The Void Trilogy – Peter F. Hamilton

The Dreaming Void
At the far edge of the known universe stands a Centurion Station, a research base built atop ruins two million years old, abandoned by aliens since the dawn of time. Recently however, this quiet zone is attracting notice because of signs that the dread Void has begun to stir again.
The Temporal Void
The Intersolar Commonwealth is in turmoil as the Living Dream’s deadline for launching its Pilgrimage into the Void draws closer. Not only is the Ocisen Empire fleet fast approaching on a mission of genocide, but also an internecine war has broken out between the post-human factions over the destiny of humanity.Countering the various and increasingly desperate agents and factions is Paula Myo, a ruthlessly single-minded investigator, beset by foes from her distant past and colleagues of dubious allegiance…but she is fast losing a race against time.At the heart of all this is Edeard the Waterwalker, who once lived a long time ago deep inside the Void. He is the messiah of Living Dream, and visions of his life are shared by, and inspire billions of humans. It is his glorious, captivating story that is the driving force behind Living Dream’s Pilgrimage, a force that is too strong to be thwarted. As Edeard nears his final victory the true nature of the Void is finally revealed.
The Evolutionary Void
Peter F. Hamilton concludes the highly acclaimed Commonwealth saga that has unfolded in The Dreaming Void and The Temporal Void.
Book descriptions taken from Goodreads – so if they suck, blame them.
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I was going to review each book in this trilogy separately, but I plowed through the first two books in two days and realized that reviewing each book separately would be a bit tedious on my blog. Thus, I am going to try something a bit different here, and review the trilogy as a whole rather than each book separately. We’ll see how it works out.
Hamilton’s Void Trilogy consists of three separate books, starting with The Dreaming Void, then The Temporal Void and ending with The Evolutionary Void. This series doesn’t so much as consist of three distinct books; rather it reads more like one long book divided into three distinct sections. Each book begins right where the previous book ended, giving the reader a seamless continuation through the series with no lost time, or major hiccups between Void Trilogy entries. This made it incredibly easy for me to move from one book to the next without hesitation, and caused me to devour the series in record time for something this complex. My hat goes off to those who have read this trilogy having to wait for each book to be published. With such a seamless continuation between books, the wait would have been very difficult to endure.
One thing I absolutely love about Hamilton’s The Reality Dysfunction, was his ability to change his tone between romping action to intense personal and intimate moments. His easy switching of gears was something that has always stuck with me. While I didn’t quite get the same intense gear shifting in the Void Trilogy, Hamilton still is a master of changing tone. For example, the different feel between the Commonwealth and Edeard’s story from within the Void is absolutely incredible. Hamilton created two very distinct places in his trilogy, and masters changing the feel and tone between them seamlessly. This allows readers to become just as wrapped up in the Commonwealth storyline, as they will with Inigo’s dreams, which could easily become a novel in and of themselves.
As with his other works, Hamilton’s writing is, quite honestly, stunning. While it may take some time to sift through some of the science and high-tech concepts, Hamilton makes them as easy to understand as possible. Hamilton, as usual, proves that he’s just as adept at writing action scenes and intense political scenes as he is with portions of Inigo’s dreams, which can only be explained as incredibly poetic. His characters each have unique voices, and keep them throughout the series. His worlds are well built and incredibly thought out, each with their own set of realistic problems both politically and environmentally. His societies are also incredibly realistic, each dealing with their own set of struggles. In all, despite these books being incredibly short compared to some of his other works, he doesn’t skimp on the small details.
One cannot read Hamilton and not expect a sprawling plot and a vast array of characters to keep track of. The Void Trilogy is no different. It’s surprising that in books that are roughly a fourth of the size of any of his Night’s Dawn series, that he can pack as many plots, subplots, fleshed out characters and secondary characters into the pages, but he does. While readers familiar to Hamilton will expect this, new readers might want to see how they handle Hamilton first, and read one of his stand-alones, like Fallen Dragon, to test themselves before jumping into a full fledged trilogy.
In this vein, it should be noted that a broader, more well rounded appreciation of the trilogy, as a whole will be gained by individuals who have read Hamilton’s other Commonwealth works, specifically Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained. While I haven’t read these books, and felt that I enjoyed and understood this series, I have been assured by many that I should re-read it after I have read the other Commonwealth books and my appreciation and understanding will be heightened, as the Commonwealth books seem to set a broad foundation for the Void Trilogy.
Each book in the series builds like a slow crescendo upon the previous, until a very fitting, very powerful ending in The Evolutionary Void. The series may take some time to get used to, and fully absorbed in, but once it happens the pace is set. Despite the complex plot and multitude of characters, Hamilton never looses sight of his core plot. His pace is frantic, but each detail of the series is obviously measured. There is no straying from the path he sets his reader on, and in The Evolutionary Void, many of the subplots and small details in the previous two books will wrap tightly around an amazing conclusion. The journey is well worth it.
The Void Trilogy is an amazing effort made by one of the master’s of science fiction. While I do think that readers may appreciate this series more if they read Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained first, it’s not absolutely necessary (as I have proved). It is impossible not to enjoy a series this sprawling, complex, tightly woven and incredibly written. Though some readers might not feel that this is Hamilton’s best effort, it is still worth checking out as few authors can master science fiction quite as capably as he can.
4.5/5

3 thoughts on “The Void Trilogy – Peter F. Hamilton

  1. So I started this review thinking in no way am I adding a 3 book trilogy to my TBR list. Now that has changed. Between stunning writing and the ability to create separate worlds, I feel that at least book one deserves a read.

  2. I would really recommend reading Pandora &Judas first. An utterly amazing duology that is the foundation of this universe.

  3. Gutted – I finished the series this morning and feel devastated not to be able to return to the Commonwealth tonight. IT was a very long wait for the 3rd volume – but then I will no doubt re-read all 5 books in a year. Hamilton's writing is such that second reading just enriches the experience. He is a consummate story teller. Yes do read all 5.

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