The Hermetic Millennia by John C. Wright (book review).

‘The Hermetic Millennia’ is the sequel to ‘Counting To A Trillion’ and follows on from where it ended. Basically’ the hero Menelaus Illation Montrose has gone into hibernation to await the return of his wife, Rania. Calling Montrose a hero might be the wrong choice of words as the Texas gunslinger continues to kill people and entire civilisations during his waking moments. I should also mention that in ‘Count To A Trillion’, Montrose became a post-human genius which is why he’s able to build his system of tombs around the world to allow him and others to hibernate. Being a post-human genius gives him the intellect to set in motion the events necessary to build new civilisations or to destroy the ones he doesn’t think are worthy.

The Hermetic Millennia by John C. Wright (book review).
The Hermetic Millennia by John C. Wright (book review).

Given that the title of the novel is ‘The Hermetic Millennia’, I was expecting this book to be about Montrose awaking at various points and interact with the world as he found it. This is how it starts but from page 73 where part 4 starts Montrose is woken up by a bunch of tomb raiders and remains awake in this time period for the rest of the book. Despite being a post-human genius, Montrose quickly finds himself at a disadvantage and becomes a prisoner of the tomb raiders along with other people awoken from their hibernation. The main story here is how Montrose copes with the situation and plots with a wide variety of people from the intervening periods to overcome the tomb raiders.

In some respects, this is a hard book to read and is certainly not a standalone novel. It draws heavily on the first novel while introducing new sub-species of mankind that aren’t fully described. There is also an assumption that Montrose is able to speak the many languages spoken by the various woken people although it’s not clear how he learned them. Elements of pseudo-science are used to describe some of the artefacts and human modifications that also bog the narrative down.

Having said that, there is a compelling tale here which kept me hooked. Montrose’s options for saving himself and humanity from the expected visit of the superior aliens who are going to enslave humanity are rapidly dwindling. This is not helped by the fact that, by the middle of this book, he only has 500 years left to turn things around while Earth is in an ice age, civilisation has collapsed and he’s being held captive by a bunch of tomb raiders. Oh, his arch-super-enemy Blackie is also alive and has the nerve to taunt him from the moon.

I’m looking forward to the third instalment.

Andy Whitaker

October 2013

(pub: TOR/Forge. 399 page hardback. Price: $25.99 (US), $29.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-2928-8)

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