It has been a long wait for The Road to Hell, the third book in David Weber’s Multiverse series. The first two books were co-written with Linda Evans, and this one is co-written with Joelle Presby. After nine years, fans like me were excited to get back into this world. I wasn’t disappointed.
Weber and Presby do an excellent job delving into the opposing sides in this battle between forces across multiple parallel universes. Portals allow access between the worlds. They also do a great job of conveying the environment into which they place their characters. Though none of the worlds are alike in climate and resources, the geography is generally similar, allowing the forces from both sides to adapt fairly quickly once they figure out where on the planet they are.
A lot of thought was put into how the portals worked and the problems they cause (as well as the benefits). When new portals form, the air pressure has to equalize between the two locations, which can cause problems and very high winds for a time. In some cases, a portal opens between an ocean on one side and the land on another, causing flooding and other problems for both worlds. Those who are not fans of Weber’s infamous info dumps will be happy with The Road to Hell: they are few and far between, and generally much smaller than those in his Honorverse books. They generally don’t bother me, though I did notice their absence.
Jathmar and Shaylar are explorers from the Sharonian empire, held captive by the Arcanans and thousands of miles (and multiple universes) from home. Both of them have some telepathic abilities, but they find they are lessening as they get farther and farther from home. Jas and Galadriel are two of their captors, though they find themselves become friends and allies to some degree as the Sharonians explain what really happened on initial contact between their two civilizations.
So far, there have been only hints at the differences between the technologies on each side of the conflict, but Weber and Presby dropped multiple hints throughout The Road to Hell about how they might affect each other. I loved learning more about the politics in both civilizations, and this is something for which Weber is known. There are layers upon layers upon layers of machinations, plottings, and intrigues. I really enjoyed peeling back some of the layers in this book.
The only issues I had with the book: it took a very long time to come out (nine years!), and a couple of the machinations seemed a little forced. Despite that, this is a solid book. I recommend reading the first two first (Hell’s Gate and Hell Hath No Fury) as they are necessary to understanding the plot in The Road to Hell. This series is unusual due to the combination of magic and technology, but Weber and Presby do a great job with it. All three books are solid and entertaining, though, so I have no problem recommending them.
Release Date: March 1, 2016 (USA)
ISBNs: 1476780676 (9781476780672)
Publisher: Baen Books
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (occasional, social)
Language: 2 (mostly mild, some F-words and S-words)
Sexuality: 1 (brief, mild innuendo)
Violence: 3 (battles, attempted assassinations, some brutal violence, some mildly graphic, death)