I will admit straight off: this book didn't work for me and took over a month to read. I know there are a lot of Hamilton fans out there; he's written a ton of books and he must be worth what they pay him, because all the novels are hefty tomes, which is amazing in this digital novel age.
It's not that I haven't read hefty novels. ("Game of Thrones" comes to mind), it's just that the plot and structure of the book was confusing.
First off, the novel begins with a short five-page scene about aliens arriving near Tierra del Fuego. And they are never mentioned in the book again. They could be characters in the book, but there's no indication that they are.
Then, there are three subplots. Set in different times: the year 2204, years numbered in the five hundreds, i.e. 583 AA (which means After Arrival) on another planet and at about 235 pages, we go back in time to 2167. A handful of characters do overlap but why they do is not clear.
Most of the novel concerns Earth and several of its terra-formed asteroids and planets in other systems. There is politics, corporate greed, and nifty scientific breakthroughs. Even a First Contact with an alien race called the Olyix who are on a religious journey to the End of the Universe to meet their God. The Olyix are an essential part of this novel and there is some interesting reveals at the end.
The dialogue is great, though there is an overabundance of the "f" word. Obscenity really doesn't bother me. But in this novel it was over-used and felt artificial. The characters are also fascinating. But they are involved in a plethora of situations: police procedurals, corporate espionage, space travel and unraveling mysteries but it didn't mesh together. Individually, they are rather interesting, especially a murder in a New York high-rise that takes them all over the planet and to other parts of the galaxy via portals. But, I wasn't really clear on how this moved the plot forward.
I actually felt the last eighty pages of the novel would make a better beginning. Most of the novel reads like back story. It would be more compelling, if it wasn't so confusing. There is also a time line and cast of characters which would have helped more if placed at the beginning of the book, and not the end. I am sure all this will begin to pull together in the next novel "Salvation Lost," but it is a journey I really don't want to take. ~~ Sue Martin
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