Cover
Image of the cover was taken from the book’s Amazon buy page for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Pandora’s Star is the first book in Peter F. Hamilton’s Commonwealth Saga.

Spoiler Free Summary: When an astrologist notices a star that regularly vanished and then returns, the futuristic Commonwealth society of planets can’t help but investigate the mystery. The mission brings old enemies together, old hostilities to a boiling point, people who were nobodies to fame, and people who were legends hundreds of years to vanish completely.

Character:  This mammoth tome frankly has too many points of view and characters to track. There’s the guy who invented wormholes and the detective who only failed to solve one case. I also remember a guy ended up a starship captain. My biggest problem with this book is that it demands far too much of the reader. If I think about each individual story, they’re great.  I like stories that have a good cast, but this book simply throws too many plots and characters at me.  Even while reading, I couldn’t ever keep up with who was what doing what and where.  I have two plots I liked best, and they are only vaguely connected to the mission to investigate the vanishing star.

Exposition: This is probably the other reason I struggled with this book. A massive cast combined with mountains of exposition just brings the book to a screeching halt for me. We get several pages of life story for each character before anything actually happens. Again, and one of these stories would have been great, but each block of exposition would be tolerable with fewer characters to work around. There are even side plots that just don’t affect the overall plot at all, and that just drags the pace even further down. The coolest plot doesn’t happen until halfway through the book. I think I’d love this series if book one was three to five books.

Hamilton
Image of Mr. Hamilton was taken from his bio page on the Pan Macmillan website for review purposes under Fair Use doctrine.

Description:  I imagine most fans of pure speculative scifi will love the level of description in this book. It wasn’t as meticulous as say, Dune, but it was certainly detailed and absolutely visceral.  If I’m being fair, it’s probably just right, but combined with the exposition and number of characters, it just slowed things that much more for me.

Overall:  If I’m being honest, this book was just so broad in scope. There are stories and characters in this I was truly interested in, but they were all buried by other characters I can’t even remember and never cared about. The pacing from one character to another felt too random. If this book were split up a bit, I probably would like any number of them, but all together just made it feel hard to follow. This book is great for fans of deep worldbuilding and complex science fiction.

Thanks for reading

Matt

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