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City Without End
Kay Kenyon
Pyr, 433 pages

City Without End
Kay Kenyon
Kay Kenyon was raised in Duluth, Minnesota. She began working as a radio/TV copywriter for a local television station where she also did a weather show. Now, with several partners, she runs a transportation consulting firm, Mirai Associates. She and her husband recently moved to Wenatchee, Washington.

Kay Kenyon Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: A World Too Near
SF Site Review: Bright of the Sky
SF Site Review: Tropic Of Creation

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Greg L. Johnson

The middle novel of a trilogy is generally the hardest to write. The problem is there are two competing goals, advancing the overall story, and writing a book that also stands on its own. Many are the trilogies that have foundered in that second book. Consider then, the problems raised by adding one more volume and making the series a tetralogy. Now there's not one, but two linking volumes to write before reaching the end of the story.

A World Too Near, part two of Kay Kenyon's series The Entire and the Rose, did a good job of complicating the characters' motivations and increasing the tension level of the story. That means the bar has been raised for City Without End, which has to maintain the quality of the first two volumes of the series, and set everything up for the big ending that is sure to come.

As City Without End opens, the major story-lines left over from A World Too Near are front and center. Titus Quinn still searches for a way to save our universe, the Rose, without destroying the Entire. Meanwhile, his daughter grows in power even as she renounces their relationship, and Helice continues her plan to bring humans to the Entire, no matter the cost to Earth.

Those are the bare outlines of a story that has grown in complexity with each additional volume in the series. In the process, the emphasis has changed from the plight of the hero in a world he never knew to the clash of personal power relationships in a world filled with intrigue and schemes. At the same time, the tone of the novels has also changed. While Bright of the Sky, with its fantastic landscape, hidden technologies, and abundant aliens had the feel of a fantasy story, City Without End is more recognizably a science fiction novel, one where the exact nature of the reality that can contain at least two contiguous universes is becoming more and more important to the plot.

Because of that, a series that wowed at the beginning for the complexity and creativity of its invented setting, earning comparisons to classics like Riverworld and Ringworld, has now filled that setting with characters whose motives and aspirations are often hidden and always conflicting, a situation that makes The Entire and the Rose at least as comparable to Dune and the tension-filled novels of C.J. Cherryh as it is those other works. Which means that at the end of City Without End, even though several story lines have been concluded, a couple in surprising and dramatic fashion, the crux of the problem still remains. Titus Quinn's family and loved ones are scattered across two different universes, and whether he can save or hold on to any of it remains in serious doubt. The stage is now set for the final volume in what is already looking like one of the classic science fiction series of our time.

Copyright © 2009 by Greg L. Johnson

Reviewer Greg L. Johnson can hardly wait for the publication of Prince of Storms and the conclusion of The Entire and the Rose in January 2010. His reviews also appear in the The New York Review of Science Fiction. And, for something different, Greg blogs about news and politics relating to outdoors issues and the environment at Thinking Outside.

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