You were right the Void is top notch ! finished it 2 weeks ago, I loved it to bits ! Quite similar in some ways, for the epic, to Night's dawn trilogy . I think it is compulsory to read the commonwealth saga before.
So for now, if you want to read Hamilton, I would read finally :
1) The commonwealth Saga (to start slowly )
2) The Void
3) Night's dawn
Even if it is long time I have not read SF, I'm personally rating Hamilton in the kind of Asimov or Dan Simmons, not a genre of space-Opera author, but THE space-opera authors It is full-on, with rich details and all the ingredients you need to enjoy a good book. It is indeed a bit slow at start but worth the effort.
I agree with you, it is indeed subjective.I haven't yet read Leviathan Wakes but it's on my TBR pile and I'm looking forward to it. I can understand why so many people are put off by Hamilton. I think it comes down to a matter of taste. If you like the action and plot to take off from the word go and discover the universe as you're pulled along then Hamilton won't be your guy.
Hamilton likes to set up his universe in rich detail; he's very good at it and he comes at you from multiple story-threads often leaving the reader at a cliff-hanger moment then segwaying into a completely different story thread. All these threads seem unrelated at first and half the fun of his stories is seeing how they gradually wind together into powerful story lines. His stories tend to start off slow and build into a furious finish. Some people like that (I do) and some people want their action right away. There's no right or wrong to it, just a matter of taste.
I actually started reading Hamilton with Pandora's Star and felt half-lost until I read the chapter that introduced the evolution of the motile aliens. Everything seemed to click for me at that point and I was hooked and have been devouring Hamilton's books ever since.
I have also finally finished Leviathan Wakes yesterday.
Good Book, a little sweet between 2 big chocolate cake from Hamilton . Fast book to read, too fast maybe... I see why people could talk about Hamilton a tiny bit. The plot is epic in some ways.
But seriously, it is too fast. Miss some descriptions in my perspective..Descriptions are important to make you imagine the world the author is creating and to enter a bit more into the book. it seemed a bit weak for me on this point as I found it difficult to imagine the environment several times (the Belt, Eros, Ceres..).
Regarding the characterization, It think it is quite a success to make us like his characters, even if it is fast. Simple characters but loveable.
Nice, twisting and interesting plot. (A bit scared when the zombie story started but finally, relieved )
Miss totally of some political and religious views, just action Hamilton is a bit more interesting on this side I think.
Overall, I liked it and I will buy Caliban's war, there is a lot of potential here but he should write 300 pages more full of description and characterization
I went today to my favourite book shop but no Caliban's war will have to order on the web. I decided to buy Consider Phlebas to give a try to Ian Banks.
I'm waiting with impatience for the new Hamilton in September.
Did somebody read the thousand emperors from Gary Gibson ? I liked his first trilogy Stealing the light.