Read Hammerfall by C.J. Cherryh Online


One of the most renowned figures in science fiction, C.J. Cherryh has been enthralling audiences for nearly thirty years with rich and complex novels. Now at the peak of her career, this three-time Hugo Award winner launches her most ambitious work in decades, Hammerfall, part of a far-ranging series, The Gene Wars, set in an entirely new universe scarred by the most vicioOne of the most renowned figures in science fiction, C.J. Cherryh has been enthralling audiences for nearly thirty years with rich and complex novels. Now at the peak of her career, this three-time Hugo Award winner launches her most ambitious work in decades, Hammerfall, part of a far-ranging series, The Gene Wars, set in an entirely new universe scarred by the most vicious of future weaponry, nanotechnology. In this brilliant novel -- possibly Cherryh's masterwork -- the fate of billions has come down to a confrontation between two profoundly alien cultures on a single desert planet."The mad shall be searched out and given to the Ila's messengers. No man shall conceal madness in his wife, or his son, or his daughter, or his father. Every one must be delivered up." -- The Book of the Ila's Au'itMarak has suffered the madness his entire life. He is a prince and warrior, strong and shrewd and expert in the ways of the desert covering his planet. In the service of his father, he has dedicated his life to overthrowing the Ila, the mysterious eternal dictator of his world. For years he has successfully hidden the visions that plague him -- voices pulling him eastward, calling Marak, Marak, Marak, amid mind-twisting visions of a silver tower. But when his secret is discovered, Marak is betrayed by his own father and forced to march in an endless caravan with the rest of his world's madmen to the Ila's city of Oburan.Instead of death, Marak finds in Oburan his destiny, and the promise of life -- if he can survive what is surely a suicidal mission. The Ila wants him to discover the source of the voices and visions that afflict the mad. Despite the danger sof the hostile desert, tensions within the caravan, and his own excruciating doubts, Marak miraculously reaches his goal -- only to be given another, even more impossible mission by the strange people in the towers.According to these beings who look like him yet act differently than anyone he has ever known, Marak has a slim chance to save his world's people from the wrath of Ila's enemies. But to do so, he must convince them all -- warring tribes, villagers, priests, young and old, as well as the Ila herself -- to follow him on an epic trek across the burning desert before the hammer of the Ila's foes falls from the heavens above.Written with deceptive simplicity and lyricism, this riveting, fast-paced epic of war, love, and survival in a brave new world marks a major achievement from the masterful C.J. Cherryh....

Title : Hammerfall
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780061057090
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 457 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Hammerfall Reviews

  • Mary JL
    2018-08-22 12:36

    I'm back! Some health issues--and a volunteer project had delayed reviews. You didn't think you were going to get rid of me THAT easily, did you?:)******************************************************************************************Marak had always known he was mad. since his sixth years he had heard voices in his head! "Marak! Marak! Marak!" and the compulsion to go east.As the son of a chief his mother proected him and his father pretended to ignore it. Then, the secret came out. Marak's father disowned him; surrended him to the Illa's men.After a long walk across the desert, a prisoner along with other mad ones, Marka is brought before the powerful Illa, the ruler of the world. To his surpise, Marak is not to die.The Illa strikes a bargain with him. She wishes to know what is causing this epideic of madness. Marka will use his warrior skills and go east to see wy the voices always urge the mad to go east. In return, the Illa will protect his mother and sister (his father threw them out also). for the sake of his mother and sister, Marak agrees to seek the source of the madness---and heads east, where no caravan has ever gone.This is a good beginning of a new world built by C. J. Cherryh. I rate it a solid three stars. Not as outstanding as some of her series, but well worth your time. The characterization is four stars--Marak, Hati and Norit are really well drawn, as well as many of the secondary characters. The worlds is well designed. The pace drages a bit in spots. For example, Marak has to make a desert crossing three times. Cherryh tries to vary the description a little, but the details are the same--desperate for water, stop at noon, travel at night, trouble with the beasts, etc etc. get a bit repititious after the second time. The ending also seemed a bit rushed in the last chapter. We skip through a lot of events--Marak has grandchildren? We missed some years in between here. Possibly left out on purpose because of a planned next book?Nevertheless, a three star by C. J. Cherryh is worth a four star for many other authors. Interesting characters and a new world for her will create a enjoyable experience. Recommended for all SF fans---fantasy fans would still enjoy it also!

  • Saphana
    2018-09-05 10:37

    Bedouins travelling on what is -obviously- camels repeatedly through the same desert doesn’t need 478 pages. Not even, if they do it 3 times. SciFi? Not so much.Everybody who reads this book will be absolutely certain, Marak is not mad. From the very start. So, why insist, he’s battling insanity?Some persons, who -obviously- got to this world on some kind of starship and manipulate the world via nanotech force the entire native population to a month-long trek through the desert? Why?The Ila. To the main character “it is known where she came from”. Oh, thank you very much ... why not tell us, the readers, too?I’m not following up with “The Forge of Heaven”. Giving up. Right here.

  • bkwurm
    2018-09-18 08:37

    I found this a little disappointing, given the quality of the author's other books. While it started off well, with the intriguing mystery of the call that pulled the various disparate travellers across the desert, the explanations that were offered midway through the story were less than satisfactory. Given the technological advances available to the visitors who presumably were able to ward off the planet wide catastrophes, why was it necessary to compel the planetary population to migrate across the forbidding desert? And the descriptions of the difficulties of desert travel start to pall after a while.

  • Thoraiya
    2018-09-04 09:38

    I expected to love this book. The first 130-odd pages flew by in what seemed an instant. Then it got repetetive. Expected revelations weren't. Paragraphs started to seem too similar to what I'd already read. Characters' relationships didn't change. The urgency was lost. I was sad. If you've never read Cherryh before, I would recommend starting with Cyteen or the Faded Sun trilogy for SF lovers, or the Fortress trilogy for fantasy lovers.

  • Elise Weber
    2018-09-11 06:48

    Cherryh is a fantastic writer but this is not one of her best works. It started out well enough and drew me immediately into the mystery of the "mad", but once the answer to the riddle was delivered, the story fell apart. Despite pages and pages of desert danger it was really boring. I found myself skipping pages and pages of the book to get to the part that actually advanced the story line. Sadly these parts were limited to about 25% of the book. I think she also missed opportunity to flesh out characters and relationships. In most cases she simply threw people into the story and told us how great they were instead of taking the time to show us. Considering the amount of filler in the book, it could have been put to better use.

  • Carolyn F.
    2018-09-04 06:40

    This is the second sci-fi book I read where the journey (in this book journeys) went on way too long. Oh, the sand, and the water problems, and the vermin, and the wind, and the sand, and the water problems, and the vermin, and the wind, and so on. I know this book has been out for awhile but maybe just saying that the same thing happened for 30 days instead of giving us a blow-by-blow would have made this book better. The dialogue/action parts (except for the journeys) was good but the monotonousness brought this book down a star.

  • Lindsay Stares
    2018-08-23 08:37

    Premise: Marak Trin is a madman. Like many, he tried to hide it - did successfully hide it for years. But finally the visions and the voices were too much, and when the Ila's men came rounding up the mad, his father the rebel leader surrendered him to the soldiers, and made a kind of peace with the Ila. All the mad are being brought across the desert to the holy city, for the Ila herself to judge. The Ila knows an opportunity when she sees one, and Marak will have a chance to solve the riddle of the visions. He has to try, if he wants to rescue his mother, himself, and possibly all the people living on the Lakht.Like most of Cherryh's work that I've read, this started a little slow, but the story was so intriguing that I didn't mind.It's an especially strong entry in the sub-genre of books which don't start out looking like science fiction, but get there in the end. For the first part of the book, it's simply an intriguing story of a group of oppressed people in a desert country who are just trying to make their way in the world. Eventually it becomes clear (no surprise, given the series' title) that the people of the Lahkt are about to be caught up in a war between races with incredible powers of bioengineering. Marak and his companions never fully understand what is going on, it's so far removed from their daily life. They can only guess as best they can at the motives of people who seem to them to be gods.The portrait of the Ila's created society eventually explains many of its more illogical aspects. The balance between explanation and mystery is well done.I really liked the character of Marak: divorced from everything he'd known or been taught, he finds within himself an ability to grasp the ineffable and a determination to protect others that he'd hardly suspected. Hati, a fierce tribeswoman among the mad, is also a fascinating character.The descriptions of travel across the desert were full of delicate detail and seemed realistic. By the time the book switches gears into a race against time, I understood the magnitude of what the characters were up against.Overall, a solid, engrossing read.

  • Robert Laird
    2018-09-17 12:33

    For those that don't read sf, they might find the first 5-10 pages of most sf novels hard to deal with because most sf authors make assumptions about the reader. And, subsequently, most sf readers know to "hang in there" because soon enough it will start to make sense. Cherryh probably takes this assumption about the reader and extends it double or triple.It really took a lot of "hang in there" to get to the point where I felt like I knew what was going on. Having finished the story, there is still a lot of vagueness in certain areas, but overall, I like the story. And while I never could say I liked "the point-of-view" -- which consisted 100% of the world as seen through the primary character, Marak -- it was put to fairly good use, albeit confusing. Most of the confusion came into play because Marak's world was so odd and different from our own. But there were many times Cherryh could have done a bit more exposition so that the reader better understood what was going on around Marak. My biggest peeve was "vermin." Only once was there a mention of what form this vermin might take -- a beetle -- but that was just for a moment, and never revisited. Only in the last few pages did she expound on details that the previous 99% of the story had you guessing. So, in that, she didn't trust her readers.There was also this pounding "Marak, Marak, Marak..." throughout the story and, well, we GOT it! It may have been Cherryh's point to make it as tedious to us as it was to Marak, but it got old... real quick.On the positive side, if we ignore the irritating issues I've discussed, the story was excellent and the characters all very well developed, as you'd expect. The world was fairly one-dimensional -- populated only by people, vermin and besha (camels) -- but that might have been part of the the point of the story. (To say more about that would spoil it.) So, overall, I did like it and could recommend it, but would temper it by saying, only for hard-core sf fans.

  • Claudia Putnam
    2018-09-09 08:44

    I have enjoyed Cherryh in the past, but maybe I was more flexible back then. I am finding her less satisfying lately. I don't understand why these societies of hers must have, for example, slaves. Why can't the people who arrive in these feudal-ish places, desperate to save the world from destruction, take the short-cut of sending, say, sir questing person on some kind of flying machine with his message, instead of sending him all the way back the way he just came via camel-ish beast, whereupon he must return yet again, the way he just came, forcing us to endure a third time, a description of the same landscape, blah blah... I dunno. It started out with an interesting-seeming premise, but it got awfully dilated, as I hope I have indicated.

  • Elisa Berry
    2018-09-01 07:32

    Found her through Sargent's sci-fi collections. Cherryh is one of the few female hard/military sci-fi writers (see Downbelow Station). This one is not though and may even be considered more fantasy: on a desert planet, an unlikely group of people plagued with voices and visions of similar ilk, heading east to seek the source of their madness. Cherryh's prose is unique, something I have found on the back of nearly every book of hers I pick up as well as reader reviews here and other book sites. It is lovely, clipped writing--though I wonder if she is successful at transporting her vision to the reader. Sometimes it falls kind of flat, like a wet newspaper flung one your welcome mat that you have to peel out of the plastic and sully yourself with if you want the good bits inside.The beginning chapters of the story are the best, the idea is a good one, however by the end we are in our third trek across this small desert planet and know pretty much exactly how things are going to wind up and there are no surprises at the end. It all becomes pretty predictable. I did enjoy the book--for much of it I read voraciously, but I am left not caring too much about the characters and I am not driven to go and immediately grab the sequel, Forge of Heaven. I might get to it one day.

  • Jacob
    2018-09-07 13:32

    I adore C.J. Cherryh's Faded Sun Trilogy for its sparseness and portrayal of a plausible alien warrior culture. Hammerfall has many similarities, but is a much different work. It's like Walking Drum and Dune rolled into one story. In the book, Marak Trin Tain is a desert raider, and would be revolutionary, who finds himself in an unlikely alliance with his former nemesis as his madness barely allows him to function in the world. Both he and the God-Queen Ila are searching for the source of this madness and Marak discovers it with her material assistance. Some of the mystery is taken away when we discover the madness is simply nano-technology being employed on the world's citizens, but the ensuing struggle of a world full of people crossing the desert to safety (the nano-technology was essentially an early warning indicator of planet-wide destruction), keeps the reader going. This book isn't for everyone. It is no fast-paced, action-packed space opera. But if you like well-fleshed out worlds, lean desert warriors, and constant, unresolvable tension then this is your book. Not quite the literary quality of Dune, and admittedly I slowed down in the last half of the book, but still well worth the read. Solid 4 stars.

  • Emotonal Reads
    2018-08-21 09:47

    This author lost me here, I was looking for Science fiction, but after that orgy in the desert,no thanks. What did any of the things that has happened sexually has to do with SCI FI?Why is that the black woman always a barbarian, uncooth and demands to have another woman in bed with them. I mean really, I was truyly enjoying this book until that episode in the desert. I thought it was going to be the strong woman having her mans back once they got together, but spoils it with what was a menage. I stopped giving a damn because they all turned out not only nuts but the women whores, the men perverted freaks. what's worst she made it seem as though the dessert (black woman) forced the man and other woman to have sex with her in a tent with a lot of other people doing who knows. I read sci fi to get away from that sort of thing, it's not science and it ain't fiction.After that I stopped caring about what happenes to any of them, I stopped liking or even respecting both the male and female characters.I enjoyed her foreigner series and was surprised this was one of hers.I will be more careful what I read from this author in the future.

  • Rick Decorie
    2018-08-24 14:19

    Kept my attention throughout.

  • Gregg Wingo
    2018-09-11 07:37

    Cherryh's Gene Wars series is made up of "Hammerfall" and "Forge of Heaven". It is a universe updated due to scientific changes since the creation of her Alliance-Union construct, however, it is still very indebted to the original concepts of Stationer culture. What has changed is gene engineering and alien contact."Hammerfall" is basically a cross between Lawrence of Arabia, Dune, and the Exodus. The author explores a desert based culture with a deus ex machina embedded in the genetic substrate. A harsh and isolated culture dominated by its environment thrown into turmoil by extraplanetary agents. It is a sparse but vivid world that one cannot question its veracity while immersed in the story."Forge of Heaven" takes the series into the realm of Robinson's "Red Mars" and Herbert's "God-Emperor of Dune" but only on a superficial level. In reality, it is a good old fashion Stationer action story. It explores multiple levels of society encapsulated in the Concord Station orbiting the planetary setting of "Hammerfall". While the first novel is an experiment, "Forge" is the well-known ground of the author's success. What she adds to her body of work is the impact of a thoroughly wired world and a cosmetic genetically enhancement society. The sequel delivers the goods. Both books produce the excitement and action Cherryh fans have come to know and love from this veteran SF author. You won't be disappointed.

  • Michel
    2018-09-03 07:37

    I'm about two thirds in the book, and I keep trying to finish it!... After all, this writer is supposed to be very good, so why do I find this book so boring?!... I may decide to forego the caravan trip, and choose an instant death from the vermines instead of suffering this endless repetition!

  • Honza Prchal
    2018-09-15 08:42

    Fascinating concept. I'm not sure it always executes well. The characterization and world-building are, however, first rate, as usual, and it adds to one's understanding of The Alliance and The Union..

  • Larry Koester
    2018-08-29 13:29

    Seemed long, but a good story.

  • Diane
    2018-08-20 06:29

    Took me some time to read - all the traveling though the desert wore me out. But well written

  • Steve Wybourn
    2018-09-01 14:18

    Great start but a third of the way in became repetitive and a little dull as a result.

  • Len Evans Jr
    2018-08-29 11:43

    I have just a few days ago finished this book for the 2nd time and I salute Ms. Cherryh for what I believe is some of her best work. She takes on an interesting challenge in a story which at it's core is science fiction, yet so much of the outer layers are pure fantasy as she explores a desert culture and environment rife with superstition, religion and intolerance. The nominal ruler of the very human population is more a god than a normal ruler; apparently long-lived in the extreme if not immortal and ruling with an iron fist. Ms. Cherryh does a wonderful job of introducing the characters such that each gets a foundation before the next is added. She then fills in details proportionate to their importance to the story. Well before the halfway point Marek becomes as close to being a real person as a fictional character can; and Hati gets there close behind him. The Ila handed to us as the villian refuses to conform as one Would expect. I love the fact that the author keeps us guessing till the very end as to who the villian(s) is/are; yet we never doubt for a moment the true heroes of the story despite their sometimes harsh & violent actions. I'll stop there so as not to give away to much. I found I enjoyed my second read through even more than the first time since I was not distracted at the start working out the who, what and where of the story. On top of that I think that my connection to both Marek and Hati became even more real as already remembering the basic story I could focus on the details this time. The sign of a true master storyteller is one that can keep you focused and immersed in their world again and again not just with a new book but rereading all the previous stories too. So my one sentence review of "Hammerfall" is thus... I strongly recommend fans of fantasy & science fiction both read it as the blend of each genre grants both enough to satisfy all. Once Marek and the mad set off to the east the action and suspense builds continously till the final chapter. The story is not only thrilling but thought provoking; in a world that does not suffer fools, may kill any who show compassion and reward the selfish and liars; can a truly honest man survive? And is survival even an option if it requires the sacrifice of his humanity... and sanity?All in all "Hammerfall" succeeds on all levels. It entertains, poses puzzles, presents an system of morals/ethics only somewhat like our own and finally gets you intertwined with the characters such that you will truly laugh, cry from joy and sorrow, not to mention share frustration/anger when "superior" beings show just how stupid they can still be. Len Evans Jr

  • Lis Carey
    2018-09-03 06:30

    This is sf written very much like a fantasy. The technology might as well be magic, for the extent to which Marak Trin Tain and his companions understand it. What it really is, of course, is nanotechnology, and spaceships, and tossing asteroids and comets around as needed. Only a small portion of this world, the Lahkt, is really habitable, and that's due mainly to nanotechnology, and conditions are still at best very harsh.Marak and most of his companions are mad, or what is called mad on the Lahkt. They see impossible things, and hear voices telling them to go east to a silver tower, and they heal very well. The ruler of their world, the Ila, orders all the mad rounded up and brought to her in the capital city, Oburan. Marak, the son of a village chieftain who staged a long but unsuccessful rebellion against the Ila, hopes that once in the city, he'll get a chance to kill his old enemy. He would have, too, if the Ila didn't have force fields and energy weapons to protect herself.The Ila, in any case, has a different plan for Marak. She wants him to lead an expedition to the east, to find out what it is that's calling the mad, and report back to her. Marak agrees, with several conditions, one of them being that all of the ingathered mad go with him.It's not a safe journey, and not everyone survives. Along the way, Marak acquires two wives amongst his fellow mad--which is an outrage to his village upbringing, but very much the Done Thing in the tribal culture that one of his wives comes from. And when they finally reach their destination, they find out that they have scarcely begun traveling. The people who have been calling the mad for thirty years want Marak to go back to Oburan and organize a much more difficult and dangerous expedition.This is an interesting and mostly enjoyable book. I think that whether you enjoy Cherryh's fantasy is a better test of whether you're likely to enjoy this one than whether you enjoy her sf. I do have one serious complaint, and that's that Luz, the summoner of the "mad," is difficult and obscure, and much of the time it seems that she's being difficult and obscure because the plot requires it; Marak wouldn't make some of the decisions he makes if Luz were explaining things adequately and behaving in a manner that encouraged him to trust what she does say. This is a serious irritant from the point at which we first meet Luz.This is dangerously close to being an idiot plot, a plot in which critical events would not happen, if otherwise intelligent characters did not behave like idiots.

  • Megan
    2018-08-23 13:41

    A novel of excellent world-painting as Cherryh's always are, although my predisposition toward single-biome planets may have made her lyrical, lengthy desert trek a quicker read than it was for others. The reviews that say this book is simply a zig-zag road trip are true, but it's an immersive road trip. For a story essentially about two superhuman women warring with one another, the gender stuff is thorny: I was expecting the rather unbalanced polyamory after reading the reviews, but not the sort of science fictional corrective rape.Our heroes are generally one-dimensional; Marak is the determined, scorned son of a warlord, Hati is tough and energetic, Norit is shy and possessed. When those characterizations are dug into further, especially as Marak's is at the end, it reflects more on the world the characters don't entirely understand than the people themselves. In this, your mileage may vary. I recommend Hammerfall with more hesitation than other Cherryh books, because of the gender stuff and because a lot of questions are left unanswered. The bigger picture is hinted at just enough for readers to feel savvy for understanding more than the characters do, but Hati and Norit are rather static.A decent portion of this novel was spent on the logistics of having to move Too Many Books from place to place, and I identify with that.

  • Marie
    2018-09-05 08:28

    The plot is one long race against time, so if ticking clocks drive you batty, this is not the book for you. Cherryh as always does an excellent job presenting her fictional culture and keeping everything from their point of view, with the dramatic irony that we, as readers, know there are aliens and nanotech and an asteroid hurtling toward the planet ("The Hammer will fall! A sphere strikes a sphere! It will hit in the bitter sea and the world will crack!")C.J. Cherryh is my FAVORITE author, caveat - I might adore her laundry lists. She has this way of writing tough-yet-vulnerable men who are completely dominated by the women in their lives... and you kinda have me by the hindbrain there.My one complaint is that the book piles on the repetition of these prophecies, dragging out the tension to the point where I was struggling not to skim ahead. I even got quite irate a few times with "OH the voices. The voices never say anything. Skip paragraph!" But, in true Cherryh style, she had me hooked hard at the end, wondering how she could possibly resolve the story in the thin stack of pages left in my right hand. If I poked along in the middle, I devoured the end, nearly missing my ride home to do so.

  • Carol
    2018-08-19 12:33

    I am a huge fan of C. J. Cherryh (only the truly.sci-fi and not fantasy) and am catching up with older titles I had missed in earlier years. This one won her a Hugo and I can see why. As with most of her works, I was pulled and addicted to this new world and intriguing characters, flipping pages to find out what happened next, even though you know all along what"s coming. In a most basic way it isn't science fiction because the characters don"t know of anything but their desert world, how to manage a caravan, and where to find water. Gradually the larger picture is revealed until the predicted disaster overtakes them. The only flaw in her writing, which is as apparent here as it is in the latest Foreigner episode, is how much of the words on the pages is made of our lour lead character"s internal thoughts. By this I mean discussions we all have in our heads: what if thIs happens, what if we don"t make it, what if my father comes back, what if... it does contribute to the sense of urgency that propels the story but it is also padding. However, I really enjoyed this travel novel across the sands of some unknown planet and have already picked pup it's sequel.

  • Stephen
    2018-08-19 10:23

    I found it interesting to go from C.J. Cherryh's Morgaine Saga (written early in her career) to the relatively recent Hammerfall. The books feel similar enough that I can tell they were written by the same author, but the writing in Hammerfall is much better. C.J. Cherryh's style is simple and evocative. It's a real pleasure to read a book written by someone so skilled with words. The story of Hammerfall is simple: our protagonist, Marak, is on a road trip. Against this background, we watch Marak struggle against the harsh environment of the desert, deal with travel companions who are not quite savvy enough to survive on their own (or who have conflicting goals), and try to uncover a mystery about the true nature of his people's existence on their planet. All this takes place against a background of constant urgency as disaster looms. This book appears to be the first in a series called "The Gene Wars", but it is simple and self-contained enough that it could safely be read on its own.

  • Rena McGee
    2018-09-08 09:28

    I read Hammerfall when it first came out in hardback. Our Hero is Marak Trin Tain, a warrior who finds himself in a mass of people being herded to “the holy city.” He is one of a group of people who have been infected by a peculiar madness that “the Ila” the immortal ruler of the holy city finds interesting. Marak Trin Tain is also someone the Ila finds interesting, and despite the fact that Marak is the son of one of her enemies she puts him in charge of an expedition to discover the source of the madness.What appears at first to be fantasy turns into science fiction when it is revealed that this particular form of madness is actually a message from a team who is trying to contact the Ila.Read this on Rena's Hub of Random.

  • Jim
    2018-09-19 07:24

    This was an odd sort of book. Mostly it was about the world the author created and how it got that way. It mixed travelog, hard science fiction, together and stirred them together. The result was not altogether good. Part of the problem, I think, is Cherryh's style of storytelling; she plops you down in her environment and lets you figure it out as the story progresses. That's ok, but it takes some time and the reading is kind of boring and tedious while the reader catches up enough to know what's going on.The only thing that saves this book is a pretty good ending, although even here she twists things in ways that I just don't care for. She attaches a chapter at the end that is really an epilogue but not labeled as such. That kind of thing adds to the difficulty in reading her story without adding much.

  • Annaliese
    2018-09-10 13:40

    George RR. Martin has spoiled me. This book has some pretty good characters, but it was almost unbearably slow. Here's why... (some spoilers). This book follows it's characters through the desert, and back again, and back again. There are no cuts through time at all, except the very last chapter which skips maybe 100 years. In other words, after three treks through the desert, they are finally going to reach their goal, and then suddenly it's ~100 years later. I feel like the author really cheated, taking forever to get to the interesting part, and then avoiding the hard part of the plot. We never really do learn what's going on in the skies, which makes this a story about the slow desert treks. As such, it wouldn't have been bad. But I felt led on.

  • Steven
    2018-09-17 13:28

    Marak is mad, yet he is a warrior and experienced in the ways of the desert covering his planet. He has kept his madness a secret for all is life, but he is found out and betrayed by his very own father. He is forced to march in an endless caravan with the rest of the world’s mad to the Ila’s city of Oburan. Instead of death, Marak finds his destiny and the promise of life. But that comes with a cost and the Ila will see to his ruin if he fails her. She wants to know the secret of the madness and where it comes from. So she commissions him to find it and bring that secret back to her. So, Marak and the mad re-cross the deadly desert in a quest for discovery. A great tale with a very inventive desert culture.

  • Mike
    2018-09-07 06:34

    This is a really tough call. It has a Dune/Bedouin flavor that is not easy to get interested in. Lots of wandering in the desert for hundreds of pages. On the verge of putting down several times, I kept at it to the end. Cherryh makes you work hard at figuring out what is going on. It is hopefully just a very long prologue to a series that will get better. The last 50 pages were good but, as in all Cherryh books, the action is very short and sweet. The culture is not so alien as in her other series, it seems what you would expect on a desert planet. Hope the follow-ons get better. Oh and get rid of the constant name calling in the mind.