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Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton
Review by Drew Bittner
Del Rey Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0345461665
Date: 28 February, 2006 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

In the 24th century, mankind's far flung Commonwealth of star systems -- held together by artificial wormholes and a breakthrough faster-than-light stardrive -- has come under brutal assault on two fronts. On the first, a virulently xenophobic race called the Prime are seeking the annihilation of humanity. On the other, a shadowy nemesis called the Starflyer is making increasingly bold (and devastating) attacks, seemingly aimed at sabotaging humanity's war effort -- including an assassination in plain sight of navy intelligence.

Our only hope is a group that the government has decided are terrorists — and must be eradicated!

This is Judas Unchained, the second half of the story begun in Pandora's Star. Peter Hamilton unleashes yet another densely written, intricately plotted space opera...and delivers a work certain to please his many fans.

The war is going badly for humanity, but all is not lost. The navy enjoys some technological edges over the Prime...and one development in particular may turn the balance decisively. The question for the government becomes, is the goal of this war genocide? The Prime seem unwilling to back down and compromise may be impossible. How far is humanity willing to go to survive? Even though it seems like an easy question, Hamilton weights the issue with serious pros and cons.

But what about the Starflyer? After pursuing one case for over a hundred years, Investigator Paula Myo has reached some conclusions — but the possibilities are mind-boggling and the implications horrifying. Has humanity been betrayed at the very highest levels of government? Is the defense of dozens of worlds compromised from within...and has mankind been steered toward his own doom? Even more than the battle against the Prime, the answers to these questions may decide the fate of the human race. The Prime counterattack certainly suggests betrayal to Admiral Kime, but it'll be Paula's success that uncovers the traitor in their midst.

Meanwhile, mechanic Mark Vernon seems to have found a safe place to survive the war, working for the super-rich on their exodus fleet. Unfortunately, when the Commonwealth's founder Nigel Sheldon arrives to ask for "a little favor," he discovers he cannot say no. This plunges him into a struggle that challenges everything he's ever believed--and tests the limits of his humanity in new and startling ways.

Finally, a character believed dead offers a stunning revelation from beyond the grave. His secrets may spell the difference between victory and destruction.

Much like his longer (but equally compelling) saga(s) Reality Dysfunction and Neutronium Alchemist, Hamilton weaves diverse character viewpoints together to provide a tapestry of the larger story. Between the myriad players, human and alien, the reader is left breathless in amazement at the scope of what Hamilton has envisioned.

On the basis of books like this, he's well on his way to being one of the greats of science fiction.

Recommended.

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