- Series: Chronicles of Everness (Book 2)
- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (March 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765313332
- ISBN-13: 978-0765313331
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.3 x 10.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,366,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Mists of Everness (Chronicles of Everness) Hardcover – February 24, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
With oughta-be-in-pictures imagery and dialogue designed for laugh tracks, Wright relentlessly riffs off every fantasy and action-movie cliché in this boisterous agglutination of modernized myths, the sequel to The Last Guardian of Everness (2004). The cast of thousands includes Pendrake, a dethroned media mogul who carries an unbelievable array of espionage equipment to accompany his magic sword; his daughter, Wendy, who rarely stops giggling and pouting long enough to use her considerable magical powers; her husband, Raven, who controls the weather with the Ring of the Niflungar; and their allies Lemuel, Peter and Galen Waylock, three generations of guardians of the gate between the physical world and the realm of dreams. Together they battle talking seals disguised as Congressmen, physical manifestations of War and Fate, and the bumbling mage Azrael de Grey, who claims he meant well when he invoked Morningstar, the dark god who can only be defeated if Lemuel blows the horn that destroys the world. Wright follows in the footsteps of Neil Gaiman and Tim Powers with his own distinctive style and ideas. Characters are often flattened for the sake of a joke, and it's sometimes hard to tell what's parody and what's just overblown, but a little forgiveness and disbelief-suspending make this a highly enjoyable ride.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"John Wright is a stunning new talent. His vivid worlds are filled with wonder and dread, tension and hope." (David Brin)
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Oof. A bit of a mixed bag, this one. Not that the first novel in the series was a stone cold classic, opting for a breakneck pace over letting events actually register and characterizations shallow enough that babies could wade into them safely. It also ended on a cliffhanger, pretty much forcing you to get this book if you wanted anything resembling a complete reading experience with such quaint concepts as "beginning," "middle" and "end". I didn't love the first book and a mental extrapolation suggested I wouldn't love this one either but I figured there was a chance he could smooth over the parts I found rocky and I would be more used to the tone of the book.
And that does happen. Not enough to make me revise my first opinion that I wasn't going to love this but it wasn't a totally worthless reading experience either. Jumping ahead a little bit after the end of the first volume, we find the world in constant peril. Raven's on the run and massively depressed after his wife Wendy leaving him, Wendy is off somewhere in fairyland with an object everyone needs while sobbing all the time. Galen from the first book is still AWOL, while his wheelchair bound dad and grandfather are trying to figure out some way to salvage this mess. To no one's surprise its going to involve a lot of stuff blowing up and more magic items than your last dungeon crawl.
Most of the problems that plagued the first book for me are still here. While its a fantasy, the characters don't resemble real people enough that I care about any of them to a great extent . . . most of them are present merely to act out their one or two traits and move the plot along. Wendy remains a weird sticking point, a theoretically adult woman who giggles and pouts and says "Mommy" and "Daddy" like some regressed girl-child but is somehow supposed to be capable and also totally devoted to her husband. For me she stops the book cold every time she appears (which once she recovers from the events of the last book is quite a bit) since I don't find her aggressive silliness that endearing. It also doesn't help that she's about the only prominent female character in the book, other than her mother later, who is also a strong woman except when she's being a kitten dominated by her husband. Maybe she's meant to be mostly comedic but it never feels less than off.
The pacing continues to be on the wrong side of frenetic . . . there's a section about a third of the way in where all the mad running for their lives and attacking as they go starts to work and the crazed rush for the next plot twist almost justifies itself. Unfortunately that period is fairly short compared to the length of the book and for the rest we're treated to Wright's Myth-o-matic as he once again seeks to prove that he's read more than you have, which manifests as a parade of legends and legendary objects one after the other after the other and sometimes if you're lucky several at once. It doesn't work any better for me this time either because it goes by so quick that playing "spot the reference" is about as fun as doing "Where's Waldo" with a speed-reader and its unclear if we're supposed to be awed, fascinated, or amused by all this. He gets a little more mileage out of apparently considering the Shadow a myth of the new world with the addition of Pendrake, who is basically the Shadow by way of Daddy Warbucks and manages to do a lot of the heavy action lifting. But by this point he's like adding another instrument to a free jazz session . . . more noise is just more noise.
Granted, some of the concepts are intriguingly nutty. The selkies remain somewhat underrated in just how plain bizarre they are, the introduction of Prometheus livens things up and Wright's taste for action means that things rarely slow down long enough for you to be actively bored. But the tone shifts so widely that its hard to pin down a distinct feeling about what I'm reading . . . sometimes its deadly serious, sometimes its clear he's being satirical and sometimes its just the literary equivalent of a popcorn flick. For a good chunk of the book one of the characters snags a magical item that pretty much heals everyone instantly, robbing fight scenes of almost any tension or even purpose and turning them into video game respawning exercises. If I'm supposed to be concerned about the fate of this world then why not make a world that feels at least grounded in something real as opposed to a playground that the main characters traipse madly across?
If that's not enough to make the book feel pretty low-stakes, Wright also makes the mistake of shoehorning in some political advice toward the end as the action moves toward Washington DC and an infiltration of Congress . . . not only we have at least two mentions of laws resulting in only criminals having guns (considering how many bullets get exchanged in the course of this series, its clear they still aren't that hard to get) but Wright yanks out his best Ayn Rand impression and has Pendrake give a John Gault like speech about the Constitution and the rights we should have. Its fortunately not as long as Gault's fifty page droning but its not anymore interesting and has the feel that Wright has stopped being interested in the story itself and more about what he wants to say about the state of democracy. Which might make for the good topic of another book, but it doesn't quite work right here.
And then its almost immediately followed by one of the most cringe inducing sex scenes you're going to experience in a fantasy novel perhaps including fan-fiction and you're so far off the rails that suborbital space is beckoning.
So, its all entertaining to an extent but I think you have to be more dazzled by Wright's myths stacked on myths stacked on myths approach than I was to really have an impact, because that's mostly what the book has going for it. The characters are mostly notable for their more annoying tendencies, the action tends to blur after a while and even the stuff that wants to be zany and over the top just feels run of the mill after five hundred pages of the book trying to top itself chapter by chapter. Its clear Wright wants to show off his research and honestly I can't blame him but when nothing feels as strange or weird as the actual sources these ideas come from (without any cultural context they're no better than video game bosses, frankly), it makes for a flattened almost theme parkish feel. You almost hope for Cthulhu to wake up and gobble up the whole bunch.
The book follows the story line of Galen Waylock, Raven son of Raven, Peter Waylock, Lemuel Waylock, and Gwendolyn Raven. The characters each face their own personal challenges in order to fight a greater evil that confronts them to rule the world. Will they succeed or fail in their attempt to emerge stronger.
The Everness books are a fine reminder that we speak a language of story, that our modern entertainments are built upon their predecessors. Who would have imagined Batman as Merlin's heir? How about a Clancyesque American coup d'etat plot based upon seal-men wearing coats of Congressional skin? What would Prometheus do if he were stuck on an aircraft carrier for a couple hours? How about designing an ultra superduper nuke? Inspired.
Mr. Wright joins my automatic purchase list. Nothing this man has written has disappointed in the slightest. The Everness books will become a staple of the genre.
Most recent customer reviews
I have been a huge fan of Wright up until this series. It has so much potential, but he just had to shoe-horn his politics in to a fairy...Read more