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The Bellinghman

#248 Peter F. Hamilton: Judas Unchained

Peter F. Hamilton: Judas Unchained

Paperback: 1235 pages
Publisher: Tor; New Ed edition (5 May 2006)
ISBN-10: 0330493531
ISBN-13: 978-0330493536
Category(ies): SF

Out of curiosity, I just checked the length of the single volume Lord of the Rings: 1216 pages. Yet this volume, with no appendices, is only the second half of a single story, and it's even longer!

Humanity is under threat from the Primes, who have invaded 23 planets. There's a terrorist organisation calling themselves the Guardians. There may, or may not, be an entity called the Starflyer, whom the Guardians claim to be fighting. There are the Silfen - a race of aliens who walk paths that strangely stretch between plants. There's the SI. There's the Institute. There are the Dynasty families.

If you haven't already read Pandora's Star, then this is likely to be confusing. There are a number of factions. There are large numbers of plot threads. On the whole, Hamilton keeps those threads going well, and he avoids the mechanical rotation between them that some writers get stuck in - it's quite possible for him to drop a particular thread for several hundred pages without the reader feeling that there's something missing. The most important thing is that this type of story requires the people (in this case, the whole human race spread out over many planets) to be in jeopardy. If the tension is released too much, then the story becomes boring. If it's tightened too much (which I did feel was sometimes the case with the Night's Dawn trilogy), it gets too much of a strain to read. But here, the tension is just right.

I deeply love the concept of interstellar travel being by train. But, having posited manufactured wormholes, it's actually very sensible. How else can you get the maximum throughput in a narrow tunnel?

A rich setting, and deeply immersive.
Tags: books, reviews

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