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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quick, exciting, well-written tale
Eternity Road is the first book I've read by Jack McDevitt, but it will most likely not be my last. McDevitt has a style and an ease with characters that is pleasant and subdued. He offers a vivid picture of a different future than the kind we like to imagine.
The book begins in a small community living on the banks of the Mississippi river, at least 700-1000 years...
Published on Oct. 21 2002 by Patrick A. Hayden

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Failed to Deliver on a Great Concept
I, like other reviewers, thought that the novel had a terrific beginning but went downhill from that point. McDevitt is not at his best when not in space. This book, though, is very, very similar to the "Hutch" series in many ways.
Both works contain strong women; both works involve exploration of an unknown area; both involve science and both touch on the meaning...
Published on Jan. 11 2004 by Avid Reader


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Failed to Deliver on a Great Concept, Jan. 11 2004
By 
I, like other reviewers, thought that the novel had a terrific beginning but went downhill from that point. McDevitt is not at his best when not in space. This book, though, is very, very similar to the "Hutch" series in many ways.
Both works contain strong women; both works involve exploration of an unknown area; both involve science and both touch on the meaning of humanity, civilization and the future. The "eye" was a good touch but the book seemed to meander while the characters failed to grow. McDevitt is a rationalist whose characters reflect his own philosophical outlook. For this reason, we never have mass murderers or people going berserk and shooting everyone in range. No, his characters have purpose and plans - not totally realistic but certainly better than the nihilism that seems so prevalent in much of the "literature" published these days. The ending was particularly weak, especially when compared to the high hopes at the beginning.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Adventure SF - stretches credibility, Dec 12 2002
By A Customer
I'm all for a fun SF-inspired adventure, especially one with a compelling quest in familiar environments. Eternity Road is about OUR civilization from the perspective of humans 1000 years from now that somehow have little to no remembrance of the people called "Roadmakers". Nor are they an advanced civilization, closer to 1850's technology and there is no form of government larger than a city. It has the makings of a fun road adventure starring a ragtag bunch searching for a historical treasure.
However, I was constantly bothered by stuff that seemed incredible. Why are books so rare? I'm sure most would have been destroyed over that long a period, but ALL except for six? Yet other Roadmaker artifacts survive that seem impossible - such as a magnetic train system that still runs daily routes and a computer AI that has become sentient, but can't provide much information about who the Roadmakers were. Worse, at one point, a lightning bolt restarts a computer system to help the travellers and move the plot along. I'm no theorist, but I don't see lightning as a reliable or controllable powersource for any future civilization.
Overall, I was not able to enjoy the book because I wasn't sold on these and many other aspects of the plot. Also, I found the author's writing style often "told" me what a character was like as opposed to showing me. It seemed like I was reading the author's notes to himself, which was annoying. I won't be reading any more McDevitt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quick, exciting, well-written tale, Oct. 21 2002
By 
Patrick A. Hayden (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
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Eternity Road is the first book I've read by Jack McDevitt, but it will most likely not be my last. McDevitt has a style and an ease with characters that is pleasant and subdued. He offers a vivid picture of a different future than the kind we like to imagine.
The book begins in a small community living on the banks of the Mississippi river, at least 700-1000 years from now. Our society, called "The Roadmasters" by the locals, were wiped out in the late 21st century by a plague of unknown origin. The locals know something about The Roadmsters, with some handwritten versions of classic literature remaining, and they constantly scour the ruins around them for clues as to how the great civilization that proceeded them achieved so much, and how it fell so quickly.
The story is about an expidition from the Mississippi river to the East Coast to search for a place called "Haven", where a hero of the past allegedly saved all the great information of The Roadmakers before the plague wiped out all traces. The group that makes the trip is actually the most interesting part of the story. They aren't deepli constructed, but they are better than just sketches, each with their own fears, desires, and hopes for the journey. What they find on their travels is fascinating, but the internal struggles of the group are just as entertaining.
The book is fast paced and delivers on excitement and speculation on what our civilization might be thought of once we are gone. The ending is a bit abrupt, but it answers our questions without insulting us. All in all a great read for sci-fi/fanatsy fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Not Sci Fi, It's Fantasy, April 3 2002
By 
Jason N. Mical (Kirkland, WA, USA) - See all my reviews
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Jack McDevitt's Eternity Road, a brief, post-apocalyptic travel story, shows exactly how a great idea can be executed with less than great results. McDevitt has created a fascinating and intricate society that exists some 800 years after a devastating war. Learning and study are beginning to seep back into society in a way reminiscent of the ancient Greeks, and an interest in the past sparks a group of travelers to go in search of a knowledge repository called Haven. The ancient civilization that destroyed itself (American civilization, actually) is called "The Roadmakers," and one gets a sense that McDevitt spent more time concocting this world than focusing on the story at hand.
The travelers' journey is little more than a nice, if uniform, fantasy story with some science fiction elements. For a story to be true sci-fi, it has to address modern problems in far-flung ways to attempt to demonstrate current human folly. The sci-fi elements here serve only to distract, injure, and kill the band as they struggle in their "quest." If the adventure were as interesting as promised, it might have been forgivable, but even that isn't anything special - the reader is treated to different "mysteries" that turn out to be common 20th (and now 21st) century things. It's been done before, and done much better, as A Canticle for Liebowitz. But even the moral in that book is missing here, and all that happens is a few people get very rich and manage to imbibe their culture with fiction books.
McDevitt is a fine author (case in point: Moonfall), but this isn't his best work. It comes across as a formulaic and dull story encased in a culture far too deep for what basically amounts to a pulp novel. McDevitt's prose, too, seems less developed, and there is often little reason to care for the characters, and little to no character development at all. In a day and age when such things don't seem to matter, Eternity Road might find readership among those who aren't used to science fiction like Liebowitz, Dune, or Stranger in a Strange Land - the same crowd that thinks Resident Evil is a good horror movie, or Triple-X is a good substitute for James Bond. McDevitt can produce high quality sci-fi, but this isn't it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kept My Interest!, Jan. 20 2002
By 
Kevin Spoering (Buffalo, Missouri United States) - See all my reviews
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This is the first novel by Jack McDevitt that I have read and I was impressed by his talent. ETERNITY ROAD is set approximately 1000 years in the future, a plague has decimated Earth's population, and in the United States, where this novel concerns itself with, small cities have banded together and formed the 'Mississippi League'. Ruins from the 'Roadmaker' era are everywhere and the 'Roadmaker' civilization is an enigma, with many questions unanswered. It is from the League that a second expedition sets forth in search of the perhaps mythical 'Haven' where knowledge was supposedly safeguarded after the plague, as civilization unraveled. The first expedition ended in disaster, with only one person returning from the sometimes dangerous wilderness, with an atmosphere of secrecy and intrigue. One person, Chakra, had a brother who was killed on the first expedition, and she wants to find out what happened to him, as the only survivor of the first expedition is the scholar Karik, who did'nt say much about what happened, adding to the mystery. There are several other interesting characters in addition to these.
As per another reader here I also found similarities between this novel and A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ, a much older novel, and a fine read also. I found ETERNITY ROAD to be engrossing, I found myself reading more and more pages everyday to see what would happen, McDevitt is a master storyteller and very adept at character development and plot layout. In my view the only criticism I see here is that various machines from the Roadmakers were still operating after perhaps one thousand years, that stretches credulity indeed, I take one star off for that. As for comparing this novel to the standard of 'the end of the world as we know it' novels, which is EARTH ABIDES, the later is better, although ETERNITY ROAD is excellent nevertheless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great beginning, disappointing ending, Aug. 11 2000
By 
Paula Skoe (Redwood Shores, CA USA) - See all my reviews
The Prologue created enough mystery to make me purchase this book. The first couple of chapters built the anticipation of going on a voyage, but I became a little anxious when Chaka and company hadn't left until 1/4 through the book.
The book did not thoroughly describe the people and events. If McDevitt would have selected fewer highlights of the first journey (with a destination closer to Illyria) he would have had more time to delve into the characters and the settings for the second group. Maybe fewer characters from the start, rather than disposing of them during the journey, would have worked just as well.
I agree with previous reviewers who say the ending was too abrupt. Whereas the prologue enticed me to read on, the ending and epilogue disappointed me. The reason why all but one of the members of the first expedition died, as well as the reason for the plague were unsatisfying. Whereas half of the members of the second expedition get killed (even with the superior weapons they obtained), the complete first expedition arrives at their destination only to die without even realizing why.
The reason for the plague (mentioned in the epilogue)came out of the blue. If some hints (maybe I missed them?) had been given through the story, it might have been platable. The mention of intelligent life elsewhere, to me, would indicate humanity would reach for the stars, rather than be decimated by the cause of the plague.
On a positive note, I enjoyed the encounter with the Devil's eye, the Dragon and the scene in the bank.
I would like to recommend Jack Vance's "The Compleat Dying Earth", for those interested in stories about Earth's last civilizations.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An easy literary read having several flaws..., Dec 13 2011
By 
Ronald W. Maron "pilgrim" (Nova Scotia) - See all my reviews
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The positives about this book include the author's easy writing style that keeps you engaged in spite of where the story seems to be heading and the imagination that the author put into the developement of such a unique tale.

That being said, the book does contain numerous literary flaws. First, there is a lot of time wasted on seemingly trivial matter before the exploration actually begins. Nearly one-fourth of the book is filled with background information that has little, or anything, to do with the main plot line. Secondly, while it took most of the novel to decipher, we, as readers, finally come to realize that this occurs about 1000 years after the global apocalypse. Why wasn't the author able to let us know this very early in the plot development? Thirdly, the survivors of this destruction seem a bit disjointed. Some things have naturally carried over into their society; zippers, religion, ability to read and write, livestock maintenance, etc.... But others, that may be equally as prone to survival, are lost; i.e. compasses, history of the apocalypse and the operation of basic machinery. Fourth, while the author has an easy style of writing, he holds our hands as he walks us through the character development and tells us about their personalities. Instead he should have allowed the reader to reach his/her own conclusions through their overt actions and interactions with one another. Lastly, there is no ending per se, the book abruptly stops. Because of the Victorian-age society we find ourselves in, we have little ability to project what the finding of additional ancient books will do for society, if anything. Additionally, the prologue that follows is brief and very shallow leaving the reader with the feeling that he has just been on a pleasant journey but has been led nowhere.

If you want an easy-to-read dystopic novel that has very few challenges, this book is for you. If, however, you are seeking a book that will leave you pondering its meaning into the far future, look elsewhere.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting story, Oct. 28 2003
By 
John Howard "jrh1972" (Jacksonville, Florida) - See all my reviews
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I had seen this book a while back and almost read it, but found something else instead, so when I saw it at the Library recently, I decided to try it, especially since I have been interested in stories about Future Earth lately.
This was a very good story, because while I new some of what the characters did not know, and were looking for, there was a lot of what they were trying to find out that I wanted to find out as well. How the author saw the future and the downfall of civilization was interesting to wonder about, as well as what advances were achieved after the present, but before the fall. Also, it was compelling to see how the characters approached life when they knew about some of what technology could accomplish, but were not able to duplicate. This book really did a good job of holding my interest because of those aspects.
Having said that, there were some things that I found lacking in the story, mostly just with the level of detail that was presented to the reader. I would have liked more at the end about exactly what happened with the plague. I thought some of the descriptions in the book were not very well done, especially with regard to the maglev train. I just didn't see how it could look like it did when they first saw it, and how did they get the horses on to it, it seems that that should have been a bigger issue than it was. Also, there was no detail about the return journey, but it must have been an adventure as well. However, these were all pretty minor issues that I found and didn't detract much from my enjoyment of the book.
I would recommend this book, and will look to read more by McDevitt.
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3.0 out of 5 stars good read, some minor problems, Aug. 19 2003
By 
D. H. Richards "ninthwavestore" (Silver Spring, MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This is a great beach read, quick, interesting, thought provoking. There are some problems with believability, not sure how a society that is so backwards still has zippers for instance. And several plot points don't seem to make sense. At one point the characters do away with what might have been an invaluable source of info just because they are asked too. For some reason that really bothered me.
But, overall the tale is ingrossing and imaginative. Don't think too much and it is a fun read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but another book with no ending, July 26 2002
By 
I am beginning to see that most of this authors books do not have a proper ending. He leaves the reader guessing as to what might happen. It's not like he has a sequel coming out that answers all of the questions he leaves the reader with either. On the plus side it wasn't as boring as some of his other books and did keep me interested but I prefer stories with actual endings.
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Eternity Road
Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt (Hardcover - March 25 1997)
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