I read it back in 2001. It was the first book in a series. The protagonist could enter 'virtual worlds'. I remember in one 'experience' she lived how it would feel to die (the mental thoughts that went through the person's mind). I also remember a scene where I believe she was doing an African ritual dance the night before a 'battle'.

  • You could improve this Story-Identification question by going through the checklists here and editing in any relevant info you can think to add.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 29 at 7:40
  • You've put "virtual worlds" and "experience" and "battle" into quotes. Are these specific words that were used in the novel?
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 29 at 7:40
  • No, just to highlight that it could be something similar, I was going for air quotes.
    – Luisc
    Commented Mar 30 at 12:41
  • How are out and world synonyms? Do you mean like 'off-world' or 'off-planet', that sort of thing?
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 30 at 12:47
  • see also scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/50145/… (answered with the series as a whole)
    – Otis
    Commented Apr 2 at 17:16

1 Answer 1


City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams seems to be the book you refer to. The book was published in 1996 (read online here) and was indeed the first of a series.

The protagonist is Renie Sulaweyo which matches your description of the protagonist being female. The story itself is about a virtual reality network called the "Other land" and the protagonist does indeed take part in an African dance.

The fire was surprisingly small, but she could feel its warmth. However, Xabbu did not give her much chance to enjoy it. He took two strings of what appeared to be dried cocoons from his pouch and tied one around each of his ankles. When he shook them, they made a soft buzzing rattle.

"Come." He rose and beckoned. "Now we will dance."


"Do you see the moon?" He pointed. It floated in the blackness like a pearl in a pool of oil. "And the ring around it? Those are the marks that the spirits make when they dance around it, for they feel it to be a fire, a fire just like this." He reached out and took her hand. Although a part of her could not forget that they were in separate tanks, yards apart, she also felt his familiar presence. However physics might define it, he was definitely holding her hand, leading her into a strange hopping dance.

"I don't know anything about. . . ."

"It is a healing dance. It is important. We have a journey ahead of us, and we have suffered much pain already. Just do as I do."

Though the title does not include the words "out" or "world" you could have confused these two words for "Other" and "Land" quite easily after 23 years.

  • 1
    This answer would be better if you removed all the Bing malarkey and just wrote a proper one :-)
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 30 at 16:11
  • fair. Doing that right now Commented Mar 30 at 16:15
  • I've taken the liberty of swapping in a book quote. Dancing plays a fairly important part in the novel. It's mentioned about a dozen times, but this seems to be the passage that OP is referring to.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 30 at 17:11
  • 1
    Thanks, Valorum, I had found that quote but wasn't quite sure if it was really the "African ritual dance" that OP referred to, so I chose to keep it as it was. Commented Mar 31 at 15:13
  • You can always edit it back out if you think I've overstepped. It's your answer :-)
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 31 at 18:31

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