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. Since I’m such a huge fan of Peter’s Commonwealth Saga and Void Trilogy, this went straight to the top of my reading list. And what a book! It just felt good to read.
The story is built inside the same amazing universe as those previous series but new readers will not struggle either as Hamilton has created an entirely new story thread with enough background information to support it if you have not read any of the other Commonwealth books. There’s been some debate about this, whether you can approach this book (or series) as a stand alone or if you’d be better served reading the previous Commonwealth books. I think that you could comfortably start straight into this one and this is what the author intended. He states that he wrote it in such a way that someone coming fresh to his work could pick it up and not be totally lost in references as to what happened before.
It’s actually set before the events of the Void trilogy, and familiar character Nigel Sheldon is commissioned by the mysterious Raiel species to be transported inside the Void in an attempt to discover it’s secrets. What he finds out is quite incredible, and the story that follows is a real page-turner. To be fair, a large amount of the story is taken up by the world building and the politics of the situation. This can make the read slightly arduous, but it’s a necessary feature of the book, shaping the story in a similar fashion to other Hamilton works. Despite this I devoured it effortlessly because both the plot and the writing are so good. Few can build a backdrop like Hamilton and his fans have come to expect (and even demand) high levels of complexity from his work.
Honestly, I found it easier to read than any other 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. It definitely did feel less intense and looser in style compared to prior books. The story gallops along at a enjoyable pace and the plot steadily builds itself up nicely to set up for the second book in the series, but at the same time reaching a satisfying conclusion.
In summary, this is a fantastic space opera novel that clearly demonstrates this author’s wonderful talent. I expect nothing less from him now because he’s one of the best, no doubt about that.
If this sounds like your cup of tea, go ahead and read it, you will not be disappointed.
5/5 for concept
5/5 for delivery
4/5 for entertainment
= 4.7 out of 5