Dirk Grobbelaar's Reviews > Judas Unchained

Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton
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's review
Sep 28, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, books-i-own
Read from October 04 to 17, 2011

Don’t approach this book as a sequel to Pandora's Star. It is merely a continuation of the story. The two books form a cohesive whole, and are really just parts one and two of the same story. There is no way, really, that the two books can be read separate from one another.

The war between the Commonwealth and the Prime was always going to reach critical mass in this novel, and this is more or less what happens. However, things didn’t pan out quite how I was expecting. In this novel there is a slight shift in perspective, as key figures in the Commonwealth realise that the threat presented by the Prime is not the only threat to humanity. This was already hinted at quite strongly in Pandora’s Star, especially the closing chapters. There is a lot of political manoeuvring in these novels, with the different dynasties reminding me at least a little of the great houses of Frank Herbert’s Dune universe. The greatest difference being that they’re not openly warring against one another. Not openly. At any rate, the bulk of the novel is taken up by strategies devised to root out and address the new threat while the Prime action takes a bit of a back seat. It all connects nicely in the end, of course.

The story has a lot going for it. It’s reasonably fast paced and interesting. There are a lot of really well developed characters, including some really cool aliens. The cliff-hanger ending of Pandora’s Star is addressed fairly quickly. There are lots of cool gadgets and weapons of ridiculous magnitude. It really is Space Opera at its finest, in a world that’s easy to identify with despite having wormholes and FTL spaceflight (people still drive Land Cruisers and Fords, albeit futuristic versions). However, despite all this, I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as Pandora’s Star. Why? Well, two quick reasons. I was a bit irritated by how Hamilton had one of the characters sleep with (almost literally) every other character in the novel at some point or the other. And, frankly, the book is just a bit long, with one or two sections dragging a bit, despite the general good pacing. I’m fairly certain this won’t be a problem for everybody, though, since it is a great story. The high-octane climax makes up for most of the shortcomings anyway. So, four stars it is.

Oh, one more thing: the dramatis personae in the beginning of the book contains spoilers, don’t read it.
As a whole, the Commonwealth Saga is a great achievement. Now, if I can find time for the Night’s Dawn Trilogy….
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