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Fallen Dragon

Narrated by: John Lee
Length: 26 hrs and 30 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (408 ratings)

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Summary

Fallen Dragon is a classic standalone novel by science fiction star Peter F. Hamilton.

Lawrence Newton always dreamed of adventure amongst the stars. Now the ultimate prize is within his grasp, but what will he risk to get it?

Lawrence is the sergeant of a washed-out platoon taking part in the bungled invasion of yet another human colony world. The giant corporations call such campaigns 'asset realization', but in practice it's simple piracy.

When he's on the ground, being shot at and firebombed by resistance forces, he recalls stories of the Temple of the Fallen Dragon. Its priests supposedly guard a treasure hoard large enough to buy lifelong happiness. So Lawrence decides to mount a dangerous private-enterprise operation of his own.

©2016 Peter F. Hamilton (P)2016 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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It's All About The Destination

Having read a lot of Peter F. Hamilton's work and enjoying the Commonwealth saga, Void trilogy and Faller's series of books immensely I decided to give Fallen Dragon a go. What's perhaps a little unusual about this book considering it's length is the fact that it deviates somewhat from Hamilton's multi-part saga format and is a stand alone story. Hamilton is one of those authors that improves his craft with age and the original paper release date of this book of 2001 places it between the Night's Dawn trilogy and the later Commonwealth saga and it shows.

Hamilton has the ability to craft a lengthy story and shows great patience in the time he takes to slowly build the world and characters within it. Perhaps one of Hamilton's best skills is the ability to depict alien worlds in such vivid detail right down to exotic names for trees and other plants and animals. He really places you into these worlds with the rich detail that it makes you almost believe such places exist. Few authors I've read have quite the ability to paint such vivid environments and make them seem totally plausible and realistic so in that regard he really is a master of immersive writing. Where Fallen Dragon shows its weakness is in Hamilton's over lengthy route in reaching plot points. With books of this length and scope it's a difficult balancing act to get just the right amount of detail and narrative to provide the reader full story immersion against going too far into the realm of over doing it which ends up slowing up the plot with what can be judged as unnecessary padding. There is certainly an element of this going on here but what initially feels like much of this actually has meaning but right near the end of the book. Once the reader reaches that point in the final stages of this story then we see that there is some need for much of it but this still leaves us with a significant quantity of excess fat which is rather surplus to requirements. Now, this is the area that I feel Hamilton has refined and improved his writing since Fallen Dragon and we see a much tighter while still epic in scope series of books that form the Commonwealth saga later on. The earlier Night's Dawn saga also suffered from narrative bloat that mainly served to slow the pace of plot development to a crawl in many places. So, I'm very pleased to see that Hamilton has grown and finessed his writing style to make for better stories.

The real pay off in this story is in its conclusion. This is one of those clever tales that only plays its trump card at the end. Once you reach that point, you appreciate other elements earlier on in the story and it makes you understand why the author spent so much time on certain aspects as he did. The core concept of the "pay off" isn't new. We've seen this sort of thing before in science-fiction but it's the journey we take to get there that is part of the requirement to make the ending what it is.

However, we are still left a story which is somewhat too long and we take a very long time before things really start to move. I suppose the last 20% of the book is what makes the first 80% worth going through but, as I say and another reviewer mentioned, there is a bit of fluff getting there. In fact, there is an entire period in the protagonists life that really could be excised from the story I felt relating to the Joona character but that's just my view.
The story format was such that the reader was bounced from the current to the past and back again several times. This and changes of "scene" became confusing given the lack of significant pause between one section and the next. Even if John Lee didn't insert a long enough pause to clarify the jump, the production team ought to have done so which would be a simple task I'm sure. I've seen this lack of pauses between key passages in many other audio books and so I'd like the production team to take note on this point please.

As I listened to the excellent John Lee narrating this book as he has done on many a Hamilton novel, I wondered why an English writer and an English narrator would use American pronunciations on words like Aluminium, the letter "Z" and some others. Probably nothing to do with Hamilton and most likely the production requirements which is sad as I understand that this audio book is aimed at a global English speaking market but I would think the target audience for such a book would be intelligent enough to figure out what aluminium or the letter Z was when pronounced as "Zed" and would appreciate the English narrators use of his native dialect which is reflective of the author's.

I also noted, as another reviewer has, that the closing stages of the story seemed to suddenly rush to a conclusion. It felt so obvious to me that I thought I'd missed something I was so surprised at the sudden change in tempo to one of wrapping up things. It was as if Hamilton realized all of a sudden that he had to limit the number of pages or he ran out of steam and jumped forward a bit to round off the story. I'm sure readers will recognize this when they come across it.

Fallen Dragon is not Hamilton's best work in my opinion but is a journey worth taking if only for its ultimate destination.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

great book,well read

Liked the book, though unsure of the ending it threw a load of closure in a hurry, maybe a deadline or word oimit.

The narration was good, though pauses where the narrative jumped in time would have been helpful.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

twist after twist plus amazing characterisation

phenomenal. complex characters that are incredibly real, worlds that you want to visit and a story that keeps youguessing. plus the sweetest of endings. loved it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An epic in a nutshell

Classic Hamilton, fantastic short story in comparison to Peters other epics, but just as enthralling, entertaining and as usual a page turner.

Highly recommended if you do not have the time to devote to one of the trilogies.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good but lots of flannel

Good story, but really somewhat longer than it needs to be. Better Hamilton titles are available, clear that this one is good early work.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

gripping and novel

I found this immensely enjoyable. if you like peters other books you'll probably enjoy this one too. well narrated.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dave Wretham
  • Wimblington, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom
  • 13-12-16

a brillant story brillantly done

i love this story, i couldn't help but identify with the main character. my favourite book by the author by far, and i like all of his work. waited ten years for this audiobook version.. worth the wait.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Well read, but too long

Enjoyed the narrator's voice; excellent diction (although every girl sounded the same. Only complaint is that sometimes completely different sections or chapters had absolutely no gap between them so it sounded like a single sentence, very disorienting.

The story was disjointed. It tells the story of Lawrence's life from different points in time, jumping between the different timelines. I don't feel like there was any reason for it though, and it would have worked just the same if it was told chronologically. Author seemed to have an unnecessary fixation on sex and spent an inordinate amount of time on Lawrence's teenage girlfriend. The military parts of the book were much more interesting, but on the whole it felt like lots of smaller stories put together, and could have done with being about 20 hours shorter.

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  • Eamonn
  • Leeds, United Kingdom
  • 04-04-19

Pause for thought

Too often there are no gaps between chapters and paragraphs.This book has the same problem.
The ship is spoilt for ha’pence of tar

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A great tale

a great listen from start to finish. I highly recommend this story by Peter f Hamilton.

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  • Amar
  • 23-01-17

A coherent universe inhabited by believable people

Hard science fiction at its best. Hamilton has created a fully realised universe and filled it with utterly believable characters. The ending was perfect. John Lee's narration was quite compelling.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeff
  • 19-09-18

Great as always

High quality and as enjoyable as Peter Hamilton always is, imaginative places believable technology great characters

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Dmitry
  • 17-06-18

Not quite a sum of its parts

All the elements of a PFH classic are there - soldiers, revolutionaries, captains of industry.

There's an interesting ftl mechanic in the "portal colony" idea.

But it doesn't quite gel into a perfect whole.

The rambling storyline and standalone world remind me of his Great North Road, which I rate similarly, mostly for the unstoppable space eating viral alien threat idea.

It's a good book, but not one of his best.

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  • philipp
  • 16-01-18

Magnificent book and narrator!

I read this book when I was 15 and just finished listening to the audiobook. Excellent performance again by John Lee and great story!