If I had borrowed this book I would not have finished it. I paid for it, so I saw it through to the end. It was long winded, over detailed, and lacking in good character building. If condensed, I think it would make a good short story, given more work be applied to building the characters.
I loved this book at 15 and it is still great. Farmer's sociological and historical background gives a level of detail that I just love. To tell the truth I remember book #2 is the best of the lot, an opinion seconded in a recent conversation with an old friend with whom I discussed the book with 40 years ago. Neither of us is satisfied with Farmer's series ending, but the journey itself is so great that I don't really care about the ending all that much.
I read this as a teenager but had no recollection other than I remember enjoying it and several of the sequels. Just goes to show kids don't know much about literature.
The concept is interesting but character development is poor. If you're a feminist- I am not- this read will repulse you. This book reminds me of Robert Heinlein's general pontification and interest in free love with women with no brains. Moreover, Mr. Farmer is likely a socialist considering his apparent opinions about human motivation.
Interestingly, Hermann Goering plays a prominent role in this book. He is important in the book I'm listening to now, THE WINDS OF WAR, of course.
I might have ventured another credit on the sequels but several reader's reviews disuaded me.
There are thousands of books, including scifi and fantasy, beter worth your time.
Older sci-fi has a certain tone. I find that most sci-fi written before about 1950 reads like an adventure story that occurs in a strange setting. If you've read Lewis' "That Hideous Strength," Burroughs' mars series, or Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," you probably know what I'm talking about. This book falls right in line with that particular tone, despite being written in the 70's.
I have come across this book (and the series as a whole) several times on lists of important sci-fi works. I frankly don't understand why it merits mentioning.
The story just isn't that compelling. The main character is Sir Richard Francis Burton, who is an actual historical figure. If you're a big fan of his, maybe you'll like this book more than I did. Since I had barely heard of him, and basically couldn't care less about him, this just seems like a weird story about a guy who acts like kind of a jerk.
Perhaps someone doing an academic exploration of this novel would call it a "Fish-out-of-water story exploring the limits and eventual breakdown of Victorian manners." I just thought it was dull.
I remember this as the first in a series I read a long time ago and loved. However on rehearing it now it seems written a bit.....old?
Horrible ending. Just drops off...does not leave you wanting to find out what happens next. Poorly written. Try Time's Eye by Arthur C. Clark instead.