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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent sequel to a execellent novel
This is the sequel to "The Reality Dysfunction" and now I've read it I can say its just as good. The story jumps straight into the midst of the action, and grips you by the throat right from the first page. Best of all is the way the author builds on the personality of the characters, making them more real, with their own lives and backgrounds. You can see...
Published on 17 Feb 1999

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An impressive task and challenge, more fill than fun
Investing time in Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy is heart-breaking. I finished Book 1 in fifteen days during a long holiday, but I polished off Book 2 during a month of full-time work--all 30 days of it. While reading the 393,000 words of The Neutronium Alchemist, I could have read six shorter (and better) novels in the same amount of time. At the same time, I'm trying...
Published 4 months ago by M-I-K-E 2theD


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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent sequel to a execellent novel, 17 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This is the sequel to "The Reality Dysfunction" and now I've read it I can say its just as good. The story jumps straight into the midst of the action, and grips you by the throat right from the first page. Best of all is the way the author builds on the personality of the characters, making them more real, with their own lives and backgrounds. You can see each of them develop and change throughout the story, giving it an extra dimension, making you really care about the characters themselves. There are new elements introduced into the storyline as well, none of which I'm going to discuss here - you'll have to find out about these yourself. All I can say is that together they make this book an excellent sequel to the first, adding to the story not "cashing in" on the success of the first as so many sequels do. My advice is Buy it!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tense, believable writing from a consummate author, 26 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Part two of the saga and the tension continues to mount. There is a sense of helpless inevitability as the Possessed continue to breach the gap between the dead and the living. How can any society withstand such an overwhelming attack on the preconception that death is final, let alone deal with a physical assault by the dead?
Peter Hamilton is a consummate writer. His skill lies in his ability to develop and maintain all his characters throughout a constantly twisting and ever more convoluted plot. Having said that, he does not succumb to the temptation of sacrificing the plot to further his characters development, thereby allowing the story to run its course without too many miracles or last minute rescues. On a number of occassions I found myself putting the book down because I did not want to find out what was going to happen - but not for long, I always had to return to the story.
He has also, in my opinion, created a very believable universal order. He has produced societies and technologies that are conceivably the product of our current society. The split between Adamists and Edenists echoes the sentiments of our current growing dilemma with genetics. He also bows to the inevitability of the super-corporation and the probable reality that, ultimately, money will motivate our colonization of the stars. He has kept away from the utopias or lawless free-for-alls of other galaxy-colonizing authors and has written about a culture that has left Earth from a variety of motivations and using different technologies. This diversity makes his universe that much more believable as it mirrors our own historic development.
He also steers clear of blinding the reader with too much futuristic mumbo-jumbo science. Where an explanation is clearly required the description is short and simple, using the minimum of jargon and leaving the reader with a belief that his inventions could be real. This is a useful skill for any science fiction author to develop as it leaves the reader with a sense of superiority accompanied by the thought that, "hey, I understand what he's talking about!".
It is difficult to talk about specifics without giving too much of the plot away, but we get to follow the continuing stories of those who survived The Reality Dysfunction, along with the introduction of some intriguing new characters and some really nasty surprises.
If you devoured the first book, you will have no trouble with the second. My only plea is that Peter Hamilton and his publishers don't leave us in suspense for too long and produce Book 3 as soon as possible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An impressive task and challenge, more fill than fun, 11 April 2014
By 
M-I-K-E 2theD "2theD" (The Big Mango, Thailand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Neutronium Alchemist: The Nights Dawn trilogy: Book Two: 2/3 (Nights Dawn Trilogy 2) (Paperback)
Investing time in Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy is heart-breaking. I finished Book 1 in fifteen days during a long holiday, but I polished off Book 2 during a month of full-time work--all 30 days of it. While reading the 393,000 words of The Neutronium Alchemist, I could have read six shorter (and better) novels in the same amount of time. At the same time, I'm trying to make space on my bookshelves; with these tomes will have been completed, and most likely sold to my favorite second-hand bookstore, they will free up some much needed shelf room... though not enough for the 50 books which are stacked elsewhere. Alas, another book, another review, another slot made available on my to-read shelves.

Talking about numbers here, comparatively, Book 1 (The Reality Dysfunction) has 385,000 words and is 1,094 pages long, which is 46 pages shorter than Book 2. As these books are part of a trilogy, they must be read in order, with a behemoth conclusion in Book 3: The Naked God that tips the scales at 1,332 pages and 469,000 words (!). This is a trilogy with a total of 1,247,000 words--be prepared for the battle: focus, focus, focus and frequently consult the "Cast of Characters" appendix (pages 1139-1144).

Rear cover synopsis:
"The ancient menace has finally escaped from Lalonde, shattering the Confederation's peaceful existence.

On planets and asteroids, individuals battle for survival against the strange and brutal forces unleashed upon the universe. Governments teeter on the brink of anarchy, the Confederation Navy is dangerously overstretched, and a dark messiah prepares to invoke his own version of the Final Night.

In such desperate times, the last thing the galaxy needs is a new and terrifyingly powerful weapon. Yet Dr. Alkad Mzu is determined to retrieve the Alchemist--so she can complete her thirty-year-old vendetta to slay a star. Which means Joshua Calvert must find Dr. Mzu and bring her back before the Alchemist can be reactivated.

But he's not alone in the chase, and there are people on both sides who have their own ideas about how to use the ultimate doomsday device."

------------

The aftermath of the Lalonde possession is a spreading wave of possession through the Confederation by Quinn's cohorts.

A Saldana planet, Ombey, is invaded by a trio of the walking dead, but the swift action of the police force limits the spread of possession to a single town which becomes overrun with the malicious dead-returned. While many of the returned are unscrupulous heathens and sybarites, a handful of them actually have a kind side and take to caring for children, who are not possessed, and taking them back to civilization away from the growing red cloud which hangs over the village. However they channel their powers, the humans are worried... very worried:

"The energistic power which was the inheritance of every possessed was capable of near-miraculous feats as it bent the fabric of reality to a mind's whim. As well as its destructive potential, items could be made solid at the flicker of a thought. It was also capable of reinforcing a body to resist almost any kind of assault as well as enhancing its physical strength. Wounds could be healed at almost the same rate they were inflicted." (181)

The very progressive, technological center of the Confederation is New California, a planet with strong defenses and a strong security force, both of which fall to the man who is possessed by Al Capone. This criminal mastermind of the early 20th century find that, even though 600 years in the future, the basic elements of running a city still run true for taking over an entire planet. For Al Capone, already corrupt, with power comes lust for more power and there's a galaxy of planets just waiting to be possessed!

But Capone is no dummy criminal. He changes the complete economy of New California, ruthlessly punishes those who stand in his way, and probes deeper into the powers which the possessed have. When the bodiless souls in beyond want to enter a body, Capone converses with the all-seeing souls to gather information about activities from around the Confederation; secrets and plans are revealed to Capone, and an enticing bit of information has come to him: a woman named Dr. Mzu has information about the most destruction weapon ever known to mankind--the Alchemist.

When Dr. Mzu's planet was destroyed by the Omuta's thirty years ago, much of her experience was invested in creating the Alchemist. Aside from Mzu, nobody really knows what it does except that it can destroy a star. In the realm of the dead exists souls from every planet, including Earth and Mzu's home planet; logically, there must exist and assistant of Mzu's, someone who can help build a new Alchemist if the original Alchemist cannot be discovered. This is Capone's chance to own the great weapon known to man when he also knows that Mzu has escaped and is attempted to retrieve her deadly device.

Also chasing the hermetic Mzu is Joshua, kind of as a favor to Ione Saldana and partly because his duty of gallivanting across the galaxy always includes these kinds of things. With his capable crew (and with Ione unknowingly stowed as a mechanical serjent), Joshua tracks down Mzu's movements across space and is followed by Confederation Navy spies who also quest for Mzu's capture and, with it, knowledge of what exactly the Alchemist is capable of.

Not to be forgotten, Dexter Quinn still roams open space with a burning vendetta against Earth. Being his primary target, Quinn shoots for Earth but is quickly deterred by his lack of preparation. Instead, Quinn visits a planet with a long history of strife and war--Nyvan, humankind's first attempt at colonizing a world with multiple ethnicities. Due to the fractured nature of the social and governmental landscape, Quinn easily pins all the nationalistic forces against each other. Meanwhile, in the derelict asteroids orbiting the planet, Quinn is planting fusion bombs for a grand spectacle of his vision: Final Night.

Pregnant, frightened, free and rich, Louise Kavanagh, along with her sister Genevieve and the gentlemanly possessed Titreano, head to the Sol system in order to ultimately find a ride to Tranquility. However, their progress is limited by Titrano's interference with electronics on both the starship and at the Mars' transfer facility. Louise considers Earth an impossibility but still thinks Tranquility is the best choice for her recuperation.

Tranquility becomes a hub of activity when it's discovered that Capone is marshalling forces of voidhawks to fight the Confederation. His rate of expansion is impressive, so the Confederation governance takes extraordinary measures to fight the incoming fleet of warships. Their information isn't exact, so precautions are spread across many regions, a fault which may either hamper Capone's progress or seal his victory in one decisive battle. Inside Tranquility, Jay Hilton, a young refugee from Lalonde, innocently plays with the xenoc (Kiint) youth named Haile. Haile builds a remarkable sandcastle, a structure similar to one which was viewed by Ione but one which should never have been seen by Haile or anyone else in the Kiint race.

Questions and eyebrows are raised at Kiint's passive attitude towards the possession of human bodies from the souls of the beyond. They maintain that all intelligent species must face this turn of events with their own fortitude, as each species will have a different solution to their possession. All information is scant about the Kiint's history as is the reality of the beyond. When some of the possessed are captured and interrogated, reassurance is given to one scientist when he learns that time does indeed pass in the beyond, therefore space exists and so, logically, they dead can be beaten with familiar techniques: "It [the Beyond] obviously exists, therefore it must have some physical parameters, a set of governing laws; but they [scientists] cannot detect or define them" (666). However, the captured possessed have their own ideas of justice and they don't play by our rules. When the Confederation take the possessed to court, hell breaks loose all over again.

------------

Rather than focusing exclusively on the physical war between the able-bodied humans and the possessed minds of other humans, The Neutronium Alchemist also highlights the metaphysical battle between the two. For the bodily humans, it's damned if they do join yet damned if they don't join:

"I'm sorry, Ralph, but as I said, you simply cannot threaten me. Have you worked out why yet? Have you worked out the real reason I will win? It is because you will ultimately join me. You are going to die, Ralph. Today. Tomorrow. A year from now. If you're lucky, in fifty years time. It doesn't matter when. It is entropy, it is fate, it is the way the universe works. Death, not love, conquers all in the end. And when you die, you will find yourself in the beyond. That is when you and I will become brother and sister in the same fellowship. United against the living. Coveting the living." (165)

The damned, the supposed eternal souls living in the beyond, still live with the "naked emotions which drive us all" and they "know exactly what we are in our true hearts, and it's not nice, not nice at all" (1079); their intrinsic drive for domination, possession and submission rests in their very nature.

This is an interesting turn on the once uni-faceted possessors who were once only out for two things: bloodlust and domination. It's refreshing, in light of contrast, to see some figures of the possessed control their emotions for the benefit of the children, for the benefit of the innocent. Though not the majority, by far, at least there is a hint of hope in Hamilton's prose that allows for some of the possessed to maintain the humane side of humanity rather than the more pessimistic animalistic side which is more often portrayed.

Originally, in my review of The Reality Dysfunction, I had a difficult time accepting two premises of Hamilton's trilogy: (a) the very nature of dead souls living in the Beyond and (b) the nature of the Edenist affinity link which has a genetic source for its non-interceptable mental transmission (as for the Kiint [1089]). Considering the created universe of The Night's Dawn trilogy is 600 years in the future, you would think that everything which could have ever been observed in the universe, all that which is affected by laws of electromagnetic forces of other forces in the predicted unified theory, would have already been predicted and/or observed. Therefore, the affinity and Beyond are part of the physical universe, in one way or another, and should easily have been predicted, observed or measured.

Yet, there are some not-so-subtle hints about the reality of the beyond: "[T]hey [scientists] sought out the elusive transdimensional interface" (800). There are also vague, unquotable inferences that both phenomena have quantum origins, perhaps non-interceptable because of quantum entanglement (or as Einstein had called it, spooky action as a distance [spooky... possession... get it?]). This theory of mine is merely a self-assurance that Hamilton has everything neatly planned out and won't leave any loose science ends hanging; I'm assuring myself that The Naked God will herald all the answers to all the nagging questions in my mind.

One huge improvement in Book 2 is its typographical consistency. In The Reality Dysfunction, particularly in the second half, there were many abbreviated inconsistencies, changes in font, missing bold face and compound adjectives. I'm happy to report that The Neutronium Alchemist is much better in these regards, but still isn't perfect; granted, you can't exactly expect it to but still I, one reader, can point out at least things:

a) Helium-3 is used as fuel for the ships in the Confederation's fusion reactors. Rather than use the lengthy term "Helium-3", Hamilton understandably uses the accepted He3 abbreviation for the isotope. This would be fine but he also occasionally uses subscript for the "3" as in He3: notably, on pages 1049, 1050 and 1096 (three out of eighteen isn't so consistent).

b) Hamilton's use of the word prone greatly annoys me. Though the definition of the word is commonly used to imply a recumbent, flat resting position, the actual definition of the word prone suggests that the subject in laying "face downward", in contrast to the word supine which means "having the face upward". Hamilton's disuse of supine and his awkward uses of prone are curious:

i. "Black figures were lying prone on the feed roads" (66);

ii. "The sidewalk was littered with prone bodies" (99);

iii. "He gingerly positioned Gerald's buttocks on the side of the bed, then lifted his legs up and around until his charge was lying prone on the cushioning" (106);

iv. "The captain was lying prone on his acceleration couch, unconscious. His fingers were still digging into the cushioning, frozen in a claw-like posture, nails broken by the strength he'd used to maul the fabric. Blood dribbling out of his nose made sticky blotches on his cheeks." (174);

v. "[T]he four crew members lying prone on their bulky acceleration couches" (328);

vi. "Two ceiling-mounted waldo arms had been equipped with sensor arrays, like bundles of fat white gun muzzles, which they were sweeping slowly and silently up and down the prone body" (445);

vii. "They even perceived Dariat and Tatiana lying prone on the escape pod's acceleration couches" (960);

viii. "Alkad Mzu was lying prone on one of the spare acceleration couches" (1104).

For the most part, The Neutronium Alchemist paddles along at a fairly even pace with a predictable lengthy action scene towards the conclusion. Yes, there's a car chase scene but the hitch is it's exacerbated by the coming of a megaton asteroid. Like a 100-car freight train crossing the Midwest (something I have familiarity with), the hulking mass of the plot moves along steadily, surely and with one hell of a momentum; once it gets rolling, it's hard to interrupt or shift. Hamilton should stick to his complicated, interweaving plots rather than dabble in occasional and horribly awkward poetic passages, such as: "He was sure that someone had been watching the incident. A spoor of trepidation hung in the air like the scent of a summer flower" (812).

------------

With a few minor annoyances, a few premises which are unbelievable, a few typographical errors and a rather lengthy stretch of mediocrity (though the length is impressive, the performance is not [wink], wink]), The Neutronium Alchemist, and the entire Night's Dawn trilogy as a whole I assume, is a moderately enjoyable task rather than a continually adventurous excursion. I need a break from the series so, while on another long holiday, I'll be dabbling in some other, hopefully, more profound literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read!, 25 Sep 2013
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I've been away from the SF genre for years. Saw a copy of this book in a Charity shop, so decided to have a read + it was a big thick book (something to get my teeth in to). Then I realised it was available on my Kindle. I've thoroughly enjoyed the first two books and am looking forward to reading the "Sleeping God". Just wish the last 2 books in the trilogy had the Xray facility. It was very useful in the first book as I became familiar with all the characters and galaxy wide locations! Mr Hamilton is an excellent writer.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but a little overlong..., 24 Nov 2003
By 
Simon (Bristol, C&C of Bristol United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
The Nutronium Alchemist follows directly on from The Reality Dysfunction and up’s the pace, introducing more characters and sub-plots that keep you glued to each page.
Joshua Calvert comes into his own, his jolly British witticisms are a breath of fresh air – no more American SF speak here at all - especially when he swears! It sounds like being in my local!
I found this instalment somewhat overlong. The whole story could have worked well at half the length. Though I suppose Hamilton wanted to keep the bulk of the novel in keeping with the blockbuster idea he started with TRD. The was no need for this to be so fat a novel and although well written it went on and on and…
The ideas behind TNA are sound and the science bits are intriguing to say the least. The characters run around and do their thing with zest and inventiveness that keeps the novel afloat, but why so long?
A good bit of editing is needed here…
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a totally brilliant trilogy, 24 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Neutronium Alchemist: The Nights Dawn trilogy: Book Two: 2/3 (Nights Dawn Trilogy 2) (Paperback)
I really enjoy Peter Hamilton's books - and this one was no exception. I love his grasp of science with futuristic applications. I can imagine that he could also write great poetry because along with a rich and engrossing ability to write amazing stories he writes very good descriptive prose. I have everything he has published. No pressure Peter - but when can we expect the next one?
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5.0 out of 5 stars A continuation, 6 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Neutronium Alchemist: The Nights Dawn trilogy: Book Two: 2/3 (Nights Dawn Trilogy 2) (Paperback)
Just like the first book The Neutronium Alchemist is mind-bogglingly vast in the scale of the story and the area it is played out in.
Superbly written and difficult to put down from a reading point-of-view, easy to put down from a weight point-of-view, it lands with a 'thump'.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A solid sequel., 13 May 2014
This review is from: The Neutronium Alchemist: The Nights Dawn trilogy: Book Two: 2/3 (Nights Dawn Trilogy 2) (Paperback)
In the reality Dysfunction, Hamilton took three quarters of the book to really set the scene for his Confederation, even after the possessed emerged, a large part was still simply world building and setting up new characters surprisingly late in the story, but as I have stated in the review, it doesn't feel like a standalone book, more like a really long novel that has been hacked into chunks for the reader's ease (and if you think it is profiteering, just try to read a book that's nearly 4000 pages long, a book which you are guaranteed to cry whilst reading, for you will almost certainly drop it on your foot. Repeatedly). Now that the opening act is out of the way, the story can proceed with gusto. Characters whom we thought weren't relevant suddenly are thrown to the forefront of events as Louise and madeline flee the possessed forces overrunning Norfolk (don't worry folks, this is a planet, not Norfolk England, Or Virginia) with the help of a certain Fletcher Christian, Al Capone returns from the grave and decides to become the first interstellar emperor, Josh Calvert is sent to track down Alkad Mzu after her dramatic escape from Tranquility and stop her vendetta involving the use of a Star-killing bomb, syrinx struggles to overcome the damage the possessed did to her shattered mind, a previously minor character by the name of Ralph tries to stop the Possessed overrunning a heavily populated world, Gerald Skibbow struggles for sanity in a mental Hospital, Thrakar struggles for sanity on a pirate ship, conscientious possessed attempt to save children from themselves, disgraced intelligence agents try to find Mzu, scientists struggle to interrogate a captured possessed, Dariat continues his Vendetta against Rubra.... and more!
If you haven't read the first book, you will have no idea what is going on throughout this one, as the plot picks up seconds after the previous one ends (so a back to back reading is likely required. I took a months gap and was almost lost, thankfully I got the Final entry before I finished this one). Again Hamilton gives us a vast, sweeping view of his universe, although this tie round his writing seems to have improved slightly, as he clumps several plot lines together into chapters, which makes the story feel slightly more cohesive. A few brilliant speeches are also made, and he takes time and effort to explore the consequences of the possession and the confirmation of life after death. He also makes a very clear point of refusing to draw the conflict in simple black and white lines, Having possessed acting in favour of humanity despite the fact that is completely against their interests to do so, and people aiding the possessed, often gleefully. The Possessed and Normals have their own factions working against each other, and there are even a few mysterious, shadowy factions at play. The storyline is even more complex than the first, but it works extremely well, and is a very intelligent and gripping read, that unfortunately needs a notebook to keep track of all the plots.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The plot thickens, 22 Feb 2014
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Went through this book at light speed!

Although the trilogy is quite long it does not feel like a chore due to the engrossing story and likeable characters.

A good mid point for this classic trilogy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars great sequel, 19 Feb 2014
By 
C. Freeman (Dorset , UK) - See all my reviews
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A great sequel, but less SciFi and more fantasy than the first book so far. I love the tech in this series.
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