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Nights Dawn by Peter F. Hamilton

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Submitted by D. Comeaux 
(Mar 04, 2012)

Oh, man, what a ride. I have spent the last 12 months - all of 2011 - reading this trilogy.

While I am impressed, like so many space operas, BIG questions are raised. Let me give you a bit of backstory without ruining the books.

The entire premise is there is a Confederation of planets inhabited by humans who end up having to deal with the souls of their dead coming back to possess the bodies of currently living people.

Now, there is a lot that can be done with that. I was happy with the way this book was REALLY a Space Opera. That means it DOES drone and sometimes have unimportant details thrown in. Such as travelogue, needlessly lengthy political talks which make C-SPAN (a united state telecast of congressional meetings) look interesting. All of these, while sometimes annoying to SF readers, are in my mind appropriate and allowed for Space Opera. And they are done very well by Mr. Hamilton.

What he does NOT do well is end the 1st 2 books. I think he missed the class on falling action in college. For some reason though, I continued through the entire trilogy because I had to know what was going to happen.

The series comes highly recommended if you are a fan of sprawling Space Opera - ie. long, lenghthy discussions about planets and science and weather and multi-stellar travel. All of that can be considered fluff as well. The entire series could be condensed from ~3500 pages down to maybe 1200 and still not lose much.

Still, I am glad I read through them and it was enjoyable. However the ending, as sadly often happens in hard SF, is terrible.

Submitted by Derren Crawford 
(May 15, 2007)

I decided to read the Nights Dawn Trilogy after completing Judas Unchained, I had been wowed by the Commonwealth saga and couldn't wait to get stuck into Nights Dawn. Now I will admit I found it very hard going to begin with (as I did with the Commonwealth Saga) but once momentum was going there was no stopping it. The shear depth of the storyline, with it's many many layers made me a virtual recluse as I took my novels EVERYWHERE. I could not put the book down even taking it to all my wifes Anti Natal appointments!

I cannot recommend these books enough.

Prepare to be amazed.

Submitted by Joe 
(May 18, 2003)

It is difficult for me to put into words what the Night's Dawn trilogy has meant to me. I read the first book (The Reality Dysfunction Part 1) years ago, and while it is admittedly slow earlier on, I was quickly drawn into the vast, vibrant world that Hamilton has created.

This trilogy manages to accomplish a difficult feat, one that many authors of 'epic' novels have failed to do: it combines characters that we come to love and deeply care about with an enormous, complex plot, a plot that never became too convoluted or abstract to follow. Following Joshua from his humble beginnings through to the climatic final ending is truly a treat, and he is only one of the many deeply drawn characters of the huge trilogy.

A quick summary of the backstory of the trilogy would be thus: humankind, which has spread out among the stars, has split into two large ideological and political factions, the Edenists and Adamists. The Edenists have developed technology that allows them to connect with the 'souls' of the living machines they create, as well as communicate with a form of telepathy with everyone of their kind. The Adamists rejected the Edenists ways as heretical long ago, and chose to pursue more traditional technological lines of thought. There are only three alien species in communication with humankind, one of which was mysteriously destroyed. As the first novel progresses, a new, terrifying force emerges that has ramifications for all humans of either faction, a force that raises questions about the nature of existence  and threatens that existence.

It is safe for me to saw that The Night's Dawn trilogy was the science-fiction/fantasy work that defined my teenage years, much like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy has defined so many other people's lives. Clearly there were other epic works of fiction that stand out in my mind (Tad William's Otherland series, Dan Simmon's Hyperion series, John Steakley's Armor, Dragonlace Chronicles and War of the Twins series, and the ubiquitous Lord of the Rings just to name a few), but Hamilton's space opera stands on the next tier above the others.

This trilogy was good enough that I practically demanded that my friends read it, and now all of them have read the entire trilogy two or three times (my copies are tattered rags by now; I'll buy new ones soon), and most purchased their own copies, even after they read mine.

If I could offer one caveat about the trilogy it would be that I do not recommend this series for anyone under 14 or so (based on individual maturity, of course). There is plenty of violence, sex, horror, and generally disturbing situations.

That said, my whole hearted recommendation would be to buy this trilogy if you are in any way a fan of epic science fiction or fantasy, or even just want a thoroughly entertaining read.

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