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A let down for the entire series.
on 10 April 2016
Since discovering The Prefect in 2008, I've been a big fan of Alastair Reynold's books, the Chasam City series was fantastic. However, this the last book in the Inhibitor's series, finishes in a far than satisfactory manor.
Over the series of books we have been introduced to a number of sentient species across the universe, we have got to know them in depth and what motivates the various factions, and over the course of several centuries these various species and factions have come together to try and stop the universe wide plague of Inhibitors, who's sole purpose is nothing short of wiping out all sentient life in the universe. The Inhibitors are all powerful, relentless in their aim of destroying all life, and adaptable to any challenge made against them. The greatest weapons the universe has ever know has only slowed them down, but never stopped them.
So all of this is to be wrapped up in the Absolution Gap.
Over the first few chapters of this book, as well as seeing the old familiar characters continuing their struggle against the Inhibitors, we are introduced to some new characters. These new characters are exotic, interesting, and their motives are as varied as they are devious. After a couple action packed chapters of setting the scene, the book settles down to a crawling pace as the characters go on individual journeys to discover "answers, and the book begins to examine their motives in minute detail. At first I was fine with this, after all there was going to have to be a massive payoff at the end of the book to show how sentient life survives (or not) after many centuries of being defeated time and again by a seemingly unstoppable universe wide force ... however after the first couple of chapters the book never again gets above (quite literally) walking pace. I remember realising I was getting very near the end of the book, and being surprised that nothing had happened. There was no hint of how the Inhibitors could possibly be defeated, no gearing up for a final battle, no plan amongst the factions. Surely the payoff was going to begin soon?
Then the book ended.
If the book had ended on a cliffhanger, I wouldn't have minded, sometimes getting to the pivotal point in a story and then leaving the rest to the readers imagination can be better than spelling out a long and convoluted (sometimes forced) plot twist.However this was far worse. After a whole series worth of set up, literally the last page saw characters we have known from the beginning being killed off in a single sentence and the all powerful Inhibitors being dismissed in a single very vague paragraph without any real idea of what happened. It felt as though Alastair Reynolds had set himself a page limit, got to the last page, realised he hadn't resolved anything, and so scribbled a couple vague notes to wrap it up.
The two stars are for the first couple of chapters, after that the rest of the book isn't worth the time to read. In fact I would advise stopping at the end of the previous book, at least that had a cliffhanger.