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The Book of Ti'Ana (Myst, Book 2) by…

The Book of Ti'Ana (Myst, Book 2) (original 1996; edition 1996)

by Rand Miller, David Wingrove

Series: Myst (2)

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8301110,896 (3.74)4
Title:The Book of Ti'Ana (Myst, Book 2)
Authors:Rand Miller
Other authors:David Wingrove
Info:Hyperion (1996), Mass Market Paperback, 592 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:612264006997 88920, rbg

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The Book of Ti'ana by Rand Miller (1996)

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
The Book of Ti'ana was to take many fans of the series to a place they really wanted know more about; the home of the D'ni civilisation. I was excited about reading it the first time as it would perhaps finally reveal the lives and secrets of the people behind the art of writing Ages and the hundreds and thousands of worlds they knew. The traditions, everyday details and the full tragic history behind the fall of a vast empire, what could be more enthralling?

Unfortunately, what it actually turned out to be was something of a mess. Essentially this is down to some quite bad writing and dubious decisions about plotting.

The story opens not with Anna (who is given the name Ti'ana later on) but with Aitrus. This is the D'ni character who ends up being Gehn's father, who in turn is Atrus' father and so on. The name Aitrus is a different spelling from the previous book where he was also named 'Atrus'. Presumably this was thought too confusing for readers. What follows is a long section with Aitrus working as a junior member of the Guild of Surveyors to open a shaft to the surface of the Earth so that the D'ni can go and meet the unknown surface dwellers. Why they couldn't find a way to explore the surface with a small team of engineers and observers is not mentioned. It has to be a grandiose project to last millennia or nothing at all, apparently.

Some might love the lengthy descriptions of mining, construction techniques, fantasy machines and volcanism. If you're not especially interested then this is written with far too much tiresome detail.

The main points are to give the reader the following hints: the D'ni are extremely good at geological engineering and will spend a lot of time on extravagant projects when they aren't really sure about the consequences, that Aitrus absolutely loves geological processes to the point of obsession and, finally, to introduce the bad guy: Veovis.

Veovis is the crux of the novel and exemplifies many of the negative aspects of the D'ni. He initally appears as handsome, charming, remarkably intelligent and highly talented, which sees his rapid rise as a near genius in the Guild of Writers and as a political comer. He's also vocally xenophobic, racist and misogynistic, although these attributes aren't always consistently portrayed. But herein lies the major problem with the world building.

In a society that has been stable for around four thousand years; these all too human qualities in an alien civilisation have no explanation whatsoever. There's no reasoning or commentary on why the D'ni, with their exposure to and co-existence with not just one or two races but potentially hundreds through their access of different Ages, has engendered in them such a widespread belief of racial superiority. Similarly; there's no social, cultural or religious reason that explains why the ruling class of D'ni, from the highest Council group to every single Guild, reads like one of those wood-panelled, leather armchairs and a snifter of brandy, men-only, clubs, where the merest presence of a woman would turn the world upside down. The issue is that it takes real-world qualities and regurgitates them as not only normal but to be expected as inevitable.

If that sounds like an exaggeration then it should be clear that out of dozens of characters to appear in The Book of Ti'ana who have lines of dialogue, only two of them are women: Tasera, who is Aitrus' mother, and Anna. It's hard work to find any other women even present in the story (I think there is a female nurse who is in charge of Gehn as a baby, but that's the only woman I recall as a character). It's as though they are all locked away in another Age and are only let out on certain occasions, for parties or shopping trips perhaps?

Anna's introduction comes after the story moves to the surface. Here she is revealed to be the daughter of a geological surveyor in an unnamed desert (she's passionately interested in rock formations too! Guess who she meets soon). After the sudden death of Anna's father she explores a series of caves and stumbles by accident across an entrance to the supposedly sealed D'ni shaft. Her arrival and eventual introduction to the D'ni city partly triggers the events that slowly lead to the destruction of the entire civilisation. Whilst Anna is portrayed as an intelligent, educated and resourceful woman in this book she's basically playing the part of a biblical Eve in the D'ni setting, minus any symbolic apple eating. Just about everyone blames her when things go wrong, despite it being other people's responsibility for their own actions, including her husband. Subtle this is not.

It could have been a highly involving and emotional story of one civilisation questioning both its societal structure and its place in the universe after an encounter with another intelligent species. Sadly it isn't. The end events of Veovis, and his fanatical co-conspirator A'Gaeris, wreaking a genocidal revenge are tragically portrayed. However, as a reader, when I'm asked to empathise with certain parts of an unquestioning civilisation that is founded on the principles of a semi-fascist state, then it's going to be onto a losing struggle. It was a disappointment to find out that the D'ni for all their supposed intellectual prowess and engineering achievements were, mostly, complete idiots for no clearly explainable reason.

There is an interesting side issue to this, which on re-reading I noticed for the first time. The novel tries hard to sell the closeness of Veovis and Aitrus' friendship in a way that seems unbelievable without subtext. From a mention of their time at school together when a young Veovis regularly 'taunted' Aitrus (we never find out why), this changes to his sudden "I just happened to read one of your engineering reports and was so impressed I had to write to you" excuse which ends up in them being reacquainted at the beginning of the novel. Along with sending a very expensive gift and the ambiguously phrased letter about certain 'misunderstandings' at school.

Despite various disagreements this turns into a thirty year friendship, until Anna turns up and Aitrus falls in love with her. This looks a lot like a frustrated love triangle. Veovis is the Black Hat-wearing bad guy but that he has deep feelings towards Aitrus, which he cannot express, would explain an awful lot of his violent hatred as pure jealousy, especially the racist and sexist vitriol he shows towards Anna. This is dressed up as his dedication to racial purity and innate bitterness but it doesn't work without that very personal motive. (It's worth noting here that when Veovis loses it over Aitrus' marriage to Anna, it's because he sees it as a threat to him personally. Initially he claims he doesn't mind at all if it is a D'ni woman that Aitrus marries, with the overtones they are no threat to him because they're lesser beings who know their place. Like not breaking up two chaps' intimate friendship. Curses!)

The novel does give some of Gehn's backstory that provides an insight on why he turned into an equally unpleasant bad guy. I give it some plus points on the early relationship of Anna and Aitrus as being full of shared nerd love for geology, books and science. Unfortunately it just doesn't hold the same level of interest as the first book; with the majority of characters and a society I couldn't care less about, the stunning lack of women characters and some direly clichéd writing I doubt that it'll be on my re-read list again. ( )
  Belochka | May 30, 2014 |
Was good enough I would like to read the other two. ( )
  pking36330 | Feb 6, 2014 |
I was kind of surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I had been meaning to read it ever since I read the book of Atrius a year or so ago, but only got around to it after watching Dilandau3000's lets plays (highly recommended)to refresh my memory on the first 4 games before finally getting to the fifth.

It would have been nice if this book had been a bit more journal like and less novel like, but such is life I suppose. I guess we all have our alternative realities which we pine after, and in many ways that is what the D'ni are for me. They certainly were not perfect, but that doesn't mean they can't be inspiring. ( )
  KingdomOfOdd | Dec 9, 2013 |
this is a book I wouldn't have read without having tried to play the game. I'm not a fan. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Sep 6, 2013 |
Marvelously well written.

Reading it after _The Book of Atrus_, as intended, does infuse a terrible fatalism into the story. Knowing the future is being a slave to it... ( )
  GustavoG | Jan 5, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rand Millerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wingrove, Davidmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Bowman, TomIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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To Deb and the girls
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The sounding capsule was embedded in the rock face like a giant crystal, its occupants sealed within the translucent, soundproof cone.
In an infinite universe, all things are possible-within physical limits, that is-and any book that can be written does physically exist. Somewhere. The book is the bridge between the words and the physical actuality. Word and world are linked by the special properties of the book.
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rand and David Wingrove Miller is actually two authors... It should read: Rand Miller and David Wingrove
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786889209, Mass Market Paperback)

Ti'ana, known among humans as Anna, is the first woman from the outside worldto enter the domain of D'ni. This is her story of trust and betrayal, and herstruggle against the evil schemes of Veovis, the architect of the destructionof D'ni, and all that she loves.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:36 -0400)

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