Eos, January, 2001.
Hardcover, 290 pages.
Jeffrey Ford won the World Fantasy Award for the first book in this engrossing trilogy, The Physiognomy, which told the story of Cley, Physiognomist, First Class and his life in the Well-Built City which was ruled by the brilliant madman, Drachton Below. Cley nearly destroyed the woman he loved because of his addiction to the horrific drug, Sheer Beauty. In Memoranda, Cley had to enter the mind of the comatose Drachton Below. Now, in his final adventure, Cley sets out to make amends to the woman of his dreams. His journey takes him through the Beyond, a vast wilderness which is dangerous and quite strange. With his faithful dog, Wood, Cley sets out on a perilous trail which will leave him and the world around him changed forever.
The story is narrated by Drachton Below's half-demon adopted son, Misrix, whose own struggles to fit in with humanity are also chronicled. Unlike The Physiognomy and Memoranda, The Beyond starts out a bit slowly. But after a while, the storyline picks up and Cley's adventures are as exciting and interesting as ever; he will meet demons, wraiths, and even a living bush which will serve as his guide. As Cley searches for Paradise and Arla (the woman he wronged), he also is in search of his own humanity, which he has been in great danger of losing through his despicable actions while he was the arrogant civil servant who used to serve Drachton Below. But Cley is a changed man, and Ford keeps both the internal and external journeys of the man as fascinating as ever. There is always a sly humor lurking in Ford's work, and his imaginative worlds are unique. The trilogy gently ties up the loose threads of Cley's life and his search for meaning in life, leaving the reader to ponder the themes in the story long after the book has been put back on the shelf.
The Beyond is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the May, 2001 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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