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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bloody good read but...
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...
Published on 7 Aug. 2007 by Ed.F

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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very boring book
"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...
Published on 3 Mar. 2008 by A. Rytov


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bloody good read but..., 7 Aug. 2007
By 
Ed.F "edz314" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hilldiggers (Novel of the Polity) (Hardcover)
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
3.0 out of 5 stars A very boring book, 3 Mar. 2008
By 
A. Rytov (Cyprus) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hilldiggers (Novel of the Polity) (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
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent premise tapers off in last half, 11 Oct. 2011
By 
2theD "2theD" (The Big Mango, Thailand) - See all my reviews
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of Polity Politics and Background..., 23 Jan. 2011
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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.
The themes raised in this book will be familiar to Asher fans - an examination of posthumanity; social breakdown and the pressures that cause it; and whether the pragmatic sacrifice of a few for the benefit of many, although desirable for strong governance, is really a good thing.

Once the pace picks up, the book cracks along with plenty of action, while bulging with all sorts of ingenious gismos we have come to expect from Asher and is a thoroughly entertaining read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A bit gutted, 7 Jun. 2010
By 
Mr. G. Finch "Graeme G R Finch" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
As with many others I've a fan and have all Mr Ashers books. I was expecting Csorian or Atheter object. I was expecting an expansion of the long running interconnectivity of all the books, be it Brass Man, Skinner or whatever, those tenuous links that expand upon the ancient races.

Instead I got Harald, who really did come across as a pantomime villain, like a B movie baddy. It started very well, I was hooked for 240 odd pages, but then it just rolled down hill with an interminable description (it seemed to me) of the aforementioned Harald positioning his ship in orbit to blow other ships out of space.

I know there was more to it, but it just wasn't enough, it lost it's direction and ended up just being a the book I read to stop me looking at the flight progress screen on the way back from Cyprus. And if I'm brutally honest, the effects of the Spatterjay virus in Orbus (unless it gets explained elsewhere) seem inconsistent with McGroogers secondary infection.

On the upside you could read to about page 240ish and be absolutely riveted. Everyone is allowed one stinker, for Stephen King it was the Cell, and for Mr Asher it is Hilldiggers.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Is there an editor in the house?, 28 Mar. 2010
It's odd, when you consider all the people who get thanked in Asher's books, that he has no-one to tell him how to actually write. To be fair, Asher has a natural grasp of plot and construction, describes action well, and, curiously, creates convincing machine characters. But his humans vary wildly in their credibility (here they are very hard to take seriously) and his dialogue is the product of someone with a tin ear. (Try saying it out loud, and wince). There are actually some very good things in this book, and a laudable willingness to try new ideas, but let down by cardboard characters and clunky dialogue. Nurse, the blue pencil, please!
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1.0 out of 5 stars Did Neal Asher really write this ????, 9 Nov. 2008
By 
Edd (Scotland) - See all my reviews
I am a big fan of Neal Asher and have read all his books but this one is his worst by a long way. His books are normally fast moving with strong characters and a story that keeps you pulled in. I have re-read his books many times - especially the "Skinner" ones - but Hilldiggers was a real effort to finish and was dull and predictable . If you have never read a Neal Asher book then please don't start here or it may turn you off and you will miss one of the best writers of today.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent book from Neal Asher, 25 April 2015
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Hilldiggers is an efficient sci-fi thriller set in the polity universe. This usually means big mean aliens, cool supertech and superpowers.
In this case we are looking at a long lost human ship and the civilizations it developed on new worlds. So there is a strong emphasis on political systems, which, I find, is rather unusual for Neal Asher.
All in all a good, efficient book set in a beloved literary universe, if you like his usual work you won't be disappointed!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Addicted to this author, 29 Sept. 2014
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Since discovering this author via a friend's recommendation I have become addicted. I started with the Agent Cormac series book Gridlinked, but then found that the third book in the Polity series is also the first book in the Agent Cormac series so put Cormac on hold and went back to the beginning. I often seem to get so hooked into these books that I forget to go to sleep until the wee small hours - always the sign of a good story!
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-read, 21 July 2007
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This review is from: Hilldiggers (Novel of the Polity) (Hardcover)
There are some authors who go on my must read list in the category "get the hardback the moment that comes out". In the sci-fi genre Neal Asher is such an author. His latest is perhaps his best. It's a real page turner, but the story is only a part of the pleasure of reading it - like all his books it is well written and also crackles with ideas and paints a bold, dramatic, detailed and engaging vision of the future that also offers additional details aplenty along the way. His universe is a tough place and pulls no punches, in this tale, which takes place in the aftermath of an interplanetary war, three groups of future-evolved humans engage in a struggle that is more than it seems.

If you have never read Neal Asher before, start now (perhaps with his first book "Gridlinked")- if you are already a fan, then rest assured he is growing in stature and becoming even more of a must-read as he goes on. More anon, I hope.
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Hilldiggers (Novel of the Polity)
Hilldiggers (Novel of the Polity) by Neal Asher (Hardcover - 6 July 2007)
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