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)
If you have ever read (or listened) to Pandora's Star or the Void books you don't need to read this review, you already know what it is like.
Although this is a stand alone book in a separate universe it may as well be a prequel to the Common Wealth books.
Wormholes linking colony worlds with earth? Check. Strange alien menace that most people do not believe exists? Check. Working class colonist family drawn into epic conspiracies? Check. Every character model from his other books is represented here. Police detectives, Ultra rich families, genetically modified women with uncertain morals. Nothing is left out. This author very clearly has a certain set of characters that he likes.
This however, is not a really a bad thing. He writes with clarity and humanity and the plot moved steadily, punctuated with bits of explosive action and violence that can erupt from out of the blue (literally) Again, if you have read his other books you know what I am talking about. If you haven't just keep in mind that if the book every starts getting boring just hold on for another chapter or two, before long there will be a massive alien attack or sun exploding just to mix things up.
It really is a good book, just not an innovative one. If you read a lot of sci-fi don't expect anything that you've never heard before, this is solid adventure but nothing mind bending.
It really is a shame that he didn't just market this as a prequel to his other books. The technology and culture is so similar to the history of the Commonwealth series I found it distracting and it made it hard to accept this universe as a separate than his others.
It also would have been nice to see him branch out a little and try something different but since I really liked his previous books I guess I can't complain when he writes more of the same.
The narration is somewhat hit and miss. The reader speaks with a strong british accent, which is appropriate for most of the characters, but not all of them. It would have been better if he had just stuck to that accent for all characters but unfortunately he attempts to speak with other accents when appropriate for the character. Some readers can pull this off, this one cannot. His American accent is so horrible its almost funny.
All in all the author paints a world that I would love to live in and which I have no trouble getting lost in for a few hours, even if it feels very familiar.
(Reprised from my Goodreads review)
Peter F. Hamilton writes large. He writes 1000 page behemoths of narrative. And he writes with ideas that are space and time spanning, far beyond the usual windows of ordinary lives. And his words are imbued with the power of ideas and concepts not yet realized today. Yet, despite the immense dimensions of his imagination, he keeps it all within reach, grounded on human sensibilities, maintaining a keen sense of the grand human drama.
So in this decidedly large book, Hamilton mixes together inscrutable alien swarms, cloned megalomaniacs, monsters with bladed fingers, interworld portals, smart personal networks, sentient worlds, manufactured oil, medically-enabled longevity, with recognizable and easily accessible characters --- a persistent police investigator, a deeply religious military spook, a seemingly helpless woman wrongly imprisoned, three clones who pursue three separate ambitions of wealth, long-life and freedom --- and vast and sundry characters that a reader from the 21st century can easily relate to. He weaves a tale that could simultaneously be categorized as crime/mystery, political intrigue, spy/military, green environmental/survivalist, alien/first encounter, family drama/love story, action/SF ... all interlaced together in Hamilton's insistent style that impels and brooks no doubt that you, the reader, will hold your disbelief.
From my perspective, the most powerful aspect of this sprawling, decidedly Anglo-centric book, that which holds it together and fills it with passionate motivation and narrative impetus, is the story of Angela. Compared to her the rest of the characters seem quite mundane. Or, conversely, without her, this big, booming behemoth of a book may have failed to engage.
Hamilton has clearly improved with practice; from the Mandel detective stories, to the Nights Dawn series, onto the Void trilogy and now the amazing feat of Great North Road. One thing I can say is read Hamilton now and savor his work while he is at his inventive and imaginative best, for a hundred years hence who knows how we would appreciate his writing in the light of different mores.
Peter F Hamilton defines space opera e.g. a long complex story with many full characters with multiple plot threads. The author spins a yarn where the characters are wedged between a bureaucratic government, a large corporation populated with clones (not just the typical figurative corporation where everybody tries to fashion themselves to a corporate image, too get a head but actual clones), a dysfunctional town full of violent criminals and a mythic alien. Into this complex social forces he creates a police procedural that is interesting and twists a with fascinating concepts. Though long 36 hours (it only felts that way in a few places), You a left with a full and complete story in the end.
Sydney Hurst is a complex character forced to navigate the complex social forces with in the story in an impossible task to find the killer.
The novel is very English in places with several specific items related to the local. The narrators English accent aided those northern specific traits.
A different writer, book and story. This book should only come out in public extremely abridged.
Probally never ever again
Learn to pronounce american if you are selling to the american market.
Get rid of it.I couldnt bear to listen to any more after 1 hour.
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