Characters

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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 363

Since Furious Gulf is an immediate sequel to Great Sky River and Tides of Light , most of the characters featured in those earlier books are important here as well. Captain Killeen is still at the center of things, still highly-competent, but full of self-doubt. Increasingly important, however, is his...

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Since Furious Gulf is an immediate sequel to Great Sky River and Tides of Light, most of the characters featured in those earlier books are important here as well. Captain Killeen is still at the center of things, still highly-competent, but full of self-doubt. Increasingly important, however, is his son Toby, who is put under enormous pressure during the course of the novel. Groomed as Killeen's heir apparent, Toby begins to find himself increasingly at odds with his father's decisions. The members of the Family Bishop carry implanted within their own minds the memories and personalities of previous human generations; their wisdom can be called upon when needed. Further straining Toby's relationship with his father, however, is the fact that he carries the mind of Killeen's dead lover, Shibo, a woman with whom the captain still has considerable unfinished business. Shibo was a powerful personality in life, and her active presence in Toby's mind represents a possible challenge to his sanity. Eventually, lost in the complex "Lanes" of the esty (a unique, alternate miniature universe) and separated from his family for the first time in his life, Toby fights a series of running battles, some with the Shibo personality, which wants to exercise control over him, and others with invading Mechs, who want him dead or captured.

One of the highlights of Furious Gulf is Benford's characterization of the eccentric, buglike alien Quath, a member of a cyborg species encountered by the Family Bishop in Tides of Light (1989), who has set up housekeeping on the Argo's hull. In many ways the developing relationship between Quath and Toby is the emotional center of the novel's first half. A major surprise that occurs near the end of the book is the return of Nigel Walmsley, hero of In the Ocean of Night (1978). Theoretically, Walmsley should be centuries dead, but the esty exists outside of normal space-time and is equally accessible from all time periods. Walmsley entered the esty at some point in his life and is now also engaged in the battle against the Mechs. Furious Gulf ends with Toby and Walmsley joining forces. Their relationship will presumably be expanded upon in yet another sequel.

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