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4.1 out of 5 stars
Reamde: A Novel
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on July 24, 2015
I read the back cover and thought to myself, there's no way all of these characters can come together in a plot that works. (A smidge cynical maybe but hey). Happy to report that Neal proved me very wrong while catapulting himself into my top ten favourite authors. Love this boom! Bought 3 copies so far so I didn't have to part with mine!
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on March 23, 2017
fantastic! read it twice so far-about a year after the first time and it was just as gripping and intriguing if not better. maybe my memory is bad but it was exciting to read again. his characters in this are very rich and engaging.
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on August 27, 2016
If you like Neal Stephenson's writings, you'll like Reamde. Not quite as fast paced as Cryptonomicon but not as fabulous as Anathem. It's a smart international spy novel at its base with a dose of whimsical tech thrown in for good measure. I like it a lot.
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on January 31, 2018
It's a very fun read, but it is long. The book is massive, but all ebooks weigh the same. A wild story.
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on June 25, 2012
Can't help mentally casting this adventure ... once again a thrilling read from our favorite techno-cowboy! Readers of Anathem can relax ;) as more of a swashbuckler than the psychological romp we enjoyed last release. Good fun for all ... still casting
One person found this helpful
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on September 3, 2013
Read it for perhaps the fourth time. Such a great book. Fun story, compelling plot, and characters you really care about
One person found this helpful
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on August 10, 2017
Arrived on time and as described
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I am in awe of the tireless, hyper-creative entity that goes by the name 'Neal Stephenson'. The author photo accompanying his works is an obvious fake, and evidence is accumulating that 'he' is in fact a sentient NSA supercomputer designed to write its way past the meta-fictional barriers that divide the physical world and the fictional world. Until proof of this turns up on Wiki-Leaks or something similar, I'll have to seek out whatever clues can be gleaned from 'his' books. I can't think of another writer so freakishly prolific, for one thing. Since 2000 he's written the 2700 page 'Baroque Cycle' (a legitimate masterpiece that reinvents historical fiction); the 1000 page 'Anathem' (an ingenious work of speculative fiction that imagines another universe with many historical parallels to our own, in which huge monasteries, made up of monk-like orders that seal themselves in for decades, centuries, and even millenia, are desperate to avoid the toxic culture and technologies 'extra-muros'... These monks are not religious, however... They are scientists and philosophers, historians dedicated to protecting the ancient knowledge lost to the rest of their world. A visitor from beyond their universe threatens to undo not just their way of life, but their very existence... 'Anathem' is his greatest work to date, and is already a modern classic of both SF and Fantasy); Then we come to Reamde, all 1300 glorious pages of it. Involving a cast of characters too numerous to count, Reamde follows the misadventures of Zula Forthrast after her computer-geek boyfriend Peter sells a flash drive containing illegally obtained credit card information to a man representing an unpredictable Russian mobster named Ivanov. Unfortunately, the drive contains a virus acquired from the online environ of T-rain, a World of Warcraft-type MMORPG created and owned by Zula's very wealthy uncle, Richard Forthrast. When the panicked middleman shows up at Zula's apartment, they discover that the credit card info has been very deeply encrypted. A Troll, living in an isolated region of T-rain and protected by his own army of goblin bandits, is demanding a ransom in virtual gold... gold that has a real world currency exchange rate. From there begins an entirely wild, but somehow credible, course of events - flying to China with Ivanov on a private jet, so as to seek out the Chinese gold-farmer/viral extortionist whose T-rain avatar is the Troll; an insane gunfight between the Russian Mobsters and an Al Qaeda cell of bomb-makers, which initiates an epic battle of wills between the charismatic Islamic terrorist Abdallah Jones (responsible for multiple bombings around the globe) and Sokolov, a Russian Spetsnaz-turned-Security Expert (hired as muscle by Ivanov). From there, things get even messier, as Zula becomes the hostage of Abdallah Jones and his Al Qaeda crew, who proceed to steal the Russians' jet and cleverly chart an undetected course to British Columbia. From there, they plan on using Zula as leverage to convince her uncle Richard, who used to smuggle dope across the border by navigating a cross-country trek, to act as their guide. Various parties make their way to B.C., some of them Intelligence or Military hunting Jones before he launches his attack south of the border, while others are following the trail for their own reasons(such as Sokolov, who respects Zula and is determined to avenge his slain employees by killing Jones; Marlon, the Chinese youth whose alter-ego is the Troll, owes his life to Zula, who purposely sent the Russians to the wrong apartment, the one that just so happened to house the bomb-factory; Csongor, the massive but good-natured Hungarian hacker who Ivanov hired for computer support, has fallen in love with Zula, and will stop at nothing to rescue her; and Yuxia, a brave Chinese local acting as the Russian's guide, is drawn into the mess by chance, but she sticks with Marlon and Csongor in order to aid her new American friend. Stephenson abandons his usual slow. patient start for one of the most exciting books I've read. Given how freakishly prolific he is - writing some 5000 pages for the books mentioned above, as well as a book of essays and short stories, AND another three-volume series called 'The Mongoliad', which he co-wrote with a small group of writer friends - what is perhaps most impressive is his style. He is an excellent writer, avoiding cliches and employing a sharp, drily sardonic wit to each carefully conceived sentence and paragraph. Highly recommended.
4 people found this helpful
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on March 1, 2013
"Reamde" is, the author tells us, a twisting of the words "Read me" which appear with most software programs. They are twisted because of a virus flooding the Internet's fictional game world of T'Rain. Players in that world compete in medieval dream battles for digital gold. The Re4amde virus hijacks the game and forces players to pay fees to recover their loot. Hence we are introduced to "ransomware" and the ongoing intriguing worlds of Neal Stephenson. You don't have to be a Net nerd to understand this - Stephenson does a very good job of indoctrinating the reader into high technology.

I am allowing four stars here not because I think it is as good a novel as "Cryptonomicon" (I don't think it is), but because Stephenson is simply one of the most provocative and entertaining writers out there. So the credit here goes to his bold, funny, epic, hugely descriptive and all-encompassing barrages of characters and scenes. Some readers are put off by Stephenson's asides and diversions - I wish there were more of them. But eventually, even this wide-reaching adventure seems to get bogged down in so many gun fights and stalk-and-destroy episodes that the head whirls and the senses are numbed. The first half, set in southern China, is the best portion. I do not fault Stephenson in any way for any of his narratives; I do fault my own patience when I have encountered a whole 1056-page realm of shoot-outs, blow-ups, hostage-bashing, hi-jacking and waylaying. That's where the senses get numbed, from overkill, even if well-described as it is here. Yet even Clive Cussler or Tom Clancy cannot/do not hold a candle to this sort of yarn weaving.

This could easily have been called "Zula's Story" as it is the feisty and unforgiving character of this little Eritrean woman, Zula Forthrast, who completely carries the novel. We do also get to like the Russian, Sokolov (no first name), a veritable James Bond of energy and resourcefulness, and to a lesser degree the Hungarian, Csonger Takacs, the reluctant bodyguard. While I understand the authors blunt detailing of, complete distaste for, and non-sympathy for terrorists (nothing could possibly make me like them, not even Abdallah Jones), I found myself liking the Chinese hacker, Marlon, in spite of the fact that I think creators of viruses should be strung up on an anthill and forgotten. And there is the tenacious and endurable Chinese guide Qian Yuxia (another reluctant heroine), and of course the fatherly Richard Forthrast, whose reminiscences into his smuggling days on the Idaho-B.C. border could make an interesting novel by itself.
2 people found this helpful
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 22, 2013
Zula Forthrast and her boyfriend Peter visit Uncle Richard at his Canadian ski resort. Richard got his start as a small-scale marijuana smuggler slipping along little-known trails between Canada and the U.S. He left the increasing violence of this life for the slightly-less-violent world of online gaming. Before long he founded a company to develop the large-scale online gaming environment of T'Rain. Richard returned to the land of his beloved Canadian trails and bought a big chunk of it to build his resort.

Peter unwisely uses the resort as a hand-off point for a file of stolen credit card numbers. His flash drive introduces the Reamde virus into the other party's computer system. This gets various people... upset. The resulting fuss embroils Russian gangsters, Islamic fundamentalists, government spies, trigger-happy mercenaries, trigger-ecstatic backwoodsmen, and--very occasionally--legitimate law enforcement. Everybody shoots at nearly everybody else. Eventually some team up and others check out. I won't spoil the story with specifics. But even one or two of the characters seem to find all of this action a bit implausible.

Flashbacks provide needed breathing space as we learn more about Richard's history and the intricacies of T'Rain. This is necessary to understand a few plot twists. The Reamde virus, it seems, works by encrypting files on players' hard drives. They can only get the encryption key after paying a ransom in virtual gold at a specific location in T'Rain. Thanks to the challenging features of the game, the large number of ransom-payers, and the finer points of money laundering, this isn't easy. So things get intense online, too.

These parallel plots are well-balanced. Reamde is recommended as a pretty good read.

What Reamde isn't, surprisingly, is science fiction. It is marketed as a techno-thriller, but I'll confess to having missed this. While reading I had believed that the "goldmining" and other economic transactions in T'Rain were clever extrapolations. When I mentioned them to my World of Warcraft-playing son, he set me straight. At least the deals he's been in were for smaller amounts. So far.
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