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Eternity Road Paperback – January 1, 1998
"The Glamourist" by Luanne G. Smith
A spellbinding novel of bloodlines, self-discovery, and redemption by the author of The Vine Witch. | Learn more
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Top reviews from the United States
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The main theme of the novel is that knowledge has been lost; the upcoming society has little knowledge of the roadmakers, and doesn't understand their technology. They've got metal, and use horses as prime movers and transportation. The abandoned cars that are decomposing in parking lots and on highways are studied by philosophers and scholars in an attempt to reverse engineer their function and even understand their use.
One such scholar has journeyed far past his village, which is in the south east of the United States. His expedition loses everyone but him, and he returns with a book written by Mark Twain. This causes some controversy; how did the others die? Is the place they claim to have visited real?
The first third of the book explores this backstory and sets the context. It's a bit of a drag, but some members of the village decide to mount a second expedition in hopes of recovering more books and learning more about the roadmakers. The balance of the book is about their journey, and is an immensely fun read.
There are a few holes in the premise. It's curious that so much knowledge has been lost; particularly that so few books remain. Some electronic devices still function, including an automated regional commuter train. Some technology is available, but some isn't; these gaps seem a bit curious. In all, the premise is plausible but can be a bit distracting as the author doesn't explain it outright.
While the start of the book was a bit of a grind, I'm afraid the alternative would be the tired trope of a timeline that jumps around with flashbacks to tie the current journey to the one in the past. That mechanism is tired, so I'm happy to sit through the slow introduction. I hope you are too: it's well worth it.
Evidently we are in a future earth. Most of the artifacts found are not known by this generation. There are stories of a place called Haven where the last of humanity was supposedly saved from destruction. The answers to many of their questions can be found here.
The first expedition failed with almost a complete loss of life. But now another will begin...and what will their experience be?
I would recommend this book to any one who likes a good story...can't miss with this book.. 😊
I love Jack McDevitt’s space opera series such as his Priscilla Hutchins books (about a woman space pilot and her adventures – a comment on the space program) and Infinity Beach (a warp to another planet but on Native American property).
This one is different! Not to belabor the plot since other reviewers did a better job, but the story centers around a dystopian society, about a thousand years after ours bit the dust in “The Plague.” It’s a vague plague (yeah, sorry), since there’s not a lot about it in the story.
The story starts out with the remnants of a journey to Haven, a place where the remains of The Roadmakers (that’s us) still exist and there are books there. Books are rare and to find any is amazing. Odd that after a thousand years the society is still quite primitive, up to a Cowboy style civilization, complete with repeater guns and horses.
Chaka is our strong female lead and she wants to find out about the death of her brother. She forms a group and sets out to find out what’s happened. Along the way she meets ancient Roadmaker machines that still operate. Labeled as demons and magic, these machines are somewhat sentient and there’s a bit of humor in dealing with them.
After many adventures and unfortunately many deaths (several good characters were killed off unnecessarily in my opinion) Haven is located. In fact its location and technological discoveries start turning the place around.
Bottom Line, Observations:
Eternity Road is not a bad novel, just takes 200 pages to get going. But once we’re going, the adventures kept my interest and the losses shocked. The discoveries interested me and piqued the curious bone. Recommended.
Interesting that McDevitt, as he has done before, explores the theme of what a sentient computer would do after being unable to live life as a being, other than commit suicide. This theme is explored in one of his short stories in the collection Cryptic, an anthology that I highly recommend.
Top reviews from other countries
When an adventurer comes back to the village talking about finding books and dragons a few people from the village decide to go beyond the known land and travel to find these books and find out what happened to the 'Roadmakers' who built the massive structures that surround them every day yet they know nothing of.
They travel across a decimated America coming across relics of our possible future, coming across pirates and other civilisations.
It is a great book that I got through in a couple of days, very easy to read with relatable characters. I couldn't put it down and wish Jack McDevitt wrote more books based in this universe.
Not at all depressing considering the material so read for a jovial good time.
I liked the concept. It was nice for the (near future) us to be the ones with the god like technology for once (perhaps not so nice us being dead through plague!). But it did make you think about what people would make of our technology now (let alone in the future when the plague hits), if there was that break in knowledge transfer.
The story is based around a quest to a place called Haven (Were the last of us went after the plague), to try acquire our tech and knowledge. It took a while to get going but once the had started found it took a while to get going but once it did it was a good yarn. The story never really plodded and the characters fit together well and are interesting enough. I liked the description of the places and the group of characters in the book do go travel through some very interesting ones.
I'm quite a prolific reader of sci-fi and apocalypse novels and I found some new ideas in here that I hadn't considered before which is always cool.
I noticed a few reviewers said they had problems with the tech available to the civilizations in the book and they couldn't understand how they had guns but not other similar technology. This wasn't a massive problem for me in the end when I read it. I just put it down to certain technology paths like electricity and metallurgy being missing. If you are like me and give your books a rough ride in terms of scientific or mechanical plausibility i'd say give it chance.
On the negative side, I felt the epilogue could have been a bit longer.
Anyway if you like apocalypse stories and are fascinated by images that urban explorers take of ruins you'll like this book.
That being said, the book does contain numerous literary flaws. First, there is a lot of time wasted on seemingly trivial matter before the exploration actually begins. Nearly one-fourth of the book is filled with background information that has little, or anything, to do with the main plot line. Secondly, while it took most of the novel to decipher, we, as readers, finally come to realize that this occurs about 1000 years after the global apocalypse. Why wasn't the author able to let us know this very early in the plot development? Thirdly, the survivors of this destruction seem a bit disjointed. Some things have naturally carried over into their society; zippers, religion, ability to read and write, livestock maintenance, etc.... But others, that may be equally as prone to survival, are lost; i.e. compasses, history of the apocalypse and the operation of basic machinery. Fourth, while the author has an easy style of writing, he holds our hands as he walks us through the character development and tells us about their personalities. Instead he should have allowed the reader to reach his/her own conclusions through their overt actions and interactions with one another. Lastly, there is no ending per se, the book abruptly stops. Because of the Victorian-age society we find ourselves in, we have little ability to project what the finding of additional ancient books will do for society, if anything. Additionally, the prologue that follows is brief and very shallow leaving the reader with the feeling that he has just been on a pleasant journey but has been led nowhere.
If you want an easy-to-read dystopic novel that has very few challenges, this book is for you. If, however, you are seeking a book that will leave you pondering its meaning into the far future, look elsewhere.