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The best thing I've read in years,
This review is from: The Temporal Void (Void Trilogy) (Audio CD)I am just coming to the end of the entire Void Trilogy, and an epic journey it has been in every sense. In short this trio of books are truly stellar, I can be a harsh critic, and was no fan of the Nights Dawn books (I just didn't buy the core premise), but in these books Hamilton really nailed it. I can confidently predict that if you give it a chance the Void Trilogy will be books that stay with you for years to come, in the best possible sense. They're extremely rewarding, a masterpiece.
The books follow two broad paths. One path is set thousands of years in the future (a millennia and a half after the starflyer wars), and charts the action following the decision of a religious order called Living Dream's decision to enter an incredibly ancient special anomaly called The Void. Living Dream are supported by some exceedingly powerful galaxatic players, and opposed by others who are concerned that such an action could set of a process that would destroy everything.
The second path is very different. It follows the path of a young man growing up in a small village on a world with almost no industrial age technology. His path is beset with many extremely difficult trials, but gradually he starts to perceive and understand the world around him, attempting to shift it to the better purely through an effort of will.
If you've read any of Hamilton's work, you'll know that he does do A plot, he does hundreds, and the these books are no different. There are a multitude of characters each following their own distinct path, and the storyline is anything but a linear progression though a predictable plot line. These books are more of a dog fight in the skies as the many storylines dodge and weave about each other. Some authors use complex plot structures as an end in themselves, but here they're used as part of a fully fleshed characterisation, and it's great to see something like real life following vivid twists and turns as real people each push the action this way and that.
Hamilton has pulled off something really special here. He split the books into medieval fantasy, and far futures Si Fi segments, that slowly start to wend their way into one complete picture. It's fantastic, the two counterpoints work really well, and the Fantasy segments following Edyard could easily stand alone. I think because Edyards path is much more personal, without laser beams and explosions, it gives the galaxy spanning sections of the book much greater poignancy.
This has always been Hamilton's greatest strength. He writes books with hundreds of characters, yet develops them all and gives each space to breath. Admittedly that makes for very long books, but to be frank, when they're as good as this that is not a problem. Everyone raves about Edyard, but he is hardly on his own - I think that Araminta's path deserves special mention for being especially strong, charting as it does a young womans struggle to keep her head above water when the whole galaxy comes crashing down on her. There are many many characters, but by god they have flavour and individual style.
On that note I have to give huge props to the narrator of the audio books. These are by leaps and bounds the best narrations I've ever heard. Longworth acts each role, and does it brilliantly. He gives each character their own accent, really assisting the characterisation, and helping you keep track of a wide and varied cast. I read one of the books and listened to the other two, and the audio experience is vastly superior. I'm generally no fanboi, but if there was an Oscar for audio books, Longworth would romp it.
Now I'll be the first to admit that the books are really long. Also the characters are real people, with all their lusts and flaws, which some readers may not approve off. You can decide if those concerns are important to you. Otherwise, I find these books hard to fault. Simply put they are at once the best fantasy & si fi I've read in years, and I'm massively impressed. I haven't read all of Hamiltions work, but these will be very hard to beat.
So err, yea, buy `em!