The Magic Labyrinth is the second volume of the two volume conclusion to the Riverworld series. It is still not the final novel as it was supposed to be, though, there is a fifth one. Farmer just could not stop.
In The Magic Labyrinth the quest for the headwaters of the Riverworld continues. In lieu of the character development that made the first volumes so compelling this volume is dominated by unnecessary lengthy descriptions of air combats and private wars on the River, superfluous duels and plain murders that just kill off most of the cast.
All, or rather most mysteries are solved when the band of survivors arrives at the Tower at the end and the beginning of the River. This band of survivors is by now decimated to less than a dozen River dwellers including a new companion who is killed just before the rest of them finally is enlightened.
I did not really like the religious / esoteric connotations of this “conclusion”. (This is also the reason why I struggle with some of the Ender-novels.) However, Farmer offers a rather scientific solution for the nature of the immortal soul, or wathan as his characters call it. So he saves the day, at the end his novel is still science fiction. Science fiction with aliens, space ships and everything.
This being said, I feel a bit like I was cheated. This whole “conclusion” was kind of anti-climatic. Well-written, mostly quite suspenseful: yes; yet, anti-climatic. Nevertheless, I just cannot stop. There is still this fifth novel…