Salvation Lost

If you've been hanging around in these parts for a while, then you are aware that I own every single book Peter F. Hamilton has published over the years. But other than the stand-alone novels I'm really far behind when it comes to his series. When Salvation was released last year, I was happy that from now on I'd finally be able to read and review installments of a new Hamilton sequence as they hit the shelves.

In the end, Salvation was another quality space opera featuring rich worldbuilding and complex characters. On its own, the book was not as self-contained as it could have been and that turned out to be detrimental to both the plotlines and the rhythm of the novel. Still, I felt that it was a satisfying read that would likely get better and better when the sequels came out.

And now that I've read Salvation Lost, I'm glad to report that this science fiction yarn of epic scope is even better than its predecessor.

Here's the blurb:

All the best in humanity rises to meet a powerful alien threat in the sequel to Salvation—part of an all-new trilogy from “the owner of the most powerful imagination in science fiction” (Ken Follett).

The comparative utopia of twenty-third-century Earth is about to go dreadfully awry when a seemingly benign alien race is abruptly revealed to be one of the worst threats humanity has ever faced. Driven by an intense religious extremism, the Olyix are determined to bring everyone to their version of God as they see it. But they may have met their match in humanity, who are not about to go gently into that good night or spend the rest of their days cowering in hiding. As human ingenuity and determination rise to the challenge, collective humanity has only one goal—to wipe this apparently undefeatable enemy from the face of creation. Even if it means playing a ridiculously long game indeed.

But in a chaotic universe, it is hard to plan for every eventuality, and it is always darkest before the dawn.

Hamilton is renowned for his worldbuilding, which is always vast in scope and vision. Definitely one of the best in the business, if not the best. And Salvation was certainly no exception! By the beginning of the 23rd century, mankind has taken to the stars. Demonstration of quantum spatial entanglement engendered the creation of portals that now connect every place on Earth and every settled planet and asteroid out there. Solar powerwell portals dropped directly into the sun provide the vast amount of energy required to keep everything running. In 2144, as a number of planets are being terraformed, an alien starship approaching our solar system is detected. The extraterrestrial civilization is known as the Olyix and they travel in the arkship Salvation of Life to the End of the Universe to meet their god. The arkship requires enormous amounts of electricity to generate antimatter, so the Olyix begin to trade their superior biotechnology with humans in exchange for the energy they need to continue their endless pilgrimage across the galaxies. When a portal ship arrives in the Beta Eridani system in 2204, it detects a beacon signal coming from a crashed alien spaceship light years away from Earth. And as impossible as it sounds, that ship contains the remains of human victims. An assessment team comprised of powerful and important men and women is sent to investigate, and they'll soon realize that they have more in common than they ever thought possible. And eighty-nine years from their home world, they'll come to realize that Earth might be facing a threat and that no one is aware of the imminent danger.

Salvation Lost begins exactly where the first volume ended. The salvage operation exposed the shocking truth about the Olyix. Realizing that their deception has been unmasked, as mankind attempts to mobilize for this unexpected threat the alien civilization strikes a devastating blow. Yet the human race is nothing if not resilient and will not go down without a fight. Millennia into the future, another storyline follows mankind's descendants as they prepare to spring a trap on the Olyix and hopefully end this war once and for all. But things are not always as they seem and some truths may ultimately turn out to be lies.

Once again, the structure of this novel is split into three ensembles of plotlines. The first one follows the perspectives of the characters from the salvage operation and additional important figures that witness the onset of the war between humanity and the Olyix. The second focuses on a number of small-fry London-based criminals and their activities as life on Earth begins to unravel. These sections felt decidedly discordant with the rest of the storylines and were often a little boring. There is only so much one can take about some guy with a super cock implant. The third timeline occurs in the distant future, in an era when mankind brought their war against the Olyix to the stars.

Peter F. Hamilton always had a knack for creating interesting and genuine characters and the same can be said of the Salvation Lost cast. Building on the groundwork already laid out in the first volume, the author further fleshes out his protagonists while introducing new faces. As I mentioned, I felt that too much air time was given to the crooks comprising the Southwark Legion gang. A few lame attempts to give some of them redeeming qualities and moral complexity kind of fell short. Given the quality of the other storylines and how compelling they are, I'm not sure why Hamilton felt that he had to focus on the London plotline to such a degree.

Although not perfect, Salvation Lost raises the bar higher and sets the stage for what should be a memorable finale. Definitely one of the science fiction books to read this year!

The final verdict: 8/10

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1 commentaires:

Oregon Dan said...

He trying to save money on cover art or what?