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3.6 out of 5 stars
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3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 14 May 2017
Probably the poorest of this story arc. More space opera less planet-bound drama for me please!
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on 18 August 2017
Interestingly written, but I found the epilogue a bit confusing. Might have been interesting if the greenfly had been more apparent in the rest of the saga.
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on 18 July 2017
Love this series. Awesome space opera work
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on 3 November 2014
part of a truly excellent trilogy
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on 11 December 2014
Typically gripping read from alistair
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Absolution Gap is a wonderful novel, full of big ideas beautifully executed. It's wonderfully baroque in its design, managing to marry themes as diverse as a convincingly weird religious zealot living amongst mobile cathedrals, and the slow, inexorable extinction of the human race at the hand (or mechanical claws) of relentless machine intelligences. Along the way it manages to hook into several deep, satisfying veins of narrative - the cost and prizes of redemption, insolence in the face of inevitability, loss in the face of triumph, and what it means to choose wisely when no truly wise course is obvious. It's a more coherent book than its precursors in the Revelation Space universe, coming as it does as the final capstone of a vast and satisfying operatic epic. Unlike some of the earlier books, there is almost nothing in here that seems arbitrary - nothing that seems irrelevant - nothing that seems wasteful. That is, in terms of its own internal narrative.

All that said, it's not flawless. The most significant question I had about the book as it made its way to the end is 'How can Reynolds possibly end this tale in a way that is truly satisfying?'. Spoiler - he doesn't. In fairness, I'm not sure there *was* a way to end a series like this in a way that would have left me feeling sated, but I was hoping for something a little more than the pound shop James Bond-esque theatrics that concludes it. Reynolds is at his best when he's tackling big, deep themes, and that's not really executed well in the finale. It's not enough to spoil an excellent book - it is after all the voyage, not the destination, that matters the most in fiction. It just casts the book into an odd orbit in the series - with the right ending, this would have been the crowning jewel. As it is, in terms of sheer narrative catharsis it ultimately feels - unnecessary. There is nothing wasteful in the way it tells the story, but also nothing vital in helping come to terms with the universe in which it is set.

If this sounds conflicted, then it's just an expression of how I felt at the end of it. I loved the book, but I don't feel I would have lost anything truly irreplaceable if I had stopped reading the Revelation Space series at Redemption Ark.
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on 11 September 2012
Each book in this trilogy is a belter (Revelation Space, Redemption Ark, Absolution Gap), plenty of technology, science (quantum stuff, relativity stuff, cosmology stuff), good characters and a plot with enough twists and turns to keep you interested. The story does not fade or lose pace in this book, as I feel other famous series have (I got bored of Dark Tower quite quickly, I felt His Dark Materials severely lost its way in book 2, Harry Potter series was 1000 pages too long). Its not as easy on the eye as Greg Bear, or as 'classic' as Asimov, but as an all round pleasing read, I can heartily recommend this book / trilogy.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 August 2014
Absolution Gap completes the Revelation Space sequence. Therefore, tread no further unless you want to hear more of the horrors that faced our protagonists in Revelation Space and Redemption Ark.

A generation after the events of Redemption Ark, ship Nostalgia for Infinity still rests in the curious, conscious seas of Ararat, many years' distant from Yellowstone where the Inhibitors continue to destroy human life. Clavain has absented himself from the marooned colony while Scorpio, a hyperpig, acts as its ruler. Both are brought together by the news that a capsule has landed on the planet. On opening it they find memories of the past mixed with the first signs of hope, suggesting there may be a way after all to defeat the hungry black machine monster Inhibitors. The discovery demands they make a journey but before they can leave Ararat a great sacrifice is required. They must also wake up John Brannigan, the transformed captain of Nostalgia who is now much more ship than man, a presence that haunts the remote decks of this enormous vessel, frightening the crew who work to keep parts of Nostalgia still functioning as a spacefaring ship.

In another timeframe, Absolution Gap takes us to distant Hela, a world that orbits a gas giant that is able to do the unbelievable - it is able to disappear from sight, just for an instant. But this is enough to have attracted pilgrims and religious fanatics, people who travel on great caravans between mighty cathedrals that move below the orbit of the gas giant, always keeping it in sight, never even blinking for fear of missing one of its vanishings. Young girl Rashmika Els has run away from home, driven by something she can't quite understand to reach the principal cathedral, the home of the prophet Quaiche. We are in the fortunate position of knowing a little more about Quaiche than his disciples do, including the fact that he is haunted by shadows, driving him to cross the Absolution Gap.

Absolution Gap moves between times and places, combining the continuing stories of familiar protagonists with the emerging and influential lives of new characters. There is a different feel to this novel than to the preceding ones - Absolution Gap is mostly planet bound, although it still contains scenes aboard Nostalgia, one of the most extraordinary and memorable of all science fiction space ships. We see less of the Inhibitors, although what we do see is terrifying, especially now that we know what they can do. The horrifying glimpse we are given of Yellowstone's remains leaves us in no doubt of what these machines intend for all mankind. But in Absolution Gap, something is shown of the wider picture, of the other ancient life forms that may be out there. Mankind is possibly the least significant of the lot.

Much of the novel takes place on the mysterious and unforgivable world of Hela. Rashmika is a new principal character to the series and it is a joy to get to know her with all her strange ways, not least her power to always know when someone is lying, an invaluable gift on this world where everything has a price to be bartered. The cathedrals and caravans are vividly imagined. Religion has become grotesque on Hela, personified in the almost pitiable figure of Quaiche and his terrifying blood collecting surgeon.

For me, the outstanding characters are Scorpio and Brannigan. Scorpio knows all too well that he is not human, with all the prejudice that this entails, and his character continues to grow throughout Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap. At times he is more human than anyone else but there's no doubt that he suffers more as a result. As for Brannigan, by contrast, there is very little of the human left in him. During the series we have watched the captain progressively become as one with his ship, the victim of a melding disease that has afflicted much of human colonised space, holding back its progress. Brannigan is a ghost in the works, living in his own timeframe, at his own pace, on his own terms.

We are reminded of the past constantly. There are encounters with names from previous novels, including, I'm delighted to say, the loathsome Skade. But Absolution Gap also hints at a future, giving us clues to the role of the Inhibitors and mankind in a Galaxy that is even more mysterious and dangerous than could have been guessed at in Redemption Ark. Just as the Inhibitors always feared, when mankind began to explore space it opened doors that could never be shut again.

Absolution Gap is an outstanding novel, certainly my favourite of this terrific series. It is immensely rewarding, thrilling and moving, quite often tragic and even humorous in unusual ways. It is always thought-provoking and visually abundant. Above all else, it is a wonderful well-told story by an author whose imagination is irresistible.
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VINE VOICEon 6 September 2007
Having read Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days (which I loved), this, the second Alaistair Reynolds novel I've read, proved a major disappointment. The main problem with the novel is that at least 50% of it's length is taken up by highly detailed descriptions of the workings of a fairly uninspired religion founded by a madman - gripping reading it ain't. The revelations at the end of the novel are it's saving grace, but large chunks of the text could have been edited out without affecting the plot one iota - in fact i'd go so far as saying that this novel has probably put me off reading any of his novels ever again. Reynolds and Peter F Hamilton appear to be vying with one another to write ever longer novels - don't either of them have editors?
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on 24 March 2010
As others have said, read Revelation Space and Redemption Ark before this one. The series has been engaging, as a whole, and I've enjoyed it; that is, until I finished this book.

If you ignore the last 100 pages or so, this is a really great book and would probably elicit 4 stars. It has all of the elements of a good story.

Having said that, there are a number of events that happen for no reason, as if Reynolds had come up with a great sub plot only to decide not to follow but it and then doesn't bother to go back to edit it out.

There are huge gaps in the storyline where there have been major revelations and they are simply glossed over with a monologues or some footnotes. For a while there, I'd thought that maybe I'd missed an entire book. And then there's the casual way in which he discards his characters in, what appears to be, a vain attempt to make a misguided point. About 100 pages into the book, I started to get the impression that Reynolds was getting bored with this series.

But the downward spiral, for me, started at about page 590 (ish). It was here that, with 100 pages left, I realized that I was in for a disappointing ending. The plot was developing well throughout out but as the remaining page count diminished, I knew that I was in for a Deus-Ex Machina ending. In some respects, I'm happy that i was wrong. In others, I would have preferred the old cliche ending to the one that I got.

Page 690 was "wow, have we got a journey ahead of us"
Page 690-693 was "ZOMG! I was supposed to have this to the publisher 3 hours ago!"
Page 694 was "Ooops, I forgot to set myself up for a sequel! I know, i'll put three pages worth of references to this last one to make it look like I'd planned this all along!"

Honestly, had the book ended at page 690, I would have really enjoyed this book. But those last few pages were the barrage that sank the Hood. One cataclysmic explosion and then nothing but a sinking hulk of glowing iron.

Having said that, the last page makes it obvious where Reynolds is taking us and I'm sure that it will all be a great read. But I'm really hoping that the next book in this series fails to recognize the existence of the last few pages of this book and just picks up where it should have left off. The other plotline can wait at least one more book.
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