Top critical review
Don't read this before Wolfe's previous trilogy! Poorly written, flat characters, and too many references to other books
Reviewed in the United States on August 5, 2018
This is the first Gene Wolf book I've read and probably the last. I mistakenly thought that this was the first volume of his most famous trilogy, only to discover too late that it wasn't. Constantly he kept referring to characters most likely from past books without providing any context, and many of the new characters (if they were new) he introduced - many dozen - were flat and not the slightest bit interesting. In fact, almost all his characters were one-dimensional, and at no time did he write to keep me emotionally engaged. The story he was narrating about the past was slightly more interesting (or should I say less boring) than the present day story which remained so unclear to me that I wondered why he had it at all - better to just tell the story of the past. Usually, I stop reading a book when it bores me but I slogged on through this one, perhaps believing that at some point it would get good and reveal to me why Gene Wolfe was a popular writer. But it didn't - and the ending was as even drier and less engaging the rest of the book. Maybe if I had read the previous trilogy, I would have felt more involved, but I didn't and I wasn't, and I can't recommend On Blue's Waters at all. There are so many excellent science fiction and fantasy books being published these days - some with an intriguing plot and emotionally engaging characters, but this certainly isn't one of them.