Review: The Temporal Void

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Peter F. Hamilton, even after the gigantic deus ex machina he used to conclude his Night’s Dawn trilogy. His writing is so compelling—to me, at least—that I can forgive that kind of transgression because the story itself is so interesting.

And now with the second entry in his Void trilogy, The Temporal Void, I find another great novel that feels too short, despite its ponderous length. And in contrast to authors like David Weber, who includes stupendous amounts of minutia and breathlessly describes intricate naval maneuvers, Hamilton is clearly a plot-driven writer. It’s obvious he likes the technology he invents and has a put significant thought into ensuring consistency within that realm, but I’m fairly certain he never sits down to diagram all of those wondrous plot-convenient knick-knacks either. Weber never ignores the physics, and even has blueprints of some of his immense dreadnoughts and superdreadnoughts among other things.

Maybe this is why I like both authors in different ways. I’m personally a more story-driven reader, and though I enjoy hard scifi, it’s not nearly as fun—to me—as the philosophical fabrications someone playing fast-and-loose can create. So now with his Void series, we get almost a complete mix of fantasy and scifi with Edeard’s ongoing mission to rid Makkathran of the gangs, as told by Inigo, the first dreamer. And of course the outside world carries on with the machinations of finding the second dreamer and ushering in humanity’s presumed future in the void.

The Riael are more direct with deflecting attempts to enter the Void, but we eventually find that the Prime are the mysterious allies the Ocisen bragged about in The Dreaming Void, aiding their fleet sent to stop the migration. Considering the difficulty the Prime caused humanity in previous novels, I’m curious to see their importance in the finale, especially since there is an over-arching plot to draw out ANA’s “deterrence fleet”. The Ocisen and Prime are being manipulated, as are Living Dream, The Cat, Paula Myo. Of course favorite characters like Gore, Ozzy, and Justine continue to dabble in the sprawling mess.

We still don’t know what the void is or who created it, but thanks to Justine’s infiltration, we know how it works and an inkling of why. Araminta spends essentially all of her time eluding both friend and foe to avoid getting involved with Living Dream. Being Mellanie’s descendant, I kept wondering why she never tries the Silfen paths. That her efforts somehow thwart several pursuers for such a long time seems unbelievable with the level of technology on display.

That is the main weakness of the novel: lots of pursuit, little to no resolution. We get a couple teasers into the void, a little more of Edeard’s story, and . . . not much else. Hamilton will have no trouble closing off the plot threads in the concluding novel, and his writing is almost all in the journey, all of which is at least entertaining. The whole package here just resonates with me on a visceral level, so while I’ll await the finale with baited breath, just being in the world is an adventure. I did note after all, that this novel seems too short!

I can’t wait until The Evolutionary Void.