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Hilldiggers (Novel of the Polity) Paperback – Unabridged, 4 Apr 2008

36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Tor (4 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330441531
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330441537
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 11.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 829,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Neal Asher lives sometimes in England, sometimes in Crete and mostly at a keyboard. Having over eighteen books published he has been accused of overproduction (despite spending far too much time ranting on his blog, cycling off fat, and drinking too much wine) but doesn't intend to slow down just yet.

Product Description


'An excellent tale to Asher's usual exhilarating action standards...' -- Death Ray

'If there's a more enjoyable and provocative sci-fi action saga this year, we'll be seriously surprised.' -- SFX Magazine

Book Description

A massive SF drama from one of Britain's most popular new talents --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ed.F VINE VOICE on 7 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Deeply enjoyable, page turner with great characterisation from on of my favorite novelists, but it doesn't get 5 stars from me because I couldn't shake off my nagging concern that this book was shared just a little too many concepts with "Inversions" by Iain M Banks, which isn't that great a book. I know it's ridiculous but my "familiarity" with these narrative devices took the edge of the book for me, even though Asher treats the concepts he shares with Inversions, like the low(er) tech civilisation viewpoint, the hidden agent/observer in a more accessible manner than Banks did but I couldn't help shaking off the feeling of deja-vu as each shared concept clicked into view.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A. Rytov on 3 Mar. 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Hilldiggers" is very much unlike other Asher's books. It is as if it's written by a different person. It's boring.

I love his "Skinner" and still re-read it every now and then; the "Voyage..." is almost just as good. His Cormac books are also finely written. This one, I could barely finish it. The plot is predictable, all characters are flat and the writing style is extremely boring: page after page of monotonous narrative, irrelevant details and dry dialogs. No sense of humor whatsoever, and in fact very little emotions at all.

Despite his obsession with details, Asher doesn't bother to be consistent with his prior Spatterjay books (one example: in both the "Skinner" and the "Voyage..." hoopers occasionally get dunked into the deadly Spatterjay sea and, while being eaten alive by various creatures, they do keep afloat like any normal human would. In "Hilldiggers", the Hooper character McCrooger is for some reason much denser than normal people and would instantly sink to the bottom). Not to mention the idea of sending the Hooper, twice-infected by conflicting viruses, to make first contact with a paranoid and warlike civilization... Not to mention the silly "tiger-on-the-ball" Tigger drone... Or the four obviously suspicious "worm children" so easily allowed to raise to the top of the society...

If you like Asher and don't want to be disappointed, stick to his earlier Spatterjay books and avoid this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By 2theD on 11 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
Hilldiggers is an Asher novel which takes place in his unique Polity universe but does not follow the Cormac series or the Spatterjay series. Asher makes this novel distinctive by combining a good chunk of the Polity plot line with a savory chips from the Spatterjay line. The result is a rousing read for a seasoned Asher reader (this being my 10th Asher novel) but only for the first half. Throw in two planets with distinguishable race races, an ongoing war between them and a mischievous drone scouting the system... the first half is just a gem of a plot setting.

The book's synopsis sounds a little corny as `four exceptionally talented orphans' have been born through mysterious circumstances surrounding four `cosmic superstrings.' This initial cheesiness had me suppressing a gag reflex commonly experienced which reading synopses of self-published authors. While the ultimate motive for the conception is discussed, I found it a weak link in the plot chain.

The second half sees bad start when the protagonist Old Captain McCrooger begins to lose the Spatterjay virus and hence become weak, fragile. The weakening of the strong main character is a little demoralizing for the reader, as any Asher reader knows that the Old Captains are quirky, strong and a highlight in the Spatterjay series. The humanization of McCrooger is drawn out as he is injured over and over again without much direction.

Additionally, the predictable yet difficult to visualize space battle eventually takes place but doesn't seem as prominent as other battles in Asher's novels. The general plot direction is really predictable and no surprises were had except for a minor smile-worthy disclosure in the last two pages.

Hilldiggers is a good addition is the Polity universe with strong links with the Polity sub-plots but really tapers off in the last half to leave the reading unsatisfactory.
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Format: Paperback
The current fashion for `show, don't tell' that writers keep being nagged to follow by editors has clearly by-passed Asher. The opening pages of this book are groaning with information about the world, political situation and the main characters. That said, given just how background goes into making this story work, I'm not sure how else he could have communicated all this stuff. But, if you're on the verge of tossing the book to one side, my advice is to hang in there. It gets better - and is seriously worth it if your taste runs to space opera. And I mean the real deal, with epic battles involving space-going juggernauts - the hilldiggers of the title.

Told in multiple viewpoint with the majority of characters in third person POV, the main protagonist, David McCrooger, an ambassador from the Polity, tells his slice of the story in first person POV. Although a slightly unusual mix, I think it works. McCrooger's character leaps off the page with more vividness than the rest and his cussed attitude towards authority figures - and almost anyone else who gets in his way - starts to make sense when we learn that he has spent time on Spatterjay and was one of the Old Captains. Which revisits one of Asher's other worlds outstanding by its wholly bloodthirsty fauna.

Although writing believable three-dimensional characters isn't his particular thing, Asher does excel at rolling out a complex political situation with colliding social customs and taking the reader on a roller-coaster ride through events when the inevitable fireworks start. And to be fair, I think that McCrooger is probably one of Asher's best characters to date, partly because he proves to be more physically vulnerable than most of Asher's posthuman creatures.
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