Macmillan | 2019 (31 October) | 468p | Review copy | Buy the books
Salvation Lost is the middle novel of a trilogy that began last year with Salvation. I’d strongly urge you to read the earlier novel first because Salvation Lost follows on directly from its great reveal. You don’t want to lose that impact. The first novel also introduced us to the Olyix – that will make what happens here all the more shocking. This review assumes that you’re ready to learn what happens next.
In the early years of the 23rd century, mankind has had a great shock. The Olyix, the friendly aliens who have been generously sharing their technology, are intent on harvesting all human life, to serve everyone up to their god when they finally reach their destination countless thousands of years in the future. Nobody can believe it, until the wormhole opens and through it comes the apocalypse. But humanity is going to put up a fight. Forces from across the globe join together to come up with a plan to defeat the beast. It’s the beginning of a grand plan that will take generations to complete, if it’s successful, and the vision of its creators is vast. As chaos descends on the Earth, with cities fighting for their lives and alien saboteurs doing their worst, others use whatever help they can to work for a distant future in which a number of humans will be able to surve.
Ever since I finish Salvation I have been longing to read Salvation Lost. Peter F Hamilton is one of my very favourite authors – Pandora’s Star is my favourite science fiction novel while the Night’s Dawn is my favourite trilogy. So there’s a lot to live up to but I am really enjoying the way in which this new trilogy is coming together. It’s mostly centred on Earth a couple of centuries from now, but there is also a parallel story which is set millennia into the future on a distant world. But, in the near future, humans have travelled to the stars and have portal technology and this has led to one of the most wonderful ideas of these books – that you can fill one house with rooms that are actually located somewhere else on Earth or even on other planets. Portals play such an important role in the books and they’re treated in a novel and fascinating way. Nobody travels in a traditional manner and so now, with Earth under attack, the city defence shields are down and portals are shut, people have to deal with an isolation and confinement they aren’t used to. I loved all this.
And then there are the aliens. The aliens are intriguing. Some of them might not even be real. One species might have been created as a lure to the Olyix. But the Olyix overshadow the novel and fill it with foreboding. We spent time with them in Salvation. Now humans must face the consequences. Peter F Hamilton has the most vivid, glorious imagination and he comes up with a truly horrible fate for mankind here. It really did give me the shivers.
The novel moves between different characters, most of whom are involved in either trying to stay alive or in the fight to save mankind. Sometimes the two come together. We see some characters at their worst but others find an inner strength that surprises even themeld – I particularly enjoyed the time spent with Gwendoline, a powerful corporate financier who learns what really matters. Contrasting with that is a gang of drug addicts, who seem to view themselves as glamorous hustlers, which they’re not. Time spent with this bunch was less pleasing… This brings me on to the one element of this book that I really didn’t care for – the sordid and really unappealing sex scenes, which I found just revolting and gratuitous. These are a regular feature of Peter F Hamilton’s books, unfortunately, but they’re at their worst here. But, if you can skip them, as I do, then they don’t spoil the book.
Otherwise, I think that Salvation Lost is a fine novel. It can be quite difficult remembering what happened in a lengthy book you read over a year ago (I’d love it if these books had a synopsis at the back) but it soon came back to me and, actually, Salvation Lost is actually in several ways a fresh start, albeit with some characters back for more. Peter F Hamilton is a great storyteller. This is a very exciting and pacey adventure which also contains enough hard science fiction to keep me happy as well as some huge ideas. Moving between the near future and the distant future works well. There are also some questions that remain to be answered, paving the way for the final novel in the trilogy, The Saints of Salvation. I can’t wait to see how the two storylines come together and whether the great plan works. The first novel ends on a cliffhanger, Salvation Lost doesn’t really, I’m pleased to say. But it does set the stage very well indeed. Once again, I can’t wait!
Great North Road
The Reality Dysfunction (Night’s Dawn 1)
The Neutronium Alchemist (Night’s Dawn 2)
The Naked God (Night’s Dawn 3)
The Dreaming Void (Void Trilogy 1)
The Abyss Beyond Dreams (Chronicle of the Fallers 1)
Night Without Stars (Chronicle of the Fallers 2)