Apparently the last book in the Pathfinder series came out on November 4th. I had no clue. You would think the website would mention something about it on the front page...
Posts: 337 | Registered: Nov 2008
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I had pre-ordered it on Amazon, so I just got it earlier this week. I'm a bit too busy with work this week to get through it at a good pace, but I'm excited to see how the trilogy ends.
Posts: 1019 | Registered: Apr 2007
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I probably won't get to it for a little bit either. I'm re-reading another series at the moment and I'll have to make it through the first two in this series again since it has been a while.
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I'm through the first couple of chapters, and so far I am enjoying it. I rely more on Amazon to tell me release dates than OSC these days. I just preordered the book, and was told a few days prior (through email) that it was releasing soon.
I opened my ipad the day of release to find it waiting for me.
Posts: 1888 | Registered: Nov 2006
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I initially thought that it might make more sense to wait until I was through with Visitors before writing some impressions about it, but my Kindle tells me I'm now about 80% done, and in case something changes in the last 20%, I wanted to discuss what I've been thinking so far.
SPOILERS FOR VISITORS BELOW
THERE ARE SPOILERS RIGHT BELOW THIS SENTENCE
I confess that I'm quite underwhelmed so far. Well, perhaps "underwhelmed" is too strong a term... I suppose I'm merely quite "whelmed."
To start with, I enjoyed the descriptions of the handful of wallfolds that Rigg and Ram Odin visited, though we only got to see about, what, 3 of them? (Or was it 4? I might have lost count.) But the story of those visits seemed to suddenly stop out of blue with no explanation.
I understand that OSC probably thought it was monotonous and pointless to show all 19 of the wallfolds (and it probably would have made the book far too big), but I would at least have liked to see some transition from "We're touring all these wallfolds," to "Ok, now we're back in Larfold with Param and the rest of the crew planning the military campaign in Ramfold." It felt extremely jerky in terms of the narrative to have them, essentially, disappear and then reappear doing something completely different. (Or maybe that's part of a twist that's coming. I kind of hope so, since that's the only thing that would make sense from a storytelling standpoint.)
And speaking of jerky storyline, I'm finding it difficult to really get emotionally invested in the "Uncle Georgia"/Wheaton and Deborah characters on Earth and the Square character on Garden. We practically just met Wheaton and Deborah, and we're supposed to really care that Deborah died in an incredibly careless accident? That "twist" feels to me like manufactured tension, and doesn't really work for me at all. Not to mention that I'd almost forgotten that Wheaton was the person referred to by the "Uncle Georgia" moniker that OSC all of a sudden started using again after Deborah died.
Are we really supposed to be emotionally moved by the fact that Noxon and "young Ram" decided to both save Deborah and give her a version of herself that was not blind and had both parents? Unless it somehow plays a key role in how the story is resolved, it seems completely pointless to me. Deborah was clearly at peace with her blindness and electronic eyes, and she clearly loved Wheaton, so why would she even be interested in having another life that was lived in entirely different circumstances? And the "new" linguist Wheaton vs. anthropologist Wheaton... I mean, no offense intended, but who cares?
As for Square, I understand how and why circumstances came about to have him receive the facemask, but the whole "moral story" I've gotten from that character arc so far is that Leaky is a horrible person. I admit that perhaps it speaks to me more personally since my wife and I adopted a child when we could not have one biologically, but it seems to me that only a monster would be secretly pining for a child her whole life, then completely reject a child that was given to them because they found out they were pregnant, and Leaky "just can't accept a child that didn't come from her womb." If I were to ever meet Leaky in real life, I doubt I could stay in the same room with her more than 5 minutes, and I'd think less of Loaf as a man (and Loaf does seem like a good man) because he was married to such a woman. If I were Umbo and experienced the events that happened after I saved Square, I might just reappear to my past self and warn him not to save Leaky at all. Umbo already has Square at that point, so he should just tell his past self that he and Loaf will not be able to persuade Leaky, and that they should go back to Larfold to work with Param and Olivenko on conquering General Citizen and the Sessaminiak. Let Leaky live out what miserable days she has left thinking that Loaf just never came back. Hell, she barely listened to Umbo when he tried to save her, anyway. Let her go.
But my biggest difficulty with the book is keeping track of all the temporal "rules" that OSC goes into meticulous detail to explain. I understand that in the Pathfinder universe, causality has specific rules, but hearing Umbo or Noxon prattle on endlessly about causation and creating a copy of this or that threatens to make me go cross-eyed at times in confusion. Surely there must be a way to keep the rules of temporal causality clear without descending into what sounds like a fantasy sci-fi version of only mildly-coherent technobabble. (And I've extensively read Sanderson, so highly scientific explanations of magic systems are not something with which I'm unaccustomed. It just seems so clumsily done in this book that it bothers me.)
By comparison, I had no difficulty in the first two books understanding why there were 20... or, actually 21... copies of the ship, which resulted in 19 wallfolds, 1 ship traveling backwards through time, and 1 ship that was, essentially, blinked out of existence in the moment that its causality chain ended and the other 20 causality chains started. I also had no difficulty understanding the difference between the skills that Param, Umbo, and Rigg possess and how they differed from one another (and what the weaknesses of each were). In this third book, though, everything seems supremely muddled, and Param, Umbo, and Rigg/Noxon have had their powers increased to such an extent that what they do is barely distinguishable from each other.
Finally, I've just gotten to the point in the book where they discover that "aliens" have destroyed the Earth, and (they presume) are the ones who destroy Garden, as well. We don't have that many pages left (less than 20% of the book), and Umbo and Param haven't even gotten to the "climactic battle scene" yet, so there's a lot of action that will need to be resolved quickly in both main storylines. (I'm almost suspecting that some kind of Deux Ex Machina will happen that prevents the climactic battle from taking place at all.)
I really hope this isn't going where I'm beginning to suspect it's going... that the "aliens" are either 1) A civilization created by the 21st ship that somehow survived the end of its causality, or 2) A mouse-based civilization that was started by the mice on Garden, but thrown so far into the past that they'd be incredibly technologically advanced by the time the Earth ships arrived. Finding either of those "twists" waiting for me at the end of the book would be supremely disappointing, and fairly predictable. We'll see, though.
I hope my final statements in the spoiler section are wrong, but we'll see after I finish the book. I really hope it picks up from here through the end. I have to say that based on the first 80% of the book, though, this is easily my least favorite OSC work.
Update: I've now finished the book, and somebody started a thread in the other OSC-specific forum so I've added my comments there (Spoiler Alert link, obviously).
TL;DR: The Pathfinder trilogy is now like the Matrix movie trilogy for me. Great first entry, but the last two are utterly forgettable, and kind of ruin the first.