Book Reviews

The Night's Dawn

The Night's Dawn; Peter F. Hamilton

  1. The Reality Dysfunction, ISBN: 0-333-67563-0
  2. The Neutronium Alchemist, ISBN: 0-333-66935-5
  3. The Naked God, ISBN: 0-333-68791-4

I bought the first book in this series on the recommendation of SFX magazine – and, boy, am I glad that I did! The basic plot basically concerns the Human Confederation of several hundred worlds in the Galaxy and a deadly new threat to that Confederation. There are several concurrent plot threads that run through the series. These are too complicated to explain here and would give away too much anyway, so I'll leave them for the reader to discover.
The society of this future is quite fascinating, Humanity has split into two factions – Adamism and Edenisn. The Edenists have an extra set of genes called Affinity which allows a form of telepathy and empathy between anybody who has the genes, as well communication with "Bitek" life forms – artificial, biological lifeforms, that include bitek space stations and starships. The Adamists have rejected Affinity on religious grounds and the contrast between Adamism and Edenism proves for a fascinating read. The first book could be quite grisly in places, with quite a lot of violence. Although this continued into the second book, there were less instances of it and they were more restrained. I think that the gore went up again in the third book but the story goes at such a pace that you can forgive it, even if (like me) you're of a squeamish turn of mind.

This is an excellent, well-written series that is very addictive. These books are not small, they contain about a thousand pages each but I found that I just couldn't put them down. I started taking them to lectures and reading them in the few minutes between lectures and in every spare minute that I had! One thing that I was really annoyed about was that I was waiting for about two years for the final volume in the trilogy – and the second book ended on a real cliffhanger – arrghhh. Still, the resolution was well worth it, in my opinion, and made me laugh out loud with glee.
Due to the nature of the menace of the threat facing the Confederation, the outcome always had to be fairly deep, and I was very satisfied that Hamilton hadn't taken any easy options. He faced the philosophical questions that the book raised (or more correctly, gives hints as to how the Confederation would face them), while still leaving enough loose strands at the end to make any return to the Night's Dawn universe more than welcome. I did feel that there were a few deux ex machina, but they were fairly plausibly explained and certainly didn't leave me feeling cheated.

If you like decent space opera at all, then buy this series. Just make sure that you can afford all three books within about two weeks of each other, because you won't be able to put them down, and you don't want to get stuck between books (especially with the huge cliffhanger between The Neutronium Alchemist and The Naked Godsmiley).

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