Set in the 24th century, bestseller Hamilton's richly satisfying space opera is less a sequel to Pandora's Star (2004) than the second half of one dauntingly complicated, wonderfully imagined novel. The diverse human Commonwealth is fighting back against the implacably hostile mass-mind Prime, while discovering that agents of another hostile alien force are sabotaging war efforts. In a multitude of subplots, Hamilton adroitly leaps from the struggles of one engaging, quirky character to another. Meanwhile, the main action expands and the super-scientific weapons become increasingly terrible. Then the story shifts focus and presents a moral question: if it's now possible to wipe out the Prime, is it permissible to commit genocide? Hamilton demonstrates that humans not only can shape huge masses of data to their own ends but also can recognize when to stop doing so. Some of the people manage to transcend their small, personal concerns—sometimes. The density of detail may slow readers down, but the distinctive characters and the plot's headlong drive will pull them along. In more ways than one, this two-part work is monumental.
Peter F. Hamilton’s superbly imagined, cunningly plotted interstellar adventures are conceived on a staggeringly epic scale and filled with fully realized human and alien characters as complex as they are engaging. No mere world builder, Hamilton creates entire universes–and he does so with irresistible flair and intelligence. His previous novel, the acclaimed Pandora’s Star, introduced the Intersolar Commonwealth, a star-spanning civilization of the twenty-fourth century. Robust, peaceful, and confident, the Commonwealth dispatched a ship to investigate the mystery of a disappearing star, only to inadvertently unleash a predatory alien species that turned on its liberators, striking hard, fast, and utterly without mercy. The Prime are the Commonwealth’s worst nightmare. Coexistence is impossible with the technologically advanced aliens, who are genetically hardwired to exterminate all other forms of life. Twenty-three planets have already fallen to the invaders, with casualties in the hundreds of millions. And no one knows when or where the genocidal Prime will strike next. Nor are the Prime the only threat. For more than a hundred years, a shadowy cult, the Guardians of Selfhood, has warned that an alien with mind-control abilities impossible to detect or resist–the Starflyer–has secretly infiltrated the Commonwealth. Branded as terrorists, the Guardians and their leader, Bradley Johansson, have been hunted by relentless investigator Paula Myo. But now evidence suggests that the Guardians were right all along, and that the Starflyer has placed agents in vital posts throughout the Commonwealth–agents who are now sabotaging the war effort. Is the Starflyer an ally of the Prime, or has it orchestrated a fight to the death between the two species for its own advantage? Caught between two deadly enemies, one a brutal invader striking from without, the other a remorseless cancer killing from within, the fractious Commonwealth must unite as never before. This will be humanity’s finest hour–or its last gasp.