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3.6 out of 5 stars86
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 25 June 2007
Firstly let me say that I did enjoy this book, but it really doesn't feel like the finale to such an epic series of events. Most of the book focuses entirely on the characters thoughts and feelings and very little on the continuing war with the inhibitors. Maybe the author after building the virtually unstoppable nature of the inhibitor threat over two previous books so well, the author felt unable or unwilling to put forward a credible description of the actual battle with them and thus relegates this part of the novel to "offscreen action" and infoms the reader only of the end results of these confrontations that would seem son integral to the tension of the storyline. The book finishes without dealing with most of the issues that I thought would form part of the finale and indeed seems to wrap up the entire story almost as an after thought in the space of quite literally one or two paragraphs.

I did like the character and did want to learn more about them, but not at the complete expense of the plot, especially when a lot of the actions of the main characters seem to be quite inexplicable at times and they frequently seem to jump between one mindset and other just to facilitate further twists in turns in their realtionships with one another . Thats why I have to say that while this book is an enjoyable part of the story, I can't see why the author chose to all but abandon the main thrust of the storyline in order to focus on the minutae of the characters lives, and that's why in my opinion a fourth book to deal with the outcome of the story properly would have made this book sit a whole lot better with me.
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on 6 January 2004
This is my first online review, so will be a little ragged. Having read Revelation Space and Redemption Ark some time ago I was looking forward to Absolution Gap with eager anticipation.
Firstly, the aspect of this novel that I really enjoyed was the emphasis on the characters rather than the narrative. I felt like I was getting to know and feel for the characters better than the previous two novels.
The narrative however seems to have come under attack by one of the Inhibitor's weapons and has suffered severe damage. Reynolds has not capitalised on or expanded the story lines from the previous two installments and has introduced many plot elements that add nothing of value.
Deus Ex Machina is invoked far too liberally.
He is also rather inconsistent with his arbitrary adherence to or violation of the known laws of physics.
Having been rather negative so far I will conclude by saying that I still thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to any space opera or hard(ish) SF fan.
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on 6 August 2004
I really looked forward to this book after reading all of the previous books set in the same fiction. I was dissapointed with this one. I felt the characters were even weaker in this book than any previous novel. The characters not always being Reynolds strength at the best of times. His habit of killing off major characters might help shift the plot along but it does mean he has to reintroduce new major players every book.
The massive twist at the end of the book is so much surprising as looking like he struggled to find a good ending in time to make the publishers deadline.
The weaponary and technology are as impressive as ever definitely Reynolds strenght is in describing these and other scientific factors and making them seem plausible no matter how exotic.
Not a bad book, just not one of his best.
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on 22 July 2012
So, we come to the end of Reynold's debut trilogy (or quadrilogy, I guess, if you include the side novel Chasm City), and... I'm not entirely sure how to feel about it. Indeed, I vacillated between three and four stars for quite a while, because as epic conclusions go, this one is... strangely handled.

But first, the good stuff. By this stage in the series, Reynolds is juggling quite a few characters, and there's a whole bunch more introduced in this installment. The 'main' cast, including the brutal, pragmatic pigman Scorpio, the aging Conjoiner Clavain and the living starship that used to be Captain John Brannigan, among others, are still on the watery planet Ararat, where they fetched up with their cargo of refugees last book. However, the arrival of their other allies can only mean that the Inhibitors have finally caught up with them.

Alongside this, and in a style reminiscent of the multiple time periods of the original story (Revelation Space), we also follow the discovery of a mysterious and miraculous planet, and the bizarre church that grows up around it. Longtime readers will know that the two storylines are destined to entwine, and they do in typically cataclysmic fashion.

The author's character writing has improved with every new book, and the development of protagonists like Scorpio and new girl Rashmika is brilliantly done. There are plenty of hard moral choices to make, and both plotlines kept me turning the pages.

However, if you are thinking that it doesn't sound like much room has been left for the main Inhibitor storyline... well, you'd be right. As a standalone segment of the universe Reynolds has built up, Absolution Gap is great. But as the last act of a star-spanning saga about civilisation-killing machines? Not so much.

While the Inhibitors are present throughout the book, as vague antagonists, the resolution of their tale and whether humanity can survive is left mainly to an offscreen development, mentioned briefly in a short epilogue. It's certainly an odd writing move, and one that I feel falls somewhat flat.

So the score above was won mainly on the strength of the book's main plotline alone, because it works somewhat, and well, as a standalone science fiction tale. Those who have been anticipating a magnificent conclusion to the Inhibitor War, however, be warned that you will find no such here.
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VINE VOICEon 6 September 2007
Having read Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days (which I loved), this, the second Alaistair Reynolds novel I've read, proved a major disappointment. The main problem with the novel is that at least 50% of it's length is taken up by highly detailed descriptions of the workings of a fairly uninspired religion founded by a madman - gripping reading it ain't. The revelations at the end of the novel are it's saving grace, but large chunks of the text could have been edited out without affecting the plot one iota - in fact i'd go so far as saying that this novel has probably put me off reading any of his novels ever again. Reynolds and Peter F Hamilton appear to be vying with one another to write ever longer novels - don't either of them have editors?
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on 18 January 2005
Opinion seems to be divided on this book and I can see why (minor spoilers)
What I liked
The characters are fantastic, especially if you have read the two previous books and are aware of their backgrounds. What other book features a morally questionable hybrid human-pig lead character ??
The descriptions of the technologies used are superb. They are all extrapolated (to the extreme) from common themes in modern-day theoretical physics and science (nano-bots, quantum mechanics, string theory, etc) which somehow makes them more believable. He has obviously spent time thinking how technology could evolve and the impact that it would have on the human race.
The storyline is inventive and never predictable. Right up to the final page, you do not know how it is going to turn out.
What I disliked
In places, the book was unnecessarily long and wordy. I sometimes skipped 2/3 pages without missing anything of relevance to the central story-arc.
I found that occasionally the focus was not where I would have liked it. For example, an epic space-battle is waged with only passing comment to how it is unfolding, the book instead focusing on evacuation of a nearby planet.
Without spoiling it for anyone, I can see how it could be argued that the ending devalues the rest of the book. I believe, however, that the author is simply trying to make a point.
IMO, the depth of the characters, descriptions of the advanced technologies, and generally just the scale of the storyline make the Revelation Space trilogy a very worthwhile read.
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on 10 January 2004
Was Reynolds rushing to finish this in time for the holiday shopping season? Completing this book brought back memories of my rush in grad school to conclude a thesis that I was losing interest in and time to complete. If I had blinked quickly I may have missed the Nestbuilders that seemed to be thrown in as a last-minute solution to what could have been a grand trilogy. I would have liked the satisfaction of actually seeing the inhibitors thrashed and ripped out of space (vice reading a synopsis in the epilogue) and of reading a plausible development of the mysterious Nestbuilders/galactic saviors. I knew I was in trouble when I held the last few pages in my fingers and felt cheated at the end to have invested so much time and, afterwards, handed a muddled unsatisfying ending. Too bad the heroes of the story failed to save the ending for the readers. I think we are all being too nice in our reviews because each of us enjoyed the previous books too much to trash the final chapter.
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on 29 July 2012
My brief review: I found the first book slow for the first 3rd but it kind of sets the scene. After that it simply isn't possible to put the book down anymore. The 2nd novel continuous the story line in a very compelling way making you never wanting to stop reading on. The 3rd novel however, Absolution Gap, I found very disappointing though. It never really "grabbed me". Especially the entire story of the religious nutters on Hela was tough to get through. The only thing that kept me reading on was the hope of a very exciting ending. Instead you get a few pages of "this is what happened". Reynolds is a great story teller with a lot of attention to detail and plot twists, spinning a story that makes you believe it was real or even that you were there. Not so for Absolution Gap. It seems Reynolds ran out of ideas to writer a proper conclusion: Total waste of time. After having invested many hours reading the 3 novel series, I felt cheated when I came to the end of the last book. Peter F Hamilton has nothing to fear from Reynolds.
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on 15 January 2004
I like many other reviewers looked forward to the latest of the stories set in Revelation Space.
Without, hopefully, spoiling it for others I will say if you are looking for something in the mould of Chasm City you are going to be less disappointed than if you were looking for the final chapter of Revelation Space/Redemption Ark.
The key characters in the latter books hardly get a mention. On the plus side the central story is unwound in a similar manner to the second book and these sections are as enjoyable as his other work.
Its a shame the Inhibitors are dealt with in such an off-hand manner in this book; almost as if references to them and some of the other related characters were grafted onto the central story which could have been written without reference to characters we already had met. I think perhaps the book would have been better if it hadn't tried to tie the loose ends up in such an offhand way but had just stood alone.
I can only assume that either
(a) Alastair was getting fed up with the universe he created and wanted to get an already contracted book out of the way so he could move on
(b) Publishers don't apply the strict rules to sucessful authors that they do to new ones (look at the page glut of later Asimov works vs early ones ;-) and in their rush to get our money they relax some standards.
Either way... I wish this had been two books of the same high standard as the previous ones. I did enjoy it but unlike other readers I won't be pre-ordering his next book and will probably wait for the paperback.
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on 3 January 2004
This book fails to pull together adequately the many fascinating ideas introduced in the first two books. It is almost as if the author is suddenly out of his depth. The encounter with the jugglers that formed such a gripping end to the second book is not developed, the outcome of the war with the inhibitors is dismissed in the last chapter and the main story line crumbles right at the end as a character (Scorpio) makes a completley inconvincing decision. Even finding out who built the bridge comes across as the author making up an answer too quickly. Better to have left it a mystery.
I am a huge fan of all the books in this series but I believe that Absolution Gap provides a bitterly disappointing end to an otherwise outstanding series.
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