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The Dark Design [Paperback]

Philip Jose Farmer
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 28 1998 Riverworld Saga
Years have passed on Riverworld. Entire nations have risen, and savage wars have been fought--all since the dead of Earth found themselves resurrected in their magnificent new homeworld. Yet the truth about the Ethicals, the powerful engineers of this mysterious "afterlife," remains unknown. But a curious cross-section of humanity is determined to change that situation . . . at any cost.

Intrepid explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton leads the most remarkable voyage of discovery he has ever undertaken. Hot on his heels are Samuel Clemens, King John of England, and Cyrano de Bergerac. Spurred by the promise of ultimate answers, they chart a course across the vast polar sea--and toward the awesome tower that looms above it. But getting there will be more than half the battle. For death on Riverworld has become chillingly final . . .

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From Amazon

The Dark Design is the third book in the epic Riverworld saga, in which almost all of humanity has been resurrected on a strange planet along the shores of a river 22 million miles long. But why have humans been given another chance at life, and who is behind it all? That's what Sir Richard Francis Burton and Sam Clemens set out to discover in two earlier novels, one by riding the "suicide express" (if you die on Riverworld, you're resurrected again at a random point along the river) and the other steaming on the greatest riverboat ever seen. Now Milton Firebrass, Clemens's former enemy and now his No. 1 lieutenant, is planning to use the dwindling iron supply on the Riverworld to create a great airship, which can fly to the North Polar Sea far more quickly than any boat can travel. There he hopes to learn the secret of the mysterious tower thought to house the beings who created this planet.

Jill Gulbirra does not care as much about the mission as she wants the chance to captain the great airship, which in all likelihood will be the last airship ever constructed by humankind. But in landing the coveted role, she faces stiff competition--especially from the greatest swordsman of all time, Cyrano de Bergerac, who turns out to be a natural pilot. But even if Jill can win the command of the airship and even if the ship can reach the river's headwaters, there is no guarantee it can get through the mountain wall that surrounds the tower. And it's likely that one or more agents of the Ethicals--the creators of Riverworld--are on board the airship, plotting its downfall. Worse still, somewhere along the way the airship is sure to encounter the Rex Grandissimus, the steamboat stolen by Sam's archnemesis, King John Lackland. --Craig E. Engler

From the Back Cover


The Dark Design
"Its publication is an event with a capital E!"
--Parade of Books

"Charts a territory somewhere between Gulliver's Travels and The Lord of the Rings."
--Time

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars P.J. Farmer at his best... Jan. 26 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great product, delivery on time, excellent service and price. Couldn't be more happier. Everything was in order. Thanks for everything! Concerning the book, it's P.J. Farmer at his best, in his " Riverworld " series. It's a great S.F. classic, very enjoyable, full of twists. Really, a classic!
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1.0 out of 5 stars A Fairly Decent But Annoying Read June 18 2004
Format:Paperback
The part 3 of the Riverwold series. It's nowhere near as good as either of the first 2 books of the series were (To Your Scattered Bodies Go & The Fabulous Riverboat).
One of the main faults of the book is that an excessively large number of chapters deal with science fiction writer Peter Jairus Frigate who by chance remarkably resembles the author Philip Jose Farmer.
The main purpose of this character seems to be to serve as something of a mouthpice for Farmer to vent his views on humanity, the nature of people, religion and Riverworld....And all the subtly of a seal clubbing.
This is worsened by the fact that every time the book really starts to get the reader involved it breaks to a chapter or 4 filled with the musings and incessant ramblings of PJF (you decide which) or filling in the backstory of Frigate WHICH GOES NO WHERE!
I dread to think of what this book would have been like BEFORE it was edited.
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3.0 out of 5 stars overwritten, careless June 16 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
severe and brutal editing would have greatly improved flow and quality. Frankly the Frigate character should have been left out of books 3 and 4- reducing page count, pretentiousness, and improving flow
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3.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy novel would benefit from heavy editing Feb. 7 2004
Format:Paperback
The Riverworld saga continues as various characters attempt the journey to the mysterious tower at the source of the river on whose shores all of humanity has been resurrected. Although this essential quest and the puzzle at the heart of the series still interests, this sprawling, messy novel often tested my patience. Burton and his crew make an appearance at the beginning, but then disappear from the novel altogether. There are numerous unnecessary digressions, including several dull chapters of backstory on Farmer's alterego, the science-fiction writer Peter Jairus Frigate (check out the initials), who is actually a relatively minor character.
When Farmer is developing the quest for the truth and the rivalries between characters, the book is fun. However, it really needed quite a bit of editing to whittle out the extraneous material and some shockingly bad writing. I have to admit that the cliffhanger ending does leave me wanting to know what comes next.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A let down after the first two volumes Aug. 22 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The prose is remarkably bad -- remarkably because the first two volumes in this series, while not likely to win an award for style, were written in a solid, brisk and workmanlike way.
This installment, produced about five years after the first two, reads like a first-draft. It is bloated with personal histories of even the most minor characters, pages of repetitious arguments and endless measurements of each and every object (come on, do we need to know that a fictious mountain is 9,144ft or simply that it's higher than our characters can climb?).
Overall, Riverworld would have made a great trilogy. But one has the impression that the publisher, knowing that the first two books had developed such a following, decided not to whittle down Farmer's original 400,000-word manuscript for this book. That's a shame for readers, even if it meant that the publisher could sell more books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars My return to Riverworld July 30 2003
Format:Paperback
I first read the Riverworld series more than 20 years ago, and have just now completed a second reading. "To Your Scattered Bodies Go" is still my favorite of the set, but I enjoyed "The Dark Design" much more than I did the first time. Frigate's reveries were quite interesting this second time around. Characterization was never Farmer's strong suit, but he does a better job in this volume than any of the others, and in general the writing in this one seems more polished than the others. With one glaring exception: his bizarre use of the metric system. NOBODY will ever estimate anything as 16.1 kilometers across. Call it ten miles, or call it 16 km, but leave out the decimal points, please.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Was great in the beginning then the end....... July 3 2003
Format:Paperback
This book was great in the beginning then it just lagged on in the end. I like the part where there was this girl they introduced. She was gay so it was neat but shocking. Then after that chapter he totally got rid of the character. It took me awhile to finish the rest of the book and it wasnt worth it. My favorite book is the first book in this series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I really liked it... March 16 2003
Format:Paperback
Unlike most readers of his novel, I came across The Dark Design by accident. I had no idea about who Philip Farmer was, and had never read any of the other Riverworld books. I read the novel and was very pleased and so moved by it that it inspired me to try to write a sci fi novel of my own that was loosely based on his concept.
Unfortunately, I read the book like 4 years ago and can't add any specific details about why I liked it so much, but I'll just say that I loved the book and it awakened a part of me that I knew nothing about at the time.
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