GoodReads Summary: Fraa Erasmas is a young avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside "saecular" world by ancient stone, honored traditions, and complex rituals. Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent's walls. Three times during history's darkest epochs violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside—the Extramuros—for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.
Now, in celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fraas and suurs prepare to venture beyond the concent's gates—at the same time opening them wide to welcome the curious "extras" in. During his first Apert as a fraa, Erasmas eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected." But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change.
Powerful unforeseen forces jeopardize the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros—a threat that only an unsteady alliance of saecular and avout can oppose—as, one by one, Erasmas and his colleagues, teachers, and friends are summoned forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster. Suddenly burdened with a staggering responsibility, Erasmas finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world—as he sets out on an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond.
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
For the first time, I wish I could give 1/2 stars. This book does not quite merit a 4 star rating, but it's a bit better than a 3.
It took me some time to really get into the story, but I once I was fully immersed I really enjoyed it. I'm still thinking about the world and characters. I think this book will be one that sticks with me for some time.
While the book seemed to be intelligently written, I found many of the theoretical dialogues tiresome. I love to ponder crazy ideas, but many included in this book seemed to be pointless. Sometimes people ask unanswerable questions for the sake of appearing philosophical, when really they're just staring at and contemplating their navel. Some of the conversations in Anathem seemed to fit into this category, while others were integral to the plot. I say this, but there's always the possibility that I was just clueless in seeing a bigger picture.
I found the ending to be a bit lack luster. Without spoiling anything, there was a lot of build up with very little pay off, while several tid-bits were left unexplained. Disappointingly, so much more could've been done with the wrap up.
All of that said, I still enjoyed Anathem.
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