Review | The Temporal Void by Peter F Hamilton (Pan Macmillan/Del Rey)

Title: The Temporal Void
Author: Peter F Hamilton
Publisher: Pan Macmillan (UK), Del Rey (US)
Format: Hardback
Pages: 752 (UK), 736 (US)
Release Date: October 3rd 2008 (UK), March 24th 2009 (US)

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The Intersolar Commonwealth is in turmoil as the launch of Living Dream’s Pilgrimage into the Void draws near and, with the Ocisen Empire fleet fast approaching on a mission of genocide, an internecine war has broken out between the post-human Factions over the destiny of humanity.

Defying the increasingly desperate Factions is Paula Myo, the ruthlessly single-minded investigator. Beset by foes from her distant past and colleagues with dubious allegiance, she is losing a race against time, and the shocking truth of how far some people will go to determine the course of evolution is only just dawning on her. Meanwhile, somewhere in Colwyn City, Araminta is coming to terms with the discovery that she is the Second Dreamer – and therefore on the run from just about everybody.

At the heart of all this is Edeard, the Waterwalker, who lived long, long ago, deep inside the Void. He is the messiah of Living Dream, and visions of his life inspire billions of humans. They worship these dreams of Edeard’s crusade against corruption, injustice and violence, of his struggle to hold true to his convictions in the face of temptation and betrayal, of his lovers and his battles and of his extraordinary powers, which grow in strength daily.

Edeard’s glorious, captivating story is the driving force behind Living Dream’s Pilgrimage – a force too strong to be thwarted – and, as his triumph draws close, the true nature of the Void will finally be revealed.
The Centaurion Station, the base of the Void observation for countless millennia, is torn apart as the Raiel machines move to counter the Void's expansion. Justine, who is at the station as it is destroyed, makes a decision that will affect the whole of humanity; to enter the Void in an attempt to negotiate with the Skylord. Will the Second Dreamer be able to get her safe passage, even if it means exposing herself?

After rejecting the Skylord's offer Araminta now comes to the full realisation that she is indeed the Second Dreamer, the one Living Dream say is destined to lead them into the Void and the life they so desperately wish. However, along with this discovery Araminta now knows she is the target of everyone who wishes to use her to their own advantage. But she will not bow to the pressures put on her and is on the run, unsure where or who to turn to.

Paula is continuing her mission to track down Troblum who holds crucial information about the Accelerators and their plans. Desperate to get hard evidence, Paula tracks him down and comes to the very harsh realisation of how far the Accelerators are prepared to go to fulfill their plans. Meanwhile, the Ocisen Empire are on their way to Commonwealth space to enforce the threat they previously issued: cease the pilgrimage or face the consequences.

After his spectacular display of power and unwavering belief of what is right, Edeard now faces increasingly difficult obstacles in his bid to bring peace to Makkathran. With the gangs planning to undermine the Waterwalker he must stand for what he believes, even if it means unwanted political manoeuvring, and the events that take place in Makkathran lead down the path that will reveal the full potential of the Void.

Continuing from The Dreaming Void, The Temporal Void picks up events immediately following the revelations and keeps the sense of wonder and urgency we were left with. This helps in keeping the story going at a strong pace and it feels that all the groundwork laid in Dreaming is really starting to pay off.

The Commonwealth sections are particularly impressive. We still know what we were told in Dreaming - the Void is expanding, the Ocisens are one their way to stop the pilgrimage, the Second Dreamer knows she is communicating with the Skylord and many other things. What we are given is a situation that reached a climax and now the after effects are being felt. Throughout the whole of Temporal, the Commonwealth sections are consistently entertaining with a couple of nice surprises in there. There are also even less detours this time around which means we get a very nicely focused story.

The Void sections are just as enjoyably and Edeard's story continues in glorious fashion. We are now treated to a more confident Edeard and one who has gained both popularity and notoriety within Makkathran. His ideas are not something the council are used to and his stance against the criminals results in some interesting and page turning action. The powers within the Void exhibited by Edeard, both the ones he discovers and the ones he learns of through others, are amazing and go to show why so many Living Dream members want to pilgrimage to the Void.

This comes to the main revelation of the book: the true nature of the Void. Without giving anything away, the Void becomes a very appealing place to go to. It also effectively ties up that main sub plot, although I fully expect to see more of the Void in the last book with some very interesting things left hanging.

The characters carry through from Dreaming, but the Commonwealth ones do suffer a little in this volume, simply due to short time most of them are on the page. Where Dreaming was around a 60/40 split in favour of the Commonwealth, Temporal is 70/30 in favour of the Void. This gives a great follow through for Edeard and builds on what I think was the strongest element in Dreaming, and probably the strongest in Temporal too.

It's been confirmed by Peter that The Evolutionary Void will return more to the Commonwealth, and with promises of it being larger again than Temporal I can barely wait until its release. The setting up for Edeard's story done in Dreaming paid off very well in Temporal, but it feels that we're still awaiting that payoff for the Commonwealth and all the dangers now facing it.

There are a couple of bits that I wasn't entirely convinced about, but without giving away spoilers it's very difficult to put them into words. Nevertheless, these are small concerns that didn't affect my overall enjoyment. The format also follows the same principle of Dreaming - we get a chapter in the Commonwealth followed by another of Inigo's dreams of the Void. It works again this time around, although the size of the Void chapters can be huge, one coming to over a hundred pages.

The Temporal Void delivers a lot of what space opera is good for, just not in huge amounts. Who will enjoy it will depend very heavily on what they thought of Edeard's story in Dreaming - if it's something they loved (like me) then Temporal will make them very happy indeed. But if it was the plot they least enjoyed then Temporal may not live up to their expectations. Either way, the stage has been set for an action packed and very promising conclusion. Another highly recommended novel.

Mad Professah  – (26 June 2010 at 04:59)  

I liked the second one better than the first. I've read them both twice so far. Can't wait to read the third one!!

Liviu  – (28 June 2010 at 19:03)  

Reviewing Void 1 and 2 after reading Void 3 is a very - and I cannot emphasize enough that "very" - different thing than reviewing them on publication - this is how much (imho) Void 3 enhances the first two; an awesome achievement to end a series so brilliantly, not only on its own but to dramatically enhance the first 2 books too

Mark  – (28 June 2010 at 20:58)  

MP - you're in for a real treat wit Evolutionary. It's epicly good!

Liviu - That's exactly what I thought when I started to repost these reviews. I didn't want to change much as I think first impressions really do help, but I'll be certain to explain plenty in my review of Evolutionary - but there's so much to say!

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