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What if there were an Afterworld? Not Heaven or Hell in the conventional sense, but a place where everyone who has ever lived reawakens when they die, to live again and die again and live again, seemingly forever. This is the premise of Robert Silverberg’s brilliantly inventive new fantasy novel. The central character is the legendary warrior-king Gilgamesh, who has been in the Afterworld longer than almost anyone else save the Hairy Men from before the Flood, and who in recent centuries (insofar as you can count time) has seen it change beyond recognition, as the newly dead from industrial times import their machinery, their weaponry and their attitudes. Gilgamesh’s adventures in the course of the novel take him to the Afterworld realms of other quasi-mythical figures like Prester John and Simon Magus, bring him into contact with such figures from more recent history as Walter Ralegh and Pablo Ruiz (known to some as Picasso), and eventually send him in search of a gateway which is rumoured to exist somewhere in the land of the dead – a gateway which leads back to the land of the living.
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