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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absolution Gap relates to it's predecessors as "Return of the Jedi" did in comparison to the first two "Star Wars" films...
A lot of other reviewers seem to fixate on an apparent Deus Ex Machina at the conclusion of this book- but I did not find it as jarring as some, for reasons that I will discuss below. In short though, the potential reader should be aware of the critical response to this book, and it's rather controversial ending...

If you have read the first book in this...
Published on April 17, 2010 by Cheese Steak Jimmy

versus
116 of 124 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why, Mr. Reynolds...why?
Oh, the humanity! Everything everybody wrote below is true: great, gothic science fiction, creeping horror, technology, darkness. Wonderful, additional storylines thrown in. Oh, and real character development. The first two books (three, including Chasm City) sold me on the Epic Quest of mankind against the Inhibitors, with wonderful little mysteries thrown in, along with...
Published on August 9, 2004 by Amazon Customer


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116 of 124 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why, Mr. Reynolds...why?, August 9, 2004
By 
This review is from: Absolution Gap (Hardcover)
Oh, the humanity! Everything everybody wrote below is true: great, gothic science fiction, creeping horror, technology, darkness. Wonderful, additional storylines thrown in. Oh, and real character development. The first two books (three, including Chasm City) sold me on the Epic Quest of mankind against the Inhibitors, with wonderful little mysteries thrown in, along with tantalizing hints that they all might be related.

But what do we have here? Toss the major connecting thread between the books... the Inhibitors explained away in less than four pages. Magical "out-of-nowhere" saviors who are hinted at only twice in the entire story, and done in a way that they seem nothing more than a callous afterthought.

Imagine this...you've worked your way through the first two (three, including Chasm City) books, slowly grown used to and then developed an affinity for Mr. Reynolds' wonderfully unique style. You're happy with the subtle hints at 700 years of human history, having been given enough of the details to fill in the dark, gothic story with your own imagination. But five hundred pages to go, you start thinking, "Now we'll see the culmination of it all!" Two-hundred fifty pages, and you're thinking, "Ok, anytime now..." One hundred pages, and there's a sinking feeling..." Fifty pages, with the ending to the central theme of the series nowhere in sight, you finally realize the awful truth: this whole storyline was *never* about the Inhibitors. It was *all* a mechanism to force us to fill in the blanks of the future history of humanity, with the Inhibitor battle only a convenient way to move things along.

Until, that is, Mr. Reynolds couldn't write about it anymore. So, with nothing more than a rubber stamp called "Epilogue", the story ends. No mysteries solved. Mademoiselle? Nope. Conjoiners? Nope. Plague? Nope. Inhibitors? "Poof!" they are gone with the aid of magical fairies, only to be replaced by newer, badder bad guys. But none of this was what this story was about. As a literary mechanism, I applaud Mr. Reynolds' achievement. If you read books to be entertained along the way, this whole series is wonderful and I highly recommend it - I enjoyed 3/4 of it immensely. But if you like a story with a good ending, it is supremely disappointing... I, for one, feel cheated. It's actually worse than Hamilton and the Night's Dawn ending. Mr. Reynolds' style is to leave much to our imagination, and for most of this series he does so brilliantly. But, where he carefully takes thousands of pages to weave us a story of the past 700 years, he give us the future in a mere four.

Oh well. I suppose it was worth it.
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65 of 73 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly disappointing., September 11, 2004
By 
Jane Avriette (Arlington, Virginia USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Absolution Gap (Hardcover)
First, I'd like to mirror what many of the other reviewers have said. Specifically a correlary between Stephen Baxter and Reynolds. He does seem to have a bit of a problem continuing this story.

I think what nobody has mentioned here, and bears mentioning, is that Reynolds left his job as a scientist to pursue writing full time to write this book. It seems that perhaps he got a little cocky.

Where the previous two books (I disagree that this is a four book series) were cold, realistic, hard science fiction (with the notable, but forgivable exception of Skade's FTL escapades and the cache weapons), his resolve to write concise books simply disappears with the third. Bizarre weapons ("hypometric" weapons, "bladder mines", "cryo math", and so on) and forces peek out and begin to play very large parts in this book.

Additionally, characters are spun through very strange trajectories not expected from the previous books. Scorpio is nearly a different character entirely. Brannigan is, well, a person again. Khouri is almost maternal, and rather boring. Clavain is near useless, and certainly uninteresting, and Skade is implausible(er) and not nearly as formidable.

What happened? I don't think anyone but Reynolds can really answer this. As somebody who went to amazon.co.uk to get copies of his books which were unavailable here in the US, I am definitely somebody who is a fan of his. After reading this, however, I'm not sure I'd read another of his books. My hope is that he will realize from the vast majority of reviews of his recent book, that he has taken a turn that was unexpected, and that perhaps he should reconsider.

At any rate, I would also suggest buying as a paperback. Or borrowing. This isn't worth the cost of admission, and it really wasn't worth the time I spent reading it. The suspense at the end of the book (a paltry 60-80 pages) is roughly the same quality as the middle to end of the second book, but is completely blunted by a weak, anticlimactic ending. This series needed a solid ending, regardless of whether it was a lead in to another book. What we have here is loose ends gummed up, rather than sewn up.

Suggested for hardcore fans who have to know, recommend against it for anyone else.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not up to level of previous books, July 9, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Absolution Gap (Hardcover)
With this book, unlike the previous 3 of his I have read, I was disappointed.
The entire question of shrouder/mademoiselle penetration of the conjoiners vanishes. Presumably if the Night Council WAS mademoiselle, it still existed somewhere.
The protagonist AND antagonist from Redemption Ark are removed from the story early in a clearly contrived fashion whose only impact besides clearing the slate for new characters is to give scorpio periodic memories.
The Nestbuilders are only presented in an allusive fashion, but play a large role in the plot. Invisible Hand material (when the story goes to far to be recovered by characters in their enviroment, a new element will be used to resolve the conflict in the plot) in my opinion. The Shadow entities on the other hand at least were built up in the story some.
Greenfly seem to be thrown in after the fact as a way to not have a totally happy ending, particularly if he is planning on writing in this universe more, possibly about Sky Haussmann, assuming he is the person described in the evacuees from Yellowstone.
I would wait for paperback on this one if I had to do it again.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A flawed novel..., February 8, 2006
This review is from: Absolution Gap (Hardcover)
Read the other reviews and you'll find the same complaints echoed over and over again. They can be reduced to this observation: there is a profound carelessness on the part of the author that cannot be hidden. Yes, the writing is mostly excellent, Reynolds has an exceptional skill with the written word. Yes, there are several interesting ideas and a vast cargo of cool SF toys for the discriminating gourmet of the apocalyptic. All of it is rendered irrelevant by disastrously bad story choices, sloppy workmanship at the conclusion, and a hackneyed reliance on what the fancy types call "deus ex machina," when he's stuck, the author pulls something out of thin air. Or maybe out of the lower orifice of his body. Doing it once is vastly irritating; doing it three times in a row can be classified as a true dirty deed. All within pages of each other. For those who actually liked this mash, I'll list them. First came the revelation about the shadows, then came the hidden race, then came the greenflies (Don't they have a spray for that?). True aggravation from a writer with a great deal of talent, who for some reason can't deploy that talent on a regular basis.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, June 8, 2005
This review is from: Absolution Gap (Revelation Space) (Mass Market Paperback)
I enjoyed the other books in the series, and was looking forward to this one, but it isn't nearly as good. The characters are dull, no one developed well enough for me to identify with anyone. The overall plot is interesting enough, but it all seems a repeat of ideas from the earlier books. Oh, look, more super advanced technology from a mysterious source. More heroes gallantly throwing their lives away to save humanity. More ghosts talking to people from inside their heads. *yawn* It was as if Reynolds pretty much ran out of material but still had to fill 750 pages. The most interesting aspect was the Quaicheist religion, but the more he developed the idea, the less believable it became.

Overall, I was very disappointed. I'd almost recommend not bothering to read it and never knowing how the series turns out. I definitely wouldn't recommend it to anyone who wasn't already hooked on the first two (three) books.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grand in scope, disappointing in its culmination, June 10, 2005
This review is from: Absolution Gap (Revelation Space) (Mass Market Paperback)
If it was possible to give a book a 2.5 star rating that's what I would have given this one. It met my expectations somewhat, but I was severely disappointed by the cobbled together ending. It's difficult for me to say negative things about this book because I enjoyed the series as a whole immensely. The reason I give it 3 stars instead of 2 is because its so imaginative and grand in scale, Reynolds is full of neat ideas. Also, Reynold's writing style is not for the light-SF reader. His style of narration can be confusing in the way that he skips from one story to the next, and it takes him a while to weave them all together. He also likes to inject bits of pure speculative astro-physics in periodic intervals that might leave some bewildered. But that's not my beef with the novel, I expected hard SF and that's what I got.

Maybe a satisfying ending isn't important for some, but judging from the other reviews of this novel, many of us consider if very important. After reading 2,035 pages of this series, (Yes that's two-thousand thirty-five, I added them up) a nice ending that wraps everything up isn't too much to ask. After I finished this novel, after reading the pitiful "epilogue", I was left with no sense of closure whatsover. My mind still swirls with questions left unanswered. In my opinion, at least 1/4 of this novel should have been used as a proper "ending" to the series.

Don't let my 2 paragraphs of negative remarks sway you too much. It's a great book filled with great ideas and characters. It just has a large dent in its side created by a shoddy ending that could have been so much more.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Writing to a deadline, September 2, 2004
By 
This review is from: Absolution Gap (Hardcover)
First point; this book is the last of a massive trilogy, and it won't make a bit of sense if you don't read the first two volumes, in order. Imagine reading "The Return of the King" as your first foray in Tolkien. You wouldn't want to.

Second point: After almost 2,000 pages, a feat worthy of Proust, Reynolds just gives up. The resolution is short, undeveloped, and unsatisfying. As other reviewers have noted, it's a deus ex machina ending. Apparently Reynolds's publisher told him to either send them manuscript, or a check refunding their advance.

Reynolds creates an interesting future world, which we'll probably see a lot more of (vide Ian M. Banks), but this book left me feeling let down.

Roger Rensvold
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not at all a fitting end., June 14, 2005
By 
Jason A. (Illinois USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Absolution Gap (Hardcover)
I managed to rationalize buying the hardcover edition of this book almost as soon as it came out so I could add it to my collection as a tribute to one of my favorite series. In hindsight I regret it.

I've read a few of the reviews that have been posted here and agree on almost all accounts. What began is imensly interesting and entertaining in the first two books (three if you count "Chasm City") somehow lost its way in this final chapter. Plot lines well established at the end of "Redemption Ark" (the Wolves, the Conjoiner civil war, Galliana on the Juggler World, and the Amarantin escape) are either ignored, quickly wrapped up in a couple of pages, or twisted into something more akin to fantasy than hard sci-fi. Mostly notable was how the Wolves have changed from calculating, supremely intelligent, methodical exterminators into a second rate knock off to be struck down with shinny new weapons and outsmarted at every turn. Gone is the creatures who created the object circulating Hades, replaced by cube constructs that have no better strategy then to slug it out with the Conjoiners.

This series started as intelligent, believable, gothic, hard sci-fi with interesting character development and an overarking story. In this instalment Reynolds does not live up to his previous work mostly ignoring what had been set up in the previous books. Also strange was the decision to do away with one of the more interesting character in between books, I don't think I"m giving anything away since it is stated in the first twenty pages, but Felka was apparently lost swimming in the Juggler sea, and Gilliana never makes contact after how much Reynold drummed that possibility up in the last installment.

Out of all it's failings I think the worst slap in the face was how he decided to do away with one of the main characters half-way through the book. I have never been so disgusted with the death of a main character in all my years of reading. This event absolutely sickened me and I almost tossed the book right then when such a character was denied even the semi-noble death of Sylvest and Ilia this twist absolutely made my skin crawl. If you have any romantic expectations of heroic loss I seriously suggest you leave this book on the store shelf.

In all the changes to known characters, the fanicful and utterly confusing (and unbeliveable) technology used to end storylines, and the rampant disregard for previous themes and character left me very dissatisfied with the book as a whole and it was an injustice to the truly excelent books preceding it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Botched Ending - But Great Concept, November 27, 2005
By 
Rafik "RafikNY" (New York, New York United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Absolution Gap (Hardcover)
It took me about a year and half to get through Alastair Reynolds' multi volume Revelation Space epic . The saga formerly comprises of: Revelation Space, Redemption Ark and Absolution Gap. Thinking I would glean a better glimpse of the deadly "Inhibitors." I also read Chasm City a 2nd novel by Mr. Reynolds that was not part of the series but did shed more light on the creepy concept of the nano-virus. Chasm had a tighter plot that was separate from the series and got me committed into the Reynoldsonian Universe. (Probably had different editors). Regarding the Trilogy proper, I found the 3 volumes to be a fantastic concept that got you hooked on the deadly threat of the Inhibitors and the plight of the cast of characters facing galactic extinction. The Capt. of Nostalgia for Infinity, Scorpio and Clavain were quite memorable though unfortunately, tragic figures. I shall miss them.

The reality of the trilogy was like that of a sci-fi movie with great special effects and the all too usual attendant poor plot resolution. The first novel, Revelation Space was interesting but ended in a mega muddle of confusion. Though the book was flawed, we wanted to learn more about the mysterious threat of the Inhibitors. Undaunted, I went on to read Redemption Ark. There also, the 2nd novel ended with giving us the promise that we'll learn more about the galactic threat and how the Pattern Jugglers among others will help. In the final anti-climcactic work of Absolution Gap, again, the concepts were brilliant. Particularly the religious indoctrinal virus. There again, with lack of development we learn very little about the rise of the instrumentality of the Quaichest movement. Additionally, the concept of the "Permanent Way" was hindered by bad editing and mystery was summed up in an off handed manner. Where the Epilogue though mildly ironic, was a total let down and we learned nothing of the remaining inhabitants of Hela.

It appeared that the editors and the author were probably at odds. Mr. Reynolds was brilliant at describing in minute detail his universe and probably ran out of time. Facing deadlines, he and the editors undoubtedly had to make some serious plot sacrifices.. For instance in Absolution, half way through the book is the appearance of Aura (a major character). We learn that her mother (Khouri) was impregnated by the charismatic Thorn (a character in the 2nd book who we know very little about). Additionally in Absolution, we learn almost off handedly that the child has psychic abilities that go beyond the Conjoiner norm. Unfortunately that was not explained and therefore earns 2 and 3/4 stars. One must give Mr. Reynolds and his editors credit, on such a monumental task.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Trilogy In How Many Parts?, October 4, 2004
This review is from: Absolution Gap (Hardcover)
So many people complaining about loose ends, well-established characters dying in droves, big new ideas introduced and variously blown to bits or completely ignored and, just to add to the fun, if you don't realize what's going on with the chapter dates, thngs can get even more confusing.

The end result - a lot of disgruntled people who think the trilogy they've enjoyed so much ended in a rushed, patchwork, chaotic mess.

Except I've never seen anybody say it was a trilogy, and conveying utter chaos and a suitable sense of end-of-the-universe is inevitably going to be a bit disjointed. Add in the fact that in a story that has the potential to span tens of thousands of years, and that includes a fair number of apocalyptic battles, you're going to lose characters.

I can't help but feel that this was meant to be a longer book, or at least that Reynolds got the pacing wrong and had to cram too much new information into too little space towards the end of the book. I also get the impression that Reynolds wasn't so much tired of the worlds he'd created as he wanted to skip forward a bit - new ideas had arisen that required the current storyline to be brought to a close.

So while Absolution Gap seems the weakest of the series so far for the reasons listed above, I don't think we're going to get a real idea of the book's place in the scheme of things until we find out what comes next, or even the book after that. Reynolds is expert at planting tiny little hints, easily missed, in his books, which then reveal their significance several titles later. For example, he's not finished with Sky Haussmann thread, although if you miss the single relevant sentence you'd never know it.

I guess a lot of people are frustrated at the extent to which they've been left flailing - expecting the closure of a trilogy and instead getting a book that seems to be largely intended to skip the story ahead a few hundred years later. I've read what I thought was a two book series just to discover there was a third volume in the works before - but not until I hit the last page of the second volume. Maddening. However, if you go into the book expecting there to be more, the loose ends and the carefully dropped clues just make the wait to find out what happens in the next one even more tantalizing.

As for the rating - I give it a three for now. I'd rate my own enjoyment closer to a four, but I can see how the books disjointed nature and some of the plot twists and severances would frustrate others, so I have to assume that there are going to be more readers who feel the same way. However, if you read the book expecting it to finish with more loose ends than it started with, and even less idea about what's really going on than you originally did, and you pick up on the chapter dates early, I think you'll get a bit more out of it.
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Absolution Gap (Revelation Space)
Absolution Gap (Revelation Space) by Alastair Reynolds (Mass Market Paperback - May 31, 2005)
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