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The Neutronium Alchemist (Night's Dawn…
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The Neutronium Alchemist (Night's Dawn Trilogy) (original 1997; edition 1998)

by Peter F. Hamilton

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1,500104,933 (4.06)28
Member:christophersisk
Title:The Neutronium Alchemist (Night's Dawn Trilogy)
Authors:Peter F. Hamilton
Info:Tor (1998), Paperback, 1225 pages
Collections:Your library, Kindle Books, To read
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The Neutronium Alchemist (Night's Dawn Trilogy) by Peter F. Hamilton (1997)

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I read the [b:The Reality Dysfunction|45245|The Reality Dysfunction (Night's Dawn, #1)|Peter F. Hamilton|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1331274659s/45245.jpg|747250], the first book of the Night's Dawn Trilogy in August 2012, I just finished this second volume The Neutronium Alchemist on December 13, 2013. So more than one year has elapsed since reading the first one. With a leaky memory like mine a lot of details have fallen by the wayside during the intervening period. Going back to reread the 1000 pages of [b:The Reality Dysfunction|45245|The Reality Dysfunction (Night's Dawn, #1)|Peter F. Hamilton|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1331274659s/45245.jpg|747250] is out of the question. I considered reading up summaries in Wikipedia or some other web sites but then I decided to throw caution to the wind and just dive into this second book and see what happen. It is a testament to [a:Peter F. Hamilton|25375|Peter F. Hamilton|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1235123752p2/25375.jpg]'s writing skill that he manages to bring me back to speed without a prologue chapter that summarize what went on in the previous book. The little details and characters’ names gradually fell into place as I read on. Funny how the brain archives these details in some dusty storage places and they come out when the memory is jogged.

As with all the Peter F. Hamilton’s books that I have read so far The Neutronium Alchemist is a long book but a quick read. His prose is always clear, his pacing is good and never grind to a halt. Most of the main characters are fairly engaging and his “Confederation Universe” is always full of wonder. The only difficulty I tend to have is the large cast of characters, there are so many minor characters that I find it impossible to remember who they all are and whose side they are on. There is, however, a “Cast of Characters” appendix at the end of the book if you don’t mind jumping back and forth to that as you read. I personally could not be bothered so I just figure them out from the context of the chapters.

The Neutronium Alchemist of course continues where [b:The Reality Dysfunction|45245|The Reality Dysfunction (Night's Dawn, #1)|Peter F. Hamilton|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1331274659s/45245.jpg|747250] left off. In the first book we are introduced to the Confederation Universe and what happen when the souls of the dead start coming back to possess the living. Obviously that doesn’t sound very sci-fi, more like some ridiculous “exorcist in space” silliness you may get in an episode of Family Guy, but leave it to Hamilton to come up with some pseudo-science to make the concept somewhat believable within a sci-fi setting*. The major difference between this second volume and the previous one is that the return of the dead through possession is now and an established fact and the readers are spared the dull process of each character being skeptical to begin with until their jaws drop when the dead come calling. The struggle between the living and the dead was too uneven in the first book, in this one at least the living have found some way of coping but not defeating the enemy.

Characterization is also much more interesting in this book as many chapters are told from the possessed characters’ point of view, some of whom are even decent people. The usage of historical characters like Al Capone and Fletcher Christian as major characters also piles on the fun. Hamilton’s plotting skills is second to none, I cannot imagine how he manages to juggle all the numerous plot strands and gradually weave them into a cohesive story. He also has a great eye for minutiae, like this little scene from a possessed character’s view point: “Once he’d actually thrown up after transforming sachets of bread into chocolate gateau – he hadn't removed the foil wrapping first.”

The Neutronium Alchemist, like [b:The Reality Dysfunction|45245|The Reality Dysfunction (Night's Dawn, #1)|Peter F. Hamilton|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1331274659s/45245.jpg|747250] before it, is not a book to read for edification. It is just a fun romp. A book this length is bound to have themes you can glean from but why not just give yourself a well-earned break and just kick back and enjoy.

The final volume [b:The Naked God|45260|The Naked God (Night's Dawn, #3)|Peter F. Hamilton|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1316548289s/45260.jpg|1396625] is just as long as The Neutronium Alchemist. Damn you Peter F!
__________________________________

*There is a good discussion of whether The Night Dawn Trilogy is science fiction or science fantasy here

Note: I intended to mention the phrase “massive epic space opera” somewhere in the review, but I can’t find a place to shoehorn it in so I’ll just stick it here. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
I think I'm going to have to do a more thorough review later. At this point, I'm just going to focus on mechanics.

I like this book. And this series. Honestly, I do. However, I'm at the point where I really think that the whole Night's Dawn series was actually written as one big tome of an epic, and the publishers decided to break it into three (or six, as you decided to buy them) novels just for the sake of the spine. And geez, what a doorstopper a 3500 page book would be anyway. There are just limits.

But, when we hit the last chapter of The Neutronium Alchemist, I really didn't feel like we were building toward a climax. Nothing heart-wrenching, no amazing clincher that wraps the book up, not even a real cliffhanger to make people want to read the next one. There were a couple of mysteries, but not really a "OH HOLY CRAP WHAT THE HECK'S HAPPENING" sort of thing. And starting the next book, the first chapter felt like it was just the next chapter of the previous book.

I think that's the thing that's getting me the most, besides the outrageous number of POVs and locations. It's really taking a wiki for me to get through this without losing track of who's where and doing what. And the plot feels like it's ramping up at a steady pace, and in such a way that it feels more real to me than a typical epic. I feel like I could be reading a tome about WWII at this point, although I think an author would have selected fewer POVs for an actual history book to avoid confusing his reader.

I'm finding the meat of the series interesting in and of themselves; we don't often deal with religions in science fiction that are not utterly imaginary, unless it's a Christian Sci-Fi novel, which I steer clear of. Hamilton definitely handles it with the care of a historian -- no proselytizing, just reflecting the different beliefs of the systems and cultures he's working with. It's interesting, and something I'd like to write a review or an essay specifically addressing, but one that will take some significant research and thought on its own. I'm still curious about the implications of Father Horst's abilities, but it was mentioned in the first book and then never again.

As it stands, I'm continuing on in the slog. Not because it's particularly sloggy, as it t'were, but because the world building really is intricate and extensive. Not an easy series to read by any means, but if you're really looking for something TRULY EPIC in its story, this is definitely what to go for. ( )
  lyrrael | Oct 18, 2015 |
My copy was annoyingly misprinted. Everything's fine until page 794 when it jumps to page 843. You're missing the end of the episode about Joshua (no important plot points), whatever takes Oenone away from the Kiint homeworld, and whatever happens on the Villeneuve's Revenge to get Erick into that state. Considering the size of the novel and Hamilton's verbosity, you are probably missing the equivalent of about 5 pages.

Anyway, everything is then fine until page 1034 when pages 987 to 1034 are repeated. Things are then fine until the end.

My copy was an early printing. I'm not sure if it was a problem unique to my copy or a flaw in the print run.

Great novel though! ( )
  Lukerik | May 15, 2015 |
The second novel of the Night’s Dawn Trilogy takes place on an even grander galactic stage. With the possessed spreading throughout the galaxy, Capone’s organization growing in size and power, Rubra working to save the remain population of Valisk, and Ione Saldana’s team discovering more about a lost civilization which suffered its own reality dysfunction, time is running short for the Confederation and for humanity as a whole. Tranquility, the Lady Macbeth, Oenone, Jupiter, Trafalgar, and Kulu each face their own challenges as they work with, around, and against one another, hoping to find a solution to the reality dysfunction and humanity’s encounter with the Beyond. Relying on Laton’s words and the pieces of information humanity has gained at a painfully high cost, the nature of the problem and the solution remain elusive. Meanwhile Alkad Mzu escapes from Tranquilty seeking to use the greatest weapon ever conceived, The Alchemist, to get revenge upon the society that destroyed her planet decades earlier. With Joshua ‘Lagrange’ Calvert sent after her by Ione, the various agencies desperate to catch her, and the possessed determined to use her technology for their own advantage, her escape has become a long chase, the end of which may well determine the future of the human race. ( )
  Ailinel | May 1, 2015 |
The panoramic vistas of Peter Hamilton's huge universe are interesting and entertaining, but I have a hard time getting past the premise of the dead returning to life in a space opera. And I could have done with less of the brutal assaults and torture. ( )
  mbg0312 | Feb 14, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter F. Hamiltonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Burns, JimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tikulin, TomislavCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It seemed to Louise Kavanagh as though the fearsome midsummer heat had persisted for endless, dreary weeks rather than just the four Duke-days since the last meagre shower of rain.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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In some areas The Neutronium Alchemist is published as two separate books, The Neutronium Alchemist: Consolidation and The Neutronium Alchemist: Conflict. Please do not combine this book with either of those.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330351435, Paperback)

The ancient menace has finally escaped from Lalonde, shattering the Confederation's peaceful existence. Those who succumbed to it have acquired godlike powers, but now follow a far from divine gospel as they advance inexorably from world to world. On planets and asteroids individuals battle for survival against the strange and brutal forces unleashed upon the universe. Governments teeter on the brink of anarchy, the Confederation Navy is dangerously overstretched, and a dark messiah prepares to invoke his own version of the final Night. In such desperate times the last thing the galaxy needs is a new and terrifyingly powerful weapon. Yet Dr Alkad Mzu is determined to retrieve the Alchemist -- so she can complete her thirty-year-old vendetta to slay a star. Which means Joshua Calvert has to find Dr Mzu and bring her back before the Alchemist can be reactivated. But he's not alone in the chase, and there are people on both sides who have their own ideas about how to sue the ultimate doomsday device. 'Hamilton puts Britain sci-fi back into interstellar overdrive.' The Times 'Space opera has rarely been dealt with in such majesty...inventive, ambitious, and, like the greatest of tumbling acts, leaves you giddy for more. ' Daily Express

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:17 -0400)

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An ancient menace has escaped from Lalonde, shattering the Confederation's existence. In such times the last thing the galaxy needs is a new, powerful weapon. Yet Dr Mzu is determined to retrieve the Alchemist, so that she can complete a vendetta.

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