18 October 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter F. Hamilton

The Abyss Beyond Dreams: A Novel of the CommonwealthThe Abyss Beyond Dreams by Peter F. Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The year is 3326. Nigel Sheldon, one of the founders of the Commonwealth, receives a visit from the Raiel—self-appointed guardians of the Void, the enigmatic construct at the core of the galaxy that threatens the existence of all that lives. The Raiel convince Nigel to participate in a desperate scheme to infiltrate the Void.

Once inside, Nigel discovers that humans are not the only life-forms to have been sucked into the Void, where the laws of physics are subtly different and mental powers indistinguishable from magic are commonplace. The humans trapped there are afflicted by an alien species of biological mimics—the Fallers—that are intelligent but merciless killers.

Yet these same aliens may hold the key to destroying the threat of the Void forever—if Nigel can uncover their secrets. As the Fallers’ relentless attacks continue, and the fragile human society splinters into civil war, Nigel must uncover the secrets of the Fallers—before he is killed by the very people he has come to save.

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Outstanding. There's not really another word for this book. Being a huge fan of the Commonwealth Saga and the Void trilogy, this went straight to the top of my reading list. And what a book! The story is built inside the same amazing universe as those previous works, but new readers will not struggle either, as Hamilton has created an entirely new story thread and provides enough background information to support it if you have not read the other Commonwealth Saga books. There's been some debate as to whether you can approach this book as a stand alone or if you'd be better served reading the previous Commonwealth books. I think that you could, and this is what the author intended. Actually set before the events of the Void trilogy, Nigel Sheldon is commissioned by the Raiel to be transported inside the Void to attempt to find out it's secrets. What he discovers is amazing, and the story that follows is wonderful and a full-on page-turner. I devoured this book effortlessly, because the plot and writing are so good. Actually, I found it easier to read than any other Peter F Hamilton novel that I've read previously, but I'm not sure if it was just the wonderful story or something about his style that did it. The story gallops along at a enjoyable pace and the plot gradually twists itself up enough to set up for the second book in the series nicely, but at the same time reaching a satisfying conclusion. This is a fantastic novel that clearly demonstrates Hamilton's wonderful talent. He's one of the best. Read it, you won't be disappointed.

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