Today I finished reading Hegira, by Greg Bear, published by TOR. The text is copyrighted 1979, and notes a revision in 1987.
Hegira was intriguing and had a unique feel to it. For a story of adventure and travel, the tone is rather calm and reflective for much of the book, although there are periods of grim dread as well as tense action at times. Hegira follows the journey of three people across the surface of Hegira, seeking knowledge of the world and the truth: Bey Bar-Woten, an Ibisian soldier, Barthel, Bar-Woten’s man-servant, and Kiril, a young scrittori scribe from Mediwen. They are all well developed, Kiril and Bey more so. The narrative flows from all three of their perspectives, often without a clear transition. Surprisingly, this was only jarring a few times. I think this is part of what lends the book its unique feel, in how despite their vastly different backgrounds and outlooks, they share the same goal and drive, and this technique of melding their perspectives shows that.
The Obelisk concept works greatly to establish that unique feel. Bear uses it especially well to explain and develop the world believably. Hegira is a highly intriguing mix of cultures, philosophies, societies, and economies, which is interesting not only intellectually but also has ramifications for the societal and character interactions that drive the plot. There is also a mystery woven into the entire story that compelled me to keep reading, the mystery of Hegira, the obelisks, and the truth of the world. I would say the story becomes less interesting and believable as more of the mystery is revealed and the end approaches, but it is not a fatal failing. I could see where the plot was going, but the exact contours were still a reveal.
COVER ART REVIEW: Super awesome, and does a great deal to convey the concept behind the obelisks.