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Great North Road Hardcover – January 1, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
All the best,
This book gets off to a slow start, as if the author went in thinking "I do fat books, I have loyal fans, I can afford to take my time with some stodgy police procedural material" but it builds up from there and by the end I was losing sleep, reading to uncover all of the plot twists and find out whodunnit. Some of the twists I feel were telegraphed well ahead of time and I'm not usually the most astute when it comes to guessing plot outcomes. From about two thirds in the Author drip feeds revelations and there was at least one point where I thought "Gah! Not another flashback!"
It doesn't give anything away to say that Hamilton has created a human future not unlike the Commonwealth books, the planets are linked by portals for example and some of the military parts reminded me of Fallen Dragon. A critic might say that he assembled a book from all of the ideas left over from previous writings.
There were plot holes, not that I'll spoil them, just that it seemed like some of the problems that the protagonists faced could have been overcome with the technology that they had available to them. In some places the biological explanations for things seemed off, eg there is a family of clones who, when they breed with a normal person, produce another clone of themselves because their genes are 'dominant'.
Rereading the above, I sound a little harsh for a book I really enjoyed! I did love most of the characters and Hamilton wrote the action and dialogue well. Maybe if he'd trimmed it down a little or made it a pair of books it would have been a 5.
In the first 150 pages, the pace is leisurely. It would fail the cabdriver's test. With 800 pages to go, and a solid fan base, the author evidently felt no need to jump right into the action. I wanted to abandon the book because it was dull. Then the questions about a mystery planet St. Libra began to multiply, in an interesting sequence. Each piece fits into the whole, and there is an entire universe in this book. It takes time to describe it.
The characters are well imagined, but you don't get into their minds like you would with a psychological thriller. They remain distant to the reader in some ways. There are so many of them that you need a roster to keep track, and Hamilton has provided just that in the first few pages: a roster and a time line of important events leading up to the story: a short history of the universe from 2003 to 2120.
Hamilton fans can get into this story, losing themselves for a week or more while they read it. It took me so long to finish that I fell out of the top 1000 reviewers (amazon's algorithm demands constant reviews). I kept hoping that the story would pick up, and I would become fully involved. After 300 pages, I could have put this aside for something more interesting, or more educational. This is the fourth novel I have read by this author. He is very imaginative, but I think I have reached my limit.
This is a SciFi epic with big ideas. This is a police procedural as we follow the (sometimes plodding) steps to uncover a strange murder. This is a soap opera about a dispossessed spoiled rich girl and her life journey. This is a survival story in a harsh environment, wherein a "10-little-indian" drama plays out. You need a big, long book to pack in all the plots.
There is family life described in this book, and not a bleak one of whiny children and unloving spouses. Folks are, for the most part, pretty decent. I weary of people oppressed in life and love. Optimism is what I want at the core of things.
And Hamilton really forgets nothing. That knock-out potion used 400 pages ago? Aha, now we know what our heroine was doing instead of seducing a soldier. The reason for The Big Scam that ended up sending someone to prison for 20 years? We find out what the money was for so much later, but we do find out, and it was worth the wait. How and why was a main character genetically modified? What does it mean? --- all will be revealed. If there were any loose ends or mistakes in this complex interplay of plots, I could not find it.
Often I am irritated when an author withholds information, but Hamilton does it the right way, letting his universe-building proceed in an unforced and entertaining way.
Another pleasure is the windup. No abrupt ending here. Instead, a stately and satisfying explanation of "what happened then".
Still a little too long, but a pleasure.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For me, this book had a little learning curve to it; I had to put it aside after reading about 1/4 and focus on something mindless.
Once I got a grip on the universe Mr. Read more
A very long book, but it kept your interest to the end. As each segment unfolded, I kept wondering where they tied together. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Jimps
Every time I started getting bogged down with the description of this and that; Hamilton switch's to another thread that relieves any tedium. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
Good story, with a lot of surprises and twists in the plot. Sometimes it seemed like a lot to keep track of, but in my mind that makes it more interesting.Published 16 days ago by CCTX
A very readable combination of police procedural and science fictionPublished 24 days ago by M. E. Houston
If you know what you're getting into - won't disappoint. However, I'm surprised by a certain drift - no spoliers.Published 25 days ago by TComb
This book kept me guessing with it many intertwined plots coming to a gratifying conclusion. Do not skip the introduction information there are clues there.Published 26 days ago by Bob K
This sprawling, detailed story of human growth across the universe combines elements of police procedural, high technology, planetary conquest and survival against fierce natural... Read morePublished 1 month ago by cosmo