~by Tad Williams
1999 Locus Award Nominee
River of Blue Fire is the second volume in Tad William's superbly imaginative Otherland tetralogy, following City of Golden Shadow while preceding Mountain of Black Glass and Sea of Silver Light.
Luckily, the book began with synopsis of the first volume. There is no denying it, the Otherland books are huge on top of each being published several years apart, so I think including a synopsis was a very wise decision on the author's part.
The members of small group that has been able to break in to the exclusive Otherland Network now find themselves trapped, unable to disconnect and return to their real lives. In the incredibly realistic environment of the highly advanced network, everything seems too real, including death. The nine members must solely rely on each other to survive, and yet none are ready to trust the others. Unbeknownst to them, their fears are justified -- one of them is assassin who is keen to keep the others under his wary eye. But soon, the group becomes fragmented and separated, forcing them to face an increasingly chaotic network while struggling to find each other again, a seemingly impossible task.
As absolutely fantastic as the first book, River of Blue Fire was a great read, although not much has yet been resolved and more questions are raised. Also like in City of Golden Shadow, there are wonderful literary references (see if you can spot them all!) as the characters move through and inhabit different worlds, from a twisted version of the Wizard of Oz to a War of the Worlds that the Martians won, to anywhere in between.