Neal Stephenson
For ten years Fraa Erasmas, a young avout, has lived in a cloistered sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside world. But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change—and Erasmas will become a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world, as he follows his destiny to the most inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond.


Reviewed: 2018-01-25
Reviewed: 2014-01-01

I'm a slow reader, and the book is almost 900 pages, but it is well worth the investment of time and effort. As I think back to my experience of reading the story, it really seems to be several different styles combined into one long narrative. It starts as a spec-fic cultural examination, with a bit of philosophical dialogue. Then there's a section of grand adventure and survivalism. Then a great turn into full-on scifi, with some more philosophy (which gets really thick around the 600s, but press on and don't give up). The wrapping-up chapter (denouement if I remember my terminology) was not quite satisfactory to me, but after the actions and ideas that were explored in the previous pages, I can't think that any "ending" would suffice (plus, I knew what was coming -- maybe if I'd been surprised, I would have liked it more).

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