Midnight at the Well of Souls by Jack Chalker

Published: 2002

Genre: science fiction

Length: 448 pages

Setting: mostly the planet containing the Well of Souls, far future

Interest: It was a recent free Baen book and I needed a book on my Kindle to read while in Japan.

Summary: We start at an archeological dig on the planet Dalgonia where the lead scientist has discovered a working Markovian planet brain. He and one of his students are convinced they can remake the universe, if they can just get to the control center. They open an access port and find themselves at the Well of Souls. A freighter captain, Nathan Brazil, responds to a distress signal on Dalnoia and he and his passengers are drawn into the Well of Souls. They are all sorted into different alien hexes on the world. Through a series of adventures and political moves, the new entries are drawn toward equatorial hexes in the hopes of accessing the central control system of the Well of Souls. One group is trying to gain all the power for themselves. The other group, led by Brazil, is trying to prevent catastrophe. Turns out, Brazil was present when the Markovians created the Well of Souls. In fact, Brazil is the creator and stabilizer of the universe. In the end, he sends all the new entries to the life they deserve.

Final thoughts: A middle of the road book with nothing too exciting, but nothing too annoying, either. The middle section was my favorite. It was a journey through a variety of ecosystems and aliens to see which group would reach the goal first. I loved the inventiveness of the different environments in each hex. The end, on the other hand, I thought was lame. Turns out, our main character is the creator of the universe, and therefore, he’s been alive since the universe has come into being. No one wants to mess with controls of the universe because of the potential to wipe out entire races, so Brazil wins without any fighting. There was this big build-up and then nothing. I can’t believe there are seven books in this series. What else is there to tell in this story?

Title comes from: A phrase common to all the cultures on the hex world – “until midnight at the Well of Souls”.

Reading challenges fulfilled: #39 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge, and a C in my Author Reading the Alphabet Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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