Book One of David Zindell’s epic trilogy set in Neverness, legendary City of Light, where inner space and outer space meet … where the god program is up and running.
Into its maze of color-coded streets of ice a wild boy stumbles, starving, frostbitten and grieving, a spear in his hand: Danlo the Wild, a messenger from the deep past of man. Brought up from Neverness by the Alaloi people, Neanderthal cave-dwellers, Danlo alone of his tribe has survived a plague –- because he is not, as he thought, a misshaped Neanderthal, but human with immunity engineered into his genes. He learns that the disease was created by the sinister Architects of the Universal Cybernetic Church. The Architects possess a cure which can save other Alaloi tribes. But the Architects have migrated to the region of space known as the Vild, and there they are killing stars.
All of civilization has converged on Neverness through the manifold of space travel. Beyond science, beyond decadence, sects and disciplines multiply there. Danlo, his mind shaped by the primitive man, brings to Neverness a single long-lost memory that will change them all.
Zindell's ( Neverness ) tale is a futuristic epic, but readers will recognize in it the archetypal myth of the hero. Young Danlo must leave the land of his birth when his tribe, the Alaloi, is wiped out by disease. Braving arctic cold and near-starvation, Danlo journeys to Neverness, the ``City of Light,'' to fulfill his dream of piloting starships. He is sponsored for an interstellar academy by Old Father, a gentle alien tutor who has educated the teenager in the ways of the city. At the college Danlo meets Hanuman li Tosh, whom he views as a soul brother despite Hanu's dark side--later Hanu will murder a pimply-faced, mean-spirited upperclassman named Pedar. Danlo eventually confronts his destiny when he learns he is the offspring of incest between Mallory Ringess--a dead and renowned interstellar pilot--and his sister. This is no surprise, however, as references to mysteries surrounding his birth (such as his lack of resemblance to other members of the Alaloi) are dropped early on. Though the narrative is gorily replete with burst pustules and jets of vomit, Zindell's world is lively and credible. A final confrontation between Danlo and Hanu delivers a surprise ending.