For most of the reading, I might have given this book 4 stars. It is a very ambitious book, with at least half a dozen related but differing aspects and personnel. It has very clever descriptions of possible aliens, very insightful recording of political maneuvering, and thrilling aspects of conflict between cultures.
However, it suffers on two accounts. First, narrator. On the whole he does a good job. But he has a most annoying habit of very frequently omitting the final "s" in a large number of words. These have included many, many plural nouns; also ordinary words such as once, entrance, performance, office - and even is, was, this, us.....etc. I get the impression he thinks this makes it more sophisticated; but I found it really annoying.
The worst part is, the author didn't know how to round up and end the several stories. He just ends the book with 3 characters 'falling off the edge of the world' (as if it were flat) and absolutely none of the trends or conflicts resolved in any way. In spite of the highly extended amount of writing, it left one with a wholly unsatisfied feeling. Three stars is a little too high for this.
This was my first Peter Hamilton book, and boy was I impressed. He's created a fantastic universe and populated it with immensely interesting characters. There is no single gimmick or story-line that the book revolves around. It's very easy to believe in this future. I couldn't help thinking that this would make a truly awesome TV show --- imagine Lost with a story that made sense! I didn't realize that this was only the first of two parts, but I was delighted to know I had another book to move onto to. If you like Frank Herbert, Vernor Vinge, or Dan Simmons, you'll probably really enjoy this too.
When I began this book, which seems a lifetime ago, the narration was difficult to understand because the narrator punched almost every sentence hard before backing off. Either they couldn't correct the sound balance in production or they didn't bother. Fortunately, that problem gets better after the first 8-16 hours of listening. Other that this rather dramatic problem and the difficulty discerning scene switches, the narration is okay. In fact, it's good by the end of the book.
As for the plot, this might be your thing, but it left me wanting. There are a LOT of characters, which makes sense when the book is this long. Some of the plot lines I liked. Others were remarkably boring. At this moment, my most devastating complaint is the end. With about two hours left I began to suspect there was no way to wrap up the book in time. With one hour left i was getting scared. With ten minutes left I was getting angry. When it was over I went searching for another section to download. There is another 40 hour book! Be warned. This book doesn't indicate that it is part of a series. I guess I've been sucked in enough to read it.
For my tastes, this book is probably worth the time to read part two and get closure, but it wouldn't have been worth reading if I'd known what I know now. I will admit, there is some phenomenal creativity at points. This book takes different directions and comes up with some unique concepts of space exploration and the future. There is some explicit content and explicit language I would have preferred were left out. If that offends you, stay away from this book.
In short, I didn't fall in love with this book and would like my 36 hours back. It's good enough that you may love it if you can deal with the flaws in narration and are a dedicated science fiction reader with slightly different tastes than mine. If you're debating between this book and another one, go with the other one.
Now retired 60-Something living in Texas. I love audiobooks as I listen/read while walking my dogs, or working around the house. I also love reading on my Kindle too. Especially love science fiction and W.E.B. Griffin novels.
I listened to the first four parts of this book.. It was tough to keep going.. then I got to the last 8 to 10 hours and thought it would take off.. It did.. Slowly, the action started.. But I got to the last 20 minutes and wondered how he would wrap this up so quickly.. He never did though.. There was no proper ending for me.. No happy ending.. No sad ending.. It just ended!
If you listen to this novel, the last spoken words of the novel summed up MY feelings exactly! .
Many books about the future only change 1 variable and leave everything else the same as today, so we can see the contrast. Hamilton presents a fully realized future human society that has to cope with the advanced technological and biological society that they find themselves in. Throw in some aliens, human greed and politics and you have a recipe for an SF epic. Loved it.
If you're not already aware, there is a (necessary) sequel to this book, entitled Judas Unchained. If you're considering buying this book, be prepared to buy the next one too, less for unbounded excitement and more for a desire to complete the story arc. I'm not crazy about the narrator, but it gets the job done. I regularly lost track of who was saying which lines in a conversation, and I'm pretty sure the voice for a given character would change a bit from one conversation to the next. It felt like each conversation was made to have distinct voices for the duration, but the accents didn't necessarily follow the character to the next section of dialog. Narration aside, the book is very much "space opera". Absolutely do not expect fast-paced action. There is no piece of the storytelling that doesn't have at least a 15-minute backstory inserted somewhere along the way, although usually much longer than that. (5-part book, hint hint) The people you expect to be mere satellite characters are actually worthy of entire story arcs themselves, sometimes going through entire segments of their personal lives from years in the past for little other reason than to make it believable when they act a certain way later on. The author writes in an exploratory fashion... the writing is not concise and driven by fitting into X pages, but instead is a presentation of the lives of the characters, as they would act, even if it means little to the story at large. If you don't understand a friendly alien race, just wait and it'll come out eventually, however bad your anxiety attacks may be. The ending, although extremely thought-provoking of the entire story thus far, is really no ending at all, and the mysteries of the story are mostly presented by part 4, and left at that. There is some headway that can be made if you sit and scrunch up your forehead for the half hour after you finish the book, but some bits just can't be simply explained away in a rational fashion.
The narrator often starts sentences loud and finishes quiet. It is almost like he was slowly rocking back and forth in front of the microphone. I found it very difficult to find a comfortable volume level. Also, the recording sounds somewhat compressed, perhaps this was done to try and level out the narrators volume inconsistencies. I tried a higher quality audio format and it did not help.
What a really good book! I dont usually read science fiction but I brought it because it was on sale. I am on the second book now. My only problem with it is that the narrator does not pause when he is changing so I have had to repeatly go back and listen to find out what happened.
I gave up. This book has no heart. I can't find a hook. Not one character I can hold on to. I slogged through to the end of the first part and then ... I still didn't have a desire to read it. So, I skipped to the last part because everyone said that was the best part but still nothing. I wont read anymore of this book or it's sequel. Thank goodness I bought it on sale.
If you enjoying watching the endless political bickering with bits of corporate backstabbing and greed thrown in this is the book for you. There was very little sci-fi in what I listened to. I was unable to make it through the entire book, I found it incredibly boring. Maybe it gets better further in but I just can't listen to anymore.