Night Without Stars - Peter F. Hamilton

 ***** A sumptuous conclusion (for now?) for the Commonwealth Universe

Every time I read a new space opera by Hamilton I think this author has reached the maximum of his expression and that the next book, especially considering that this universe contains seven of them, cannot possibly be better than this.
Every time I find out I was wrong.
“Night Without Stars” is a wonderfully complex novel. It is the second part of the duology titled “Chronicles of the Fallers”, yet, having read the first book (“The Abyss Beyond Dreams”) more than a year ago and remembering very little of it, I think you can almost read this last one as standalone (although I do not recommend that), as it mostly has a narrative arc of its own, within which the links to the previous volume of the series are quickly explained and what is needed in relation to the entire Commonwealth Universe is mentioned.
Before starting to read it, I wondered what Hamilton could have come up with, since the story took place again on the planet Bienvenido. I feared a revival of the themes already seen but, instead, I had really nothing to worry about.
The story, after some introductory (but no less exciting) chapters, moves forward for two and a half centuries, a period of time that determines significant changes on Bienvenido, now that it has been expelled from the Void and can finally make use of technology, including the aerospace one (so dear to me). And in this renewed setting new characters come to life, around which parallel narrative lines are created and in which it is natural to the reader to identify themselves, despite often those characters are one against the other. Each storyline is compelling even without having to look at the big picture and, in this regard, I find the idea of dividing the work into books very apt.
There are also some old characters, which I had to get acquainted with again because of the time passed after reading the previous book (and the Void Trilogy), and which allow the reader to accurately reconnect the threads of the general plot and be led towards its complex development.
And it was to this very complex story, which accompanied me for a few weeks of (deliberate) slow reading, that I returned with interest every evening, and then left it without regret for sleeping, certain that I would find it there waiting for me the next day.
The rhythm at the beginning is slow, to allow the reader to settle in (and what a wonderful setting!), then it becomes a crescendo that in the last quarter of the novel turns into a succession of twists tending towards an ending that is almost impossible to predict.
Meanwhile, Hamilton does not just make you live on Bienvenido, but also shows you other unimaginable worlds (apart by him, of course), other more or less peaceful alien species, introduces you to new aspects of the villains, the alien species called Fallers (who “eggsum” their prey and replace it), and even manages to make you like one of them (or at least he succeeded with me).
It is difficult to tell anything else about this novel without revealing too much about the plot. I can only say that, if you have come to consider the idea to read it, a sign that you certainly already know and appreciate Hamilton at least from the previous book, this time too you won’t be disappointed.



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