Portal of a Thousand Worlds by Dave Duncan
Want to read a book that reminds you of the intrigue of Marco Polo? Because that is what this book brought me back to.
She was of no importance, but all the fires of history illuminated no limit to human cruelty
Let me start with a summary. The Portal of a Thousand Worlds is incredibly complex and spans many years so it is hard to review without spoilers. It revolves around this cosmic event of the portal opening and a multitude of characters’ lives who are all steadily moving towards this event. They plot, plan, and move chess pieces years before anything happens. It is a plot full of assassins, courtesans, and political maneuvering.
Mayhap heaven was starting to right the many wrongs it had done him
The story is slow burning, it does not hasten to uncover, but it is not without action. So many things happen that you, at some points, are unsure where the story is going. It is always moving forwards, but is not an epic in the sense that there is a united purpose. The multidimensional plot line is revealed slowly with a host of characters. Additionally, there are a ton of characters that have multiple names! I read in the reviews that some people could not adapt to the amount of names or their uncharacteristic aspect, like Sunlight or the Firstborn. The characters also undergo name changes, so I can definitely empathize there. The names can get very confusing and I hate having to consult a glossary.
However, this does not detract from the story, as each chapter is a different person, so there is little fear of being confused for long. As to the uncharacteristic nature of the names, I think that is quite traditional for this setting. My name also has a meaning, and what else should the author call the people? Ultimately I do not see this as a fatal drawback. It is easily eclipsed by the quirky characters and the questions that one has during the whole book.
There were infinitely many other worlds after this one
I absorbed this story like an obsessed sponge. The plot always kept me guessing and the depth of the world was fascinating. I was really pleased with the surprising ending. The amount of “fantasy” in the book is not as much as others would like, but it is there. (Do not expect a world full of majestic dragons, or magicians, see the Bone Witch for that). I became so wrapped up with the multiple plot lines and while I could not pick my favorite character, the chapter cliff hangers left me reading into the night to find out what happened.
No folly have I not seen before, no sorrow have I not mourned many times, no warning is ever heeded
If you like assassins, court intrigue, and multiple perspectives in a rich and colorful world, then look no further and try this book out. I recommend it to anyone who liked Marco Polo as well! You can pre-order, it is published tomorrow, a copy here.
What is the best assassin book you have ever read?
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If you liked this book, you may enjoy Invisible Planets.
4 thoughts on “Review: Portal of a Thousand Worlds by Dave Duncan”
Not sure if this is my kind of book. But as for a favorite assassins book, I think I like the “His Fair Assassins” series by Robin LaFevers. Great review though! I love how descriptive you are!
Oh I will have to check it out 🙂 Thanks for reading!
I find the name changes highly unusually. It’s a great point that you make–that while same characters may be called something different, it doesn’t detracted too much from the forward-moving story. =)
Yeah I saw it as the reason for a few negative reviews and I empathize, but it wasn’t a dead end for me!