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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2007
Deeply enjoyable, page turner with great characterisation from on of my favorite novelists, but it doesn't get 5 stars from me because I couldn't shake off my nagging concern that this book was shared just a little too many concepts with "Inversions" by Iain M Banks, which isn't that great a book. I know it's ridiculous but my "familiarity" with these narrative devices took the edge of the book for me, even though Asher treats the concepts he shares with Inversions, like the low(er) tech civilisation viewpoint, the hidden agent/observer in a more accessible manner than Banks did but I couldn't help shaking off the feeling of deja-vu as each shared concept clicked into view.
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on 3 March 2008
"Hilldiggers" is very much unlike other Asher's books. It is as if it's written by a different person. It's boring.

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.
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on 6 October 2015
Honestly, I think I was underwhelmed by this book. It did not feel connected to the previous book in the series, and the universe in which it is set feels quite dry. I think I agree with some of the other comments that the events in the book seem sometimes a bit set up and artificial - you just have to wonder, do the actions of the characters / AIs involved *really* make sense.

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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on 1 February 2016
An excellent story from the Polity series which is something of a departure in that contact is made with a lost colony which is at war with its near neighbour. Expect lots of plot twists and a touch of the truly alien
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on 11 October 2011
Hilldiggers is an Asher novel which takes place in his unique Polity universe but does not follow the Cormac series or the Spatterjay series. Asher makes this novel distinctive by combining a good chunk of the Polity plot line with a savory chips from the Spatterjay line. The result is a rousing read for a seasoned Asher reader (this being my 10th Asher novel) but only for the first half. Throw in two planets with distinguishable race races, an ongoing war between them and a mischievous drone scouting the system... the first half is just a gem of a plot setting.

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.
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on 22 May 2014
once again Neil Asher has produced an exciting and riveting story. Set in the Policy universe we once again entertained by artificial intelligences ruling the human race and at the mundane level irascible drones capable of just about anything. a story that grips you from the start and never lets you go till the last page when you cry out for more, more, more.
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on 21 July 2007
There are some authors who go on my must read list in the category "get the hardback the moment that comes out". In the sci-fi genre Neal Asher is such an author. His latest is perhaps his best. It's a real page turner, but the story is only a part of the pleasure of reading it - like all his books it is well written and also crackles with ideas and paints a bold, dramatic, detailed and engaging vision of the future that also offers additional details aplenty along the way. His universe is a tough place and pulls no punches, in this tale, which takes place in the aftermath of an interplanetary war, three groups of future-evolved humans engage in a struggle that is more than it seems.

If you have never read Neal Asher before, start now (perhaps with his first book "Gridlinked")- if you are already a fan, then rest assured he is growing in stature and becoming even more of a must-read as he goes on. More anon, I hope.
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on 6 January 2016
Having been recommended these books started with Prador moon and thoroughly enjoyed that, found Hilldiggers good but maybe went on too long then finished abruptly. I shan't compare him to any other writers as that would be unfair.Don't know if I started the books in the right order but will continue with shadow of the scorpion.Still a really good read and am looking forward to reading the rest, that I want to buy the while series should be testament enough!
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on 29 September 2014
Since discovering this author via a friend's recommendation I have become addicted. I started with the Agent Cormac series book Gridlinked, but then found that the third book in the Polity series is also the first book in the Agent Cormac series so put Cormac on hold and went back to the beginning. I often seem to get so hooked into these books that I forget to go to sleep until the wee small hours - always the sign of a good story!
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on 13 July 2016
This is tricky. While I have always enjoyed Asher and his Polity universe, this story felt clunky and disjointed. The plot used some I interesting ideas but the storyline didn't flow as well as other Asher books and I never felt I understood or even cared for the characters.
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