Roger Zelazny’s Roadmarks is set upon a road that travels through time, with a nexus placed every few decades, or sometimes centuries, where a handful of people are able to get on and off. While there is a plot involving a series of assassination attempts on the protagonist, Red Dorakeen, the true charm of the novel is in the various settings and characters it details.
Zelazny really didn’t do plots all that well, but he was gifted at developed unique characters and settings. So, like so many of his novels, this one’s true strengths lies in the unique nature of the setting, combined with the character development — not only of Red Dorakeen and his allies, but also the would-be assassins such as Leila, a woman whose fate is bound to Red’s in mysterious and unexplained ways. Mind you, she abandons Red for most of the novel but the last chapter explains why she’s important to the story.
Red is on the wrong side — that is, the target — of a legally sanctioned assassination attempt. Now keep in mind that he’s very good at surviving such things, as he was running guns to the Greeks at Marathon. So, much of the novel is about him outwitting assassins and figuring out who wants him dead.
There‘ll be dragons and robots and talking books and lost crusaders before Red finds what he wants on the Road. Or possibly doesn’t find. Like all Zelazny novels, it’s a quick read for which the term ‘popcorn literature’ is perfect. And it’s now available in a Kindle edition.
(Del Rey, 1979)