Following on from The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist is the second epic novel in the Night's Dawn trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton.
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 use the ultimate doomsday device.
'Hamilton puts British 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
This enormous middle volume of the Night's Dawn trilogy, first published in the 1990s, is a solid space opera best suited to readers familiar with the first book, The Reality Dysfunction (republished in 2009), and who have a lot of time on their hands. The sprawling 27th-century epic mainly focuses on the struggles of humanity against people possessed by the spirits of the dead. When Chicago gangster Al Capone is revived, he uses his organizational skills to plot the spirits' conquest. Separately, scientist Alkad Mzu seeks revenge on the planet that destroyed her own with a weapon of mass destruction that she developed. An enormous cast of characters and an introductory time line that doesn't cover the events of the first book will leave newcomers floundering, and readers expecting gripping moral dilemmas or complex philosophical discussions will be disappointed by the focus on violence (including several sexual assaults) and intrigue.
The neutronium alchemist
I started reading these books again as something to do after finishing book four of the commonwealth saga, and waiting for the final instalment. I have forgotten much of the wealth of character and scene in these books.
The smooth transition between the first book and second book is very exceptional. After reading the reality dysfunction, you wonder where Hamilton will take story, however nothing prepares you for the ever expanding storyline or universe he has created. This is a great book which is very complex in story line, and is much more than a bridge between the first and last books.
It has been several years since I first read it, and now I'm nearing then end I can't wait until reading the last book again.