Exodus From The Long Sun (Book of the Long Sun) Mass Market Paperback – August 15, 1997
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One of the things I like about his writing is that it is so unusual and unpredictable. There are few if any cliches in is work. Silk is not your usual hero. His growth in the four books is both logical and satisfying. I loved Oreb for his comic relief. "Fish heads?" And found the tales of the Maytera's curious and fascinating. Were they first bio's? I was never completely sure.
I was never completely sure about a lot by the end of the last book. Who created the Whorl? And why? Who are the gods? Who is the outsider? Why was there a choice of two planets? Why were only a few citizens suppose to leave the whorl? Who wanted them to leave? Why were the "gods" fighting with each other? What the heck was "Quetzal"? What is an inhumi?
I came to read reviews from other readers to perhaps get a clue to what I missed in my reading. Some of the reviews were helpful because they suggested I am not alone in lacking understanding of the story.
I know Wolfe does not spoon feed his readers and that is one of the reasons I like him. However, I finished this series so puzzled and annoyed that I couldn't figure out the barest outline of what, where and why of the whorl. He created an involving, charismatic literary feast which left me all the more famished at the end.
Perhaps it's me and I need to reread them. I am still thinking about the books days after finishing them but it's not with satisfaction, it's with irritation.
Top international reviews
From a bare bolts point of view, I'd recommend this series for fans of older fashioned sci-fi. Ideas aplenty, with the reader dropped in to the middle of it and expected to figure out what a chem, a bio, and an orilla is (I'll give you the last one: it's a quarter without a manteion).
This book specifically involves a lot of characters having conversations about their plans for the future. These make a lot more sense on the second read, when you'll have already seen their future. I'd really turned a corner when I realised the talking bird wasn't just throwing together random words.
The highlight for me though was charting the characters' various fortunes in the civil insurrection, ongoing now since the middle of book two. It's not the reason for the exodus of the title, but it was fascinating to see how individuals contributed to a situation that couldn't be saved or ruined by any one person. It felt like how Lord of the Rings would have been, if no one had ever found the ring.
I've taken one star off a perfect score. There was a reason. This book specifically was a bit heavy on the conversations. It could have done with a little more variation. After a while it felt like everyone had a question they had to ask someone else. And then they invariably seemed to ask it by first telling a story.
Four stars feels right for the series too. The overall achievement here is immense. But at a couple of points in the delivery I've felt it's been a bit of a slog to get to the next good bit. Breaking in to the villa in the first book; wandering about in tunnels in the third; visiting a factory that made personalised tanks (as in, they have a personality) in this one. If they could all have rocked along like the second book, it would have been five short suns from me.