The basic premise of The World of Tiers series is that there is a very powerful and immortal race called The Lords who have created a series of worlds as their own personal playgrounds, and populated them as they wish. Some have humans, some creatures with human brains (such as giant eagles) and some just mythical creatures. Also creatures and near humans from other places in space and time.
The world that is central to the first novella in the book is built like a Tower of Babel with independent levels each with distinct societies taken from Earth including Native Americans, Teutonic Knights, Mycenaean Greece and many others, and mostly populated with people from those eras, although in some cases human brains are transplanted into creatures of the Lord’s creation such as harpies, merpeople and beings, many with transplanted human brains.
The first book is broken into three novellas. The first Maker of Universes introduces you to the basic construct of the Planet of Tiers as well as to a pair of the leading characters, Robert Wolff and Kickaha the Trickster. Wolff receives a magical horn from Kickaha and when he later uses it he is transported to a world that seems a veritable Eden. Then the adventures with and without Kickaha begin.
I did not really enjoy thestory that much. I did not connect with Wolff, and to a degree viewed his adventures as the day dream of an old man. Wolff is initially portrayed as an aged college professor looking for a new home for himself and his wife as he heads into retirement. While old he is still intellectually and physically active and wants to see the world. The wife is now an aged shrewish woman who seems to be the type that sits on the sofa and eats bon bons all day (See Peter Sellers’ great Waltz of the Toreadors for a perfect stereotype). Wolff blows the horn, is transported to a new world and viola, he grows young and fit living in a land of beautiful people and easy sex. I want that to happen to me!
Not only does he become young again but also more powerful than the locals. He defeats a mounted, armored knight while afoot and basically unarmed, defeats another in a fight with broadswords, basically hitting the knights sword so hard that the knight cannot use his arm. Learns languages immediately. Travels huge distances in an area that he has never traveled and yet unerringly finds his way, and finds lost companions and people he is following. And so on.
I did not find the writing terrible compelling and the book was pretty predictable. The first novella’s big secret is pretty obvious and may of the plot devices are corny. I was so bored that I could not bring myself to read the second or third novellas, The Gates of Creation and A Private Cosmos and will not give the synopsis from the book cover since that has a few details that are slowly unveiled in the first novella.
I had read some of the Farmer’s Riverworld novels years ago and enjoyed them at the time, but also became bored with the series and never finished, so perhaps I am just not the target market for Farmer’s works. It seems much more of a Young Adult book and maybe that is its target audience. I think that from some one that has won multiple Hugo awards as well as a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement could have better held my interest. But I guess that is what makes literature so great, there is such a wide spread of opinions on any author.