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Strong tea and good books

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

Judas Unchained (Commonwealth Saga)

Judas Unchained  - Peter F. Hamilton Epic. Absolutely epic. The conclusion to the Commonwealth Saga just leaves me wanting more even though the story, which neatly tied up at the end and came into a cohesive whole, came to a satisfying conclusion.

There are so many characters in the two novels, which explains the character list at the beginning of each book, yet over the course of the two books each character is fleshed out a little and may come back at some key point to advance the plot.

My two favourite characters were Ozzie Isaacs and Paula Myo, at least before Ozzie's personality seemed to just get far too self-righteous. Those two being my favourites is probably explained by these two characters having two of the more interesting story arcs in the saga, and there are so many story arcs throughout the two books and yet the story remains focused and plot driven despite its near 2000 pages in length.

Ozzie's tone of self-righteous pomp comes up near the end after emerging from walking the Silfen paths, having found out from the Silfen about what had been going on, and then having been sequestered by Nigel Sheldon and being told what the Commonwealth planned on doing to MorningLightMountain and the Prime civilization, gets all uppity and aims to prevent it.

Now this could be attributed to the fact that he hasn't actually experienced what has been going on in the Commonwealth. He didn't witness the devastation of the Lost23 nor the obliteration of the Second47. I did think that the way he was able to commandeer a heavily guarded secret spaceship to be contrived and forced. (I will say that I'd worked out pretty early on that Ozzie assisted Bradley and the Guardians).

This nicely brings in the role of the SI in all of this, who assisted Ozzie in the above, and helped Mellanie throughout. Its desire to prevent a genocide, and not assist the humanity which I assume created it struck me as a little odd and unclear.

THE most interesting part of the whole story is how the reader's opinion of the Guardians of Self-hood completely changes as you progress through the story. This mirrors the way the Starflyer develops within the plot.

At first the Guardians are wacko-crazy terrorists, and the Starflyer is fake. As more legitimate characters start to question the evidence of the existence of such an entity, the Starflyer moulds into an entity who's motives are clear, against humanity, but who's origins and nature are unknown and undefined.

The way Hamilton handles this is done very well and I had not worked out, nor had I guessed, what entity the Starflyer would be and in the end it did make sense for why it was trying to mainpulate the Commonwealth as it was doing.

There was one area where a hole in the plot could exist, albeit this hole is in the first book but I didn't see it until the reveal in the second, and that is the fact that the Guardians who were trying to prevent the Second Chance launch could have, using the knowledge that Bradley Johansson has about the Starflyer, told the Commonwealth what would be found behind the barrier and what consequence this would have, gaining enormous credibility when it did happen.

The fact remains however that the lack of clues as to who was a Starflyer agent, the red herrings in place, and Hamilton's willingness to kill off just about any character, makes for a cracking yarn, albeit one that felt like it was reaching a climax with about 400 pages to go, from the trains' blockade busting run onwards.

I look forward greatly to moving on to the Void series and returning to the Commonwealth where hopefully Hamilton will continue to use a science fiction setting and technology to tell a great story.