Summary: The world has devolved into perpetual war between the clayarks and the patternists. A young patternist must find his way and try to avoid getting killed by either group.
Finally at the end of the series I figure out why each of the four books of this series have been so radically different. When Octavia Butler was 10, she saw a really bad science fiction movie and thought she could do better. So she started writing a story. That story become the book Pattermaster. It was the first book she finished and published.
The second book on the series Mind of My Mind was published a year later. The first book in the series, Wild Seed was not written and published until 1980. And the third book in the series (at least chronologically within the story) was Clay’s Ark published in 1984. There is a fifth book in the series, Survivor, published in 1978, but it has been out of print for a long time because Butler did not like the book and refused to let it come back into print.
Each of the books in the series fill in the gaps of the story introduced in Patternmaster. Wild Seed give the origin of the rise of a genetically different group of humans. Mind of My Mind is about the creation of the telepathic’s Pattern. Clay’s Ark tells of how the disease started (which is the origin of the war between the Patternists and Clayarks.
The story of Patternmaster is a coming of age story about Teray. Teray once leaving school is seeking to become an apprentice of a local house. There he can learn how to establish his own house and settle down with his girlfriend for an ordinary life. But Teray is essentially kidnapped by Coransee (his brother) because Coransee is afraid that Teray will try to fight him to take over the role of Patternmaster (supreme ruler) once he (their father) dies.
The story of growth of Teray into a man is a bit marred by the mismatch of expectations. Coransee expects to win the role of Patternmaster, but Teray seems to barely realize that he is the son of the Patternmaster. He has never met his father because children is this world are raised in schools or fostered with Mutes (ordinary humans who are held in slavery by those that are part of the Pattern.) His mother was killed in a Clayark attack sometime after his birth.
This is not one of the best of Butler’s books. Knowing that it was the first reduced my expectations. It is not a bad book and the rest of the series makes a lot more sense once I realized that they were written to fill in the holes around this final book.
But it is an odd series that can included four books that are essentially four different styles of science fiction within them (mythical, speculative fiction, alien story, nearly fantasy epic coming of age).
Kindle Edition (with free narration) is part of the Kindle Unlimited Collection
Bookwi.se Reviews of other Octavia Butler Books: