It took me quite a while but I’ve finally managed to finish the second part of Peter F. Hamilton’s Chronicles of the Fallers duology. This post will contain spoilers so if you want to avoid these, here’s a quick tl;dr:
Same as with the first book and big parts of the Void trilogy this book takes place outside the Commonwealth on the world of Bienvenido, which is to some degree comparable to early 20th century Earth. So, no utopia 😉 Most of the story is all about the distrust between the people with and those without biononics and their fight against the Fallers introduced in the first book. And thanks to them no longer being inside the Void, there are no more mental super powers. That being said, there is new hope on the horizon due to some unexpected help from the Commonwealth…
If you enjoyed the first book or any of the Void ones, I’m pretty sure you will like A Night Without Stars!
So, now to the details:
The first book ended basically with the planet being tossed out of the Void. The story here picks up about one hundred years after that when people have finally acclimated to a universe without providing its inhabitants free special mental abilities. Due to this change the powers that emerged at the end of the last book have tried to cling to their influence as much as possible, basically simply converting one regime into another. The post-Slvasta world felt very close to the governments of the Captains.
The whole world is controlled through a military system that somehow feels completely unchecked, being judge, jury, and executioner at the same time. On the receiving end of this system is the Eliter shadow-society. Basically Commonwealth-like Advancers they are treated with a lot of suspicion and hate by the successors of Slvasta and his revolution.
This whole inner-human conflict feels extremely real. The authors goes into quite some detail on what kind of “advanced interrogation techniques” are available to the military and police when dealing with Eliters.
Most of the first half of the book focused on that. The second half tries to catch up with bringing the Fallers into focus again. Personally, that felt a bit rushed. It all went from “Eliters are evil!” to “we are overrun by Fallers” within a couple of pages.
One the other hand, esp. these last 50 percent of the book where awesome. I especially enjoyed the trip to the southern pole and the planet-hopping afterwards. It’s just pure scifi with all the technical marvels you can expect from a Commonwealth book. The last 30% alone made me give the book a 5⁄5 rating on GoodReads 😉
Just the final minutes of the conflict could have lasted a bit longer. Personally, esp. the end of Jenifa was a bit underwhelming. Sure, there were only two options: Either she would come around or go all-out mad. Still…
That also shows how well crafted all characters were. From Florian, Ry, Chaing, Essie, to the Warrior Angel and even Roxwolf. They all felt very real and full of stories. Heck, who wouldn’t sit in the prime minister’s chair if they got a chance and mess around, right Corilla?
There were simply all shades of grey here. Nobody was purely good or purely bad. As much as Jenifa was misguided and borderline-crazy, she still seemed to just wanted the best for her people. It was also great to see perhaps the most “evil” character not being in some kind of leading position. Usually, the antagonist is the head of some organisation, while in this case Jenifa is mid-tier at best.
This book also did a good job finishing up the story-arch. As interesting as Bienvenido was, I fell like everything relevant has been said about it and its solar system. IMO revealing so much in so few pages at the end of the duology was perfect, but at least all the major story-lines have been concluded.
I can’t wait for what will come next 😊