City Without End: Book Three of The Entire and The Rose
by Kay Kenyon
Cover Artist: Stephan Martiniere
Review by Sam Lubell
Pyr Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781591026983
Date: 24 February 2009 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Kay Kenyon's epic series, The Entire and the Rose, grows stronger with each new volume. This may well be the most ambitious epic science fiction series of the current decade. While clearly science fiction, the atmosphere and feel of the series has many of the qualities of fantasy and can be enjoyed by readers of that genre who do not like much science fiction.
Most of the book is set in an alternate universe, called the Entire, with many different intelligent races, including the ruling Tarig. In the previous books, the people of Earth have discovered that Tarig intend to consume our universe, which they call the Rose, as fuel. So they sent Titus Quinn, the only human to have traveled to the Entire and return, with a weapon to destroy the universe-burning engine. At the last minute super-genius Helice Maki, with her own schemes, joined him. But Titus destroys the nanotech device when he learns that it will destroy all of the Entire.
When City Without End opens, Titus is struggling to find a way to save both universes. He sends his new Entire-born wife, Ji Anzi, to a scientist who is trying to find the coordinates to the universe in which the Tarig live and animate bodies in the Entire. Meanwhile, he is chasing Helice Maki, who is working with a small group of Earthlings to bring other supergeniuses to the Entire and then accelerate the destruction of the Earth and its universe. And Titus' estranged daughter Sydney, who grew up in the Entire, is working with the Inyx, intelligent, telepathic riding beasts, to use telepathic dreams to overthrow the Tarig rule and install her as queen.
Back on Earth, Lamar Gelde, a friend of Titus and high executive in the Minerva company (and a co-conspirator of Helice) brings Titus's sister-in-law Caitlin partially into the conspiracy, but not telling her about their plans to destroy the Earth. Suspicious, she investigates, ultimately bringing her evidence to the attention of the head of Minerva, who refuses to believe her.
In the Entire, the Tarig elevate Sydney to be figurehead ruler of Chalin Sway, essentially a province, as part of a plot to trap Titus. Helice, who is working with Sydney as an advisor, comes along. When Helice is exposed as a person from the Rose universe, and flees with her AI computer, Sydney gains a new advisor, a renegade navitar who uses his power of seeing the threads of the future to manipulate them.
Ultimately, much of the book is devoted to the plot of Helice and her Earth allies, and the efforts of Titus and his family to stop it. And more of the truth about the Tarig is uncovered and Ji Anzi discovers a way of accessing yet another universe.
Obviously, the Entire and the Rose is a very complex series. City Without End is somewhat more straightforward than the earlier books, although there is not enough explanations to enable the book to be understood by readers new to the series. There is less exploration of the Entire than in previous volumes and more of the action is set on Earth. But, unlike many middle volumes of series, this book substantially advances the main plot and several problems are in fact resolved. The book does address some of the flaws of the earlier volumes by telling a more linear story, even with the frequent narrative jumps between Earth and the Entire.
One of the things that makes the book interesting is the characterization. Helice, in her own eyes, is a hero. Knowing that her universe is doomed, she has a plot to save the best of Earth. There is a moment when she decides her plan is more important than her own life and it should continue even if she receives no benefit. Titus, who has been a reluctant hero in the previous books, here becomes much more accepting of his role as hero but again, for lack of an alternative. Someone needs to save the universe and he is the only one in position to do so. Sydney too grows, gaining understanding that her father really does love her and that circumstances beyond his control led to him seemingly living in luxury while she was blinded and enslaved.
If you are not already reading this series and you are at all interested in current science fiction, you really should be. Start with the first book, Bright of the Sky. (Ignore the way it seems to jump in the middle as if there was an earlier volume, Kenyon chose to put much of the early history in as flashbacks and information revealed to an amnesiac hero.) There is one book left of this four-book series, Prince of Storms which will come out January 2010. I am really looking forward to seeing how Kenyon is able to resolve everything. Very highly recommended.