Sea of Silver Light by Tad Williams
Sea of Silver Light (2001) finally concludes Tad Williams’ imaginative and very long OTHERLAND quartet. You must read the previous three books, City of Golden Shadow, River of Blue Fire, and Mountain of Black Glass first. There will be spoilers for those books in this review.
If you’ve read the previous three books in the OTHERLAND quartet, I don’t need to convince you to read Sea of Silver Light. I’m sure you’re dying to know how everything ends.
At the beginning of this instalment, our heroes are still in Otherland. They managed to interrupt the Grail Brotherhood’s ceremony, but they were not the only ones who did. Dread, the psychopathic sadist, was also there, and the operating system (known as The Other) fought with him. Dread won and now he’s in control of Otherland while the operating system is on the fritz — a very scary situation. Our heroes are still stuck in the system, as are a couple of remaining Grail members, and Dread is everyone’s enemy. Worst of all, Dread now has a backdoor into the rest of the internet, which means he can hack into air traffic control systems or maybe even nuclear weapons.
As our heroes move through Otherland, we pick up bits and pieces of information about the operating system that Felix created — where it came from, its early influences, the reasons for some of the imagery it uses, and the cause of its instability. It’s horrifying. We also learn more about Dread (also horrifying), Mr. Sellars, T4b, Paul Jonas, Olga, and Ava.
Back in RL, Ramsey and Christabell’s father have been arrested by the evil military officer. Olga is coming closer to Felix’s island tower. Joseph and Jeremiah are still under siege. Calliope and Stan are still looking for Johnny Dread. Dulci is still suspiciously watching over his body while he’s in Otherland.
Eventually everything comes together in a surprising and mostly satisfying explanation. Again, friendship is a major theme, as is the question about what it means to be human. A final scene with Orlando’s parents is wonderful.
In many ways, Sea of Silver Light is like the second book, River of Blue Fire, in which we watched the heroes wander very slowly through different simulations in Otherland. There is a lot of wandering in Sea of Silver Light and some of the simulations are ones we’ve seen before but, with Dread in control, they are all more dangerous. Generally, though, this final installment is exciting. As I keep saying, it’s just too long.
If you’re going to read OTHERLAND, I highly recommend the excellent audio versions produced by Penguin Audio and impressively read by narrator George Newbern. This audiobook is 37.5 hours long.
I’ve never read Williams and I’m thinking this might be a good series to start with.
That was my thought, too!