Revelation Space is a great, ripping read. If you want complex characters dealing with bigger-than-life alien entities and ideas, this is a book for you. Excavating the 900,000-year-old Amarantin civilization on its home world, Resurgam, archaeologist Dan Sylveste discovers evidence of a group of Amarantins that discovered spaceflight. This happened at the same time that the Amarantin sun flared strongly enough to wipe out life on Resurgam. Could the two be connected? Sylveste, who built his career on intuitive flashes of brilliance, thinks so, and his monomaniacal obsession becomes the backbone of the book.
However, the book introduces two other groups of characters -- a group of (mostly) cybernetic space travelers on the spaceship Nostalgia for Infinity, and a woman who is a combat veteran-turned-assassin on a world where the idle rich arrange to have themselves hunted as a form of amusement.
These groups are all interconnected, and their paths converge. The ending is brilliant. However, there are some shortcomings ...
1) Reynolds follows one of the increasingly common conceits of modern fiction ... introducing characters and plot drivers long before he gives you the background and context to understand them properly. Many of today's authors do this, but I'm not a fan.
2) The reader of the audible version, John Lee, sometimes (not always) drops the volume of the last word of a sentence. That was really annoying
3) These are complex characters,and all flawed ... in fact, so flawed that I had problems finding someone to root for and identify with. The most sympathetic character (to me) is the dead, electronic copy of Sylveste's father. Some people will want to empathize with Khouri -- but she's a ruthless assassin for cripes' sake. This novel would be improved by more likeable characters.
Still, it's a great book. You'll be hooked.
I listened to this in the car, and laughed so loud I nearly had to pull off the road. The same thing happened when I listened to it going for a walk, and I must have looked strange bursting into laughter on the sidewalk alone. One complaint is that Karl's accent is so thick I sometimes don't get the punch lines (I am American, a British person wouldn't have a problem). And I sympathize with Karl, whereas Ricky comes off as a bully sometimes. All around it's excellent listening, and it spurred me to listen to others in the series.
I hate to disagree with all the nice reviewers, but I found "The Alchemist" unlistenable. Basically, the main character has as much common sense as a horse's patoot. Maybe he improves later in the book, but I can't sympathize with him.
Also, the author took a chapter to say what most could say in a couple of paragraphs. Bah!
I really enjoyed the book and especially the narration by Kate Reading and Wil Wheaton. I’ve listened to other audio books where the female narrator just can’t do male voices convincingly (Emily Gray botched a Jasper Fforde novel so badly that I couldn’t get past the second chapter) but Kate Reading does a great job. And Wil is top-notch. Unlike some reviewers, I didn’t mind the narration switching back and forth between these two voices. In fact, it seemed to give the characters more dimension somehow.
As for the book itself – what a delicious concept. Zombies, zeppelins, sky pirates, a mad scientist, a Wild-West society underground in the ruins of “Old Seattle”, and a resourceful mother’s desperate search for her son. The book was a bit slow in places, and some dialogue dragged on much longer than it had to (hence my 4-star, not 5-star rating), but that’s okay. The slow beginning led to a dynamite ending, and a perfect set-up for future novels.
This novel isn’t what I would really call “steampunk.” I think it’s only called that because the publishing world has to put everything in a slot. It’s more like “Wild West Zombie punk,” if such a category can be imagined. But the female characters are strong and fully imagined, the desperation of the characters feels real, and the ideas are wonderful.
And the outrageous names – Leviticus Blue, Doctor Minnericht, Jeremiah Swakhammer – LOL!
I highly recommend this book.
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