The World of Tiers: Volume One Paperback – Oct 15 1996
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“The greatest science fiction writer ever.” ―Leslie Fiedler
“Farmer offers his audience a wide-screen adventure that never fails to provoke, amuse, and educate...his imagintaion is certainly of the first rank.” ―Time
“Philip Jose Farmer owes a fair measure of his fame to the World of Tiers series, based on the notion of immortal Lords whose ancestors made a host of pocket universes (including ours) and then lost the technological skills to make more.” ―Analog
About the Author
Hugo award-winning author Philip José Farmer (1918-2009), author of the Riverworld books, was one of the great science fiction writers of the 20th Century. He lived in Peoria, Illinois.
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Top Customer Reviews
that takes the reader on a wirlwind tour of pocket universes filled with fantasy creatures and eternal beings. This series is a real page turner and if you
do start reading it, make sure you have all six volumes,
because you will go crazy if you dont read the ending of this exciting story.
I had purchased the first five books of this series in hardback from the Science Fiction bookclub, thus I was motivated to finish the books and not just donate the books unread to charity. However, after reading some of the other negative reviews on Amazon, I can tell that my initial impressions with the book were spot on and that it is only going to get worse. I will spare you the specifics, but please see the reviews from jackaroe or webtarkeena - they pretty much sum it up.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The first volume contains the first three books of the series, the Maker of Universes, the Gates of Creation, and A Private Cosmos. People looking for realistic romances or accurate portrayals of human emotion might want to look elsewhere; those in the mood for classic world-spanning science fiction with an emphasis on action have found their grail.
The first two books center on Wolff, a man who starts on Earth and is taken through a Gate to another world where strange Lords rule pocket universes of their own creation and wage a cruel and inventive war against each other. In addition to fabulous landscapes and strange beasts, we have many vintage science fiction ideas and death traps galore. The third book introduces the Black Bellers, creations originally intended to store human consciousnesses for transferring to new bodies, which have themselves evolved consciousness and now present a major threat to all life. Farmer's forte is putting characters in horrible situations and letting them work their way out with wits alone.
The imagery in this book is amazing as we travel through multiple universes, each conceived by a Lord as either a palace of pleasure or one giant planet of destruction. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a great, imaginative thrill ride.
The second volume concludes one of the most entertaining and original adventure/science fiction series in history. The emphasis is on action, conflict, and solving puzzles with the mind alone, said puzzles usually involving Gates that take the main characters to different worlds, often landing them squarely in the middle of a mastermind's death trap. How Farmer weaves his characters into and out of these death traps provided immense enjoyment for this reader.
The second volume, containing books 4-6 of the World of Tiers, focuses on Kickaha's battle against the Lord of Earth, Red Orc. Behind the Walls of Terra is one long action/chase scene as Kickaha lands on Earth after an absence of 25 years to chase down a threat to all life everywhere (the Black Bellers) and find his friends who may have been captured by Red Orc. In the second book in this volume, the Lavalite World, Kickaha and others have been transported to a shape-changing world where the planet itself molds and morphs and breaks apart (and rejoins) like the globules in a lavalamp. You will also encounter man-eating trees with insectoid eyes set among their branches and other products of Farmer's fertile imagination. The last book, More than Fire, is the showdown between Kickaha and Red Orc. In my opinion, the books just get better and better.
Don't expect the prose of Shakespeare or the complex and masterful plots of Ludlum; this is pure action/adventure with a healthy dose of trippy sci-fi ideas.
Book one intruduces us to Robert Wolff who stumbles upon a doorway to a new world. The word itself is the star of this book and the entire series is named for it as it is the World of Tiers. Not a round planet but a series of plateaus one on top of the other. Each plateau is basically a continent and instead of being separated by oceans are separated by 30,000 and 60,000 foot mountains which have to be climbed to reach the next continent. The Lord of this world lives atop it in a giant palace. Wolff gets to know this world with the help of the enigmatic Kickaha as he strives to save his new love. And Wolff is greeted by a surprize at the end of the journey.
Book two continues the adventures of Wolff as we see him fight for his life though world after world of his deranged father, again trying to save his love. This time he must team up with a cadre of back stabbing relatives, other Lords who would just a soon kill each other but must try to work together to kill their father. Farmer again gives pulp style action as all the characters are placed in near constant jeopardy through the book.
Book three occurs during the events of book two but back on the World of Tiers. This time Kickaha takes the stage as our main character, a place he keeps for the next 3 books as well. Strange things are afoot and the ever tricky Kickaha must fight and think his way though them. Hunted by the Half-horse who want his scalp and the evil Bellers who want him dead so they may take over all of humanity and all of the worlds of the Lords, he has his work cut out for him. With a little help from an unlikely ally he may win.
If you want rich character development you may want to pass. But if you like adventure and pulp action this is for you. And if you love alien words and creatures look no further. It really doesn't get much more out there than Philip Farmer, that's why people love to read him.
The main problem here is that Farmer bit off more than he could chew, shoving a plot that Robert Jordan would have spun out into a dozen massive volumes (at least 6 of which would have been worth reading) into a bare 270 pages. I kept finding myself looking for the name of the abridiger on the cover! As a result, there is no time or space for niceties such as character development, suspense, or an examination of motivations, let alone some inkling that the book might *mean* something. The plot rushes on and on, with frequent references such as "3 months later" or "after a long hard journey." Foreshadowing, flashbacks, and other key revelations are handled clumsily at best - as if Farmer had forgotten to tell you something earlier (say, about Wolff's near super-human strength) and is slipping it in now in hopes you won't notice the omission. When he stops to deal with motivation or character development at all, his characters are likely to spill in one succinct paragraph their longstanding battle with alcoholism and apathy to a perfect stranger. When he does stop for breath, it is only to describe in gory detail a battle of some sort in which characters are killed off like so many Starfleet Redshirts (except for the important ones, of course, who escape with nary a scratch.) When we reach the inevitable confrontation between Wolff and the Lord, it is as if Farmer suddenly realized he needed to finish up in just 20 more pages, and shoves in the last dozen revelations in anywhere he can cram them, tying up everything in a neat little package as he reaveals that.... no, I won't ruin the plot for you. I'll just say that if you didn't see it coming, it's probably just because like me you were reading too fast so you could finish and pick up something with a little more meat.
This particular volune (#2) consists of Farmer's 4th, 5th and 6th tales of Kickaha, Wolfe and the race of lords. "Behind the Walls of Terra" is a well done story centering on Kickaha's return to earth to search for the last living beller and his friend Wolfe (Jadawin), tangling with earth's lord, Red Orc and an interloper. The second story, "The Lavalite World", drags and is probably the weakest of the series. Readers will want to go thru that one only because it's part of the collection. The last volume, "More than Fire" I cannot comment on at this time since I haven't read it yet.
The set of stories by Farmer are imaginative, fast moving (for the most part) and handily available in the two paperback volumes. The book price, while not really cheap is not out of line for paperbacks sold today. Folks who enjoy tales of fantasy, other worlds or dimensions, and science fiction should pass many pleasant hours with the collection -- but read it in sequence to understand what's going on.
** Recommended **