A century from now, thanks to a technology allowing instantaneous travel across light-years, humanity has solved its energy shortages, cleaned up the environment, and created far-flung colony worlds. The keys to this empire belong to the powerful North family - composed of successive generations of clones. Yet these clones are not identical. For one thing, genetic errors have crept in with each generation. For another, the original three clone "brothers" have gone their separate ways, and the branches of the family are now friendly rivals more than allies.
Or maybe not so friendly. At least that's what the murder of a North clone in the English city of Newcastle suggests to Detective Sidney Hurst. Sid is a solid investigator who'd like nothing better than to hand off this hot potato of a case. The way he figures it, whether he solves the crime or not, he'll make enough enemies to ruin his career. Yet Sid's case is about to take an unexpected turn: Because the circumstances of the murder bear an uncanny resemblance to a killing that took place years ago on the planet St. Libra, where a North clone and his entire household were slaughtered in cold blood.
The convicted slayer, Angela Tramelo, has always claimed her innocence. And now it seems she may have been right. Because only the St. Libra killer could have committed the Newcastle crime. Problem is, Angela also claims that the murderer was an alien monster.
Now Sid must navigate through a Byzantine minefield of competing interests within the police department and the world's political and economic elite...all the while hunting down a brutal killer poised to strike again. And on St. Libra, Angela, newly released from prison, joins a mission to hunt down the elusive alien, only to learn that the line between hunter and hunted is a thin one.
©2012 Peter F. Hamilton (P)2013 Tantor
"It's a perfect introduction to his gifts for character design, dialogue, and sheer, big-idea-driven storytelling." (Booklist)
I found this story excellent as a mystery, with a good rendition of futuristic pervasive computer and sensor equipment. However, the actions of the military leaders and their procedures were hard to believe. Further, the portrayal of a small non-commercial scientific enterprise as being wildly more successful than the body of scientists as a whole is also a stretch. Yet it was engaging from beginning to end.
The plot was interesting but lacked the full wonder of his previous works in The Commonwealth Saga and the ending was a bit of a letdown. With that said, Peter still displayed his master craft literary skills that I've come to admire.
This is a wonderful, great sprawling sci-fi mystery book, and a great way to remember what you liked about Hamilton if you've been suffering from series-fatigue after some of his recent efforts. The classical elements (setting, plot, character) all come together in a delightful tangle.
Setting and characters are greatly enhanced by the skillful narration of Toby Longworth, who gets to show off his range to superb effect. The array of UK accents is exactly what the author ordered, all internally consistent and consistent with the text. Even the American accents are at least credible--unusual in a British reader. Female characters sound female, male characters sound male. It's all precisely as it should be.
The best part was the intertwined story, the way it's told with flashbacks slowly explaining everything and that it kept me guessing and really the first half of the book was great. BUT, "yet another PFH story" with a women who's tougher than everyone else around her, but still has to sleep with everyone to make her way in the galaxy was tiresome. The last part of the story started to seem like PFH just wanted to get it over with or something. (sort of spoilers ahead) People are able to make huge leaps of logic early on, but then couldn't put 2 and 2 together near the end. Would iron man let an average guy go through the door first if he thought Iron Monger was behind the door waiting for them. Would Clark Kent go undercover and let weeks go by with people being randomly slaughtered because he didn't want to reveal he was Superman? Granted no one is this story was supposed to be a Superhero. But their "superpowers" which was way better technology; was given to them to do the job. Yet they didn't use that power to do that job until AFTER something really bad happens, over and over in one case. And this one really is a spoiler, why didn't the person just pull the fancy gun out and shoot as soon as there was someone else coming close enough to get injured by the bad guy? Using a gun was the whole reason she was there... When people have WiFi built into their heads why don't they get out warnings quicker, all it takes is a thought and done, and when you know the bad guy makes the WiFi drop out how come that isn't just as good of a warning??? After all the irrational behavior and bloodshed and then as soon as the bad guy gets stunned he suddenly becomes totally rational/peaceful/willing to communicate and cooperate...? How about just let your presence be known? If the Avatar became human and took on our bad traits, he would also get our good traits. Norths weren't murderers, sure they might have screwed over people for money. But they didn't just go around slaughtering people. So why did the bad guy do that? And most of all, what was it that was so bad about the bioil was doing to the planet??? I don't recall ANYTHING being mentioned about pollutants, leaks, or any environmental impact. I guess there must have been a fair amount of clear cutting to make room for the operation and the human settlers? But it sounds to me like bioil would be a heck of a lot cleaner way to make Oil than drilling for it!!! The book is still worth reading. But I definitely got more and more disappointed in some of the details. Definitely not his best work. "IF" his other books had so many plot holes in them I was so enthralled and entertained nothing ever really occurred to me. But this book was like a Hollywood blockbuster where it's normal for a person to have to "suspend disbelief" just to enjoy the story.
Of course, my favorite author and have read everything he's put out.
Really great ability to change voices and characters. He can sound just like Micheal Ironside. It was a little weird at first because Sid sounded just like Greg Mandel at first. But as the character was built it became Sid to me. (a few other voices he did were the same ones from other PFH books)
The never giving up/being open to going forward and dealing with whatever life throws your way.
It would have been nice if he didn't use a super sexed blonde bombshell using sex to make her way across the universe. (spoiler) what if the princes of new Monaco had bankrupted Angela in part because she DIDN'T sleep with them? That would have been a nice change. Even would have made her further exploits an even more difficult personal decision/sacrifice than when you consider sex had already been nothing to her. Plus it didn't seem true to character that she never got revenge against the Middle Eastern guy as well as the Norths.
Possibly the best sci fi novel I've ever listened to. Terrific story, well paced, and narrated with just the right style. I'd read Hamilton's Nights Dawn trilogy, and liked it but thought it was a bit too dark for my taste. Great North Road is just as well written, probably better, but has a more optimistic tone than Nights Dawn.
I'd read another review that said that the book was too long. I disagree. I wish this book were twice as long, so I could listen to another 25 hours!
Enjoy the adventure
Set in the near future, follows the story of a detective assigned to a murder investigation and a woman who was wrongfully imprisoned. Both are very focused on solving a mystery while others around them are self absorbed with their own personal agenda. This leads to chaos and very little gets done quickly.
The beginning is slow, but the pace quickens and soon it is hard to stop listening. I found myself sneaking a listen during inappropriate times.
To me, the best part of the book is the personal technology used on a daily basis. For example, everyone has a personal recorder that captures every moment. Very cool, but comes with a price. There is very little personal privacy. Meaning others can watch you sing and dance in the shower.
Sci-fi/Fantasy geek :)
Peter F. Hamilton is one of my favorite sci/fi authors. Just short of 1,000 pages in hardcover, I was really looking forward to digging into this book (yes, I bought the hardcover also). His books are usually sweeping space opera's with enough sci and fi to choke a normal person. This book started out with the usual excellent overflowing amount of cool ideas, interesting characters, and pacing that I have come to know and love. Please note that I rated this book 4 Stars, so I want to re-iterate that I really liked the book overall.
However, somewhere in the middle, things got a bit muddled, a little repetitive, dare I say... a little boring. The writing was excellent, don't get me wrong. But, I think writers of this quality sometimes get away with a lack of hard editing simply based on their reputation. I myself could have probably edited out 25% of this book without the story having suffered at all. Granted, that 25% that I would throw away would be better than 90% of anything I could write, but that's not really the point.
Another "tell" in a book that sags is that it gets really good again near the end and the pace noticeably increases. It's as if the writer has discovered their error and is trying to make good. This is where the editor should step in, remove the overstuffing, and make the whole thing sing. The amount of sci-fi-ness that was put into the last 10% of the book was more than what was in the middle 40%, which is saying a lot for a book of this size. I think that at some point during his writing, the author may have bored of writing about forward-looking tech, sweeping universes, and the story of mankind and wanted to tell a good simple family/people story.
The characters were fresh and engaging. There was a great bit of suspense/mystery which I really liked and was refreshing (I don't think sci/fi writers employ mystery enough). Aside from when it sagged, the story moved along well and kept me very engaged. As always Peter F. Hamilton's technology is all stuff that I fully expect my great great grandkids to have. It's well researched and based in the realm of possibility such that you don't find it far-fetched, just forward-looking.
The narration was excellent! The accents sometimes faltered and some characters were a little hard to differentiate, but excellent nonetheless. Anybody that can narrate a book this long gets extra kudos in my book.
Did you know you can put in a set of Ear-Buds, slap your Hearing Protectors over them, and Mow the lawn, Weed-Eat, etc, without your book being drowned out by engine noise? OR, you can just let the horses in the yard, and THEY'LL mow and weedeat (literally) FOR YOU!
I listened to this book in a non-stop Listen-Fest, something like 37 hours! I spent the first part of the book being confused, then I was sure I knew where it was going, but it didn't go there, it also didn't go to the next place I was sure it would go, or the next... I literally couldn't sleep until I'd finished it!
Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?
Peter F. Hamilton is one of my favorite science fiction writers. I have to compare him with George R. R. Martin and "A Song of Ice and Fire." Like Martin, Hamilton writes without any editing. Every character in his chapters seems like the main focus of the plot and no detail is left untold.
The "Great North Road" is a daunting read. I've read "Commonwealth Saga" before and that was an excellent series and much longer, but this recent title just seems to be bloated and long with every molecule being explained.
It's an epic story by far and a great modern science fiction, but it's hard to tackle because there is so much detail to comprehend.
I should had pace myself at listening to "Great North Road" because I finished 36 hours in a few days. I should had taken a break because I felt that I was being burned out with the story.
The alien monsters and the revealing of the North is totally worth the listen, but there is a lot of reading before and even after.
Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained in the Commonwealth are much more enjoyable and easier to follow.
I'm a Hard SF & Space Opera-loving, alien android from the future. I bring gifts of SciFi eBooks & accessories for your leader's Kindle. Take me to him/her/it.
Had all the fun and wondrous tech of a PFH story, but I felt it was a good bit longer than necessary. It also has a larger percentage of the story grounded in a terrestrial detective case which drags on slowly for both the characters and the readers. This story was at it's best when it took to the stars and the off-world settings.
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