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on 14 February 2011
I nearly gave up on this book right at the beginning. Although it goes straight into the action, a space battle described in unfamiliar terms is quite tough to get your head around.
A little perseverance though leads to great reward. The multiple storylines are gradually woven together in a epic tale. This is an excellent example of exactly what a good sci-fi novel should be. Strange alien worlds, believable technological and genetic advances, a vast galactic battle of good and evil. The heroes are flawed but delightful, the villains are suitably despicable. There are nods to sci-fi tv and film in some places for the afficionado to uncover and delight in. My only gripe is that for some reason, the second part of the trilogy isn't available as a Kindle download. I've just finished it and now I have to wait until tomorrow (!) for the book to arrive. I'm not sure I can cope :-)
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on 6 March 2011
The nights dawn trilogy is a masterpiece. It combines some of the best science fiction I have ever read with a brilliant character, great space ships and space battles, good sex scenes and a plot that will keep you reading late into the night. Peter F Hamilton is one of the greats, and ranks alongside Issac Asimov, Frank Herbert, and Iain M Banks. In many ways Peter Hamilton manages to combine some of the best traits for all of them, and while I wouldn't give every one of his books five stars, this trilogy is firmly my favorite. If you have already read this one make sure to follow up with the Commonwealth series and Fallen Dragon.

In response to criticisms by those who gave this book 1 star... A well written book or trilogy cannot possibly be too long. This trilogy is long, if you have the attention span of a monkey, then stick to Larry Niven. This trilogy had me completely addicted from start to finish. Yes it took me a while but in truth, that was part of epic nature of the story. Others point to specific details in the plot and characterization. When I read it I didn't really notice any issues. It reads well. Also, there are some who say this book is homophobic. It is NOT. The main evil character is twisted sure, but the way the other male characters respond to his advances gives the feel of a society accepting of homosexuality.

In summary, most critics of this brilliant and ground breaking trilogy haven't bothered to finish it or simply aren't sci-fi readers. If you love science fiction... READ THE NIGHTS DAWN trilogy!!!!
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on 17 October 2008
It's been said before, and it'll be said again - this book takes a LONG time to get going. You will be a good third of a way into it before the scene-setting starts to ease up in place of some action.

Unfortunately, when the action actually gets going, the "science" in "science fiction" is thrown away, and the book becomes "futuristic horror". Or even just plain old "horror, set in the future sometime".

Even so, despite my disappointment at the mis-categorisation of the book, and the plodding beginning, I stuck with it, and a decently strong storyline emerged. As with any book of this type, there are hundreds of characters to try to remember, and inevitably there is a large degree of chopping around to keep up with them all. Hamilton usually leaves us with a vauge sense of "oh, but I wanted to see what happened to them next!", which shows he has talent as a writer.

And then, surprisingly soon considering the size of the tome, you're at the end: And it just stops dead... you will need to buy the second and third parts to get any hint of closure. And there, unfortunately, is where it all unravels.

Building to a crescendo across three huge books (there's well over 1500 pages in the paperback editions, and that's a lot), the third book ends with one of the worst "deus ex machina" (i.e. "magic bullet") endings I've ever seen - ranking right up there with "The wicked witch raised her wand....... but then suddenly and inexplicably turned into a frog, and they all lived happily ever after."

Buy Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained (by the same author) instead - they are far better books.
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on 24 March 2011
No spoilers here, but the plot itself is excellent, and has Hamilton's trademark 'big finish' - I've actually read this trilogy (Nights Dawn, of which this is the first book) a couple of times with a few years gap between and I still find it a great read.

This was actually my first Hamilton book (I've since read almost everything he's written). As other reviewers have said, I almost gave up at the start, the first few pages are a space battle and in my opinion (as someone who reds a LOT of sci-fi)it's very hard to read. BUT STICK WITH IT! The story that unfolds puts those first few pages into context and really every chapter kicks the plot up a notch.

There's some great concepts at play here, Hamilton explores two divergent attitudes of human development and portrays them both believably. He builds a good solid reality for his characters to exist in, and after that difficult first few pages I found it easy to get lost in the story (always the sign of a good book for me). There are some excellent characters, though overall I think his later novels (Pandora's Star/Judas Unchained/Void Trilogy) represent the best character work Hamilton has done, these characters are no less engaging for being a tiny bit less developed. I still think the Nights Dawn trilogy has some of his best Villains (and semi-villains) Hamilton has ever written, and that's where this novel really shines in my opinion, his construction of believable 'bad guys', that aren't just evil for no reason or sadistic for no reason, they all have motivation and purpose and personalities. The overall plot encompasses elements of faith, spirituality, science, religion, belief, technology and of course Hamilton's (seemingly) favourite topic of politics. It's also got really interesting "What If?" qualities that go a bit beyond any single sci-fi story I've otherwise encountered, which those who know the story will understand, but I don't want to go into without spoiling it for others.

There are actually a few plotlines going on here, which is why that first space battle is so difficult, it's actually the very, very, end of a plotline that's only ever vaguely mentioned in the rest of the book, but in Hamilton's way it gets folded back into the main plot at various points in quite a 'butterfly effect'. In strict terms it has nothing to do with the main plot at all, neither does most of the first half of the book, except that it all does and it all weaves back into everything else later on - Have Faith!

If you have read any Hamilton before, you will love this book. If you've not, then think of it like Baxter (but less bleak) mixed with Clarke, (but with better characters) and Niven, (for the scope of ideas and 'human' characters), and Banks (for his scope of political/human social structures and development). I have to say of all the authors I've read over the years, Hamilton is one of the very few that I would unquestioningly buy anything else he publishes, and that was largely built on the strength of this, the first of his books I read.
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on 6 September 2010
I've been recommended this book (and trilogy) several times over the years but never got around to reading it. What always put me off was the size of the book. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a lazy reader, but I always feel pretty cheated getting 300 pages into a book of this size only to discover it goes nowhere.

The Reality Dysfunction however isn't one of these time-thieving tomes. It's a real good page turning space opera tale with a touch of the macabre that trots along at a decent pace.

I'm looking forward to reading The Neutronium Alchemist once I get a couple of other reads out of the way.
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on 19 January 2011
This was a difficult book to rate, largely because it was a difficult book to read. There's a great novel in there somewhere, but it is far longer than necessary, and very poorly paced (every time it 'gets going', it quickly slows right down again). One thing that surprised me is that this is as much a horror book as it is science fiction.

On the good side there's a compelling story which, at times, is as engaging as the very best that science fiction has to offer. There are, however, a number of problems which largely ruin the experience for me.

First is simply the length of the book, with this first volume of the trilogy (less than 1/3 of the whole story) being longer than the entire Lord of the Rings saga. I do enjoy long books, but they have to be long for a reason. Worse, it seems that the trilogy is one enormously long novel simply divided into 3 volumes. There is a very minor conclusion to one part of the story at the end of this volume, but it feels more like the end of a chapter than the end of a book. There are several reasons for the length. One is simply the enormous excess of irrelevant detail. A very minor character, who will never be seen again, will merit half a page just to describe the clothes they are wearing. A room where the characters briefly meet might have a whole page describing the decor. Even in the few fast-paced action sequences, there might be a paragraph to desribe how the light is falling through the trees. Another reason is the sheer number of different people and places the story follows. There are too many characters that are deemed important enough to describe their background, upbringing, day to day life etc. There are many whole chapters that add nothing to the story and could have been simply covered by a few lines in a later chapter. The book could have been 1/2 (or even 1/3) the length without losing anything of relevance, and would have been much better for it. (I've only ever thought a book was considerably too long on 2 or 3 occasions in the past, and never to anywhere near this extent).

Another problem was touched on above - the huge numbers of characters and sub-plots that are given considerable coverage in the book. Each of the 30 chapters involves a change of viewpoint, a change of place and a switch to a different part of the story. Often, there are many such changes within a single chapter. This severely affects pacing, as described below, and can make it difficult to follow. I was glad I was reading the Kindle edition as it allowed me to search for the name of a character that only appeared briefly many hours reading earlier, and that you are expected to remember in detail.

The biggest issue, for me, is the pacing of the book, mostly for the reasons detailed above. Nothing but scene setting occurs for the first third of the book - i.e. the length of a fairly long novel. This does have a benefit - when things start to happen, it is all the more shocking because of the change. If the book had picked up pace from that point onwards, I would have been much happier. Unfortunately, it doesn't. Every time the narrative becomes more compelling and gripping, the chapter ends and things grind to a near-halt again. Almost every time something really interesting happens, the chapter simply ends - often the next chapter will introduce a new minor character and describe their childhood, or their ordinary day to day routine, and the immersion is lost. It's an easy book to put down, as any compelling parts of the story are always short lived, and something mundane will soon arrive.

Unfortunately, due to generally good reviews, I bought the entire trilogy before starting to read this book. Now I am having serious doubts whether I will bother to read the others. I hate leaving a story part way through - I've only done that once or twice before - but as time went on it was becoming a chore to pick up my Kindle to read this, and not something I was looking forward to. The thought of reading what, in paperback terms, is over 2500 pages more, does not sound very appealing.
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on 7 July 2015
It is an excellent book all in all, it does show its age slowly as the science part of the fiction is terribly outdated, but that is the unfortunate fate of almost every science fiction, it is obvious there was a lot of effort on his side to understand and at least make the science claims plausible it is obvious he doesn't really understand the science behind it, I really hate when authors start throwing "hard" scientific words in an attempt to explain the impossible. Science is reasonable, very little discrepancies and he sticks to the fabric of the world he describes.

I am thorn between saying the book is well written and that his writing style is awful. I would actually say both is true, the book has an excellent plot and the background is well set but the actual writing is overlong and uninspired, what I want to say is give the plot and the background to anyone and anyone could write this book, all his books lack in this respect compared to for example Iain Banks. (Still the idea and the background make a huge part of the book and here this book excels.)

I would give it 4.5 stars if I could, it is interesting and while I personally dislike his writing style and a couple of details I have enjoyed the book enough to warrant 5 stars. I would recommend it to people who like SF and Fantasy genres and would advise that people who really can't read a poorly written book to stay away. Also be aware that it will consume a lot of time to go through the trilogy and the ending of the trilogy is a tad bit disappointing...

SPOILER ALERT
For people saying the science goes away half way through I would disagree, it just becomes unusual. For what we know faster than light travel is just as possible as the fact that when we die we move to another quantum world and he does give a "plausible" explanation of how the breach happens (Ly-cilph). It is actually an awesome and quite an unexpected story twist in my opinion.
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on 17 February 2014
Far in the future Humans have spread, living on hundreds of worlds, inside millions of asteroids and even gargantuan, genetically engineered living, sentient bitek habitats. Travelling between them in starships or their living bitek counterparts the voidhawks and blackhawks.

Some people have even adapted themselves, able to interface with these habitats, ships and even each other using the affinity gene, at death they can upload themselves to the habitat creating a general consensus. Here all can interact, have their say and make decisions on every event around them. Some are even bonded directly to the habitats and ships. The Edenists.

Others use technology instead of genetics, Neural Nanonics hard-wired to the brain, creating the abitlity to interface directly with technology around them. The Adamists.

Some have refused all such "tampering" as against their religious orientations, living pastoral lives adhering to the teachings of their Gods.

Peacefully co-existing together....... almost.

When a member of a deviant devil worshipping cult on Earth is sentenced to a colony world to serve time as an indentured worker, He gains control of the other convicts and deceives the colonists, earning him enough freedom in order to practice his dark worship.

For billions of years it and it's kind have travelled the universe, logging all they encounter as, for them, knowing is everything.

A being of pure thought with no mass or size, yet an almost infinite "storage" capacity comes across one of these barbaric rituals, it perceives an unknown energy flow between victim and torturer, in an effort to KNOW what this energy is, it places itself in the flow and all HELL breaks loose!

The dead are somehow set free to possess the living!

The most depraved lunatics human history has to offer, released from a state of perpetual limbo, where all they have is the experience and memories they can tear from each other in the darkness. Now they are back and intend to stay here forever.

Along with them they bring the ability to change their physical form, manifest objects at will, disrupt electronics, shoot elemental fire at will and even distort the very fabric of space to their needs and desires.

Can the diverse human race defeat the dead?
Can they accept that death is not the end of existence?
Is this absence of everything all life has to offer at it's inevitable end?
Afterwards comes darkness and nothing......?
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on 8 March 2013
The reality dysfunction is without a doubt the most well written and thought out story I have ever had the pleasure of reading to date.

The story is set far out into the future when humanity have conquered the stars, and technology and biology are in many ways at one.

The characters throughout are an excellent bunch and are each very different. They all bring their own personality to the the fold. The character developments are some of the best I've had the pleasure of reading so far. My personal favourites from this first book are perhaps Joshua and the Tranquility habitat!

The story is epic and combines a lot of different genres and dynamics in a lot of different ways.
I will not reveal any spoilers but suffice it to say, there are strong elements of SciFi, horror, adventure, drama, comedy, and romance.

Another strong point is regarding the huge worlds and habitats (bitek) the story covers. Hamilton introduces these worlds and arenas in great imaginative details that's very pleasing to the eyes and imagination.

The many great concepts brought about in this book is superb. It gets you so drawn in and appreciative to be flipping the pages rapidly one after another.

I love the bitek, voidhawk, blackhawk, adamist and edernist ideas. There's so much potential there and Hamilton manages to walk a fine line in executing such ideas in a very well balanced manner. You never feel like these ideas are overdone or forced. The whole story flows along very nicely at a tremendous pace.

The book paces along to a very climactic ending, that just leaves you yearning for more.

The book does have a large cast of characters to follow, so its best I found to just make a note here and there of who's who, until you can get comfortable with everyone which can take a little time.
There are also a lot happening throughout the book with different story arcs and different characters, but overall its all written very well and quite easy to follow I found.

If you enjoy epic SciFi adventures then its a simple decision. Read this book!

I would say thay Hamilton is an incredibly talented story teller, and I am full of excitement in anticipation of what the next book in the series (The neutronium alchemist) will bring.
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on 29 December 2010
In Christmas 2009 I was given a book called "100 Must-Read Science Fiction Novels". One of the books listed was Peter F. Hamilton's "The Reality Dysfunction".

Mind you, I didn't buy "The Reality Dysfunction" because of the recommendation in the former book. In fact, I didn't realize "The Reality Dysfunction" was included in the "100 novels" until after I had bought it! I mainly bought the book on a whim, but partly because I also like Jim Burns' artwork, shown on the cover. In fact, the cover illustration has been substantially cropped and altered when you compare it to the original.

I won't say "The Reality Dysfunction" is the best SF novel I've ever read. (Nor is it the longest novel I've ever read. Some years ago I read Stephen King's uncut version of "The Stand", which goes for over 1400 pages.) However, the storyline is intriguing enough to make the reader want to know what will happen next. Like other reviewers, I did get a feeling that there were a few too many characters, and sometimes I had trouble remembering their ages or what they looked like. Fortunately, you can just flick back a few (!) pages and read again if you need reminding.

It took me six weeks to read "The Reality Dysfunction", the first book I've read by Peter F. Hamilton. I suspect I'll probably read the next two books in the series, but probably not for a while. After 1221 pages, it's not unreasonable to want to take a break.
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