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The Broken God

5 stars
420 (50%)
4 stars
233 (28%)
3 stars
121 (14%)
2 stars
40 (4%)
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12 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 42 reviews
Profile Image for Khalid Abdul-Mumin.
213 reviews100 followers
September 13, 2023
David Zindell continues his epic tale of the city of light, Neverness, in this sequel where he tells the coming of age story of Danlo the Wild.

In the tradition of the first book, this one too contains strong philosophical underpinnings. Of morals, consciousness, ethics, etc. and the various methods and tools a far future humanity in diaspora among the stars might employ in tackling its age old mysteries.

I think that the whole of the book can be described as an extensive fictional account of the age old goodness vs evil dichotomy, wherein the protagonist represents the forces of good that ultimately brings about the evil in the form of his best friend Hanuman (sort of a ying/yang counterbalance) and how best that force of good mitigates and ultimately triumphs over said evil.

Very interesting albeit a bit prolonged. Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,100 followers
November 12, 2020
It's really hard to emphasize just how important this book is.

Or, indeed, just how important the book before it is. Or, if I'm reading this correctly, how important the following two books are.

I'm in awe.

This is very much a Neverness book, set in the far future, rich with history, languages, high-technologies, and settled into comfortable and sometimes fraught castes that are so very, very human. The icy landscape, filled with skaters and mathematical prodigies, resplendent and decadent societies, poet-assassins, mage-technologists that model (and manipulate) human minds, DNA crafters, alien guests, warring gods in far parts of the galaxy (and galaxies), far off nano-recreations of worlds, sprawling machine intelligences, and the oncoming death of the universe.

All of these are important, are discussed, worried over, and become major plot points, but at the very core of this particular novel, it's all about the Broken God. You might say it's the Manichean Heresy. You might even say, "Yeah, we know our reality is broken... isn't it obvious?"

But the truth is far more subtle and amazing.

This novel takes what might be a Coming of Age story of Danlo, the lost son of Mallory, as he finds his path in the shadow of his father, and turns it into a setup of friendship that becomes a tale of epic enemies. And all through it is woven the concept of what is memory, what is spirituality, what is the corruption of a new, popular religious movement, and what is the nature of a godhood.

Mallory's shadow extends far.

But this is, again, not the complete tale. Zindell explores everything.

From philosophy to psychology to linguistics and the nature of human thought to the strange paths a high-technology can create religious fever and fervor in the implantation of memories, the alteration of chemicals, and the kinds of social structures that hunt and feed on our deepest desires and credulity.

And the entire time, it's a book that made me shiver and cry with the pain of a great story that should have ended in a friendship that might have lasted forever. A love story that, while suffering a lot of difficulty, still had the will to survive. Or the beginnings of a philosophy, a deep understanding of human nature, that should have brought enlightenment to all.

From the worldbuilding to the carefully constructed characters to the amazingly gorgeous panorama of this far-future vision of humanity, I can find no fault. It is a head-and-shoulder above MOST SF, period.

This, and the book before it, and probably the two books after it, ought to be on the MUST READ list for anyone who reads SF. If only to see what the fuss is all about, or start asking others (LIKE PUBLISHERS) why it isn't given a huge push once more. This could, theoretically, still take off like Dune had taken off. It is RICH as hell.

This would be justice.
Profile Image for Kalin.
Author 71 books267 followers
Currently reading
December 16, 2021
(отзив на български)

Notes in progress:

~ For this partner read with Ani, I'm coming back to the series that has touched and shaped me the most as a human being. What will I see twenty years later? How will it touch and shape me now?

I've seldom felt so thrilled.

~ So ...

Set into the snow around a large circle were wooden stakes. Each stake was topped with the skull of a different animal. There were a hundred different skulls: the great, tusked skull of Tuwa, the mammoth; the skulls of Nunki and long, pointed skulls of the snow fox and wolf; there were many, many smaller skulls, those of the birds, Ayeye, the thallow, and Gunda and Rakri, and Ahira, the snowy owl. Danlo had never seen such a sight in all of his life, for the boys of the tribe were not allowed to approach Winter Pock. In the twilight, the circle of greyish–white skulls looked ominous and terrifying. Danlo knew that each man, after his cutting, would look up at the skulls to find his doffel, his other–self, the one special animal he would never again hunt. His doffel would guide him into the dreamtime, and later, through all the days of his life.

... my journey into shamanism actually started twenty years ago. Well, well. :)

Other than that, Danlo's coming-of-age rite was as harrowing and visceral as I remembered it; but now I can grasp more of its symbolic meaning (e.g. shedding the foreskin is shedding the sheltered nature of childhood).

The metric prose is still mesmerizing.

~ Whew ... we're finally past the journey across the ice: the slowest and probably most gruesome part of the book. How many readers have left their bones in the blizzard, only a few pages away from the City of Light and wonders and growing up?

~ Chapter 3, "The Glavering," was my first introduction to ahimsa ("Never killing or hurting another, not even in your thoughts"), glavering (or its pithier version), angslan (causing others psychic anguish, "the pain that comes from higher understanding"), the hidden power(lessness) of words, saying "yes" to all truths--and ultimately this:

‘Did you know that laughing at oneself is the key to escaping the glavering?’

Which has defined my core for as long as I have been able to look at myself.

All that in a single chapter. Well.

~ I never knew how much foreshadowing there was in these early chapters. In little thoughts and larger scenes, they basically hint at all the major events that are about to unfold--even the end of the trilogy.

Chapter 4, "Shih," has been another cornerstone in the foundations of my worldview. It introduced me to the fluid nature of reality, made me question certain verbs as well as all pronouns and nouns, and showed me shibui, the beauty that comes with age.

It's aged beautifully. :)

~ Chapter 5, "The Returnists," enthralled the young me with the notion of simplex/complex/multiplex/omniplex perception of the world; and the pitfalls of guruism. Ever since (and likely before that, on a vaguer level), my life has flowed toward the asarya and away from the guru.

And I've never stopped wondering in which shell of reality I'm currently locked. ;)

~ Chapter 8, "The Doctrine of Ahimsa," shows how ahimsa and angslan can be compatible:
Ahimsa, as he understood it, required only that he never harm another’s body or spirit. To inflict mind pain on another in order to provoke understanding was a Fravashi tradition that he cherished.

~ In Chapter 10, "Multiplication by Zero," we see Hanuman's transhumanist beliefs for the first time--along with the accompanying pain.

We also see a societal view that makes my kindred spirit Атанас П. Славов rabid every time:
Danlo (...) looked at Hanuman and asked, ‘Do you think we are so different from others?’

‘You know that we are.’

‘But Hanu, we are still people.’

‘There are people,’ Hanuman said, ‘and there are people.’

‘The blessed … people. All people are blessed.’

‘But few are chosen,’ Hanuman said. ‘All through history, there have always been a few people destined to be something more.’

‘More … than what?’

‘More than they are. More than anybody is.’

Danlo smiled at this and said, ‘I think you are a natural aristocrat.’

‘How not? It’s only we, aristocrats in our souls, who can know what is possible.’

‘But what about the others?’

‘Others are other. You mustn’t think about them too much. All human society is a hierarchy. All life, this living pyramid. It’s only natural that a few human beings should stand at the top.’

‘You mean, stand on top of others.’

‘I didn’t make the universe,’ Hanuman said. ‘I just live in it.’

Danlo knelt in the snow, listening to the wind fall off the Hill of Sorrows and the icy mountains above. ‘But it is hard to live … with the boots of others kicking at your face.’

~ Chapter 15, "The Return of a Pilot," gives us an idea why we can happily ignore the tumults of our childhood--and a taste of how I've felt ever since I left the United World College of the Adriatic:
To a young man, even a student of the most fabulous and powerful school on the Civilized Worlds, the times during which he comes to maturity always seem normal no matter how extraordinary, how turbulent with change they really are. Imminent change and danger act as drugs upon the human brain, or rather, as rich foods that nourish the urge toward more life. And how easily one becomes used to such nourishment. Those who survive the signal events of history—the wars, plagues, alien contacts, vastenings, speciations and religious awakenings—develop a taste for ferment and evolution next to which all the moments of ‘normal’ existence will seem dull, flat, meaningless.

And another glimpse into Danlo's zen-like impuls:
Entering into the passion and beliefs of any particular religion was like viewing reality through a crystal lens. Always, like a child’s prism held up to one’s eye, the lens of ritual and belief distorted reality and coloured it in strange (and sometimes beautiful) ways. But in each religion, cult, or faith, Danlo hoped to find a universal centre, a jewel of truth as pure and clear as a diamond. It was his task and destiny, as he conceived it, to grasp each religion he could find, to apprehend the world through its beliefs, and with the hammerstone of his will, to shatter the lens. Only then might the diamond centre be revealed; only then could he see things clearly. And someday he might look at the universe through his own eyes only, free of even diamond lenses, free to behold the infinite stellar fires and humanity’s burning pain through the consciousness of his deepest self.

And an extensive example of a pitfall I've been warning all my friends about: our inclination to embrace new worldviews without exploring their limitations. (Even holism, yes.)
Profile Image for Kalin.
Author 71 books267 followers
August 3, 2018
От всички книги в живота ми, за тази съм говорил най-много... и ми е най-трудно да говоря.

Тук има есе-размисъл, вдъхновено от нея:

Ала... достатъчно ли е?

(Поне като начало?)
Profile Image for Terry .
402 reviews2,148 followers
June 10, 2020
This was a re-read for me and so to give you a general feel for my thoughts on Zindell’s ‘Requiem for Homo Sapiens’ trilogy as a whole and the larger themes of the books I would simply point you here. I’ll restrict myself in this review to a few thoughts on volume 1:

- The novel is both a bildungsroman of Danlo’s journey from childhood to adulthood (as well as from the primitive society of the Alaloi to the civilized one of Neverness), and the story of the birth of a religion supposedly based on the worship of Malory Ringess, but more truly of humanity for itself, and the desire for power and glory of its founders.

- The Alaloi and their culture have grown on me quite a bit since I first read about them. I wonder if I’d enjoy those sections of Neverness more now?

- At times Danlo skims awfully close towards being a Gary-Stu given his near supreme excellence at everything he turns his hand to, but somehow, for me at least, he never quite steps over the boundary. Perhaps this is because he is, at heart, such a likeable character. Zindell somehow manages to create a character who is both an exemplar of human excellence in all he does without losing his fundamental human vulnerability, as well as being imbued with an earnest morality and devotion to pacifism that don’t have him devolve into an annoying Pollyanna (as was the case, for me at least, with Gene Wolfe’s unfortunate character Patera Silk).

- Ah Bardo! It’s always great to see you, even if I’d probably want to punch you in the face if we ever met in reality.

- I’m still a little dubious about how the story of Old Father, the alien Fravashi character who first mentors Danlo when he comes to Neverness, concludes, but to discuss this further would be a spoiler and we’ll see if I feel any differently when I actually get there on a re-read of the subsequent volumes.

- Zindell is quite good at expressing character through the unique speech patterns of his characters: esp. Danlo, Bardo, and Old Father (as long as you don’t find these ‘verbal ticks’ to be annoying…they worked for me).

- Hanuman li Tosh is an intriguing character: both Danlo’s greatest friend and his most adamant enemy; a villain whose perspective often makes the most rational sense (especially when contrasted with Danlo’s seemingly unrealistic idealism) and whose perspective is often quite sympathetic…though perhaps I’m just a cynic. As Danlo himself says he is “both cynical and sincere, too aware of the darkness that everywhere permeated the universe and yet strangely innocent.”

- Hanuman wants all the universe to share in his suffering, a suffering that he believes is the fundamental truth of life, and so he rails against Danlo’s idealism and uses all of his powers to ensure that he can give Danlo “the gift of fire [so that he would ] always…burn for something impossible to ever hold.”

- Danlo’s great quest, and initial belief, is in the ‘Halla’ nature of reality: all things exist in harmony and are good, but Hanuman, with his ‘twisted compassion’, teaches him the lesson that despite the fact that the universe is beautiful, it is also deeply flawed, with a deep crack of ‘Shaida’ (or disharmony/evil) running through it. Danlo comes to see that there is no escaping this.
Profile Image for Dev Null.
319 reviews21 followers
May 27, 2009
This is an odd fish.

I really liked it. Big space opera and metaphysics of the soul all mashed up together around a chewey centre of some interesting characters and some intriguing concepts. At the core of this novel are questions like "What does it mean to be alive?" "What is conciousness?" and "When is it ok to kill?" but, to my mind, they're wrapped up enough in the story that you don't feel preached at. And Zindell's mystic style suits his somewhat mythical material. I'd definitely read it again.

That said, I might have trouble recommending it to anyone else. Some people will agree with me and like it, of course, but some people are going to be jumping up and down shouting "shutupshutupshutup and make something HAPPEN!" by about halfway through one of the main character Danlos mystic journeys of discovery. I would say "stately" but I can also see how for some the pace would be merely "slow." Strangely - because I often winge about the bloating of the modern SF novel - I didn't feel these 3 800 page books were too much for the story, but I'm not sure I can explain why. It just felt about right. I _would_ recommend reading Zindell's standalone novel Neverness first; if you like it, come read these; if not, save yourself some pain.

Also interesting to have a book about space travel written by a mathematician. He doesn't go into the maths, but he makes them seem real. That he makes the hero-pilots that everyone looks up to in his world The Order of Mystic Mathematicians seems less like putting himself on a pedestal and more like poking fun at mystics and mathematicians alike...
Profile Image for Sammy.
1,291 reviews7 followers
August 9, 2019
Don't let the distant planet setting fool ya... This book isn't your typical sci-fi. If anything, it would probably be more at home in the philosophy section.

Of course, it is quite usual for sci-fi novels to tackle a big question or theme. The added scope of the setting allows for some interesting extrapolation of themes and ideas. (I knoweth of what I speak, honest, lol. My dissertation in uni was on character development in sci-fi and cult tv...)

But Zindell isn't content with playing with one or two big questions. He reaches out and grabs them all, and blends them seamlessly into a narrative that should be one huge mess in its ambition, but is far, far from it. It is, in fact, halla.

This should be incredibly difficult to read, but isn't. It's one you want to take relatively slowly, certainly, in order to take it all in fully, but it's such a smooth, easy read that this isn't a chore at all.

Very highly recommended, and a well-deserved 5 stars.
Profile Image for Jason.
90 reviews3 followers
November 11, 2020
This is one of my favourite books ever. A complex mix of hard sci-fi, philosophy and spirituality, this is a true epic. Why hasn’t someone gotten the rights to this series and made an awesome movie or tv series?
Profile Image for Ainsley.
180 reviews6 followers
January 30, 2008
Incredible Sci-Fi. Sympathetic characters, gripping plot, eastern-based phiolsophical grounding (for those who are tired of boy-saves-world tripe). Best of all, fantastic and new imagery. Wolfe beats Zindell, but only just. Zindell wins overall, as he's not trying to show off how clever he is. Very recommended.
Profile Image for Clarita.
58 reviews46 followers
March 21, 2016
Няма да е книгата на живота ми:), но получава пет звезди, защото буквално взриви емоционалната ми скала. Дали дадена история и нейното разгръщане ще ме издразни, разтърси, вбеси, пречисти, хвърли в размисъл или затрупа с още проклети въпроси не е толкова важно; важното е да ме докосне, а още по-добре - да ме сграбчи и да не ме пуска до края. Ето това ми причини "Падналите богове".
Странно е, защото не почувствах Данло като сродна душа. Имаше моменти, когато му се възхищавах, други, в които му съчувствах, трети, в които изпитвах най-съкровено и напълно осъзнато желание да го наритам. Не бях равнодушна нито за миг, но не бях равнодушна от известно разстояние. Човек, верен безапелационно на принципите, които е прегърнал, буди уважение, но не спирам да се питам трябва ли да се вкопчваме в принципите си, когато сме предадени и са застрашени любимите ни същества; и ако си отговорим с не, то тогава какъв е смисълът да изповядваме ахимса или каквото и да било друго. Честно, чувствах се зле, докато ту оправдавах Данло, ту ми се искаше да вляза в историята и да го разтърся хубавичко, при което се питах дали съм добър човек, все пак.
Историята на Данло започва в свят, който, макар и защеметяващо изграден, не събуди у мен желание да го обитавам - твърде много студ във всяко едно отношение, твърде много декаданс, твърде много амбиции...
Но не мога да не сторя дълбок по��лон пред Дейвид Зиндел. Това неговото е...нечовешки размах и въображение! Имаше моменти, когато се чувствах като в симбиоза с някой от високоинтелигентните тамошни компютри; като Данло, докато се потапяше в единствения, ключовия за пробуждането на божественото у човека спомен. Изключително преживяване, каквото не всеки пишещ може да ни подари. След кратка почивка за подреждане на мисли и чувства продължавам с останалите книги:).
Profile Image for Arik Vlaanderen.
13 reviews
June 16, 2020
I absolutely loved this book. This was one of those book that came at exactly the right point in time in your life and that feels as though it’s just one step further than your current mindset but with a clear manual to get there.

The inner struggles of consciousness and conscience were written beautifully and artistically. I felt as though this book was the perfect mirror to my own struggles with duality and choosing a path in life. I loved how eastern philosophy was used to clarify, direct and guide those struggles and choices within the characters. In a sense I categorized myself only recently as a sort of positive nihilist but, and I sure as hell am dramatizing this but that be me when I’m enthusiastic to this degree yo, this book showed me just the points where that can diverge into a much more wholesome worldview so I decided I’m sticking to the more wholesome option and be more like the main protagonist instead of the antagonist. Which might be a logical choice for many who read this as just a weird sort of psychological metaphysical space-opera but for some, like me, isn’t.

Highly recommended for like minded souls who want to understand their characters on a deeper level, love and/or are analytical and empathetic and who love to question the purpose of life, and this universe.
Profile Image for David.
461 reviews8 followers
April 19, 2020
This had been sitting in my to-read list for years. I read over 300 pages (less than half of the book.) It didn't meet my interests / inclinations, so I chose to drop it. Before deciding, I looked online. The book's Wikipedia page only refers to the first section of the book, and the Publisher's Weekly review referred to earlier parts and then indicated there's an important twist at the end. This didn't leave me with the impression I just had to wait a little for the better stuff. Even after 300 pages, the protagonist is about 16 years old in his first year in an academy.

My personal impressions may be biased by the the book not meeting my preferences, but I felt the story of the protagonist's life was told in greater length than needed to convey the significant points.

Readers wanting science fiction: The first 60 pages have a prehistoric-like setting. After that, the setting is in a future city, with a number of references to future aspects. However, there are many elements which don't seem futuristic, and the basic story doesn't seem to require a science fiction setting.
Profile Image for Anna.
45 reviews
April 1, 2020
It was very long. And for me, perhaps too esoteric or too clever. The beginning was interesting, the middle seemed to just stretch on, and finally it picked up at the end. There was a lot of roundabout explanations of things that never really explained anything - I don't understand why Hanuman turned out that way. And reading about the religion(s) and life and existence was interesting, but it seemed a bit overwrought. Too much lecturing.
There were some nice, clever, or witty turns of phrase. I don't think I will read the next book. Perhaps the prequel (written earlier, too?) is better. But there are so many books out there I would enjoy more or would get more out of, it doesn't seem worth my time.
Profile Image for Dennis Cooper.
98 reviews4 followers
August 21, 2014
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it would be quite a difficult read but I found myself pleasantly surprised. Now having said that it's not book for everybody. Yep it's classed as science fiction but there no big epic space battles or zap guns. It'a book that you need to take your time reading. It's not a quick read by any means and that not just length of book. The reader needs to think about what he/she is reading.I would recommend this if you enjoy your science fiction with a bit of depth.
Profile Image for Tom.
51 reviews3 followers
December 9, 2022
Part of the sequel to Neverness, Zindell’s epic space opera continues to deliver a profound metaphysical meditation on what it means to be human.

Warning: spoiler alert!!

The Broken God is the first book in David Zindell’s trilogy, A Requiem for Homo Sapiens (1993-1998), the sequel to Neverness (1988). Set in the city of Neverness on the planet Icefall – one civilised world out of the 4,000 in the galaxy – it follows the education of Mallory Ringess’ son, Danlo wi Soli Ringess as he joins the Order of Mystic Mathematicians and Other Seekers of the Ineffable Flame (the Order). For three millennia the Order has been exploring the great mysteries of the Universe. Zindell’s epic space opera interrogates the pressures placed on what it means to be human in the face of ever advancing technology.

The story which is told by Danlo’s father centres on Danlo’s education, from his adolescent years as an Alaloi tribal member to his ascension as pilot of the Order. His friendship with fellow student Hanuman li Tosh becomes a defining feature in Danlo’s life. As time goes by, and the friendship deteriorates into a bitter rivalry, it also comes to define the narrative dynamic of the whole trilogy, their two fundamentally different belief systems pitted against one another. While Danlo chooses to become a pilot, Hanuman, under the auspices of the Cetic Order, is educated in the art of cyber-shamanism, practising electronic telepathy and other forms of computer consciousness. No one has heard from Mallory since he took off on his quest to discover the Elder Eddas, the secret knowledge passed down by the extinct civilisation of the Ieldras. Rumours have it though that he has managed to unlock the ancient knowledge, and not only found the blueprint for achieving godhood, but also has become a god himself. In his absence a new religion has sprung up in his name, the Way of the Ringess (or Ringism).

The seeds of Danlo and Hanuman’s philosophical rivalry are evident from their first encounters with Ringism. Under the influence of a drug called kalla, church members partake in ceremonies of remembrancing, trying to remember the secrets of the Elder Eddas. While the secret is not unveiled until the last instalment of the trilogy, Danlo senses that it provides a way of overcoming the human condition, an opening of the mind that leads to a more profound understanding of reality. Conditioned by a troubled childhood, Hanuman only sees pain and struggle, machine gods engaged in eternally recurring wars. While Danlo embraces the human condition, Hanuman is dead-set on eradicating its negative aspects, and as he rises in the ranks of the church, he lets the remembrancing ceremonies transmute into computer-interfaced orgasmic seances, a clear perversion of Ringism. His ultimate goal is to design a simulated meta-life of pure bliss. Danlo and Hanuman thus apply two opposing solutions to the same problem, best captured perhaps by Hanuman as he paraphrases Frederick Nietzsche: “Man is a rope, tied between beast and god – a rope over a bottomless crevasse.”

Perversion of religion and the seductive promises of technological transcendence are major themes in the work, and Hanuman’s experiment is just the latest outgrowth in a long line of cybernetic religions. The most important is Edeism, which evolved around the 3,000 years old Nikolos Daru Ede, the first person in recorded history to transfer his mind to a computer. Edeism has since undergone several schisms and triggered numerous religious wars. The God Ede himself, as he turned into an ever expanding machine god, is now thought to be dead, long since defeated by another machine god. Core to Edeism is the belief that the computer provides the bridge to God; how it is practised differs. The Cybernetic Reformed Church (the Architects) for example subject their followers to a brain cleansing ceremony before they are allowed to interface with the church’s communal computers.

Danlo realises early in his education that the question of how to bridge the void, how to align the isolated self with the otherness of the universe, is shared by all philosophies, all spiritual and religious systems. Before entering the Order, Danlo is taken in by a Fravashi (a old Father), an alien, whose Socratic way of teaching – dissecting how different beliefs and worldviews are imprinted during childhood – is aimed at opening up the mind to new senses and free it from the all-too-human emotional luggage. Based on the thinly veiled Nietzschean idea that man can be overcome, the Fravashis strive for multiplexity, the ability to hold more than one reality at the same time. Staying true to oneself, embracing the human condition, and not giving in to cybernetic escapism, come to form the core of Danlo’s worldview.
Profile Image for Chumofchance.
107 reviews2 followers
October 21, 2020
The least good one in the series, totally worth reading but Zindell is obsessed with making his MC the most perfectly perfect being ever and it's really annoying, especially after Neverness and what a believable jerkass Mallory was. It's annoying, and (spoiler warning) doesn't get any better as the series goes on.
12 reviews
June 15, 2021
This book is incredible. After reading Neverness I didn't think anything could top it. This book did. Poignant and introspective whilst exploring crippling isolation. Beautiful all the way through, with a series heart wrenching twists.
Profile Image for Carl Barlow.
307 reviews4 followers
September 18, 2023
The Broken God is the first book of A Requiem For Homo Sapiens, a trilogy I regard as a kind of exploded view of Neverness (the 1988 novel that spawned said trilogy).

Neverness was a detailed work, with long, rich paragraphs that could so easily have been tedious, but never, ever, were. TBG is even longer, even more detailed, even more rich... and every bit as enthralling.

The backdrop, almost entirely this time, is again Neverness city - surely up there, alongside Nessus, Virconium, and The Last Redoubt, as one of the greatest genre cities imagined. Like those, it has that charm of far future barbarism and romance, the mystical and prosaic, ancient ritual, viciousness, and wonder. Like those it is isolated, and yet teems with life - the chaos of hundreds of different factions and races intermingling along its icy glidderies and in its dark cafes.

Danlo the Wild, son of Neverness's focus, Mallory Ringess (now a god), enrols into the Order of Mystic Mathematicians and Other Seekers of the Ineffable Flame (everything Hogwarts wished it would be when it grew up), where begins his friendship with one Hanuman li Tosh (surely one of the most tragic and doomed double acts in fiction) - wonderfully realised -for all the calamity and downright evil it engenders- in achingly subtle and introspective prose.

The world-building and characterisation are nothing short of staggering, in breadth, depth, and utter sincerity. As with Neverness, comparisons with Dune and The Book of the New Sun are inevitable and quite deserved (though there is less of the colour of Jack Vance than was noted with Neverness, perhaps because the setting here remains almost exclusively icy and grey-white), but -and again- these are only jumping-off points for something that is very much Zindell's work (more so here - Danlo is nothing like his father, and so nothing like Paul or Severian), brimming with philosophy and wise insight and the joy and terror of living a life worthwhile.

Perhaps it is trite to say, but I would dearly love to see these books adapted for screen.

Strongly recommended.
2 reviews
October 3, 2019
The ambition in this novel pines for the greatness of Dune, but ultimately tells its own unique psychedelic tale. Though published in 1992, reading the book in 2019, some of Zindell's descriptions seems quite prescient as he illuminates a world of very tight human-computer interfaces, lab grown meat, and widespread gene-editing. That said, this is not an earthly story of technical sci-fi, this is more like psychedelic spiritual fantasy.

I give this book four stars for its ambitions, its heady explorations of human philosophy, and the questions of metaphysics, religion, and ultimately our relationship to life, experience, and motivation that it poses. That said I found the characters and their lives frustratingly two-dimensional. I never believed in Danlo & Hanuman's instant and almost erotic friendship. Danlo never stuck out to me as a fully-formed character, and Hanuman even less. Bardo was unbelievable in his successes in spite of obvious personal incapacities. And Tamara, who was she? The dialogue is bland and repetitive ("Hanu, Hanu" repeated ad nauseum). And finally, thethe timing of events goes from very metered and slow to really fast and scattered. It's almost like the book, already quite long, had to hit fast-forward in a few places just to keep the grandeur of the universe Zindell has imagined contained in print.

That said, I did like the story and the way it served as a vehicle for the exploration of ideas. I just wish the characters didn't feel like pawns in a psychedelic spiritual drama, but full-fledged believable characters. Zindell is a masterful world-builder, has a grand vision, a wide-ranging knowledge of philosophy & metaphysics, but his characters lack a human, earthly dimension.
Profile Image for Tyler Alterman.
4 reviews49 followers
February 20, 2021
The first half was astonishing. The second half of the book doesn't feel well-edited. But I fell in love with Danlo, the protagonist, and the entire thing sparkles with goodwill and an optimistic transhumanism, so I'm giving it 5 stars.
Profile Image for Nigel Roberts.
152 reviews
January 22, 2023
I tried, I really tried, but I just can't get on with this book.

After 200(ish) pages I lost the will to continue. It's sooooo slooooow, and spent most of that time gazing at its own navel. It may get better as it progresses, but I doubt it somehow.
6 reviews1 follower
October 2, 2021
Awesome series of books.
I've read tons of sci-fi over the years and this is the one I've been waiting for.
Profile Image for Joe Dean.
25 reviews1 follower
October 31, 2021

A worthy of sequel, I'm very much looking forward to the next two. What works of staggering imagination. Love these.
Profile Image for Marni.
61 reviews
September 3, 2015
It took me like forever to finish this book...and I liked it and I struggled to like it when I didn't like it because I knew there was something more to it. This book is definitely philosophical, not the usual sci-fi that one may be used to. After Neverness, this one seems kind of...broken. It is a great piece of writing that keeps up with the traditional science fiction and philosophical space opera. If you read this for the adventure, you will abandon it shortly because the pace it is extremely slow and in truth not much action happens, plus it focuses on random things and has extremely long descriptions. If you read this for the philosophical questions, then go on - it is a fine read.
I gave it fewer stars because of the slowness, because from a literary point of view it lacked strengths, but I would give it easily five stars for the philosophical debate.
Would I recommend it? Only for someone that wants to burn him/herself with existential and social questions. Because at moments that’s what I felt that Danlo’s story is just a personification of an alien brought to our current world to judge it. How religions are born, how masses are corrupted, how humans fall and raise with the social changes, how the environment affects a human, why do we live, why do we believe, why do we struggle and why do we fall or succeed...
Profile Image for Martin Barbov.
26 reviews16 followers
December 30, 2014
Marto's Boolean Review

Интересен Свят: Да
Жив Свят: Да
Интересни Герои: Да
Развиващи се Герои: Да
Сиви Герои: Да
Адекватен Финал: Да
Интересен Език: Да
Лесно Четивна: Не
Интересни Идеи: Да
Спазване на Вътрешната Логика: Да

Оценка от ревюто: 9/10
Моя Оценка: 10/10

Свободни размисли: Таз�� книга просто няма п��аво да е толкова въздействаща. Първото прочитане ме смаза почти физически, въпреки че на пръв поглед сюжета (бегло наподобяващ историята на Тарзан) звучи изтъркано. Жалко е, че в България най-вероятно никога няма да видим останалите 2 от трилогията.

Препоръчвам на: Всеки, желаещ да се сдобие с буца в гърлото, докато научава полезни неща за живота на дивите племена и метафизиката на Аз-а.

Любим Цитат: Before, you are wise; after, you are wise. In between you are otherwise.
Profile Image for Dave Peticolas.
1,377 reviews43 followers
October 8, 2014

Although set in the future, this book is more like high fantasy than sci-fi and technology is basically treated like magic. There are also strong mystical overtones throughout. I do like high fantasy, but that genre has to walk a fine line between earnestness and just pure silliness. I think this book is more of the latter than the former. The book is also told from the point of view of a single character and with 900 pages to get through the single reference point gets old fast, or at least it did for me.

Also, when reading this book I kept remembering David Brin's brilliant polemic against elitism in Star Wars and our myths in general. I think a similar charge could be leveled at The Broken God.

27 reviews3 followers
August 26, 2013
Yes, it certainly keeps up with the traditional of philsophical science fiction of a space opera. Book that follows the brilliant Neverness. I am a sucker for the higher themes . When a book addresses the big questions, it has my attention. My imagination ran wild with the cybernetic alam -al-mitral. It reminds of what is happening currently with the cyber world being more a realm we continue to exist in. You realise with these books that our loving consiousness connects to form a living entity.. called the universe and the secret is .. More life... And for the keepers of the ineffable flame, "how far do you fall, pilot ?"
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