The Roadmakers left only ruins behind -- but what magnificent ruins! Their concrete highways still cross the continent. Their cups, combs and jewelry are found in every Illyrian home. They left behind a legend,too -- a hidden sanctuary called Haven, where even now the secrets of their civilization might still be found.
Chaka's brother was one of those who sought to find Haven and never returned. But now Chaka has inherited a rare Roadmaker artifact -- a book called A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court -- which has inspired her to follow in his footsteps. Gathering an unlikely band of companions around her, Chaka embarks upon a journey where she will encounter bloodthirsty rirver pirates, electronic ghosts who mourn their lost civilization and machines that skim over the ground and air. Ultimately, the group will learn the truth about their own mysterious past.
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March 03, 1998
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Excerpt from Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt
It is a fond and universally held notion that only things of the spirit truly endure: love, sunsets, music, drama. Marble and paint are subject to the ravages of time. Yet it might be argued that nothing imperishable can move the spirit with quite the impact of a ruined Athenian temple under a full moon.
There was something equally poignant in the wreckage the Roadmakers had left behind. One does not normally equate concrete with beauty. But there it was, formed into magnificent twin strips that glided across rolling hills and through broad forests, leaped rivers, and splayed into tributary roads in designs of such geometrical perfection as to leave an observer breathless. And here, in glittering towers so tall that few could climb them in a single day. And in structures whose elegance had survived the collapse of foundations and roofs.
The engineering skills that created them are lost. Now the structures exist as an integral part of the landscape, as familiar to the children of Illyria as the Mississippi itself. But they no longer serve any function save as a tether to a misty past.
Perhaps most striking, and most enigmatic, among them is the Iron Pyramid. The Pyramid dominates the eastern bank of the river. Despite its name, it is not made from iron, but from a metal that some believe is artificial. Like so many Roadmaker materials, it seems to resist rust and decay. The structure is 325 feet high, and its base measures approximately a quarter-mile on a side. It's hollow, and the interior is given over to vast spaces that might have been used to drill an army, or to conduct religious exercises.
Roadmaker cups and combs, dishware and jewelry, toys and knickknacks have been excavated from the ruins and now fill the homes and decorate the persons of the Illyrians. They too are made of material no one can duplicate; they resist wear, and they are easy to keep clean.