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4.2 out of 5 stars
Redemption Ark (Revelation Space)
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Redemption Ark is billed as a galaxy spanning hard sci-fi story but the motivations of the lead characters are very human - a love story that has lasted 400 years, a young woman who risks being a casualty of a nasty war just to bury her father in the heart of a sun and a lead character that decides to override hundreds of years of loyalty to a race of humans with a Borg like ability to share thoughts in order to retrieve ultimate weapons that might just save the human species.. If you couple that with a race called the Inhibitors that seem to regard humans who want to explore space as a menace to be surpressed then you have a book that works on both a sci-fi purists level and a personal level. I read the 500 plus pages in 3 days finsihing off at 1 a.m. and was only disappointed that it had finished - although I have to say there are at least three plot lines that could be continued.
An excellent read - one point, if you have read Revalation Space it will make this easier to read but its not essential
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 8 August 2002
In "Redemption Ark" Alastair Reynolds continues his story of the impending threat to human space faring society we learn about in "Revelation Space". As the other reviewers have pointed out, this book is clearly meant to be part of a series, although I don't think it is crucial to the understanding and enjoyment of the story to have read the prequels (or in fact prequel, since "Chasm City" is more of an independent story, set in the same fictional universe). It is however obviously meant to be a stepping stone leading up to the final decisive struggle against the Inhibitors, of which we should be able to read about in early 2004 or hopefully late next year. By then you will have had plenty of time to catch up on the preceding events should you wish to, which I very much recommend since they are all hugely enjoyable and interesting. Reynolds is an astrophysicist working for the ESA in the Netherlands, and his intimate knowledge of the subject shows in his work. It's this understanding of space and possible future technologies that distinguishes him from many of his contemporaries and adds the plausible scientific backdrop to his action packed stories, giving them that sense of reality that makes them so fantastic. For anyone who's interested in Hard SF (science fiction grounded on science fact), or would like to make an excursion into this branch of SF, you can't go wrong with Alastair Reynolds, although you might as well begin with "Revelation Space" and then work your way through, or you might not forgive him the long wait to see what happens next...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2002
Rather a continuation to the critically acclaimed "Revelation Space" than his second outing "Chasm City", Alastair Reynolds has successfully developed his own SF world with all the twists and turns (and more) of his original masterpiece. We learn more about the mysterious Inhibitors and of their motivations for the automated genocides, which leads to some unexpected dilemmas for some of the main characters.
The characterization is extremely well contrived and believable, adding very much to the richness of the novel. It also adds to the fun when a long lost character makes an unexpected re-appearance... Volyova's conversations with weapon 17 and the tensions surrounding the (bizarre) Captain Brannigan are brilliant.
...It is the clever working of sub-plots that lead to an unpredictable story, and as for the fact that it appears to be set up for a sequel - so what? Great I say. I can't wait to read the next installment. Get it now you will not be sorry.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
This book is sooooo frustrating, for a start its better than both Revelation Space and Chasm City, both characterisation and plotting are stronger. Half the characters will be familiar from Revelation Space, with a couple of cameos from Chasm city for good measure. The new characters are his best yet with real depth and complexity - especially Clavain and Skade. The hard science part is excellent with some intriuging concepts. The wolves/inhibitors are excellent as implacable enemies, and the conjoiners add a nice human touch.
The first 400 pages are amongst the best SF I have read, unfortunately its thrown away in the last 150 pages or so, as the author sets things up for a sequel. What should have been the climax is thrown away in a couple of lines and instead we get an epilogue who's sole purpose is to prepare us for said sequel.
This is the authors best work yet but...its crying out for a decent editor. Infact in places it looks like whole subplots were edited out (for reasons of space?) - the lighthugger theft for instance...
I dont wan't to be too negative, this is one of the best SF novels I have read this year, but unfortunately it just falls at the last hurdle and what should have been a great book, becomes just very good.
Hopefully the sequel will be the book this one could have been as the Author improves with every book he writes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2009
I'll second other reviewers' comments that this is a good book that could have been great but for weird editing decisions in some places and an apparent lack of editing in others.

Others have noted the build-up on several occasions to what appear to be climactic set-pieces ... which are then inexplicably skipped over with a perfunctory "Once the battle had passed ..." or "Once the ship was captured ...". These sections feel like they were carved out at the last minute just to make space, which is all the more galling when there are other sections (e.g. the extended "chase" section at the end of the book; Reynold's characteristic in-depth recountings of his characters' internal dialogues) ripe for paring down. (I can only presume it would have cost Gollancz much less in editors' costs to simply excise the aforementioned set pieces than to judiciously truncate the musings of Reynold's characters.)

A note on prior reading: this is obviously a sequel to Revelation Space and it should be considered a prerequisite before ploughing into Redemption Ark. I had not read Chasm City prior to Redemption Ark but did not find this limited my understanding of what was going on (the characters' previous adventures there appear to be fleshed-out enough). I would stress however, that the reader's understanding of the not-unimportant character of Felka will be greatly improved by reading the story "Great Wall of Mars" in the Galactic North collection. Redemption Ark sketches Felka's back story but I'm not sure enough insight is given into her unique state of mind and her relationship to Clavain and Galiana.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 November 2006
Right, this is 70 odd years after the first book, and the machines are coming back again. Only three characters from the previous book are an integral part of the story, with the writer focusing the main plot on the Conjoiners, an important piece of the whole puzzle that is the Inhibitor saga.

As usual, mr. Reynolds' universe is vast, complex, and rich, with a good measure of forethought in the numerous races and cultures that populate this side of the Galaxy. We get answers to some fo the questions posed in the previous book, and enough questions to keep on to the next instalment.

The only downside was the ending, after building the story to a crescendo for 95% of the book, the end felt not rushed, but cut. Maybe during the writing and editing process someone noted how long the story was becoming and decided to cut the climax, we get treated to an "afterwards" as the characters explain what happened in the battle against the Inhibitors... it deflates the story as a whole, and even the ambitious and lifting end doesn't make up for the lack of several scenes or chapters.

All in all, a good sequel and a must for anyone interested in the universe created by Mr. Reynolds.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 26 January 2005
First off, despite any explanatory cover blurb, please be aware that Redemption Ark is Alistair Reynolds 3rd novel, and your enjoyment of it will depend largely on having read his previous 2 novels, as this is a direct sequel to Revelation Space, while also building on some characters introduced in Chasm City. Personally I found that Revelation Space was a very encouraging debut, and dismissed the rough edges as merely a new author getting to grips with his craft, yet Chasm City - despite some good material - seemed to be a massive step backwards in quality, with Reynolds writing appearing rather ham fisted at times.
Reynolds strengths have always been in the big science fiction concepts, but what has previously let him down has been poor pacing and structure, with Chasm City being particularly guilty of employing glaring deus ex machina and having character's entirely lacking in logical motivation. The good news is that Redemption Ark is a return to form after the sloppy Chasm City, though the novel is still far from flawless.
Pacing is still a problem for Reynolds - Redemption Ark on the one hand feels too bloated at 650 pages, with the fairly slight background story of the Inhibitors being repeated over and over again, yet at the same time crucial moments in the story are glossed over. Two big set pieces come to mind especially, first the highjacking of a Lighthugger ship - supposedly something so outrageous no-one has ever attempted it before; Reynolds takes time to build up the situation and the assault crew to take over the ship - then simply cuts right past the action scene to show the ship having been captured without actually showing us how. Worse is the gutted climax, as after an interstellar chase sequence lasting at least one hundred pages Reynolds again cuts out the final confrontation between the forces of the defecting Clavain and his Conjoiner pursuers, instead opting to gloss over the events by jumping forward in time and offering a brief flashback synopsis. The impression given is that Reynolds got carried away overwriting this novel, then realised he was up against a deadline (or a word count) and frantically hacked away chunks of the text - unfortunately the excised material sounds more interesting than some of what is left.
On the positive side Redemption Ark sees some of the best characterisation yet from Reynolds, with - for the most part - characters acting logically and with clear objectives and motivations. Unfortunately there is one character that doesn't quite convince in this area, and that's Clavain himself - the novel depends on a lot of it's action due to Clavain's defection from the hive-mind Conjoiners and his quest to capture the hell-class weapons of Volyova, but in both cases Clavain overreacts to an alarming degree. His defection that kicks the novel off seemingly comes out of nowhere, and is accompanied by a surprising amount of violence towards his erstwhile friends, while his determination to capture the hell-class weapons is slightly confusing - both he and Volyova want to use the weapons to destroy the humanity-culling Inhibitor machines, but rather than offering his assistance in a peaceful manner he comes in all guns blazing. Without Clavain's actions there wouldn't be much of a novel here, but he doesn't always convince.
The only other real problem with Redemption Ark is the traditional one shared by middle books of trilogies - the set-up has already occurred, and nothing is resolved at the novels end: if you want the climax you'll have to read Absolution Gap as well. Despite it's construction flaws Chasm City did at least offer some new locations and environments compared to Revelation Space - by contrast Redemption Ark contents itself to play with the established characters and setting, so Reynolds is unable to generate any 'sense of wonder' here.
Still, while these annoying little flaws stop Reynolds from being as good an author as he continually promises to be, Redemption Ark is a generally enjoyable hard-sf space opera, and a distinct improvement on Chasm City. To put it simply, if you enjoyed Revelation Space and wanted to find out what happened to the characters next, Redemption Ark will be for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2013
I absolutely loved the 5 star Revelation Space, so I found this follow up a touch dissappointing. It's not that it isn't very good, it is, it is just that some of the wonder of the first book has been lost. In the first book we were thrown in at the deep end with all the competing sects and complex technology of the 25th century. We also understood very little of the threat of the Inhibitors and why they do what they do. In this book much of this is explained and unfortunately it falls a little bit flat. I guess it is just very, very hard for an author to deliver on an incredible premise. This book was still a gripping read however, and it has done enough to keep me reading the series.
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on 1 December 2014
I’ve read half a dozen Alastair Reynolds novels and became quite a fan of his. Chasm City and House of Suns stand out as his most remarkable achievements for me. After the masterpiece that was Chasm City, Redemption Ark is the third book in the Revelation Space trilogy.

To me Redemption Ark was a huge let down. The idea of the book is certainly worth exploring; that of a race of Inhibitor machines that periodically wipe out sentient life once it has grown beyond markers. Some of the characters were familiar faces from Revelation Space, while the new characters were Conjoiners, who are a faction that has their minds linked via neural implants. We are introduced to Clavain, who is a renowned military commander who continues to subtly defy his superior Skade; whose secretive and dark motives are a cause of friction.

The principle of an impending catastrophe was used as the basis for moving forward; the attempt of the Inhibitor machines to wipe out all life. I felt that this crisis and how it affected the characters was not made clear through cataclysmic or life-altering events. The characters’ relevance to the story was through complex inter-connecting occurrences, which I usually like about the author’s novels, but the relationships seemed removed from the main plot of the story to me. The sub-plots regarding powerful weaponry, defection, and the background of a war; didn’t reach out to me.

I will likely be reading Absolution Gap next, but maybe not for a while because I was disappointed with this.
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The middle part of a trilogy is often the hardest to write; you have the expectations and plotlines raised by the first book, while still having to set everything in place for the last act. Happily, I feel that Reynolds largely succeeded here.

In terms of timeline, Redemption Ark picks up not too long after Revelation Space finished, although straight away Reynolds throws a whole bunch of new characters at the reader. Luckily, they are all fascinating creations, from the hyper-evolved Conjoiners represented by the ruthless Skade and the repentant Clavain, to the young pilot Antoinette Bax and the brutal pig criminal Scorpio.

By the time we are actually reaquainted with the survivors from the first novel, Reynolds has embarked on several new plot strands, although all twine together into the over-arcing Inhibitors plot. For you see, the enemies of all advanced life have finally arrived, and a desperate race for the weapons capable of stopping them begins.

Reynolds maintains his knack for breaking up traditional space opera sequences with diversions into scientific theory or transhuman speculation, all without losing the tension he so masterfully builds up. If he has a flaw, it is that sometimes the human motivations, hopes and fears of his characters get somewhat lost amongst all the Big Ideas.

The novel leaves the story somewhat unresolved, in preparation for the final act of the trilogy; certainly there are more loose ends and unresolved plots than at the end of Revelation Space. Despite that, however, the journey to that point is both exciting and enjoyable, so I don't mind being herded towards the big climax. Here's hoping it maintains the high quality of the first two installments.
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