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I bought and first read this book in its first printing back in the eighties and now it's available on audio. It's wonderful to find old treasures like this brought to another generation to enjoy, Unfortunately Jack L Chalker passed away in 2005 but his visions still live on in his many books.
Lords of the Middle Dark still stands the test of time if you are able to forgive minor issues like the fact that computers no longer require large spaces
The plot and character development is rich, and one could imagine a future like this could actually exist.
A group of scientists fearful of mankind destroying its self created a computer called the Master System to keep mankind safe. Master System took over control and basically de-populated Earth by moving moving most of the humans to other planets. Adapting people and planets but still keeping them mentally if not physically "human" to do so
Earth, and the small population's living there are ignorant of Technology. China has reverted to Warlords and peasants, America is basically a Native American Indian Reservation. etc
Earth is protected museum of what culture and life was like before Technology in each major culture.
An few people that show promise are chosen to learn and have access to the Technology controlled by Master System. Every so often these people must give up their technological lifestyle and return to their native people and lifestyle for a while. Master System basically uses these people and native leaders to run the various planets whilst keeping and eye over their shoulders ensuring that the planets under its control remains in the stasis of a pre-technoligal it has imposed.
Master System isn't malevolent, it's just following it's directive to protect humankind from itself as programed by its creators.
Master Systems creators fashioned 5 rings that could be used to control Master System and directed it to ensure they were always in the hands of humans but with most of humanity altered physicality to be able to live on the planets they now live on, any search for the rings is a daunting almost impossible task.
This book introduces us to this world and to an American Indian called Hawks who stumbles across information about the five rings, when on his "leave" however such knowledge is basically a death sentence. Hawks needs to evade Master System and gain allies . . . whilst keeping his "tribe" safe . . .
China (a Chinese Warlords daughter) story is interwoven in the book. Both gain allies whilst they battle the system to survive in any way possible . . .
I don't believe reviews should include major spoilers so for those who read this to find some . . . sorry
I hope i have whetted your appetite enough that you will listen to this excellent book the first in the series of The Rings of the Master.
Middle Dark refers to a sort of middle hell from Hawks tribal lore.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
I read most of Chalker's work back in High School, and requested that Audible make it available (as I'm sure did others). Chalker does speculative SF very well, and has a lot of creative ideas in his books. While certainly some of it is derivative, most of his books are far less derivative than most other authors, and he has a lot of ideas which are uniquely his. This particular series, while voice-acted very well, isn't my favorite (though I had to listen to it again to realize that). His other series, like the Well of Souls, are much more creative and interesting IMHO. Don't get me wrong, this series isn't bad, and like his other books, his universes are well thought out and self consistent. I just found myself getting a little bored as I listened through this series.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful