The Machinery of Light by David J Williams

The Machinery of Light by David J Williams

David J Williams’ Autumn Rain trilogy finishes up with a bang. 

I was happy that the final book of The Autumn Rain Trilogy came out before my birthday so I could fit the whole series into my 52 Books in 52 Weeks effort.  For those unfamiliar with the trilogy, see my reviews of the first two books, The Mirrored Heavens and The Burning Skies.  At the start of the final book, a tense détente exists between the world’s two superpowers, the US and the Eurasian Coalition, and the terrorist group known as Autumn Rain seems determined to break that fragile peace and spark World War III. The US, in turn, is divided into various intelligence and military factions who are constantly scheming against one another. The protagonists all belong to specialized hit teams made up of a razor and a mech working in concert. The razor hacks a target’s defence and runs interference on the network level clearing the way for the mech who takes out physical defences allowing the razor to get them deeper, etc. The action through out is almost non-stop and that plus short chapters which all end in cliff-hangers keeps you turning pages at a furious rate.

I was thinking about it as the trilogy’s final mysteries were revealed and it occurred to me that the Autumn Rain trilogy has a lot in common with LOST (the TV series). In both cases the series’ strengths and weaknesses are a product of the narrative structure. In both cases we have an action driven plot whose context is concealed both from the audience and the protagonists. The mystery of what is going on is slowly revealed over time. Much of the enjoyment of both series comes from that mystery and how it’s revealed. There are many fun plot twists but there are also narrative dead ends and perhaps too many red herrings.

The thing that really drove home the similarities to me, however, was the way that this narrative structure hamstrung both stories down the final stretch by concealing the ultimate stakes until very late in the story. “If I had known this all along, it would have added to my enjoyment of everything that came before,” I thought to myself. But then, the slowly unfolding mystery was a large part of what I enjoyed about the series and you can’t have it both ways.

Anyway, like LOST, the Autumn Rain trilogy is very much about the ride and it’s a really fun ride.

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