Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Review: Lords of the Middle Dark by Jack L. Chalker (The Rings of the Master, Book 1)

Synopsis: Long ago, legends had it, the machines rebelled, wiping out most of humanity and exiling the survivors in widely scattered reservations where they lived according to their ancient cultures. Master System ruled unchallenged, since the key to breaking its control - five microchips disguised as gold rings - was long forgotten. And Master System was careful to keep it that way. Then an Amerindian called Hawks stumbled across secret information about the five gold rings and their purpose. And on the other side of the world, a Chinese girl genius dared to interfere with a computer system to avoid an unhappy future as a humble and obedient Oriental wife. Suddenly, Master System was after them both - and it looked as if their only hope lay in the finding the five rings themselves. (from the back of the book)

Review: Published in 1986, one would think this story would feel dated. And yet, it doesn't, for the most part. Issues like free-will, gender, racism, control and power, morality, and slavery all get woven into a prose that explores these things without devolving into being preachy. And considering the time period, the portrayal of women and minorities is more progressive than I expected. There is a bit of stereotyping, but considering the main protagonists are a Male American Indian and a Female Chinese, it's not bad. The characters are fascinating, each unique, with depth and flaws and quirks. Chalker didn't shy away from having bad things happen to them, either. And the whole concept of someone being able to re-write your personality, to fit whatever they wanted, and you would never know? Terrifying. The book was a little slow to start and it took a while for me to catch the jargon of the world. But overall, it's a fine start to the series and I'm eager to see where the story goes.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-345-32560-5
Date Finished: 4-10-2015
Pages: 356

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