Tag Archives: Peter F. Hamilton

Book Review – The Neutronium Alchemist

theneutroniumalchemistThe Neutronium Alchemist

Author: Peter F. Hamilton

Series: Night’s Dawn #2

Genre: Science Fiction

Published 1997

Review Copy: Paperback bought new

Overall Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

Goodreads Description

Not every fallen angel comes from heaven…

The ancient menace has finally escaped from Lalonde, shattering the Confederation’s peaceful existence. Those who succumbed to it have acquired godlike powers, but now follow a far from divine gospel as they advance inexorably from world to world.

On planets and asteroids, individuals battle for survival against the strange and brutal forces unleashed upon the universe. Governments teeter on the brink of anarchy, the Confederation Navy is dangerously over-stretched, and a dark messiah prepares to invoke his own version of the final Night.

In such desperate times the last thing the galaxy needs is a new and terrifyingly powerful weapon. Yet Dr Alkad Mzu is determined to retrieve the Alchemist – so she can complete her thirty-year vendetta to slay a star. Which means Joshua Calvert has to find Dr. Mzu and bring her back before the alchemist can be reactivated.

But he’s not alone in the chase, and there are people on both sides who have their own ideas about how to use the ultimate doomsday device.

Review

The Neutronium Alchemist, the second book in the Night’s Dawn trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton is an epic space opera that I devoted an incredible amount of time to read. It’s a massive 1,273 pages long, the longest book I have reviewed yet, and perhaps the longest book I’ve ever read. And it is also one of the most difficult to review.

The book starts where The Reality Dysfunction left off. The possessed are now a force to be reckoned with, and who is likely to be the most important character in an ensemble cast, Joshua Calvert, is going to be the guy to get in the middle of everything. Or so that’s what I’m led to believe. It’s actually a lot more complex than that. There are so many story lines that run parallel to each other and occasionally intersect. It’s like a web of stories, to be more exact. So now, the main focus of the story is the race to find the Alchemist, the most dreaded weapon ever created. The possessed want it, Dr. Alkad Mzu wants to find it and exact revenge, and everyone else wants to prevent either group from using it. The universe is vast, the cast of characters is incredibly extensive, and the number of pages just keep going and going. The story was very difficult to predict, which was a great thing. Amazing action, filled with so much you could never know what was going to happen or who was going to be killed, and so many twists that it was hard to put down.

I can’t effectively describe the characters in this review, as it would result in an incredibly long review. I don’t want to bore you. But I’ll say that Joshua Calvert has shown some incredible character development. I’ve grown to like him more and more as the book went on. Syrinx, on the other hand, has become a shell of her former self. She’s not in the book nearly as much as I’d hoped, as she was a strong character from the previous book. Ione Saldana also takes a less central role, but still very important. Alkad Mzu is a major character in this book, and a very compelling one. The possessed Marie Skibbow is wild. And Dexter Quinn is our big possessed antagonist who wants to change the universe. And then probably one of the biggest surprises, and one of the more interesting characters is Al Capone. That’s right! I enjoyed reading his part of the story, as well. Of course, there are far more characters than this, and several story lines that I haven’t even touched. You just have to read it.

The worldbuilding is extensive. No longer on Lalonde, we spend most of our time in spaceships, space stations, space habitats, and asteroids now. It’s truly a space travel novel, and we get to see many places. This is the kind of book I’m a sucker for. I always loved Star Trek and traveling vast distances in space to explore the galaxy, and that’s what we get. But in this case, it’s war. It’s dangerous everywhere. We’d established the setting in the first book, now we get to see it really come alive. And it feels like a busy universe. I could feel the huge populations, the intense activity in space. Very good job on this part of the novel.

This book is science fiction, of course. However, it has a supernatural and horror theme to it, as well. Although the main story is to capture the Alchemist, one of the biggest elements hunting the Alchemist is the possessed, the undead, the spirits of dead people come back to take over living people’s bodies. I think we need an exorcist. And all through this story, there’s a little bit of a mystery. I won’t say what it is, but it hints at what’s to come in The Naked God, the final part of this trilogy. I’m definitely looking forward to that book.

Overall, The Neutronium Alchemist was a roller coaster ride. A very long roller coaster ride that lasted several months for me. It’s dense, it’s full of action, it’s complex. At times, I was wondering when I would finish reading it, because it felt like it was a never-ending story. I did reach the end, which was a cliffhanger, by the way. I was satisfied, but it felt like it had one of those book two curses that trilogies often get. It was a bridge between the exciting and new first book and the currently mysterious (though I guess explosive and exhilarating) third book. You can’t read it on its own, because you’ll be totally lost. It does have a conclusion of sorts, but sets up the third book very well. But it just has that lull that second books often have. I felt like it dragged on too long. I’m really hoping The Naked God feels a bit faster.

So, despite all of that negativity in the paragraph above, I would still give it 4 1/2 stars. It truly was a very good book, but you have to have endurance to get through it. I would recommend it to any epic space opera fans who have no qualms with reading long books. Fun, but very long.

A Thousand Pages or More

I’m currently reading Neutronium Alchemist by Peter F. Hamilton, a novel that’s more than 1,200 pages long. The way I read, it’ll take me a very long time. In fact, this may be the longest book I’ve ever read. I’ve come close by 100 pages, but this is the longest.

Do you ever read books this long? What are they? How long did they take to read?

This post is short to compensate for the length of the book.

Book Review – The Reality Dysfunction Part 2: Expansion

realitydysfunction2The Reality Dysfunction Part 2: Expansion is the second part of the first book in the Night’s Dawn trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton.  Both parts are available as one book in the Tor edition.

This book continues just as part 1 left off.  The familiar characters are all back to continue their rather perilous-looking adventures.  It continues to be gritty and is becoming darker now.  What’s impressed me about the story is that there are many threads, and they’re all starting to converge into one point.  In the beginning, they all seemed unrelated, but now they all have the same purpose, to try to figure out how to stop the expansion of this invasion into the world of the living.  Not only is this science fiction, it also has elements of horror.  This isn’t about zombies, but more like possession (don’t worry, this is all on the cover of the book).

The characters are incredible.  They consist mainly of the Edenists, those that are capable of a kind of telepathic communication with each other and their living spaceships and habitats, and the Adamists, who are more like regular humans.  This book focuses far more on Joshua Calvert, as well as one small group of unaffected humans on Lalonde lead by Father Horst Elwes, and Ione Saldana.  Syrinx is in this book far less than part 1, but I expect a big return in future books.  I’m really liking the pair of Joshua and Ione.  They’re both young and rich, Joshua is a bit reckless and daring, while Ione has a lot of responsibility and seems to handle it well.  Father Horst has to take many children under his wing and protect them from the invading dead.  There are many more characters, but these three stand out the most for me.  I must say that Joshua is showing quite a bit of depth.

Hamilton’s style of writing is very descriptive.  He uses a lot of technical terminology, but doesn’t make it difficult to understand.  He makes it easy to create an image in the mind of what is happening.  Lalonde itself is very much alive in my mind, as is Tranquillity.  I continue to be very impressed with this.

I have a big recommendation.  When reading this book, make sure you read it right after you finish part 1.  It was difficult to get back into the story after several months, as I’d forgotten who was who.  The cast of characters is so vast that it can be difficult to keep them all straight.  But after a bit, it was no trouble.

By the end of this book, some loose ends were tied up, but the main problem still exists.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.  As with part 1, I recommend this very much to fans of science fiction and space operas.  I’d give this 5 out of 5 stars.  Great stuff!

Inside the Character’s Head

The narrative is a very important part of a novel for obvious reasons.  If there were no narrative, it would be like a script for a play or movie.  But what happens in the narrative is mostly a description of the action, the setting, the people, and also their thoughts.  It’s the thoughts that I find difficult to create a good balance.

As I’ve been reading novels, I’ve noticed different writing styles when it comes to the narrative, word choice, and so on.  I finished a book by Peter F. Hamilton and started one by Terry Brooks.  The style difference is so vast that it’s easy to see what they do differently.  I find that Hamilton is very wordy when it comes to technical descriptions.  He uses a lot of complex language that could go over the heads of some readers.  He does a good job with characters’ thoughts, as well.  I find he meshes the thoughts with the narrative very well.

Terry Brooks, on the other hand, uses the narrative to talk about the characters’ thoughts and feelings the majority of the time.  It feels like he tells a lot more than other authors.  I’ve always been told to show, not tell.  He tells a lot about what happened in the previous book, if it’s a trilogy, and he tells about the character’s background and what they’d done in the past.  It’s not that it’s bad, he seems to make it easy to read and understand.  However, he’s been criticised in the past for his writing style.  But I cannot deny that his characters are likable and sympathetic.  I actually really like his characters and have been a fan of his for quite some time.  While reading his books, I’ve noticed that he shares the thoughts of the characters a lot.  You know what they’re thinking all the time.

While Hamilton jumps from character to character in a single scene, betraying their thoughts and feelings to the reader, Brooks tends to focus on on only a handful of characters’ thoughts.  I know what everyone’s thinking in Hamilton’s books.  There’s no mystery in that.  But Brooks’ books are more selective, and I don’t always know what others are thinking.

When it comes to my own writing, I prefer to stick with one character in each scene.  I don’t want to use the third person omniscient point of view.  I want to get into one character’s head, not everyone’s.  But that’s just my style.

What do you think?  Which do you prefer?

Book Review – The Reality Dysfunction Part 1: Emergence

realitydysfunction1The Reality Dysfunction Part 1: Emergence is the first part of the first book in the Night’s Dawn trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton.  Both parts are available as one book, though Warner Books published each of the books in 2 parts.  This is the review for the first part of The Reality Dysfunction.

This book opens the expansive trilogy with a bang.  It has not only impressed me, it has shown exactly how world building should be done.  This is probably the best example of world building I’ve read.  In science fiction and fantasy, the author has a world to create.  Hamilton not only created vibrant and wonderfully portrayed planets, but he has created an entire confederation of planets that spans a few hundred light years.  I have a feeling that I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg with this book.  There are hundreds of colonies to explore, though there are only 3 books in the series.  Much of the book takes place on the planet Lalonde, which is a newer colony, and shows how much of an undertaking it is to establish a colony world. It’s also a pretty unique world.  Norfolk is another intriguing world with its old English charm.  Tranquility is a vast, hollow living world created through genetic engineering.  Faster than light travel is commonplace, allowing starships to traverse the Confederation in weeks.

The cast of characters is huge.  There are a lot of names to learn, and it can be difficult to keep many of them straight.  However, the important players aren’t hard to forget.  It seems that many of the major characters, Joshua Calvert, Ione Saldana, Quinn Dexter, and Syrinx are all bound to have a common destiny.  Their stories are all told separately at first, but of course, they all come together in some way or another.  As the story isn’t finished, there’s still a lot to see.  The characters are very well developed.  There are no completely good or bad characters.  You may think so in some cases, but I’ve noticed there are instances of grey areas for each of them.  Joshua is a bit of a jerk at times, but I can’t help but like him.  Ione is a very interesting character who has a lot of responsibility, but is so young.  Quinn is the major antagonist, though it’ll be interesting to see how his story turns out.  Syrinx is an Edenist, a person who has embraced affinity, the ability to telepathically communicate with others of their society, as well as their genetically engineered starships, the Voidhawks.

As I mentioned before, this is part 1 of a book, so I have yet to see the end.  As of this moment, I’m only halfway through the story.  However, the amazing complexity of the story has shown me many surprises.  It is quite unpredictable.  I have no idea where it’s going, and I had no idea what the major complication was going to be, which came as a complete surprise.  There are many stories in one here, but they’re all important parts of the whole.  This I have yet to see, though.  There are some aspects that have been shown early on, but I have no idea what they have to do with the plot.  That will likely become apparent in part 2.

With its incredible complexity, extremely well-developed characters, and amazing universe, The Reality Dysfunction has impressed me very much, so far.  Hamilton may be one of the best science fiction authors.

I must give this 5 stars out of 5.  It is that good! Recommended for space opera fans and those who love world building.  You won’t regret it.