The Commonwealth Universe, a place where humanity has prospered, evolved and expanded throughout the galaxy. As the Commonwealth has grown, colony ships have set out to found new human worlds far from the current occupied space, and the galaxy has been circumnavigated. Many new alien species have been encountered and the Void, an artificial universe at the centre of the galaxy protected by a deadly event horizon, has been discovered.
This is the setting for Peter F Hamilton’s first novel in his Void Trilogy, The Dreaming Void. After the events in the Commonwealth Saga, where humanity were fighting for existence against the invading Prime aliens while trying to uncover mutiny from within from the deadly Starflyer alien, the human race has prospered and is now one of the most technologically advanced species in the galaxy.
A human has now started to dream of the existence in the Void and the paradise within, sharing these dreams in the Gaiafield for all to experience them. The Living Dream movement is born and its followers grow in number until it becomes the majority party in the planet’s parliament. When Inigo, the first dreamer, disappears from public life, the movement carries on much the way it has in the past, although many start growing restless and impatient for the pilgrimage to begin. However, a new chief cleric, Ethan, is elected and answers the hopes of millions by announcing the construction of starships to pilgrimage into the Void.
The Dreaming Void follows two main story plots – the implications following the announcement of the pilgrimage and the dreams experienced by Inigo that focus on Edeard, a youth living within the Void.
Peter once again delivers a hugely enjoyable story with plenty of action, adventure and surprises. Setting the story in the 36th century with the technology available gives such a large canvas to work on and he uses it to his advantage on so many different levels. The characters that we meet are alive on the pages, although some are more developed than others, especially when new characters are introduced late in the novel. This by no means detracts from the story, but as the first part of a trilogy it is to be expected that the growth of some characters will really take hold in the next instalment, if not the third.
Edeard is by far the most developed character, and with almost half the book telling his story it is to be expected. From meeting him as a young teenager in the Eggshaper’s Guild through to his time as a junior constable in Makkathran, Edeard grows in many ways and Peter shows just how accomplished he is at creating believable, in-depth characters. The same could be said for Aaron, although by having a character with no memory it is easy enough to mould our own view of him, whether that is right or wrong, we will surely find out before the end of the trilogy.
The planning that Peter puts into his stories really does show this time around and the story and universe feels much tighter because of it. With clear ideas how he wants to take the story forward, he manages to drag you into his imagination and take you on a ride you won’t forget. There are plenty of hints hidden within the pages and many will be guessing at various aspects of the story until the next instalment.
As the first part of the trilogy, this book does everything it needs to do – the characters are introduced and the stage set for the next part. With a cliff-hanger at the end of the book, many will be very eager to move straight on to The Temporal Void, but the revelation that comes to light will encourage others to re-read it.
What may surprise some is the length – just over 650 hardback pages. Although many would be expecting a huge brick sized door-stopper, this is a much tighter book and more enjoyable because of it. Many people feel Judas Unchained overlong, but this is a fine return to form and just what was needed. A fine example of space opera with all the right ingredients – a typical Peter F Hamilton novel.