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Great North Road
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VINE VOICEon 27 March 2013
I've read quite a few of Hamilton's novels, so I'm not stranger to lengthy, sprawling text. I did quite enjoy this at the outset; the world of the book is quite well realised and it's quite an engaging thriller for the first couple of hundred pages, but takes a while to actually start getting genuinely sci-fi, in my opinion. It was all starting to get something of a chore by about page 600 though, and I had another 487 to go after that. For less than a tenner, this is quite a good read, and I can't complain about getting my money's worth - but I still reckon it could've been a bit more carefully edited for brevity overall. It'd still have been a good book if it was about 300 pages shorter, I think.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 17 August 2017
Without giving anything away about the story, I will just tell you what to expect from this book.

It is a long complex tale about a complex vision of humanity's future. The story is brilliant, clever, interesting and unpredictable. It is grafted onto a conception of future technology that is one of the most convincing I have encountered in science fiction. Top marks to the author so far. There are weaknesses in the writing. In places the dialogue feels childish, in places the writing is clichéd, and in places the logic contains little holes. Would the most important military mission for a generation into an unknown alien jungle really take untrained, unvetted catering staff? Would the leader, an experienced senior commander, really make so many witless decisions? Would the mission to examine the genetic diversity really take as long as it did to notice that the plants were clones? In a word: no.

Altogether it has a teenage feel and I wish I had read it as a teenager. Still, even now the teens are a long way behind me, I found it a great read, for all its faults.
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on 27 December 2014
What a story, what a mind this story has come from. Peter F Hamilton I just wish I had one percent of your creative juices. This book is a monster coming in at over 1100 pages. I read every page, so titles I start to skim pages when the story starts to wain, but this behemoth is brilliant beginning to end. I couldnt believe my luck the other day when more of Hamiltons' books were 99p each on the Kindle deals, the Void series. Cant wait to get stuck into these
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on 3 October 2013
I really liked the sound of this book, the story caught my attention. The first 200 pages are hard work and I nearly gave up, essentially it feels like the author takes a while to get into his stride. Also the naming of every vehicle and technology is pretty tedious and not necessary. All that being said the book delivers a very reasonable read. The story flows and the plot is good. I wish the editor had been more brutal in the beginning, would have made this a much better book. It's not a classic and doesn't deliver as much as Alastair Reynolds does, but it is probably worth the space on your bookshelf.
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on 30 October 2016
How pleased i was to see a big door stopper of a book from my favourite sci fi author. Kept hoping that this was a slow burner but it never did catch fire, 1080 pages and for what???? There was lots of potential, especially with Zanth, but that was left alone, what we got was a an illegitimate child of predator and the grey who failed to fulfilled its potential. It could have been great but there was no wonder and excitment of venturing into the future
It lacked the weird and the wonderful i expected from the author of the nights dawn trilogy, the commonwealth saga and the void trilogy. I would have settled for something like Greg Mandel and the fallen dragon. But this was just lots of rambling tedious details of peoples lives. It was almost like the author couldnt be bothered, lots of passive sentences and telling instead of showing. Maybe i was expecting too much. Be prepard for Lots of boring details and flash backs thrown in at just the time whenever things got slightly interesting, an all round annoying book.
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on 22 August 2017
With a few exceptions I rarely read much SF these days but this book caught my attention while looking for a long novel to take on holiday with me and I wasn't disappointed. Hamilton managed to keep the story moving along for over 1000 pages, without losing my interest. The plot was good, the characters solid and believable and his style is pleasant and easy to read. I liked that the nexus of his future was Newcastle, a nice quirky British trait! It provided a thoroughly good read for two weeks on the beach in Cuba. I shall read another of his weighty times this year!
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on 28 January 2013
I'm a great fan of Peter F Hamilton, Nights Dawn triology was excellent, Pandoras Star, the stand alone books like Fallen Dragon, I've read them all and loved them.

This book started well, a deviation from his previous work, set in the near future and written as a traditional crime thriller.

As a whole, the book does hang together well and the ending, no spoilers here, caps off the story really well. Only as I was reading it I had the feeling that it takes a lot of time before things really get going. In fact, descriptions, characterisations and crimal deductions aside, nothing much seemed to happen for big chunks of the book. Perhaps this is a deliberate move on Hamilton's part after the intense (enjoyable) mayhem of his conclusion to the Void Trilogy.

Only during the end sequence do things really take off and the Hamilton I know and love comes out of the closet.

I really have mixed feelings on this book; when I finished it I did my usual post-Hamilton thing of putting the Kindle down and reflecting on the people, ideas, emotions, future-history drawn out for me. Just during the middle third of this rather long book I wished there was more happening.

Buy this if you're a Hamilton fan, or like traditional crime thrillers, and remember the end is worth it.
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on 20 November 2016
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on 6 October 2012
If "Game of Thrones" can be turned into a TV series then I think Peter Hamilton's latest novel should be turned into a show too. The Great Road North is an excellent story: imaginative, clever, and well paced; it blends sci-fi with crime, horror, doomed romance, and a bit of political/action thriller. I had been looking forward to this book since reading the plot summary several months ago and I was not disappointed. To me, a long-time fan, it seemed like he had gone through all his previous novels, cherry picked the best elements and weaved them all together.

Talking of weaving, one of the most enjoyable and challenging things about Hamilton is tying his story threads back together using the limited (but very deliberate) clues he writes in before the plot is revealed. I got a fair few, but some of them eluded me until about page 930... It's always fun trying to guess, but I don't think I'll ever be able to call him predictable.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the way he wrote against a believable background, speculating on where modern science and technology might take us and describing how people will live in the near future; think Michio Kaku but with verve, humour, and a lot of very British style. Of course with sci-fi it has to go a little bit further and we have seemingly implacable aliens, spaceships and strange planets. However, unlike the Void trilogy, it doesn't stray into fantasy; believability makes this story more accessible.

Of course Hamilton already has a great reputation for his story-telling skills, but I think that with Great North Road he has improved his writing style. Recent novels have had a large cast of characters, which often led to uneven coverage. In this novel he has concentrated on the key characters and they all come across strongly: Angela the tough girl with a mysterious background; Vance the zealous Human Defence Agency colonel; and Sid the cunning detective. The secondary characters like Ian, Saul and Rebka are also much more fleshed out than their counterparts in his other novels.

Some readers might find the length off-putting here, but if as an author you're going to conjure up an epic story then you might as write it out in full. Which takes me back to my first point: it's about time some of our best writers got their stories on screen, not just to dispel the myth that British sci-fi is all about histrionic blokes in police boxes and supermarionation puppets, but also to show that it can compete with the best of the stuff beaming across the Atlantic. It would be great if TV producers took notice of novels like this.

However, having praised it so thoroughly, there was one small problem with this book:- I don't see how he can top it. ;)
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on 5 January 2014
This is a monumental book in lots of ways, not just its length (1087 pages) or its size (slightly larger than a house brick), but also in the story that he writes here.

It starts with a murder, and the body that is fished out of the river is a North, a family of genetic clones, and this corpse has had all the identity markers removed. There are five puncture marks on the chest, and the heart has been shredded. The last people to die this way did so 20 years ago, on the colony of St Libra, and the woman who was tried for the murders is still in prison. So begins the most sensitive, and politically charged investigation of Sidney Hurst's career.

With the new murder, the HDA decide that they need to go back to St Libra and fully investigate the claim by Angela that the murders were committed by an alien. She is pulled from prison and sent through the gateway, essentially a wormhole, with a crack team of legionnaires and back to St Libra to find this entity.

And so starts this epic story. It flips between Newcastle, and St Libra and you follow the ebb and flow of the characters in their successes and failures. The people on St Libra start to conclude that the plant they are on is a bioformed planet, and the alien is there as a guardian. St Libra`s sun suddenly red shifts, sending the planet into a mini ice age, and the alien starts to eliminate the legionnaires in the group. Meanwhile back on earth the investigation into the murder has become a lot more complex and charged, and it starts to look like the fall out between two corporations, and the police are playing catch up.

Apart from the fact that this is enormous, and took even me a while to read, I really enjoyed it. He has created a pair of believable worlds, alien contact and a murder mystery thrown in for good measure. It doesn't get five stars as there are parts that I felt were superfluous to the main story, and probably could have been removed.

Hamilton manages to keep the tech believable, there are e-i systems that people have fitted within their body and are permanently connected to the net. There are lots of smart dust and meshes that the police use to track and monitor citizens. The society is well constructed too.
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