After having finished Peter F. Hamilton’s two-part Commonwealth Saga, I discovered that one of his trilogies was placed in this same story universe, only about 1200 years later. Although I do believe that this is a perfect jumping on point and you don’t have to read or listen to the prequel novels of the Commonwealth Saga, I’m also convinced that you’ll enjoy The Dreaming Void more if you have.
Although I found the prospect of what would undoubtedly be another long listen somewhat daunting, I also thought that a little over 21 hours was very much better than the almost 38 hours a piece of the aforementioned two-parter. So I happily embarked on this new listening trip, blissfully ignoring the fact that the entire trilogy would of course take me almost exactly as long as the previous saga. But who’s counting.
AD 3580. The Intersolar Commonwealth has spread through the galaxy to over a thousand star systems. It is a culture of rich diversity with a place for everyone. Even death itself has been overcome. But at the centre of the Commonwealth is a massive black hole. This Void is not a natural artefact. Inside there is a strange universe where the laws of physics are very different to those we know. It is slowly consuming the other stars of the galactic core – one day it will devour the entire galaxy.
Inigo, a human, has started to dream of a wonderful existence in the Void. He has a following of millions of believers and they now clamour to make a pilgrimage into the Void to live the life they have been shown. Other starfaring species fear their migration will cause the Void to expand again. They are prepared to stop them no matter what the cost.
And so the pilgrimage begins….
©2008 Peter F. Hamilton; (P)2008 Macmillan Digital Audio
My thoughts: “Smart combination of scifi & fantasy!”
From the beginning this novel requires your attention – no vacuum cleaning or shopping while listening please – as per usual, it seems, with Hamilton’s work. The plot takes its time to unfold in all its detail, sauntering unhurriedly forward while you meet all of its well-fleshed out characters. But then: a novelty, a story-within-a-story, a novel-within-a-novel even, and to Hamilton’s credit I cannot make up my mind which of the two I liked better. I might love them equally well – although Inigo’s dreams, which make up this interwoven second novel, are more action-driven with a higher pacing, so I guess I do prefer that storyline a little.
By combining two-novels-in-one in this particular way, in my opinion Hamilton has also brilliantly succeeded in combining scifi and fantasy in one great tale, without the genres ever actually crossing over. A smart move, and smartly done. The novel hints at the two stories, or at least their worlds, being integrated in one of its sequels, but this first part will have none of that. Loved it!
After The Commonwealth Saga, The Dreaming Void has a new narrator: Toby Longworth, which comes with its perks and its disadvantages. On the plus side, there are actual sentence breaks in the correct places now, and some clarifying seconds of silence between chapters. What.a relief that was, compared to the prequels. Also, as a narrator he performs perfectly well, and I would listen to any novel read by him without any qualms. My criticism of the change of narrator however outweighs its advantages. For Longworth pronounces certain names of characters and species differently from what we have become acquainted with in the Commonwealth Saga, which I found slightly annoying and couldn’t get used to. Also, his acting voice for the different characters is, naturally, different from John Lee’s, which includes inflection of voice, and the way certain sentences are intoned. I found this distracting as well because the effect was that several well-loved characters didn’t sound like themselves anymore. So I was glad to notice that John Lee, the original narrator of the Commonwealth Saga, returns to parts 2 and 3 of the Void trilogy!
All in all I liked this first part of the Void trilogy enough to recommend it to anyone who likes the Commonwealth Saga, or simply Peter Hamilton’s work! 👍🏼
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