Read The Magic Labyrinth by Philip José Farmer Online

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Reissued to follow the Syfy Channel film of Riverworld, this fourth book in the classic Riverworld series continues the adventures of Samuel Clemens and Sir Richard Francis Burton as they travel through Farmer's strange and wonderful Riverworld, a place where everyone who ever lived is simultaneously resurrected along a single river valley that stretches over an entire plaReissued to follow the Syfy Channel film of Riverworld, this fourth book in the classic Riverworld series continues the adventures of Samuel Clemens and Sir Richard Francis Burton as they travel through Farmer's strange and wonderful Riverworld, a place where everyone who ever lived is simultaneously resurrected along a single river valley that stretches over an entire planet. Famous characters from history abound.Now Burton and Clemens, who have traveled for more than thirty years on two great ships, are about to reach the end of the River. But there is a religion, The Church of the Second Chance, that has grown up along the River and its adherents, possibly inspired by aliens, are determined to destroy the riverboats. A coming battle may destroy Burton and Clemens, but even if they survive, how can they penetrate the alien tower of the Ethicals, who created this astonishing world? What can humans do against a race capable of creating a world and resurrecting the entire human race on it?...

Title : The Magic Labyrinth
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780765326553
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 448 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Magic Labyrinth Reviews

  • Wanda
    2019-01-13 14:25

    WARNING: This review contains spoilers! Read at your own risk!"This fourth book in the classic Riverworld series continues the adventures of Samuel Clemens and Sir Richard Francis Burton as they travel through Farmer's strange and wonderful Riverworld, a place where everyone who ever lived is simultaneously resurrected along a single river valley that stretches over an entire planet. Famous characters from history abound.Now Burton and Clemens, who have traveled for more than thirty years on two great ships, are about to reach the end of the River. But there is a religion, The Church of the Second Chance, that has grown up along the River and its adherents, possibly inspired by aliens, are determined to destroy the riverboats. A coming battle may destroy Burton and Clemens, but even if they survive, how can they penetrate the alien tower of the Ethicals, who created this astonishing world? What can humans do against a race capable of creating a world and resurrecting the entire human race on it?"This book takes an awfully long time to get to the point, namely who are the Ethicals and why have they created this world? There is a LOT of rather pointless fighting, in my opinion, which lends nothing to the plot and includes enough technical detail to send an insomniac into a coma. When we finally get to hear from an Ethical, Mr. Mysterious X no less, it is underwhelming in the extreme. They are basically "advanced" human people, working under another race, who in turn were deputized by the "Ancient Ones." And they aren't so ethical that they can't disagree and squabble amongst themselves--plus they guard their computers with death rays. Still want to call them Ethicals?One blessing is that Farmer finally committed to one measurement system, so the dimensions of everything aren't repeated in both Imperial and Metric. Although I'm glad to know a bit more about the Ethicals and what they were up to, I persist in thinking that so much MORE could have been done with this concept. I finally realized with this (the fourth) book that religion was one of the issues in play in this series (so I guess its good that Farmer really lambastes the reader with it--I finally caught on). Its just so swamped in details--what they are eating, what they are wearing, how they produced this or that item, etc., etc.And I think he did make an effort to produce some characters that women could relate to in this book (although the women are still very focused on the male characters and don't talk to each other). There's only one book left, and what with the abrupt ending of the Magic Labyrinth, I will probably, against my better judgement, read it. Anyone who can explain the title to me, I would be most obliged. I'm probably being as thick about that as I was about the religious themes.Probably more realistically 2.5 stars.Cross-posted at my blog, The Next 50, at:http://wanda-thenextfifty.blogspot.ca...

  • Steven
    2019-01-05 16:58

    This is the fourth and most disappointing novel of the Riverworld series. Although the first three had some problems, they remained interesting. What drove me to keep reading this series was the mystery of why the world was built, and the purpose behind the resurrections. This fourth novel provides the final explanation for everything that is going on and who is behind it all. And that explanation is unfortunately predictable and entirely unoriginal. I will explain what I mean only in the most vague terms to avoid spoilers.The explanation is predictable because Farmer provided too much of it before the final scene in which the whole truth is revealed. Too many facets of it were already guessed at or revealed to the main characters in earlier books. And so when the final truth is given, only minor details are new -- everything else was already anticipated by Burton and the others. At best we have some of them saying, "Ah, so that is why X happened." But these are only the most trivial details -- all of the big deductions made by the main characters end up being, on the whole, correct. And so there was no big "aha!" moment where the light bulb goes of for the reader.But perhaps that could have been forgivable if Farmer's explanation hadn't been so trite. Perhaps if one never reads much science fiction this might have seemed original, but as someone who has read widely of the genre and seen many movies and TV shows in the genre, the driving force behind what is going on is nothing new in sci-fi. In fact, it's been done to death. I was highly disappointed in this fact, because the idea of the Riverworld itself is so original that I expected surely to be surprised and delighted by a wildly unique explanation at the end of who is behind it all and why. But we have the same old culprits here that we would have in any other unremarkable and highly predictable sci-fi novels or movies. Finally, the other problem is that Farmer side-tracked the main plot, which is getting up the river to find the source and learn the truth, for nearly 75% of the book so he could focus on the sub-plot of the Clemens vs. King John feud. This he tracks in minute detail, to the point where I almost gave up on the novel for not caring - because I literally did not care at that point who won the fight. Even within this story, this side-track, Farmer insists on diverting us from the diversion by providing a 2-page biography of just about every minor character to appear in the novel -- about a page on what they did in the real world, and then another page on what they've been doing on the Riverworld. Then the bit character who has just been bio'ed leaps into the fight and, in almost every case, promptly dies. Gee, I'm sure glad Farmer treated me to the history of a character that won't be around in another chapter.When combined, these negatives weigh down the narrative and bring what had been a mildly enjoyable series to a thoroughly unsatisfying conclusion. Farmer, in the introduction to book 3, claims that books 3-4 were supposed to be a single novel but grew too large to publish in one volume. Had I been his editor, I could have helped him cut the two down by telling him to just get the Clemons-John fight over with quickly, and get back to the real point of the story - the travel upriver.There is a fifth Riverworld book, but I'll not bother to read it. This one was too poor to want to read any more. I'm afraid in addition, because the ending is so unsatisfying, I find myself unable to recommend the series as a whole. And that's a shame, because the first two books are pretty good, and the basic premise (minus the awful and cliche'ed explanation!) is a good one. It's a shame Farmer didn't do more with this.

  • prcardi
    2019-01-15 17:14

    Storyline: 2/5Characters: 2/5Writing Style: 2/5World: 2/5The finale - any finale - has a lot going for it. It is where you get to solve mysteries, make big reveals, bring together disparate threads, and provide the happy (or not-so-happy) ending. Farmer managed to make his Riverworld finale the worst of the four books. If you're out for climactic and adrenaline-laced fight scenes, then you will probably disagree. There was little else, however, to recommend in this volume. I was negatively inclined before I began, admittedly. I grumbled that the book was so long. The first (and best) had been 220 pages, the second 231, and the third (and worst-to-date) a monotonous 464. I would have liked for the fourth to have returned to the shorter form, but this one was 416 pages long. That wouldn't have been so bad had the author made good use of the pages. Yet Farmer confused background information with character building and thought that a book with multiple perspectives required that the same scene be retold from the different first person views. Thus much of the book was spent going backward or over again what we'd already been through. I'd recommend to anyone who is a skimmer or who is just looking for the highlights to skip the first six sections and begin with "Goring's Past" at chapter 17. That will save you more than a hundred pages, and though I just read this, I cannot think of anything remotely interesting or worthwhile that will be lost when doing so. My other major grievance is that for about 75% of the book, Farmer forgot this was a work of science fiction. The action and adventures could have taken place on Earth in a WWII setting. Nothing about the big mysteries or of Burton's original quest (began early in book 1) matter for 3/4 of this book. Were Farmer making some point about the habits of humankind or our base emotions, perhaps this could have been an insightful account. Farmer wasn't making big or insightful points, however, he was looking to make the finale exciting in the same way that book 2 and book 3 were(n't). Thus we get 300 pages of the same adventures we'd experienced in those two middle volumes. When the shift does come, it read as if Farmer had been startled by the remembrance that this was supposed to be science fiction. In his befuddlement he threw out bizarre explanations for questions we hadn't been considering, involved us in technical details of problems that hadn't been part of the series thus far, tread on genres and tropes that were ill-suited to the present story, and finally ended with what was one of the least climactic series endings I've ever encountered. These last few chapters could have been good, even exactly as they were written. For them to have worked, however, Farmer would have had to have been building up to and working with these problems and questions over the course of the last three books. Unfortunately, he didn't write those versions of the books.I do wish to express my gratitude, however, to Farmer for being true to his word in the preamble of book 3. There he promised to resolve the present quest in the next volume. He also promised to write Riverworld fans a spin-off so that they could carry forth with the series. I do like and appreciate it when an author provides a stepping-off point for readers. Probably it isn't good for sales, as I would have trudged through the fifth in order to get to the ending, but I'm a much happier reader now that I can stop here. And who knows, someday perhaps I'll forget the weariness and grumpiness with which I endured this, and I'll read that fifth after all. For now, it goes to the bottom of the reading pile.

  • Mark Oppenlander
    2019-01-01 13:17

    This is the fourth (and originally final) book in Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld series. Picking up the various threads from the first three books, Farmer weaves the stories and characters together and comes to what is meant to be a rousing conclusion. I thought it was just OK.The book begins with parallel stories that follow King John in his riverboat, the Rex Grandissimus, and Samuel Clemens in his riverboat, the Not for Hire, as they head upriver in an attempt to get to the headwaters, meet the Ethicals and unravel the secrets of Riverworld. Naturally, there is a final confrontation between John and Clemens and much destruction ensues. The survivors of the battle (no spoilers) head upstream and eventually do make it to the Dark Tower, first encountered in the previous volume.This book is mildly entertaining. Farmer knows how to keep the action moving. There are plenty of plots and subplots and I was gratified that he seemed intent on answering the various questions and problems he laid out in the series so far.My two complaints are interrelated. First, Farmer once again takes an awfully long time to get to the point. The first 3/4 of the book gets us only as far as a massive battle between the two riverboats and their megalomaniacal captains. I am sure that many find this material very entertaining, as there is plenty of violence and action, but I found it tedious after a time. I cared far more about the mysteries of the Riverworld, most of which are relegated to discussion in the final 100 pages of the book.My second complaint is that the exploration of the Tower, the encounters with the aliens and the explanations that go with these things, are far too brief. This section is the payoff after many hundreds of pages of storytelling. Do you think we could take just a little bit more time with it? Instead, Farmer seems intent on racing to the conclusion rather than letting us savor the unraveling of all of these mysteries.The resolution of the various threads and the answers to the questions about the Riverworld posed earlier are actually moderately satisfying, for what it's worth. I just wanted a little less violent foreplay and a little more of the intellectually stimulating climax.I also know there is a fifth book in the series, written a little later. I am curious to know what Farmer felt he left unresolved. I guess I will find out soon enough.

  • Hypatia
    2019-01-11 12:02

    I was a little disappointed in this book. It was not a great end to the story, among other things. I finished the last page and turned the page expecting more. I also found this book to contain more casual sexism and racism than I had noticed in previous books, and it bothered me. None of the female characters are truly significant, nor do they play much of a role beyond being mates for the male character (except at the very very end). I also thought they competition between John Lackland and Samuel Clemens was unnecessary. The whole series could have been at least a book shorter, and it didn't feel necessary. There was lots of tension already with the mystery of the situation and wondering what was going on with the Ethicals and X. Also, as my husband said when I was telling him about this book, you have all the famous people who have ever lived to choose from, and this is the story you choose to tell? There were some interesting metaphysical and philosophical discussions near the end, but it still wasn't great.

  • Mike
    2018-12-26 19:17

    The conclusion to the Riverworld trilogy (except that there are number of additional short stories that were published later), this tries to wrap everything up and answer the fundamental questions about what the hell Riverworld was all about. Though the author has his reasons for dragging things out to show some more about the central characters -- Richard Francis Burton, Samuel Clemens, and Hermann Goering -- I felt like a lot of the second and third books were redundant. The mystery is solved in a somewhat rushed manner toward the end, and it is a little unsatisfying given all the build up. It sort of feels like the conclusion/explanation was contrived just in time to finish the story. Still, Farmer's characters are mostly excellently realized, and even with my qualms about some of the armchair philosophy and repetition, I was completely immersed in the Riverworld while it lasted.

  • Ron
    2018-12-24 12:24

    If you're thinking that anybody can write a book, then this series is the series for you. If you're thinking that anybody can write a great book, then this series disproves that theory.The first book was very good. The next two were a waste of time since they didn't progress the story. This one was overly long and didn't reach what I would call a satisfying conclusion. I won't go into any details other than to say that I found myself skimming page after page. Did I really need an entire chapter on a dogfight between 4 planes that ended with all 4 crashing?

  • Manny
    2018-12-20 14:57

    I'm virtually certain I got as far as this volume before I abandoned the series, but I can't remember a thing about it. All I can recall is that we were given the explanation for Riverworld, and I just thought "Huh"? I guess I wasn't in a receptive frame of mind, given that some other people appear to like this book. Sorry.

  • KayMac
    2019-01-07 17:02

    Riverworld series (books 1-5) ReviewAn “IMO” review, if you’re looking for a description of the Riverworld or plot summary Wikipedia does the trick.I enjoyed Riverworld (1-4 at least), though its not the kind of series that left me scrambling for the next book. The premise is unique and very interesting, the author does a lot with it. However, as the series progresses the pacing and narrative quality declines with an almost geometric exactness. If the first book is “five stars” the last book is “one star”.OK, so the series starts out strong and declines over time. As a reader I have zero patience for filler or fluff. That is, expository digressions that have little or nothing to do with advancing the story. If these narrative departures serve to fill out a character that’s one thing, but if I find myself 20 pages into a meandering trip down some nobody's memory lane I start to get frustrated. That’s the primary weakness of the later books in my opinion, and what made the last book “Gods of Riverworld” all but unreadable.I can overlook impossible technological leaps (of which there are many), nonsensical economics, or improbable motivations because, hey, its science fantasy! But I cannot stand filler! The whole story comes to a standstill for dozens of pages at a time (40+ pages in one case I bothered to count in “Gods”) because a trivial character who does nothing important gets demented-old-lady-on-the-bus levels of exposition. Filler! Fluff! Aimless boring irrelevant drivel! That’s why the last book gets only 1 star, it’s a poor conclusion to a series that started out so strong.Nearly all the characters with dialog are genuine historical figures. Some of these characters behave true to their historical selves (Burton, Rotten John), some undergo intriguing changes (Herman Goering becomes a pacifists after years of spiritual/moral anguish), and others seem to have a cartoonish quality or just plain retarded (such as Sam Clemens aka Mark Twain).I’m not familiar with all the historical characters, but I do know a thing or two about Clemens and Burton. Burton was a sort of real-life Indiana Jones, only much much cooler. He’s one of those larger than life people for whom the saying “you cant make this stuff up” seems to have been invented. His character is the backbone of the five-book series, making most of the important discoveries, outwitting or fighting the antagonists etc., which is fitting.But then we also get Mark Twain/Sam Clemens… Clemens is perhaps the second most important protagonist, and one of the book series’ greatest weaknesses. Clemens is portrayed as a dithering, avaricious, childish man who seems to run his own advanced eponymous nation (Twain-land in Esperanto) on the Riverworld just because the author wanted it to be so. In fact, he is far less interesting or likeable than Rotten John with whom he shares power for a time.Clemens makes all the wrong moves, alienates all the wrong people, snatches defeat from the jaws of victory so many times I nearly gave up the series because of him. While the author’s prose are seldom elegant, Clemens’ lines and actions make him appear to have brain damage, which is frustrating since the actual historical Clemens was justifiably famous in his own lifetime for wit and human insight. In the books, he is thoroughly unlikable and not in a rascally Southern way either. Eventually he dies for good, to the reader’s indescribable relief…Riverworld is a passable five book series that could have been made great if heavily abridged into a two or three book series. Don’t bother with the last book “Gods of Riverworld” at all, just don’t…

  • Frederick Bodine
    2018-12-28 15:05

    This was a very good book...if you like this kind of science fiction. It was number 4 in a series that ultimately ends the series although there is another novel in it. As with all series I am sad it is over but I plan to save book 5 to a later date. The main of the book was awesome and kept me guessing and wondering what is going to happen next. Somethings made very much sense and could only happen the way I expected. Other parts of this book left me happy or sad depending on what it was. Overall this book, this series so far was an excellent reading experience although a bit dated as it was written in the late 70's. I said before that I was a new fan of the late Mr. Farmer but this book has solidified that and not the other way around...still a fan with many other novels ahead that I have yet to discover and experience!

  • Florin Constantinescu
    2019-01-19 15:20

    Keeping up the good level from book #3, "The Magic Labyrinth" brings together most open threads from previous books, most characters (even a forgotten Hermann Göring) and delivers what-looks-like a satisfying explanation when approaching the end.Strangely enough, the very end of the novel remains open somehow. It's easy for us to believe it now, almost 40-some years after, fully knowing that a fifth book exists. I wonder how it must've felt in 1980, when 50 pages before the end you thought this is it, then to be turned around and left a little perplexed by the ambiguous ending.Otherwise the plot of the book progresses well enough and the style he maintained since the second book remained just as solid.

  • Tex-49
    2018-12-19 15:05

    Il tono della narrazione si solLeva un po’ rispetto ai due libri precedenti, il tema avventuroso diventa più avvincente. Il mistero della Torre alla sorgente del fiume e dei creatori del mondo fiume si svela quasi del tutto, ma la spiegazione dell'intrigo dell'Etico traditore (che ha portato Burton a risalire il fiume) è alquanto ingarbugliata e convince poco.Non ne parliamo poi delle spiegazioni filosofico-religiose al problema dell'anima in cui ci si perde per tentare di spiegare il mistero delle resurrezioni!

  • Robbin Hilbert
    2019-01-15 14:22

    Great series

  • Eddy
    2019-01-06 19:21

    Goes on a bit in the middle, and the ending is a bit lame, but nevertheless a good read.

  • Nicholas Bobbitt
    2019-01-12 19:07

    Another good but not great story in the series. The writing style is, per usual, great, but it again feels like Farmer ran out of steam.

  • Kim Zinkowski
    2018-12-28 18:20

    B-. Something about these books seems to irritate me...

  • Laurelyn Anne
    2019-01-10 15:15

    Well freaking finally. And then my questions were still not answered. Ugh! It's a great concept but PJF is a product of his times in a bad way.

  • Patrick
    2019-01-05 15:13

    This wraps up the conflicts of the previous books well and is an exciting read. It an interesting take on spiritually and self as well as you learn more about who created the Riverland.

  • D. Krauss
    2018-12-19 11:08

    The Magic Labyrinth is the fourth book of a trilogy…what? Yes, it is, the Riverworld Trilogy by Philip Jose Farmer, which Farmer botched in the third book so I guess he thought he needed to add another book to unbotch it.Fail.Complete fail. Labyrinth does nothing to undo the major disappointment caused by The Dark Design, which is the last book of the original trilogy (To Your Scattered Bodies Go, followed by The Fabulous Riverboat). Disappointment, I say? Yes. Because the first two books were so damned good and exciting that I expected the series to end with the bang that had opened it. Instead, it was a whimper.I started the series back in 1974 when I was a quasi-hippie in San Francisco (quasi, because I had a job). The story of all the world’s population suddenly resurrected on the banks of a never-ending river on an alien planet appealed to my hippie, surreal, psychedelic psyche because, wow, dude, check it out! Everyone who ever lived wakes up naked in their twenty-years old bodies (hubba hubba), all of them equipped with tubes called grails that, once affixed to an opening on some stone caps, gives them a full meal every day at breakfast, lunch and dinner.Naked chicks, free food, and drugs. Cool.So I was blown away and devoured the first book and hunted down the second one and devoured it and then waited all atwitter for the third, and concluding, one. And waited. And waited. Because, that’s what you did BK (Before Kindle), you waited for publishers to issue the third and final book of ongoing trilogies…which brings me to something I’ve noted lately: nobody likes trilogies anymore. Unless all three of the books are immediately available for instant downloading, that is. Seriously? Don’t you know half the fun of trilogies is waiting for that final book? It’s a test of patience and deferred gratification. And memory. Because there was so much time between the second and third books―five years―that I had pretty much forgotten most of the story by the time I found The Dark Design sitting on a book store shelf. Oh boy! Grabbed it, skipped happily home, read it…and went, WTF?WTF?Because it wasn’t the end of the trilogy. Oh no. Apparently the third and concluding book was so gosh-darned long that Farmer and his editor decided to split it into two books. In other words, the trilogy had now become a fourpogy, and I felt mightily ripped off. Especially since The Dark Design didn’t add one wit of new material, just slogged along the riverbank, so to speak. Tossed it across the room and left the Riverworld in a huff, I did.So a few weeks ago I was roaming the shelves of a used book store when I came across Labyrinth, and all my hippie dreams and visions came dancing back and I bought it because now, this time, for real, all questions would be answered, all mysteries solved.Nope.At least, 'nope' in the sense that the Big Reveal was worth it. T’weren’t. The reason for the mass resurrection turns out to be quite underwhelming, like the Star Wars prequels (you mean, the entire rebellion against the Empire was over a trade dispute??). Without getting into spoiler territory, it’s more Farmer’s convoluted and self-developed concept of Life’s Meaning than it is anything plausible.So, my advice? Read the first two. And then pretend nothing else happens.

  • Intortetor
    2019-01-02 16:00

    era prevedibile: prima o poi qualche vera e propria battaglia doveva avvenire in questo "ciclo del fiume", e farmer non si risparmia mettendoci dentro uno scontro aereo, uno navale e uno scontro diretto tra due spadaccini (facile intuire chi siano). sadicamente poi il nostro decide di far morire diversi personaggi principali, tra cui alcuni dei migliori in assoluto: la tensione del libro ne guadagna, però spiace per un paio di loro. il problema è che le battaglie sono noiosissime, e così anche i tanti spiegoni che occupano l'ultima parte del libro, in cui si cerca di dare una soluzione ai tanti misteri della vicenda. non so, non mi ha convinto tutto al 100%. però c'è una piccola meraviglia: se tutto il ciclo finisse con l'ultima scena e la frase di frigate sarebbe un finale eccezionale...

  • Dave
    2018-12-21 11:25

    After three books' worth of setup, we finally get to learn what's actually in the Tower. At least, that's the idea ... but first we have to have the big war between Sam Clemens and King John. Of course they have to meet, which means they have to get pretty far up-River, and both sides have to be somewhat balanced, so we have to read about more people first, which means that we have to read about their stories on Earth and what "actually" happened first, and then we have to re-read any events in which they'd been previously involved on the Riverworld ... yeah. You get the idea.Farmer's habit of explaining everything in detail really starts to become a problem in this book. Everything we've seen before has to be explained again, every character has to go into detail about what they believe is happening, etc. etc. etc. As a result, it's almost a relief to get to the war, which really shouldn't be the point in a series that values ethical behavior so highly. On top of that, as you'd expect, a good number of the characters we've met are killed in the war (otherwise you'd have a party of 40-50 people on those narrow ledges and such), which takes a bit out of the story. Finally, most of the trip to the Tower is simply a repeat of the events from the Egyptians and Joe Miller, so even that isn't as interesting as it should have been. (There isn't much drama about getting to the Tower, either. Of course there will be a way. If there weren't, what kind of book would this have been?)The final section in the Tower itself is interesting ... but even that ends in a very unsatisfying fashion, almost as if Farmer deliberately chopped off the story to prepare for a fifth book. (It also suffers somewhat from the magitech that Farmer had to use: in the late '70s, there would have been nothing even approaching Riverworld technology, and again, even personal technology was quite limited, so much of what the Ethicals have is basically Star Trek-type stuff.)As compelling as the story was in the first three books, The Magic Labyrinth is disappointing. I remembered this book pretty much all the way through, and I expect I felt the same way when I first read it. Other people may find it a more fitting "end" to the story, but I wanted (view spoiler)[at least some kind of idea about the people still in the Valley, and what might happen next for the people in the Tower. Instead, we get nothing (hide spoiler)].

  • John Loyd
    2018-12-24 18:11

    The Magic Labyrinth (1980) 400 pages by Philip Jose Farmer.The fourth book in the Riverworld series. Every human that ever lived past the age of five years old, from 100,000 B.C. to present day, has been resurrected on an engineered planet, Riverworld. So called because the planet is one long river that winds and spirals its way around the globe.By now we know that the ethicals built, or engineered, the planet. We don't know why, but there is one ethical, X, that isn't in agreement with the plan, and he has contacted Richard Francis Burton, Samuel Clemens, and others to help him. The planet is mineral poor, but X has worked it so that an asteroid made it through the planet's defense shields. This allowed Sam to build a riverboat, but he had to make an alliance with King John, and John betrayed him and stole the boat. He built another...The story picks up with Sam and the new boat going up river. Two goals, one to make it to the end of the river and somehow get to the ethicals control center, but the one that is foremost in his mind is to catch John and get revenge for his stealing the first boat. The first half of the book, as the Not for Hire is gaining on the Rex Grandissimus, goes into the past of several of the characters, Earthly and Riverworld, to show us how they've gotten to this point. There are then 80 pages of the battle between Sam and King John. Then the group goes on, struggles through the defenses guarding the ethicals headquarters with some guesses as to what the planet is about. In the last pages of the book we find out who the ethicals are, and why they created Riverworld. The riverworld plotline, through the four books, was great. The Mark Twain/King John stories were a sidetrack. At points entertaining, but bogged down a bit, too. Reading the Joe Smith dialog was a bit cumbersome as well. I get it, Choe Thmith talkth vith a lithp, but come on... the characters are supposedly talking esperanto anyway, and their dialog is in plain English, translate for him, too.Riverworld is a great series, but if the other books had been as good as To your scattered bodies go, it would be in the all-time greats.

  • David Bonesteel
    2019-01-19 11:56

    This is the final novel of Farmer's original Riverworld cycle. Like the rest of the series, it is audacious, often fascinating, but also very problematic. "Labyrinth" is often long-winded and unwieldy, particularly in the beginning. But everything comes together as the rival riverboats commanded by archenemies Sam Clemens and John Lackland meet for their final confrontation, after which the survivors struggle on to gain entrance to the mysterious tower in the North Sea. The battle and the final leg of the journey are well-written and full of adventure and mystery. However, once they gain entrance to the tower, the story becomes dull and stagnant. The nature of the Ethicals, their struggle, and the truth about the human soul are presented in a series of interminable conversations. It is very unsatisfying, after having made the commitment to reading over a thousand pages of this series, to have it resolved with the introduction of a character who simply explains away all of the mysteries. Also, by the time the series ends, Farmer has killed off the majority of his most interesting characters, often in rather off-handed ways that are at odds with all the attention, detail, and craft that went into developing them in the first place. Of the final band that reaches the tower, most are relatively minor characters that I really didn't care about and whose personalities had not been well-developed.In my opinion, the Riverworld series has turned out to be quite a disappointment. It does not live up to the high reputation that it has garnered within the SF community.

  • David B
    2018-12-24 15:22

    This is the final novel of Farmer's original Riverworld cycle. Like the rest of the series, it is audacious, often fascinating, but also very problematic. "Labyrinth" is often long-winded and unwieldy, particularly in the beginning. But everything comes together as the rival riverboats commanded by archenemies Sam Clemens and John Lackland meet for their final confrontation, after which the survivors struggle on to gain entrance to the mysterious tower in the North Sea. The battle and the final leg of the journey are well-written and full of adventure and mystery. However, once they gain entrance to the tower, the story becomes dull and stagnant. The nature of the Ethicals, their struggle, and the truth about the human soul are presented in a series of interminable conversations. It is very unsatisfying, after having made the commitment to reading over a thousand pages of this series, to have it resolved with the introduction of a character who simply explains away all of the mysteries. Also, by the time the series ends, Farmer has killed off the majority of his most interesting characters, often in rather off-handed ways that are at odds with all the attention, detail, and craft that went into developing them in the first place. Of the final band that reaches the tower, most are relatively minor characters that I really didn't care about and whose personalities had not been well-developed.In my opinion, the Riverworld series has turned out to be quite a disappointment. It does not live up to the high reputation that it has garnered within the SF community.

  • Jewell Moreno
    2019-01-13 17:12

    This was the last of the riverwold series. Suppose to answer all you questions, I guess it did but I wasn't really impressed. Most of the story was about Samuel Clemens and King John hating each other of the theft of the first river boat. Seemed ridiculous for a feud that lasted decades, before they even ran into each other. The giant " battle " went on so long, I actually started skimming through it, a thing I never do with books. I won't give away the ending, but it was both science fiction and religiously influenced. Only one ethical supported all the human resurrections, and the goal was to restart that process and save people. Skip the whole middle part of the story, or shorten it significantly because it was unneccessary, and I probably would of have liked it better.

  • Tatiana
    2019-01-17 18:12

    It's overkill to have several books to set up the big ending, each book should have had their respective climaxes. This was not a bad book, by any means, however it becomes boring when you really start wishing for an actual adventure, not steps of it. This fourth book provides history on most of the characters involved, which I personally like, it also explains how characters come together and the reasoning behind it. The journey continues up the river and though small plot twists are provided, the general story stays the same. All the loose ends and major characters seem to draw closer together and getting ready for the end-game in the last book of the series. I was not disappointed by this sequel and I can say I like this series, however I'm looking forward for the big ending.

  • Graham Crawford
    2018-12-22 18:01

    Nearly a quarter of this book is laboured recaps of the previous books in the series. At one point he actually breaks the fourth wall and writes "see book 1 -To Your Scattered Bodies Go - for more on this". Duh! The writing is dreary and all the characters superficial.The long forshadowed battle of the riverboats (and accompanying dogfight) proceeded with the plodding inevitability of a C movie storyboard - without the pictures to liven it up. And we had our regular wikipedia page infodump of Farmer's Daily Favorite Famous Person _ as fun to read as the back of a baseball card. Near the end of this tedius and silly tome he writes:"Don't ask me why. Just believe me when I say it's true."That about sums up Farmers approach in this sloppy mash of dualist anti-science. Synthetic souls - what rot. And bad Sci Fi to boot. and another thing - the super powerful folk who can re-model entire planets and resurrect all historys dead need to take (3 part) medicines that were out of date when i was a kid.don't get me started. *don't*"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a completely ad-hoc plot device" —David Langford, "A Gadget Too Far", as a corollary to Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law

  • Stephen Glover
    2018-12-28 14:11

    After reading the fourth instalment of the Riverworld series I think I can now say I am definitely not a fan. I have read several books of Mr. Farmer's (aside from Riverworld) and you never seem to get an "easy" read with him. Many of his books seem to have deeper meanings and this series is no exception.I have no problem with the basic concept of Riverworld i.e. the populace of deceased human races are resurrected on the banks of a great river. What I do have a problem with is that this could have been an interesting tour of other cultures and historical figures but it is not. Instead you have stories mainly centred around a few characters with other historical figures thrown in who you may or may not know. Having the likes of Apache Indians mingling with Ancient Egyptians just didn't work in my opinion. Vikings from Norway befriending strange alien beings with a speech impediment on a boat sailing up the river for no real reason? Not for me I'm afraid.I'm sure there will be fans of this series and many will get deeper meanings from it then I did. Overall, I think this is an example of a series which may have been quite quirky and revolutionary back in the 70's/80's but it doesn't read well 40+ years later.

  • Alex Lee
    2019-01-06 14:12

    This is better than its previous book. Here Farmer brings us closer towards the end to give answers. Much of this short book is taken up by resolving the conflict that was building since the second story. So in that sense it's a series capstone that has been long awaited. The last third of the book deals with the world, mainly in giving answers. There is an attempt at some of the philosophical exploration this world entails, but it's mainly pseudo-science, a fictional causation. This is interesting but Farmer doesn't explore the connotations as much as he could have; as he implies with the first three books, when we are faced with radical difference. If anything Farmer seems to be suggesting that by mixing people from so many different cultures that anything that varies from human to human (or consciousness to consciousness) is unimportant to the essence of subjectivity... and he signals this because as subjectivity has an extra-matter essence, the wathan. Beyond this though, there is little left to say, as he ends the plot with eternal life. This is perhaps why he ended up writing another book -- because in this book the plot takes precedence, and not the philosophical exploration that drives the series.

  • Isma
    2018-12-29 12:21

    Aún no sé si echarme a reír o a llorar. La primera parte del libro describe el encuentro entre los dos grandes barcos fluviales y sus respectivos egos. Batallitas algo previsibles, pero entretenido. En la segunda parte se cuenta la llegada a la Torre y lo que ocurre dentro. El autor trata de deshacer el enredo que llevamos viendo desde el primer libro y para ello se saca conejos de la chistera, de la chaqueta, pantalones y hasta de los zapatos. Esta segunda parte comienza con la repetición de lo que ya se nos contó en libros anteriores. En cuanto a la resolución de los misterios del Mundo del Río... uff... sí, la explicación tiene algo de sentido, pero hay que obviar muchas incoherencias y aceptar algunos axiomas casi intragables. En conjunto es gracioso y da por fin algunas respuestas, aunque inverosímiles. Para mí está claro que PJF es un escritor de talento moderado que tiene grandes dificultades para seguir a su propia imaginación. Aun así me ha gustado porque ofrece respuestas a lo que se viene esperando desde el primer libro.