Following on from The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist is the second epic novel in the Night's Dawn trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton.
The ancient menace has finally escaped from Lalonde, shattering the Confederation's peaceful existence. Those who succumbed to it have acquired godlike powers but now follow a far from divine gospel as they advance inexorably from world to world.
On planets and asteroids, individuals battle for survival against the strange and brutal forces unleashed upon the universe. Governments teeter on the brink of anarchy, the Confederation navy is dangerously overstretched, and a dark messiah prepares to invoke his own version of the final Night.
In such desperate times, the last thing the galaxy needs is a new and terrifyingly powerful weapon. Yet Dr Alkad Mzu is determined to retrieve the Alchemist - so she can complete her 30-year-old vendetta to slay a star. Which means Joshua Calvert has to find Dr Mzu and bring her back before the Alchemist can be reactivated.
But he's not alone in the chase, and there are people on both sides who have their own ideas about how to use the ultimate doomsday device.
©2016 Peter F. Hamilton (P)2016 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
There's the germ of an excellent story in here somewhere. I made it through the first book, and am on the verge of giving in here. Hamilton's relentless (and frankly clumsy) shifting of perspectives means the reader is left in a near-constant state of confusion as to who is who, which characters are central and which are peripheral. By the time you've been introduced to yet another person you don't care about, you've barely registered not caring about the previous 300 characters you've been introduced to. A real contrast with someone like Ian M Banks, who limits himself to a few characters and manages to create universes of similar scale.
There's no lack of ambition here, the universe-building is hugely coherent and plausible.
John Lee sounds like a pompous Vicar doing his telephone voice. He just sounds like he's faking gravitas, and it's an awful effect. The best readers some element of magic and clarify the story at their very best, Lee only serves to muddy. I'd steer clear of Lee again.
LOL, as the saying goes. Pick any one of the several hundreds I don't care about...
I am massive fan of Peter Hamilton's work and this trilogy is stunning in its imagination and scope so five stars for the story. The narration is also great for the most part with one irritant which is more to do with the editing; there are no pauses between the sub sections of paragraphs so when the story switches (as it does quite a bit in Hamilton's work) between the major story lines, you need to double take to make sure you've not missed anything. This may sound trivial but by the end of this book (second of the series) it has become a real issue for me. It's a shame because otherwise this is a fantastic production. I would recommend it of course, despite this flaw and hopefully the publisher can take note for future offerings.
This is the middle act of the Night's Dawn trilogy of books from Peter F
Hamilton and picks up from where the Reality Dysfunction left off. I really
enjoyed the first part of this trilogy despite the large cast of characters
which I found a little confusing at times. However, as much as I didn't
expect this to be the case, I have to say that I found The Neutronium
Alchemist quite hard going. Now, this might well be down to the fact that I
read this book in many more smaller pieces than the Reality Dysfunction and
this might have contributed to my difficulty staying focused in this massive
piece of writing. The first book in this series hooked me with the primary
thread which was the Lalonde colony story. A significant number of connected
characters were part of this story thread which made for a much more
manageable read. In The Neutronium Alchemist we perhaps have an even
larger number of characters and to make things a little harder to follow
this expanded cast is spread over more threads or so it certainly felt to
me. However, as mentioned, this might just be my perception due to not being
able to take this book in with longer chunks of reading. Perhaps the start
stop 15 minutes here or 30 minutes there that was how I tackled the
consumption of this story was the real problem in which case, my suggestion
to potential readers could well be to try and devour larger chunks of this
book in single sittings to help keep events, names and places fresh in the
At one point I was finding that place names and character names were
confused until I would hear mention that what I thought of as
a person was in fact the name of an asteroid settlement! For me, without
having a primary thread focus such as the plight of the colonists on Lalonde
in the first book, I found it harder going to stay focused as we bounced
around. Of course, Hamilton keeps things together and there is connection
there but I feel that in this era of his career that his biggest oversight
was the sheer number of characters. I can appreciate why he chose to do this
as his books are so huge and epic and he no doubt wanted to bring real scope
to the plot but I just think that it is somewhat overdone. As mentioned in
my review of the first part of this trilogy, I think Hamilton has since
refined his art and by the time he writes the excellent Commonwealth
series of books he has cut down on cast size and kept them more consolidated
and easier to manage from the reader's point of view.
Hamilton has clearly put a massive amount of work into this huge trilogy.
However, his ambition to pen something of truly epic proportions has made it
less digestible. The story is a good one but it just doesn't seem to be as
cohesive as the first in this trilogy.
The Neutronium Alchemist is still a worthwhile read and a must if you have
read the first part of this series of stories. We are left at a cliff hanger
so it's on to the last in the trilogy now so I'll see how that goes ...
"A thoroughly enjoyable experience."
I continue to be surprised and amazed by the seemingly limitless enjoyment that I experience from these works. With many thanks to author, talent and production.
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