- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Tor; First Edition edition (6 July 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1405055006
- ISBN-13: 978-1405055000
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 4 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 44 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 610,635 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Hilldiggers (Novel of the Polity) Hardcover – Unabridged, 6 Jul 2007
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Asher has an axe to grind, but what a shiny, well-honed and beautifully weighted axe it is... He's on top of his game with this one and his confidence entwines a fibrous thread throughout the plot. Multiple narratives occurring in different timeframes, shifts between first-and third-person perspectives, a detailed and convincing description of planetary ecosystems...In lesser hands, a rambling wayward text could well result. What we have instead is a wonderfully rich and complex tale that happily flips between giving the mind something weighty to mull over and pleasing its baser, thrill-seeking desires... Asher's skill is making it all seem wild, wonderful, politically provoking and fresh. --.
The world of the AI-run Polity civilisation has been building to a ferocious level of complexity over Asher's past seven books, but Hilldiggers is an ideal jumping-on point, being relatively sefl-containted, packed full of intrugue, and - most importantly - one of his most ambitious and gripping novels yet...Hilldiggers is both inventive and expertly paced, navigating an incredibly complex story without losing any of the clarity or momentum...if there's a more enjoyable and provocative sci-fi action saga this year, we'll be seriously surprised. --.
One of his most enjoyable novels yet --Starburst
A massive SF drama from one of Britain’s most popular new talentsSee all Product description
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The book's synopsis sounds a little corny as `four exceptionally talented orphans' have been born through mysterious circumstances surrounding four `cosmic superstrings.' This initial cheesiness had me suppressing a gag reflex commonly experienced which reading synopses of self-published authors. While the ultimate motive for the conception is discussed, I found it a weak link in the plot chain.
The second half sees bad start when the protagonist Old Captain McCrooger begins to lose the Spatterjay virus and hence become weak, fragile. The weakening of the strong main character is a little demoralizing for the reader, as any Asher reader knows that the Old Captains are quirky, strong and a highlight in the Spatterjay series. The humanization of McCrooger is drawn out as he is injured over and over again without much direction.
Additionally, the predictable yet difficult to visualize space battle eventually takes place but doesn't seem as prominent as other battles in Asher's novels. The general plot direction is really predictable and no surprises were had except for a minor smile-worthy disclosure in the last two pages.
Hilldiggers is a good addition is the Polity universe with strong links with the Polity sub-plots but really tapers off in the last half to leave the reading unsatisfactory.
I love his "Skinner" and still re-read it every now and then; the "Voyage..." is almost just as good. His Cormac books are also finely written. This one, I could barely finish it. The plot is predictable, all characters are flat and the writing style is extremely boring: page after page of monotonous narrative, irrelevant details and dry dialogs. No sense of humor whatsoever, and in fact very little emotions at all.
Despite his obsession with details, Asher doesn't bother to be consistent with his prior Spatterjay books (one example: in both the "Skinner" and the "Voyage..." hoopers occasionally get dunked into the deadly Spatterjay sea and, while being eaten alive by various creatures, they do keep afloat like any normal human would. In "Hilldiggers", the Hooper character McCrooger is for some reason much denser than normal people and would instantly sink to the bottom). Not to mention the idea of sending the Hooper, twice-infected by conflicting viruses, to make first contact with a paranoid and warlike civilization... Not to mention the silly "tiger-on-the-ball" Tigger drone... Or the four obviously suspicious "worm children" so easily allowed to raise to the top of the society...
If you like Asher and don't want to be disappointed, stick to his earlier Spatterjay books and avoid this one.
Instead I got Harald, who really did come across as a pantomime villain, like a B movie baddy. It started very well, I was hooked for 240 odd pages, but then it just rolled down hill with an interminable description (it seemed to me) of the aforementioned Harald positioning his ship in orbit to blow other ships out of space.
I know there was more to it, but it just wasn't enough, it lost it's direction and ended up just being a the book I read to stop me looking at the flight progress screen on the way back from Cyprus. And if I'm brutally honest, the effects of the Spatterjay virus in Orbus (unless it gets explained elsewhere) seem inconsistent with McGroogers secondary infection.
On the upside you could read to about page 240ish and be absolutely riveted. Everyone is allowed one stinker, for Stephen King it was the Cell, and for Mr Asher it is Hilldiggers.
For me it was an OK stand-alone story but felt a little bit like going through the paces. I also read "Snow in the Desert" and "Parasite" by the same author, and I felt that both stories had more energy and engagement, and more depth and feeling to the characters and storyline.
It's fair to say though that I've not read book 3 - possibly this book is a critical linkage, but from the plot summary of polity book 3, it doesn't seem all that closely connected.
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