A World Too Near by Kay Kenyon is the 2nd book in the Rose and the Entire series started in Bright of the Sky . The second volume is certainly stronger than the first it still suffers from some of the same problems though the pacing is certainly tighter. Where as the first book started with the (re)discovery of the Entire; a strange alternate universe created by the strange creatures called the Tarig. Much of the first book was designed with the obvious intent to acquaint the reader with the intricacies and difference between our universe (the Rose) and that of the Entire. Given the rather massive scope of that task the slower pace was a necessary element to maintain the story’s readability.
Now that we know much about the Entire, the Tarig Lords, the Inyx and the various problems set forth in the previous volume more attention is placed on the characters of the story, their motivations, and their actions. Once again the Sydney sections shine in this regard and she and her mount Riod show some particularly devious uses for the Inyx method of heart-to-heart (telepathic) communication. However I think Kenyon’s characterization really shines with the relationship between, and portrayals of, Johanna and the gond engineer Morhab. Ideally, I would provide some sort of example here but to do so, I think, would ruin the genuine surprise regarding how things turned out between those two characters. Needless to say a major theme within the book is the notion of perspective and how it effects allegiance and, with the Johanna/Morhab sections, Kenyon manages to draw the reader into that theme in a very real way. Or so I percieve 😉
Like the last book, A World Too Near is equally appealing to science fiction and fantasy fans (often two distinct crowds) and employs tropes familiar to both genres. The Entire employs a type of science that borders on the mystical while characters fight using sword, dagger and knife and, while there is nary a mage, dragon, or elf to be seen, the fantastic creatures that populate the Entire will be based of templates familiar to any fantasy fan. The novel follows a very familiar quest structure: Titus Quinn must get take a particular object to a particular location (to keep things vague for those who have yet to read the first book) in order to save his world. That is an almost obscene simplification of Titus’ story but the idea of the hero’s journey in this novel does have an air of familiarity.
Complex characters with shifting, sometimes twisted, motivations and loyalties combined with a tightly paced plot full of political intrigue and tense action make for a much stronger second outing in the Rose and the Entire. The conclusion, as many middle volumes tend to be (think the awful low point at the end of The Empire Strikes Back) it leaves hungry you for the next volume. A definite A title.