Prison of Sleep

By Tim Pratt

Prison of Sleep, a novel by Tim Pratt
Book details Books in the series About the author

I love sleep and have a deeper appreciation of it since having a family. I find myself able to drop off in a second as I snatch any five minutes I can before being woken up again at 5 am. The number of naps that I have would not be advisable in the world of Zaxony Delatree as I may end up waking up in a different parallel universe each time. Zax has already travelled over 1000 worlds and beaten a foe that would have stolen his power, but in Prison of Sleep he must take on an even greater threat from an entity that would call itself a god. 

Zax had finally found happiness. Reunited with his companions and lost love Ana, Zax has also found a group of likeminded individuals who are seeking to save the multiverses. This being Zax, happiness cannot last for long and he finds himself once more traveling alone on the hunt for a group of cultists who attacked his friends and left many for dead. With Zax getting closer to the cultists’ home world and Ana chronicling the events leading up to the attack, details start to be revealed about the prisoner of sleep, an entity that lives between the universes and will do anything to escape. 

Doors of Sleep, the first in the Zax Delatree Chronicles, was a masterclass in multiple world building. In it Zax travelled to many worlds, some for a chapter or so, others for only a moment. Tim Pratt can portray what a world is almost immediately and it is an impressive skill. In this follow up, Pratt needed to develop not just the individual worlds, but the multiverse. Prison develops the science around travelling between worlds and the war that is raging through them. 

The book is split into a dual narrative. Zax is one part of the story, but so is Ana. Zax’s story progresses the cultist storyline and pushes through new worlds. Ana’s is a spotted history of events from the first book and new information. The two work well together as they both tell the tale of the cultists and their devotion to their God. I enjoyed witnessing Zax’s travels through Ana’s eyes. She comes across many of the obstacles that Zax left behind him in previous universes. 

A book about multiverses is already epic, so a follow up must up the ante even more. Prison is all about the destruction of all universes and how Zax and his companion are trying to prevent it. The role of the prisoner is key, a strange entity that whispers to some travellers as they sleep between worlds. The entity has the ear of the cultists who sole aim is to tear holes in the fabric space, so that it can escape. 

The central narrative acts like a thriller across two timelines. The two draw closer together as the story progresses. Pratt does interesting things with the science as different factions can travel in different ways. Some can only go forwards, other can travel back and forth. A war is undertaken across multiple plains like a game of 3D chess. Importantly, the relationship between the characters is maintained throughout. This may be a book about war and universes, but it is driven by the love between Zax and Ana that has lasted over a thousand worlds. This heart is what makes the action and the set pieces work, all Zax’s companions are dear to him, and their fate also becomes important to the reader. 

Written on 30th April 2022 by .

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Prison of Sleep