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3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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on 14 September 2009
This is turgid stuff. And the more you read it the worse it seems to get. Anderson has written a science fiction that is more like a 1960s space opera than the true science fiction works of Asimov, Clark and Heinlein. In this world the English speaking interbreeding aliens sometimes have some special force integrating them, but not always.

The writing is dreadful and monotonous and character development is so inconsequential that I now, mere months after reading this book, cannot think of any important character name, nor anything worth bothering about them. I simply lacked any involvement in this work.

How this should be spun out to 7 books, I do not know. I think the author should concentrate on one good book before attempting such a long series.

This is a book to make you embarrassed to read science fiction. Needless to say I will not be bothering with the sequels (despite the shameless way this book stops mid story in an attempt to force you on).
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on 13 October 2016
I found this book in a pub. It came home with me and sat on my To Read pile for a few months, and when I picked it up I was hooked! The best way I can describe it - it's War and Peace, Babylon 5 and Titan AE, mixed up together in a blender to make a Sci-Fi Smoothie. The small, character-based chapters made it easy to read a few before sleep, but there was so much going on I couldn't believe it when I reached the end, it all went by so quickly. And yet at my pace it still took me a month to read. An aging alien empire living in the past, an old king and his hand-picked heir, a Machiavellian director, a savvy general, a myriad of robotic protagonists, an unknown and dangerous enemy and three disparate human societies trying to get along make this one hell of a literary appetizer for a feast I aim to reach the end of. The book is now on my husband's To Read pile; after that it will be going back to the pub to lure in another visitor to the home galaxy of the Ildiran Empire and the Terran Hanseatic League.
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on 6 March 2008
I'm a big fan of space operas but I like a certain level of sophistication in the writing, the characterisation and the science. Unfortunately, this book is lacking in all three.

There is endless repetition in the description of the characters and their environments and no real insight into why anyone does what they do in the book. And the plot holes are glaring. Why anyone in the book can't work out why they are being attacked by gas giant dwellers when they've just blown up a gas giant is beyond me. And that's just one of them. Listing them here would be too much like reading the book again.

And the science is woeful. Humans breathing the atmosphere of gas giants? Not likely. And the description of how the star drives work was simply baffling as it contained no science just some contradictory babble about relativity.

I've never written a review before but I really feel you must be warned. Stay well away.
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on 4 April 2015
There are no pretences with this book. It’s the first in a seven part space opera that seeks to give you enough sense of wonder and a galactic scale that will entertain and absorb you. Does it do that job? Yes. Will it ever be listed in the top 100 SF books of all time? No.

Its characters do all suffer from the common SF problem of basically being cyphers who are little more than post holders and plot pushers. However there is enough internal consistency of plot, basic character motivation, and believable speculative technology that you are rarely irritated.

Does it make you ponder deep thoughts on finishing the last page? No. Does it do enough though to make me want to pick up the next book in the sequence sometime? Yes.
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on 25 May 2013
Anderson's seven volume saga kicks off with Hidden Empire but it's slow out of the blocks and I'm left with little desire to go further.

The universe created is interesting but ultimately m poo st of the characters are fairly one dimensional and there are a lot of them to keep track of.

The main problem is the slow pace of the novel - nothing much happens until well into the book and its only in the last 10% of the novel that things really get moving. The short chapters, typically four or five pages, make the book easy to read but don't really help to draw the reader in.

Overall, not the best start and not really enough to draw me straight into volume 2!
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on 18 August 2007
The Saga of Seven Suns series popped up as a recommendation because I enjoyed Peter Hamilton, Alistair Reynolds, Iain M Banks, Richard Morgan and Neal Asher. Well, those guys know how to write; Kevin J Anderson appears not to.

One of the first rules of good writing is "show don't tell". Hidden Empire ignores this rule with ream after ream of dull flat exposition. There's no character development, no sense of involvement, nothing to care about at all.
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on 11 September 2008
By the time I was about halfway through this turgid potboiler the biggest impression I was was one of amazement.

Amazement about how it could be that the publishers were prepared to print this rubbish, let alone sign Anderson on for a series of 7 volumes of it!

The plot is predictable, obvious and hackneyed and the setting is sci-fi lite, sub-star trek. The writing is simply a list of events, punctuated by ill-fitting dialog. Nothing gives the reader the impression that the author enjoyed producing this. There's no passion, depth, poetry or soul.

The worst things though are the characters, which are two-dimensional and indistinct from each other, and the stilted, turgid dialog which falls out of their cardboard mouths. People, past or future, simply do not speak to each other like this. Practically every exchange is simply cringeworthy.

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on 28 December 2012
Originally mildly intrigued by the scale of world-building that Anderson attempts, I quickly grew to despise the simplistic and repetitive descriptions of poorly thought out blandness that issue forth in a torrent of beige mediocrity. Shallow and thoroughly unlikable characters stumble blindly into transparent plots and schemes. Motivations and personalities are always ridiculously obvious. If you can put two and two together, you'll fail entirely to be surprised by anything that happens. Furthermore, Anderson's descriptions are not only hackneyed and stereotypical, they are frequently repeated almost verbatim, to the point where one wonders if he is incapable of fleshing the ideas out any further or just avoiding the matter for fear of the whole edifice collapsing into a steaming pile of plot holes and impossibilities.

I read to the end just to see if there was a final dramatic flourish, only to be greeted suddenly by the end of the book and a plea to preview the next 600-odd pages of amateurish drivel. I can't recommend that you avoid wasting your time and money on this book enough.
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on 26 July 2009
I bought all 7 book sin the "Saga of the Seven Suns" on the basis of previous books where Kevin Anderson had been (co-)author of. I have read it all to the finish, but it was a big disappointment. I woul dnever have bought the rest of the series if I had bought the first one separately.

The biggest disappointment is the fact that it is all very poorly written. Especially the first 4 books are one big ugly repeat fest of what has been written sometimes just pages before. E.g. in one chapter (all chapters are around 3-5 pages) something happens, and in a later chapter (maybe just 10 pages on) a full repeat is written in the style "when such-and-so happened, she did not like it" or in an explanation style "such and such happened". Or as an example, the 'Roamers' call the 'Hansa' "The Big Goose" and during the first books, this is explained many, many times. It seems the author wrote with Alzheimer victims in mind so he had to explain everything in simple terms, assuming nobody could remember anything. Having this repeat barrage directed on you as a reader is very irritating. This problem was less in the last few books of the series.

Secondly, though this is Space Opera and not Science Fiction (and we thus ignore the fact that aliens speak English), the science in it is idiotic. Human-like aliens that can have children with humans? OK, remotely possible in some scenarios. But an insectoid race that can incorporate human DNA in its 'hive' and this then leads to human-looking insects with partly human minds? And this is done by eating human DNA? That is like me becoming part chicken because I eat an egg and that is even without considering the question about all this compatible DNA in the first place.

Thirdly, there are too many characters with pure character-traits of a four year old. All 'roamer' types are smart, agile, altruistic, etc. and the 'hansa' characters are bureaucrats, some of which are converted along the way.

Fourthly, the plot is very predictable. Stupid power-hungry bureaucrats, stagnated alien empire without the mindset to innovate. It all ends very predictably in rubble with a bright future.

Compared to the highlights of the genre (Vernor Vinge with Vernor Vinge Omnibus: A Fire Upon the Deep, A Deepness in the Sky, Peter Hamilton, Gregory Benford and classics like Frank Herbert and Larry Niven come to mind) this is really extremely poor stuff.
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on 11 December 2009
Our Kev. is the sort of person who likes numbers, he has the world record for book signings, and states without a hint of irony that he has out-worded Tolstoy in one of the prefaces to this saga. It is clear that he can string words together to make a product, and this book is the first of a batch of product.
I have now read them all, and I feel a duty to review them through this, the first book, in order to warn you if you are considering embarking on this saga.

The books are like fodder, they provide a balance of sustenance and padding that just about keep you engaged. Don't get me wrong, having a few months worth of plodding narrative can be a very good thing if you are sick, or are trying to avoid having an internal dialogue, much like a ten thousand piece jigsaw is.

My warning lies in the danger that you may well pick this book up cheaply (perhaps in a bundle with its sequels) and think that there is no harm in wasting a bit of time on a journey or such like.
Sadly with each book your investment in time makes the next book more necessary, and the next and so on. With this our Kev is a master, the first two books set the scene, the next two barely advance the plot, the fifth begins a resolution and stops almost mid-sentence, the sixth begins with a false ending and then moves the goal posts, and the seventh... well I'm not convinced there aren't another 47 manuscripts under his mattress.
If you need some sort of bland therapy embark upon this saga, if you like good SciFi read Iain M Banks, Orson Scott Card or almost anyone else instead.

One more thing - it may just be me, but every time the words, 'someplace', 'anyplace' and 'gotten' are used in written English, I wince; I winced a lot during these books. I also got very bored of his use of the word 'slick' meaning 'wet', at one point it appeared in almost every paragraph (perhaps I should aim my annoyance at the corporate proofreader though).

It is undeniable that the are some very profound concepts lurking within these books, but it is hard to find evidence that Kev noticed them at all, while he was knocking out his wordcount. He certainly managed to avoid anything bordering on the profound, even though he might well have.
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