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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb sci-fi
If "Game of Thrones" can be turned into a TV series then I think Peter Hamilton's latest novel should be turned into a show too. The Great Road North is an excellent story: imaginative, clever, and well paced; it blends sci-fi with crime, horror, doomed romance, and a bit of political/action thriller. I had been looking forward to this book since reading the plot summary...
Published 18 months ago by Me

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A slow start
I really liked the sound of this book, the story caught my attention. The first 200 pages are hard work and I nearly gave up, essentially it feels like the author takes a while to get into his stride. Also the naming of every vehicle and technology is pretty tedious and not necessary. All that being said the book delivers a very reasonable read. The story flows and the...
Published 6 months ago by Philip A. Bird


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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb sci-fi, 6 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Great North Road (Hardcover)
If "Game of Thrones" can be turned into a TV series then I think Peter Hamilton's latest novel should be turned into a show too. The Great Road North is an excellent story: imaginative, clever, and well paced; it blends sci-fi with crime, horror, doomed romance, and a bit of political/action thriller. I had been looking forward to this book since reading the plot summary several months ago and I was not disappointed. To me, a long-time fan, it seemed like he had gone through all his previous novels, cherry picked the best elements and weaved them all together.

Talking of weaving, one of the most enjoyable and challenging things about Hamilton is tying his story threads back together using the limited (but very deliberate) clues he writes in before the plot is revealed. I got a fair few, but some of them eluded me until about page 930... It's always fun trying to guess, but I don't think I'll ever be able to call him predictable.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the way he wrote against a believable background, speculating on where modern science and technology might take us and describing how people will live in the near future; think Michio Kaku but with verve, humour, and a lot of very British style. Of course with sci-fi it has to go a little bit further and we have seemingly implacable aliens, spaceships and strange planets. However, unlike the Void trilogy, it doesn't stray into fantasy; believability makes this story more accessible.

Of course Hamilton already has a great reputation for his story-telling skills, but I think that with Great North Road he has improved his writing style. Recent novels have had a large cast of characters, which often led to uneven coverage. In this novel he has concentrated on the key characters and they all come across strongly: Angela the tough girl with a mysterious background; Vance the zealous Human Defence Agency colonel; and Sid the cunning detective. The secondary characters like Ian, Saul and Rebka are also much more fleshed out than their counterparts in his other novels.

Some readers might find the length off-putting here, but if as an author you're going to conjure up an epic story then you might as write it out in full. Which takes me back to my first point: it's about time some of our best writers got their stories on screen, not just to dispel the myth that British sci-fi is all about histrionic blokes in police boxes and supermarionation puppets, but also to show that it can compete with the best of the stuff beaming across the Atlantic. It would be great if TV producers took notice of novels like this.

However, having praised it so thoroughly, there was one small problem with this book:- I don't see how he can top it. ;)
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 12 Oct 2012
By 
reader 451 - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Great North Road (Hardcover)
For a novel that combines thriller and science-fiction tale in one, read Hamilton's The Great North Road. Blending a detective story based in Newcastle and a wild alien chase across the twenty-second century planetary colony of St Libra, it is an anxiety-packed page-turner. I found this novel more compact and coherent, indeed, than the absorbing but sometimes sprawling Void trilogy. Even at 1,000+ pages, this doorstopper does not waste a line. At the same time, it (almost) achieves the imaginative range that makes earlier Hamilton books such good reading.

Space colonisation has begun: not by spaceship, but through teleportation gateways. St Libra is one of the new worlds, mined for a bio-fuel it would cost too much to produce on Earth. And atop the highly lucrative trade sits Northumbrian Interstellar and the North family, a multi-generation crowd of over two hundred clones. But a North has been murdered in the streets of Newcastle. The circumstances, moreover, recall a mass-killing that occurred twenty years before on St Libra, and in which the main suspect, Angela Tramelo, blamed an unlikely humanoid alien. Angela is promptly freed, but this is only to pack her off on a massive scientific and military mission to comb the vast and unforgiving St Libra jungle for the predator. Meanwhile, humanity is, on its new worlds, under assault from the un-definable Zanth, stellar-scale swarms that are neither animal nor mineral, nor perhaps even composed of ordinary matter, yet sweep whole worlds before them. On the Great North Road, both the old road to Newcastle, where detective Sidney Hurst is leading his investigation, and on the St Libra jungle path taken by Angela Tramelo, come to hang the fate of many more as the novel builds towards its multi-stranded, and utterly unexpected, denouement.

This novel is well written and should confirm Hamilton as a major science-fiction writer. What I like about Hamilton's novels, moreover, is that they offer a progressive vision of technology, a sober but in many ways positive peek at the future. In a sense, they are a return to the heroic era of science fiction, and they stand far from the gloomy dystopias that have become fashionable today. Biological enhancements have become available to humans. They can interface mentally with computer networks. Manufacturing has been made easy. At the same time politics remain as fraught as they ever are, and economic relations. And, wink, wink, Newcastle is situated in the state of Grande Europe and uses eurofrancs for currency. I am sometimes weary of buying the latest book from a popular author before having seen any reviews. But The Great North Road should appeal both to fans and to Hamilton newcomers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Epic SF, 5 Jan 2014
This review is from: Great North Road (Hardcover)
This is a monumental book in lots of ways, not just its length (1087 pages) or its size (slightly larger than a house brick), but also in the story that he writes here.

It starts with a murder, and the body that is fished out of the river is a North, a family of genetic clones, and this corpse has had all the identity markers removed. There are five puncture marks on the chest, and the heart has been shredded. The last people to die this way did so 20 years ago, on the colony of St Libra, and the woman who was tried for the murders is still in prison. So begins the most sensitive, and politically charged investigation of Sidney Hurst's career.

With the new murder, the HDA decide that they need to go back to St Libra and fully investigate the claim by Angela that the murders were committed by an alien. She is pulled from prison and sent through the gateway, essentially a wormhole, with a crack team of legionnaires and back to St Libra to find this entity.

And so starts this epic story. It flips between Newcastle, and St Libra and you follow the ebb and flow of the characters in their successes and failures. The people on St Libra start to conclude that the plant they are on is a bioformed planet, and the alien is there as a guardian. St Libra`s sun suddenly red shifts, sending the planet into a mini ice age, and the alien starts to eliminate the legionnaires in the group. Meanwhile back on earth the investigation into the murder has become a lot more complex and charged, and it starts to look like the fall out between two corporations, and the police are playing catch up.

Apart from the fact that this is enormous, and took even me a while to read, I really enjoyed it. He has created a pair of believable worlds, alien contact and a murder mystery thrown in for good measure. It doesn't get five stars as there are parts that I felt were superfluous to the main story, and probably could have been removed.

Hamilton manages to keep the tech believable, there are e-i systems that people have fitted within their body and are permanently connected to the net. There are lots of smart dust and meshes that the police use to track and monitor citizens. The society is well constructed too, apart from petty crime, most of the serious crime is committed by corporations that have a legitimate side, and a nefarious side.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A slow start, 3 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Great North Road (Paperback)
I really liked the sound of this book, the story caught my attention. The first 200 pages are hard work and I nearly gave up, essentially it feels like the author takes a while to get into his stride. Also the naming of every vehicle and technology is pretty tedious and not necessary. All that being said the book delivers a very reasonable read. The story flows and the plot is good. I wish the editor had been more brutal in the beginning, would have made this a much better book. It's not a classic and doesn't deliver as much as Alastair Reynolds does, but it is probably worth the space on your bookshelf.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heinlein meets Iain M Banks, 2 Oct 2012
By 
Mr. Timothy S. Parkin (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Great North Road (Hardcover)
Well paced even though very long. A wonderful adventure combining a gritty geordie detective story with a armed forces exploration mission. If only more books ticked the boxes so well.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly dissapointed (maybe some spoilers), 28 Nov 2012
By 
A. Kelly (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Great North Road (Hardcover)
Firstly, I'll state I'm a big fan of Peter's work, his previous SF really is top of the game British SF in a style that is currently without equal.

So I eagerly started this book with high expectations of more of the same...

Sadly, I felt a little let down with this one Peter.

The detective part started well but seemed to tail off as the story went on. The alien world "bug hunt" was pretty dull and tedious, lacking pace and bite. Finally, at the end, the grand reveal was just a bit...meh.

I don't mind a long book but this definitely seemed to drag by, with each session I spent reading it not seeming to have advanced the story much and in the end I felt like it was more of an endurance challenge than reading a rewarding story. Its not a "hard read", its easy to digest but just too tedious.

I'm sure Peter will be back with something new soon(ish) though and once again I know I will be pouncing on it eagerly but please, two strikes and you're out with me...
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the sci-fi epic I was after..., 18 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Great North Road (Kindle Edition)
Having just gone through a bit of an epic fantasy-reading marathon few months (completing all of Martins' Song of Ice & Fire books, and Feists' Riftwar Saga), I fancied a bit of a sci-fi renaissance...

Great North Road wasn't it sadly.

In fact, I suffered a phenomenon whereby the story and writing weren't bad enough to stop me reading, but neither was the pace or plot good enough to really allow me to enjoy the time I spent turning the pages.

It turned in to a bit of a slog-fest in all honesty!

At the same time as buying this, I also downloaded "Dune" on the recommendation of a friend... so I spent the last 1/3 of this book rushing through in anticipation that the much lauded "Dune" will be the sci-fi epic I am craving!

Overall, GNR is not a bad book - the Newcastle-based detective storyline is enjoyable, and the futurised version of Newcastle was nicely described, and much of the technology Hamilton introduces sounds feasible and evolved of today's tech. That said, some of the 'names' he makes up for things are ridiculous and I rolled my eyes a few times when he's banding around made-up-jargon in every sentence.

The St Libra-based plot is less progressive and less enjoyable - full of a cast of likely fodder who you quickly care less about.

Too many times when the plot does start progressing, Hamilton drops you back years to build the backstory of the character in focus - and frankly much of the time it felt unnecessary.

It would've been good if Hamilton focused 70% of the book on the Newcastle stuff, did 20% in St Libra and 10% of character history if he really wanted...

Overall: Worth a read if you can forgive the ramblings and have the time - not a bad story, just a *bit* too long. A bit like this review really ^_^

...Now; on to Dune!!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit ploddy but mildly entertaining, 22 Oct 2012
By 
Robert (Uxbridge, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Great North Road (Hardcover)
I found The Great north Road started out great. It grabbed my interest with a picture of Newcastle of the future still recognisable as the Geordie Land of today. Accurate references to the locations entertained Tyne lovers like myself. The concept of areas where governments have withdrawn services echoed how the city had been treated in the past after the industries went. The characters were reasonably defined although writing the Geordies as if they had just escaped from Byker Grove TV series occasionally jarred.

Hamilton played a great card and imagined that the city was the gateway to another world, very like Monaco, where the uber-rich lived tax free. This was all great stuff and I built momentum in reading the tale. Meanwhile the everyday citizens are engaged in a financial guerrilla war with the tax authorities and everyone has a secret secondary bank account to conceal their excess income.

But about a third of the way in it started to plod. The plot felt delayed and over egged. New characters seemed to be introduced just to fill in bit of story that could just be told. The book started to feel padded. Some of the characters like Sid the cop started to fade into others as too many people populated the book.

This book is worth a read but I would wait a little while until the price drops or you can buy it second-hand.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average not his best, 14 Nov 2012
This review is from: Great North Road (Kindle Edition)
Exit Darkness, Enter Light: Book One of the Earth Cycle

Mr. Hamilton has some really big shoes to fill in this genre and initially the Great North Road is brilliant and a page-turner.
The combination of a classic detective story and SciFi on remote worlds is pretty refreshing making this book worth mentioning among a classic as "Caves of Steel" and the detective part is very good.
The rest of the universe is pretty Hamilton:ish laid out, no surprises here. The characters are not up to par with other books from Hamilton, but I guess when writing a single book instead of the standard trilogy you have to cut some corners. The environments are much better described than the characters living in it.
The combination of genres is good but I think it gets in the way towards the end of the book when it turns into neither. In a typical Hamilton-way the final 10% of the book is again a page-turner á la Commonwealth Saga BUT there is a major weak part in the book where the story is threading water and thus I can't give it a better grade that a 3.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Weak and overlong, 13 Jan 2013
This review is from: Great North Road (Hardcover)
This is, sadly, not a good book. There are the usual Hamilton features - interwoven plot lines, new technology, a new universe, rather cardboard characters. But they are all shadows of his former books. The plots (three main ones: the murder, the St Libra situation, and who one of the characters actually is) are all laboured and grind on to an obvious or an uninteresting conclusion. The technology is basically reheated ideas that everyone who reads SciFi has read before - although that does not stop the unreliable network of traffic sensors being mentioned what seemed like several hundred times.

The universe is, frankly, unbelievable - for example has the future EU decided that energy security is something they're are not interested in at all, for they let the Newcastle gateway not only exist as a single gateway (single point of failure anyone?) but be largely unprotected (there is basically a shanty town surrounding it)? The book (and the denouement of the plots) is chock full of such illogicalities - another random example: a very rich character gets personally financially wiped out by other rich dudes. Seriously? This highly skilled financier had done nothing to stop his entire wealth being wiped out by someone else manipulating the market? Ridiculous. There are a host of others, but most of them reveal rather too much of the plot for a review (although, writing obliquely, a full third of the plot hinges on someone of undoubted abilities not being able to open a car door).

The grand conclusion was fairly tense provided you didn't think about it - as soon as you did it became completely implausible (super nets anyone?).

Other things niggle - logging on to police computers as another officer as a matter of routine: somehow I imagine they'd have solved the problem of identification and authentication of computer systems by then. I could understand and cut some slack if it was an essential plot point but it wasn't; it was just a throw away inanity that was badly thought through. Getting the best deal on exploration kit just before you enter the gateway? Yes, because in the current day airport shops are widely known as being cheap and offering a great selection of products.

And the padding. Oh the padding. Take the Zanth - maybe a hundred pages devoted to this (actually rather neat) alien threat, all of which is entirely irrelevant. It only provides is a back story to a few inconsequential characters who didn't need it.

Overall a book that largely falls to pieces when the ideas and plotting are examined critically, is unnecessarily long, offers unengaging characters, and offers little new to be worth the time investment.
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Great North Road
Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton (Paperback - 11 April 2013)
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