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Mountain of Black Glass (Otherland, Volume 3) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Otherland Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Otherland, the quartet of which Mountain of Black Glass is the powerful third part, combines some terrifying speculation on the future of virtual reality with adventures no less terrifying because they are technologized dreaming. These are dreams the adventurers cannot awaken from and in which, if they die, they are really dead.

An epidemic of comatose children has led Renie and her San friend !Xabbu into the net and to a series of dream worlds created as palaces by the corrupt aspiring immortals, the Grail Brotherhood. Two of those children, Orlando and Fredericks, have become adventurers in their own right, while their parents' lawyer Ramsey follows real-world money and lesbian cop Calliope tracks a serial killer with serious ambitions to become an angry god. In this volume, adventures take place in a mythic ancient Egypt and a rambling Gormenghastlike house before all the virtual adventurers meet where they were always destined to, before the walls of Troy.

"All around, death. It was not a quiet presence during the long day--not a pale-faced maiden bringing surcease from pain, not a skillful reaper with a scalpel-sharp blade.... Death on the Trojan plain was a crazed beast that roared and clawed and smashed, which was everywhere at once, and which in its unending fury showed that even armored men were terribly frail things."

Tad Williams takes the gameworld and turns it on its head, passionately; how do we know that what bleeds does not feel pain? He writes a classic of cyberspace adventure that has a sorrowful heart. --Roz Kaveney, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Trapped in the exotic virtual simulation known as Otherland, Paul Jonas, Orlando Gardner, and Renie Sulaweyo continue their separate explorations into the heart of the reality that surrounds them. As they confront puzzles and obstacles in re-creations of ancient Egypt and Homeric Greece, they come closer to the black glass mountain that may offer them the key to the mysterious Grail Brotherhood that controls the passages to and from Otherland. Synopses of the previous volumes (City of Golden Shadow; River of Blue Fire) of Williams's ambitious epic provide enough information for newcomers to the series, but the entire story is best read in sequence. Filled with complex plot threads, a wide variety of virtual and "real" characters and vivid descriptions of numerous worlds, this series belongs in most sf collections.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Otherland (Book 3)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: DAW (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0886779065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0886779061
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.7 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #737,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
MoBG is the third volume in the Otherland saga, and I actually enjoyed it even more than the first two books in this series. Williams combines his usual terrific writing skills with some fabulous visual images of different worlds taken from ancient folklore, such as Egypt and ancient Greece. I especially liked the fact that, while there are many more secrets to be revealed in the final volume of Otherland, some information is finally disclosed to the reader and there is a climax of sorts at the end of the volume. I actually enjoyed the ending immensely, though I can understand if others were mystified by it. Of course, Williams has a Herculean task with the fourth novel, Sea of Silver Light. I counted at least twelve developing subplots without answers yet, and so I'm hoping that Williams doesn't fail to provide a great finish to this powerful and exciting series, as so many other fantasy writers have failed to do in the past. Of course, it goes without mention that you must read the first two volumes in this series to understand this book. Ignore the Kirkus review above, unless you really have a problem with reading books over 400 pages. However, if you like detail, well-developed characters, and powerful visual images, then you must read this book. It's the best fantasy novel I've read in the last two years. Here's hoping that Williams finishes Otherland on the same roll!
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Format: Hardcover
City of Golden Shadow, the first book in the series, set the stage and introduced us to the Otherland world, set sometime in our near future. In the second installment, River of Blue Fire, our various heroes found themselves spread out across the virtual realm of the Otherland virtual network. Now, in the third book, Williams has managed to up the ante, and things actually happen. I felt the first book was excellent as an introduction, but the second fell off as nothing of any real import seemed to occur. Now, in Mountain of Black Glass, Williams has paid off on the promise he made in Golden Shadow. The first two books are must-reads to understand this masterpiece, but the payoff is worth it. Williams' ability to create another world is unmatched, and his capacity to weave an ever-increasing number of storylines into a compelling and coherent narrative is startling. Well worth the read, though this lengthy series is not for the faint of heart or short of attention span.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mountain of Black Glass is the third volume in Williams's "Otherland" tetralogy. The fourth and final volume, Sea of Silver Light, is scheduled to be published in hardcover at the beginning of next year (March 2001, UK date).
I read "Mountain" immediately after finishing George R.R. Martin's A Storm of Swords, and must admit I had some difficulty becoming interested again in Williams's parade of virtual worlds after Martin's gritty and intelligent tour de force.
Still, after only a few hundred pages - hmm, wonder why that sounds sarcastic? - I found myself enjoying "Mountain" quite a bit more than its prequel, River of Blue Fire.
The problem with "River" was as simple as it was devastating: there is no plot development to speak of and the entire book is simply one long, ineffectual succession of different virtual settings. In terms of narrative, it is, bluntly put, bad. But although this flaw has, in part, spilled over into "Mountain", this third instalment has one important redeeming feature: as the book progresses, the themes introduced by the first (and quite excellent) volume are taken up again and things start to move forward once more. If you are able to more or less forget "River" and can still manage to be convinced by Williams's creation, "Mountain" is rewarding. Not awesome, not masterful, but rewarding. And that's in spite of the extraordinary but quite incomprehensible ending.
Bottom line: if Williams's and Martin's next volumes were to be published more or less at the same time (fat chance!) I'd change the order of reading them around. First Williams, then Martin. That way, you go from good to very much better.
Bottomer line: Martin is writing his masterpiece. Williams is drafting.
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Format: Hardcover
I must say that I am really enjoying Tad Williams' "Otherland" series quite thorougly. "Mountain of Black Glass" was no exception; it was, in my opinion, a fine addition to series, and helped resolves several plot points while beginning several more. Being one of the 'in-between' books in the series, it is largely concerned with furthering the plot until the conclusion of the tetralogy, but still things that *should* get done in the plot do. And, of course, the author throws in enough new and suprising material tho satisfy--and confuse-- the audience. By the end of the book, the reader is as clueless as to what is really going on as the hapless characters are themselves. The suspense and tension only add to the book's appeal, as Williams is making us all wait patiently for the final volume for all our questions to be answered.
I must applaud Tad for once again creating some fine fantastical worlds for his characters to play in. Seeing Paul struggle through ancient, Homeric Greece or Rene and the Gang struggle through the House was very entertaining. Tad has done a remarkable job on developing his characters; the reader grows to care for them, and when an unfortunate few do not make it to the last page alive...well, I must say I felt a bit distressed, to say the least.
The only real complaint I have about the book is that the numerous character perspectives can be quite confusing at times. There are literally dozens of separate players in this little drama, and when each is given their own time in the spotlight, things can get a little muddled at times. But I feel that that problem is overcome by the wonderful variety of the characters and the interesting perspectives each one brings. Rene, Dread, Cristabel, Jongleur--each is different in their own way, and each brings something different to the narrative. I can hardly wait till the end of the series just so I can see how everything is finally resolved!
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