Learn more Download now Shop now Browse your favorite restaurants Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Shop now Learn more

on 23 July 2016
I Generally love Alistair Reynolds, and I want to love this, but I can't quite do it. To give him credit, Redemption Ark is still better than a lot of sci-fi, but the writing itself feels a little bit under-thought.
The good: Interesting plot, the Inhibitors are a strong idea and Reynolds universe of conjoiners, spiders, the lost Amarantin and giant computers in dwarf stars - is imaginative and convincingly portrayed. The characters are strongly defined and change actions as they change moods. Equally, long-term character development is well handled. Reynolds does do a little science, but never too much, and he keeps the plot moving rather than lose page after page to explaining some point of physics.
The bad: There are two points, one I can define, the other is a little harder. First, the writing has a horrible habit of repeating itself. For example, five or six sentences will start 'She..'. - She went outside. She saw the ship. She knew it was bad. She hadn't slept for days. While not an actual extract, this gives a sense of the problem, which smacks of laziness and the repetition started to jar with me. Others are 'it neared the nuclear burning core', and then the phrase 'nuclear burning core' is used repeatedly in descriptions and in dialogue. Just 'the core' would suffice, but again, while it may sound pedantic the over-use of phrases really pulled me out of the book and began to annoy me - especially as dialogue because it sounds artificial.
The second flaw is harder to define. Maybe it's a consequence of the first flaw stopping me from becoming really immersed in the book. Whatever the cause, I found myself less gripped than I was by the first novel in this series 'Revelation Space'. I was less convinced by some characters, who's actions felt more like something useful to the plot than something the character would really do.
Overall, I still enjoyed large section of the book and will certainly read the next instalment. My gripes are minor and I would recommend this, and much of Reynolds work, to anyone who enjoys 'grand-scale' sci-fi.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 16 July 2012
The middle part of a trilogy is often the hardest to write; you have the expectations and plotlines raised by the first book, while still having to set everything in place for the last act. Happily, I feel that Reynolds largely succeeded here.

In terms of timeline, Redemption Ark picks up not too long after Revelation Space finished, although straight away Reynolds throws a whole bunch of new characters at the reader. Luckily, they are all fascinating creations, from the hyper-evolved Conjoiners represented by the ruthless Skade and the repentant Clavain, to the young pilot Antoinette Bax and the brutal pig criminal Scorpio.

By the time we are actually reaquainted with the survivors from the first novel, Reynolds has embarked on several new plot strands, although all twine together into the over-arcing Inhibitors plot. For you see, the enemies of all advanced life have finally arrived, and a desperate race for the weapons capable of stopping them begins.

Reynolds maintains his knack for breaking up traditional space opera sequences with diversions into scientific theory or transhuman speculation, all without losing the tension he so masterfully builds up. If he has a flaw, it is that sometimes the human motivations, hopes and fears of his characters get somewhat lost amongst all the Big Ideas.

The novel leaves the story somewhat unresolved, in preparation for the final act of the trilogy; certainly there are more loose ends and unresolved plots than at the end of Revelation Space. Despite that, however, the journey to that point is both exciting and enjoyable, so I don't mind being herded towards the big climax. Here's hoping it maintains the high quality of the first two installments.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 1 March 2005
This is a direct follow on from Revelation Space and involves storylines from Chasm City, so you do need to have read those before this.
Technically this book is superior to the other two in almost every respect - the depth of characters is better, the plot line has less holes, the move from story thread to thread is smoother..............and yet Reynolds has still muffed the writing in two important areas - the end is a quick, neat wrap up indicative of a looming publication deadline and for some unknown reason, Reynolds doesn't like fight scenes. We have a two big battles where the righteous army made up of humans and hyper-pigs takes a huge Ultra space ship in each and yet the first one is entirely glossed over with the story restarting after the event, and the second describes only the initial assault on the ship and again jumps forward to a point where the ship is already taken. Very odd.
But the story is compelling, hard Sci-fi.
The hive-mind humans called Conjoiners are at war with the Demarchists and winning comfortably. But information from a deep space exploration vessel has the Inner Sanctum of the Conjoiners scared. An alien menace, out to destroy all human life, is on its way and they cannot be stopped. The only way forward is to go to the Resurgam system, recover some long lost Doomsday weapons and flee into deep space.
However, Clavain, the Conjoiners best war leader thinks that all humans should benefit from the Doomsday weapons as a defence against the aliens and therefore decides to steal a ship in an effort to warn the other factions and set about recovering the weapons.
Meanwhile, at Resurgam, an Ultra light-hugger, badly infected with the melding plague, already has recovered the Doomsday weapons and the two remaining crew have realised that the aliens are going to "sterilise" Resurgam to kill all life on it. Should they risk using the doomsday weapons on the aliens or try to evacuate the planet and run?
Their hands are forced at the approach of Clavains army and the aliens unstoppable progress.
There are still a few holes in the plot, where normal logic seems to escape the lead characters - Clavain believes he MAY be the father of Felka for near on 400 years. Take a DNA test and sort it out!
Also, Clavain insists in taking the weapons off Volyova and leaving her in the lurch, when she wants to use them against the same aliens that Clavain claims he wants them for. Why does he not join forces with her? These are irritation points but they don't the enjoyment of the story.
If you liked Revelation Space, you will enjoy Redemption Ark.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 1 December 2014
I’ve read half a dozen Alastair Reynolds novels and became quite a fan of his. Chasm City and House of Suns stand out as his most remarkable achievements for me. After the masterpiece that was Chasm City, Redemption Ark is the third book in the Revelation Space trilogy.

To me Redemption Ark was a huge let down. The idea of the book is certainly worth exploring; that of a race of Inhibitor machines that periodically wipe out sentient life once it has grown beyond markers. Some of the characters were familiar faces from Revelation Space, while the new characters were Conjoiners, who are a faction that has their minds linked via neural implants. We are introduced to Clavain, who is a renowned military commander who continues to subtly defy his superior Skade; whose secretive and dark motives are a cause of friction.

The principle of an impending catastrophe was used as the basis for moving forward; the attempt of the Inhibitor machines to wipe out all life. I felt that this crisis and how it affected the characters was not made clear through cataclysmic or life-altering events. The characters’ relevance to the story was through complex inter-connecting occurrences, which I usually like about the author’s novels, but the relationships seemed removed from the main plot of the story to me. The sub-plots regarding powerful weaponry, defection, and the background of a war; didn’t reach out to me.

I will likely be reading Absolution Gap next, but maybe not for a while because I was disappointed with this.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 29 November 2010
Set in the same universe as Revelation Space, this book expands the themes introduced in the first book and adds considerable depth to our understanding of the `hive-mind' Conjoiner branch of humanity and the forbidding Inhibitors. Again, there are multiple plot lines all converging to produce a complex and unpredictable narrative and the story rocks along at a cracking pace but, this time, I kept expecting a twist that didn't happen (which, I suppose is a twist in itself). [Small spoiler warning!] At the time, I could not grasp why the Inhibitors would go to all the trouble of destroying the relatively insignificant planet of Resurgam when you would expect the Conjoiners to be the real target. Having thought about it more since finishing the book (yes, these books linger in your sub-conscience in a very pleasant manner), I suppose it is because they were responding to the destruction of their `listening post' by Sylveste in the first book and so, by irrefutable machine logic, it was reasonable for them to assume that the emerging undesirable intelligence originated in the same system. I'm still not entirely satisfied with the ending though; it felt a bit rushed.

Reynold's universe is a worthy rival to Bank's Culture in complexity, depth and consistency and, in fact, if Reynolds had come before Banks the comparison would have been the other way around. Also, and to Reynold's credit, I've thankfully not encountered an Alistair Reynolds that comes anywhere near Bank's Excession or Inversions, both of which I found to be utterly incomprehensible.

More Alistair Reynolds - Now!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 26 August 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed the Revelation Space series - as "hard" science fiction it managed to segue into the more outlandish science fiction quite nicely while still keeping some grounding in current understanding of physics. That being said, the ending was a complete disappointment - without giving away too much, it wraps up the story with something that seems like an afterthought at the beginning of writing the third book.
11 Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
VINE VOICEon 26 January 2005
First off, despite any explanatory cover blurb, please be aware that Redemption Ark is Alistair Reynolds 3rd novel, and your enjoyment of it will depend largely on having read his previous 2 novels, as this is a direct sequel to Revelation Space, while also building on some characters introduced in Chasm City. Personally I found that Revelation Space was a very encouraging debut, and dismissed the rough edges as merely a new author getting to grips with his craft, yet Chasm City - despite some good material - seemed to be a massive step backwards in quality, with Reynolds writing appearing rather ham fisted at times.
Reynolds strengths have always been in the big science fiction concepts, but what has previously let him down has been poor pacing and structure, with Chasm City being particularly guilty of employing glaring deus ex machina and having character's entirely lacking in logical motivation. The good news is that Redemption Ark is a return to form after the sloppy Chasm City, though the novel is still far from flawless.
Pacing is still a problem for Reynolds - Redemption Ark on the one hand feels too bloated at 650 pages, with the fairly slight background story of the Inhibitors being repeated over and over again, yet at the same time crucial moments in the story are glossed over. Two big set pieces come to mind especially, first the highjacking of a Lighthugger ship - supposedly something so outrageous no-one has ever attempted it before; Reynolds takes time to build up the situation and the assault crew to take over the ship - then simply cuts right past the action scene to show the ship having been captured without actually showing us how. Worse is the gutted climax, as after an interstellar chase sequence lasting at least one hundred pages Reynolds again cuts out the final confrontation between the forces of the defecting Clavain and his Conjoiner pursuers, instead opting to gloss over the events by jumping forward in time and offering a brief flashback synopsis. The impression given is that Reynolds got carried away overwriting this novel, then realised he was up against a deadline (or a word count) and frantically hacked away chunks of the text - unfortunately the excised material sounds more interesting than some of what is left.
On the positive side Redemption Ark sees some of the best characterisation yet from Reynolds, with - for the most part - characters acting logically and with clear objectives and motivations. Unfortunately there is one character that doesn't quite convince in this area, and that's Clavain himself - the novel depends on a lot of it's action due to Clavain's defection from the hive-mind Conjoiners and his quest to capture the hell-class weapons of Volyova, but in both cases Clavain overreacts to an alarming degree. His defection that kicks the novel off seemingly comes out of nowhere, and is accompanied by a surprising amount of violence towards his erstwhile friends, while his determination to capture the hell-class weapons is slightly confusing - both he and Volyova want to use the weapons to destroy the humanity-culling Inhibitor machines, but rather than offering his assistance in a peaceful manner he comes in all guns blazing. Without Clavain's actions there wouldn't be much of a novel here, but he doesn't always convince.
The only other real problem with Redemption Ark is the traditional one shared by middle books of trilogies - the set-up has already occurred, and nothing is resolved at the novels end: if you want the climax you'll have to read Absolution Gap as well. Despite it's construction flaws Chasm City did at least offer some new locations and environments compared to Revelation Space - by contrast Redemption Ark contents itself to play with the established characters and setting, so Reynolds is unable to generate any 'sense of wonder' here.
Still, while these annoying little flaws stop Reynolds from being as good an author as he continually promises to be, Redemption Ark is a generally enjoyable hard-sf space opera, and a distinct improvement on Chasm City. To put it simply, if you enjoyed Revelation Space and wanted to find out what happened to the characters next, Redemption Ark will be for you.
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 18 May 2017
Simply incredible, second part of a trilogy.

Like the first I found it a little slow to get into, possibly because it had been a while since I read the first, and the connection wasn't obvious at first.

However the same things that were great about Revelation Space are here; impressively plausible (and also outlandish) sci fi, great characters, and enormously inventive story and setting

This book brilliantly develops the first story into a much larger story concerning the survival of human life (and all life in the universe). It fills in some info but leaves plenty for the final book which I know I am going to love reading
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 15 July 2002
This is a thick book, my only complaint is the one raised by the previous reviewers. A book should be complete on it's own. The ending is very poor which is a pity as the rest of it is wonderful. What has been appealing about his approach is the darkness that is still there, but unlike his previous books there are a couple of characters you could quite like. I'm not sure this is an improvement as I quite liked being fascinated by their strange coldness.It is a good read but after broken your wrists and enjoyed the ride you feel slightly disgruntled. which is a pity...
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 20 August 2013
I absolutely loved the 5 star Revelation Space, so I found this follow up a touch dissappointing. It's not that it isn't very good, it is, it is just that some of the wonder of the first book has been lost. In the first book we were thrown in at the deep end with all the competing sects and complex technology of the 25th century. We also understood very little of the threat of the Inhibitors and why they do what they do. In this book much of this is explained and unfortunately it falls a little bit flat. I guess it is just very, very hard for an author to deliver on an incredible premise. This book was still a gripping read however, and it has done enough to keep me reading the series.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Need customer service? Click here