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Judas Unchained (The Commonwealth Saga) Mass Market Paperback – March 27, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 286 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the Commonwealth Saga Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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. (Feb. 28)
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From Booklist

Hamilton takes up the many loose ends of Pandora's Star (2004) and reveals the vast, sprawling conspiracies permeating the big story's interplanetary commonwealth. So much evidence of the Starflyer's existence has been amassed that even the most skeptical begin believing, although it rapidly becomes clear that there are Starflyer agents at the top of the government and the navy. The aliens are busy entrenching themselves on newly conquered worlds, while those planets' few remaining survivors wage futile guerrilla war against them. With humanity being dangerously outnumbered, the governing body desperately seeks a weapon to neutralize the aliens. What it finally comes up with is so devastating as to be genocidal. A showdown is becoming inevitable, however, and perhaps the commonwealth must use the superweapon. In the eleventh hour, the man best suited for the job applies quick thinking and underhanded behavior to the matter. Hamilton has, as usual, produced a dense, engaging space opera that satisfyingly balances shoot-'em-up action and thoughtful debate. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Commonwealth Saga (Book 2)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (March 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345461673
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345461674
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.4 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (286 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rodney Meek on October 30, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Judas Unchained" is the third volume in Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga, following immediately upon the events detailed in "Pandora's Star". (The earlier "Misspent Youth" is set much earlier in this universe's timeline.) In fact, the reader is plunged immediately into this volume without the slightest recap of what has gone before. Under no circumstances should you read this without picking up the prequel, and if you expect the author to refresh your memory upon any point whatsoever, you will be sadly disappointed. You had best be equipped with a phenomenal memory, since Hamilton is not above referring to events that were mentioned once some seventeen hundred pages ago and which now come to be seen as absolutely critical.

Yes, these books are massive, and possibly hundreds of pages could've easily been trimmed. The author is a little too fond of turning a simple sentence such as "The road climbed to the top of the hill" into "The glittering ribbon of enzyme-bonded concrete, laid down 175 years ago by automated Tarmac Master 3170 roadbots imported from the Big15 world of Cyborgia, wound its way upward to the crest of the ancient hill, which was composed of an agglomerate of metamorphic gneiss and basalt and which had been puked up by a volcanic eruption geologic epochs ago in the planet's tormented evolutionary past." Indeed, I can assure you that you will very soon be sick of the phrase "enzyme-bonded concrete", which I can only conclude must be set up on a macro on Hamilton's keyboard.

I also hate the amateurish cover, which is an abomination.

With that said, this is a worthy if bloated conclusion to the tale of humanity's struggle for survival against the Primes and the manipulative Starflyer. Can the Commonwealth stop MorningLightMountain?
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
"Judas Unchained" is the sequel to "Pandora's Star" and make no mistake, the two of these novels are really one big story. Don't even think about trying to read "Judas Unchained" before reading "Pandora's Star."

It is nearly impossible to review "Judas Unchained" without the risk of spoiling "Pandora's Star" for those who have not read it; if you have not yet read the latter novel, do not continue on reading this review.

These novels are essentially a prognostication of mankind's future starting about 70 years from now, at which time humanity discovers cheap and practical interstellar travel. This is accomplished both by means of "wormholes" (instantaneous gateways to distant locations) or by faster-than-light starships which are powered by the same wormhole principle. The gateways are so practical that mankind initially builds no starships, but quickly colonizes hundreds of planets that are linked electronically and physically by wormholes, and the Intersolar Commonwealth comes into being, which is a loose government comprised of Earth and most of the colonized worlds. The strength of these novels is that author Hamilton's speculations along these lines is ingenious, mostly not implausible, and really does represent an optimistic and indeed dazzling vision of the future. The Commonwealth really does behave about the way a modern technological republican (small "r") society would behave, and Hamilton's speculations about technology are for the most part fascinating even if the reader is skeptical about some of them.

"Pandora's Star" is about the Commonwealth's discovery of a distant star that is suddenly enveloped in a force field (i.e. a "Dyson Sphere") which contains--something.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before you read this review, consider my prior review of James Hamilton's superb "Pandora's Star" to which I awarded five stars. "Pandora's Star" blew me away with its deft juggling of numerous plots and sub-plots, and creation of a universe consisting of near-immortality, stable wormholes, hundreds of human populated planets, the "Silfen Paths," the released "Primes," and numerous other relatively sophisticated sci-fi concepts. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the same way -- not even close -- about the ponderous "Judas Unchained," though I still think its worthy of 3 stars since Hamilton is such a talented writer in the space opera genre.

First, I have to say that it took me about 100 pages to get back into this universe since Hamilton decided to begin the book with sub-plots even in the face of alien invasion and potential human extinction. Second, well over 100 tedious pages towards the end are devoted to a bizarre futuristic "Road Warriors" sequence, where the Navy and Guardians in vehicles (Toyotas and Volvos no less!) are chasing down the Starflyer and its entourage. Third, even though I wanted the book to end already, I thought that the concluding chapter felt sought of like Hamilton was trying to meet a deadline, and to conclude everything on an optimistic note.

Along the way, I was puzzled over the following [spoilers!!!]:

1. While Hamilton thankfully provided a "Dramatis Personae," why not also give us a glossary with locations, technology, space ships, etc. ala Tolkien or Robert Jordan? I found the jumping around of locations was especially confusing.

2. Hamilton should read Arthur C. Clarke's "Superiority.
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