borderer ailments, but the reverse isn't true). The Borderers chew a leaf, koiyl, similar to coca, that John suspects may cause cancer. Helped by Laurie Kalmar, a European-educated Borderer computer-net expert, he finds that the leaf from one particular source is dangerously radioactive. After he and Laurie become lovers, John visits home--where his once- genius brother, Hal, having monkeyed with his implants, has lain in a deathly coma for 20 years--and decides to leave the priesthood. Upon his return to the Endless City, his relationship with Laurie collapses; he tracks down the distribution of the deadly koiyl, which he begins to use himself, falls ill, returns home, recovers, allows Hal to die and, recognizing that his life is a spiritual journey, recovers his faith. Despite the highly unlikely extrapolation from now to then, especially the improbably secular North Africans: a thoughtful, sometimes wrenching, noteworthy debut. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.