Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Naked God - Peter F. Hamilton

2000; 1332 pages.  New Author? : No.  Book #3 of the "Night's Dawn" trilogy.  Genre : Epic Space Opera.  Overall Rating : 9½*/10.

    The galaxy-wide battle between Possessed and Unpossessed rages unabated.  Quinn Dexter has infiltrated Earth, despite all efforts to stop him.  Al Capone's starfleet has the Confederation on the brink of collapse.  And when cornered, the Possessed use their collective will to move entire planets to some unknown, faraway haven.

    The only hope appears to be some old Tyrathcan myth about some "Sleeping God".  But no one (including the Tyrathcans) have any idea what it is, let alone where to find it.  So you just know Joshua Calvert is going to be sent out on this wild goose chase.

What's To Like...
    The characters are superb.  There are decent Possessed folk, and even the arch-fiend Quinn is not completely "black".  Some of the Unpossessed, and the methods they use to combat possession, are ethically pretty shaky.

    The tension continues to build steadily.  Both sides score some much-needed victories.  The storylines keep expanding until, with only 300 pages to go, I questioned whether Peter F. Hamilton could bring it all back together and tidily tie everything up.  I shouldn't've worried.

    The ending was well-done, with multiple resolutions instead of a single Deus Ex Machina (the Sleeping God) taking care of everything.  Some found it contrived, but that's kind of necessary if we also expect all the storylines to conveniently culminate at the same time.  My only beef is that, as feared, The Neutronium Alchemist (Book 2) appears to have been a monumental tangent.

Kewlest New Word...
Hypergolic : igniting spontaneously when mixed together.

    "I wouldn't have been so generous," Kiera said.  "You shouldn't show so much kindness.  People will see it as a weakness."
    "You're dealing with people, not mechanoids," Jezzibella said blankly.  "You have to make allowances for the odd mistake.  If you shoot every waiter who spills a cup of coffee over your skirt, you wind up with a self service bar."
    Kiera smiled condescendingly at her.  "What you'll actually wind up with is a group of highly efficient waiters who can do the job effectively."   (pg. 110)

    "Quinn, what happens after?"
    "After what?"
    "After the Light Bringer comes and, you know, we kill everyone that doesn't do as we say?"
    "We live in His Kingdom, under His  light, and our serpent beasts will run free and wild for the rest of time.  He will have saved us from enslavement inside the false lord's prison city; that heaven the dumb-ass religions keep singing about."
    "Oh.  Okay, that sounds pretty cool."  (pg. 1113)

"What kind of a universe is this anyway?"  (pg. 1099)
    The Naked God is the concluding book of the trilogy.  The first two books are reviewed here (The Reality Dysfunction) and here (The Neutronium Alchemist).  Naturally, the question you have to ask is : "At 3600 pages, is it worth my time?"

    Well, Peter F. Hamilton gives you a struggle of cosmic proportions, dozen of worlds to explore, and lots of people (human, alien, living, dead, undead, and various combinations thereof) to follow along with.  Every 30-50 pages, he hops to another thread, so things stay varied.  There is life, death, romance, drama, action, hope, and  despair; and even a little comic relief to occasionally lighten the way.

    In the end, Hamilton succeeded in keeping me entertained for 3600 pages, and that's no small feat.  I'd recommend this to any Sci-Fi fan, particularly those who enjoy Space Opera.  OTOH, if you aren't such an enthusiast or you think any book that takes more than a day to read is too long, you might not want to tackle this.  9½ Stars.

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