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on 13 April 2017
I can't recommend this series enough.

I'm a Sci-fi nut and read extensively and this is definitely up there with Iain M Banks, Alan Dean Foster and William Gibson.

I was especially impressed with the female characters as the series progressed. In a lot of science fiction women are just window dressing and come across as very two-dimentional. Donaldson develops all of his characters well and even if you don't agree with them you can see why the behave the way they do - and this is something I find paramount to the enjoyment of a story.

The 'science' side of it is also very well considered and thought out - and most importantly, it's still accessible and understandable to a layman.

Top marks!
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on 11 April 2015
I could only bear to read a third of this book. It was absolutely boring. The story drags, oh god does it drag. To much time is spent on individual characters dwelling on mundane facts which become annoying. The first two books were ok, barely. This third book hammered the final nail in the coffin in which I shall bury this series. As an avid sci fi reader of many decades, of the three series I have not finished this is the worst by a big margin.
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on 11 September 2014
Bought as a gift so unable to comment.
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on 8 March 2001
The third and fifth books of this series are the ones everyone remembers, but I greatly preferred this to 'A Dark and Hungry God Arises' (partly because I could never figure out what the title referred to, unless it's a reference to 'the Dragon'). More character development and a better chance to look around the universe that Donaldson has created. I also liked the introduction to 'Punisher' and her crew, who are possibly the only straightfoward human beings in the book- like all cops everywhere, just trying to do an impossible job in the face of chaos, manipulation and incomprehensible orders from Higher Up. Donaldson gives his struggle more of a human face in this book, shifting his focus from Morn, Angus and Nick towards the ordinary human beings stuck in the middle. Vector Shaheed is a really interesting character in this respect, since he actually volunteers of his own free will to do the right thing, unlike most of the other characters (although I think it was just a wee too bit too handy that he turned out to be the only person who could crack the magic drug's formula- what are the chances of that?). This book is really a bit of a 'calm before the storm' installment in the series, but I think it's a great read, especially since there's less violence in it.
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on 21 October 1998
It is seldom that one sees Sci-Fi with as much attention to detail as the Gap cycle. More to the point, it is not often that one sees Sci-Fi, with the possible exception of writers like Larry Niven or Arthur C. Clarke, which so seamlessly integrates hard science and psychology with real people in real situations. By real, I mean that the characters are driven to, and beyond, the limits of their ability to cope, and not only do they come out shining, but they come out reacting exactly like their background and upbringing would have them react. Donaldson's grasp of the human psyche and his ability to cut away the technology and 'Civilization' we so commonly talk up to reveal the underlying nature of humanity is colossal. He paints us, and realistically, as a cut-throat, dog-eat-dog species in a person to person struggle for survival. Which, in my experience, is exactly what we are.
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on 26 June 1998
Donaldson has returned to the splendid level of maturity and complexity he established as his own in the first Thomas Covenant series. In fact he exceeded all of my expectations. (I had doubts after his "looking glass" stuff and was skeptical of his ability to handle "hard science" science fiction.) But Donaldson pulls it all off with a deftness and sensitivity that only our best writers can achieve. His plotlines are intiricately weaved in this tale and (as I state in my teaser above) just when you think things couldn't get any worse for the human race in general and these characters in particular, Donaldson gives the screw another twist.
His characters aren't just flawed. They are real. Good people do evil, evil people do good; for good and bad reasons alike.
This story still sticks with me (I finished reading it when it was first released), and I consider it his some of his finest (and perhaps *greatest*) work.
His fearless use of mature and complex themes and language distinguish this series from the thousands of !hacks! currently working in this field.
Thank you Mr. Donaldson.
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on 19 October 2009
Donaldson takes the training wheels off the series with this book and all hell is unleashed. And if you're confused by Amazon's title, yes this is the third book in a series of five.

The series as a whole is very dark and if you like your science fiction fun and airy then this is not the place to look. The other reviews highlight the complexities of the book and in many ways it leaves more questions than answers. But it is beautifully written and sets up the next two books perfectly.

And I'd agree about the level of science content - having excerpts about things like the discovery of the GAP drive really add to the series and show just how well thought out the whole thing is.

I think that these books are the best thing that Donaldson has written (this from a Thomas Covenant fan). Do yourself a favour and immerse yourself in them.
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on 5 July 1998
The Gap Series, opened with a weak volly across the bow, blows into the most powerful, dramatic, and tense series of the century. I firmly believe that Mr. Donaldson's series rivals Frank Herbert's Dune. It's remarkable that SRD is not only able to maintain the tension over 5 novels--but increase it to a fever pitch. Fair warning to the squeamish: These novels contain graphic violence and sex. None of it, however, is gratuitous. Every terrible thing that happens to the characters has a profound impact on the outcome of the story. Fair warning to the uninitiated SRD reader: Take along a pencil and some paper in order to keep the characters and ships organized. Based on Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle (the Operas), SRD has created a brilliant series. READ IT!
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on 6 July 2002
Having read all of Donaldson's books over the years, 'Chaos and Order : The Gap into Madness' is by far the most compelling of reads from his vast, gargantuan of tales. His attention to detail and drawing the reader in to the main characters world is of a scale that few can and have mastered.
Those people that are looking to get their teeth into an in-depth story line should certainly consider this series as well as the 'Thomas Covenant, White Gold Wielder' books.
If you are wanting to escape for a while, then these are the titles for you!
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on 16 January 2015
This is a great series. You can’t really predict what’s going to happen next therefore can’t wait to read the next one, pretty much non-stop intrigue and action.

The only criticism I would have (and some others have picked up on the same thing) is that many of the characters are constantly at the end of their tether, too exhausted and too injured to go on – but always do. That gets tedious after a while, but the rest of the story makes up for that small gripe.

Would definitely recommend.
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