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Hilldiggers (Novel of the Polity) Hardcover – Unabridged, 6 Jul 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Product details

  • 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: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 636,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

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

Book Description

A massive SF drama from one of Britain’s most popular new talents

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ed.F VINE VOICE on 7 Aug. 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
"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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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