I thoroughly enjoyed this author’s Night’s Dawn trilogy (The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist, and The Naked God), but stumbled at the first fence with Pandora’s Star, the first book of his Commonwealth trilogy. This was me trying out another trilogy, to see if I could recapture the Night’s Dawn experience. In short, I couldn’t.
On the plus side, this is big – and I mean really big – space opera, with an enormously wide canvas, telling a monster of a story from multiple perspectives. There are ideas – new technologies, cultures, customs, and just stuff – popping up in almost every paragraph. OK, that last bit is a little exaggerated, but not by too much. This book is jam packed with ideas.
Also on the plus side, the story is interesting: the followers of one religion want to take a pilgrimage to the Void. The Void, it appears, is a huge closed universe that may well expand and eat everything else in its way if that pilgrimage gores ahead. Cue conflicting factions trying to get their own way.
Also on the plus side, the action fairly rattles along. It is a page turner.
I felt that much of the book’s heft was back story that I did not need. The author seems to take a chapter to make a point, whereas many readers would have been happy with the single paragraph or sentence that it could have been done in. In other words, the plot is horrendously overwritten.
At the end, I enjoyed what I had read in the main, but was not enthused enough to keep reading. Too much effort for the return.