Paperback, 576 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Del Rey Books
This is making me so darkly melancholy. I am a major fan of Peter Hamilton and I almost did a shout of glee when my turn in library queue came up.
And I'm giving up on it. I'm about one-third of the way into the book and it's like reading some novice's first book rather than one of a seasoned and excellent professional.
The first prologue pages featuring aliens sending infiltrators in a major long game gripped me by the throat. But immediately following is an info dump so thick and clumsy, I could practically hear the reversing beep of the truck as it emptied the pages of character bios all over me. Okay...I tried to keep track of all these dossiers and settled in and...the story jumps to some ridiculous future school without any apparent relevance. Pages of an incomprehensible game between monkeys and kids flounders by. As soon as we're free of that, we go flying back in time to the info-dump characters' past. That sequence actually re-engaged my interest until it ended, flipping us back to the "present day" and the info-dump characters not doing anything but petty sniping and arguing.
Dulling the entire work is a heavy patina of "been there, done that". No dazzling new SF concepts are trotted out, but only the ones Mr. Hamilton has used (and perhaps over-used) regularly in recent years. His love of wormhole instant travel has hit the point that these characters are using them to save a few steps from bedroom to water closet. Okay, I'm engaging in hyperbole, but not by much.
As I write this, memories of his Void trilogy bubble up to the surface. I'd forgotten my impatience with that effort, though I did finish the trilogy. Every time the plot shifted to the "fantasy novel" of the dreamscape city, I nearly cried with boredom until we returned to human space. It felt like he'd concocted two or three novels, and rather than simply writing two or three novels, felt obligated (by publisher or reputation?) to shuffle them together to make a giant trilogy thing.
The way Salvation was reading, I suspect he's warming up the same strategy.
I'd just shrug and say "They can't all be magical", but this thing is a trilogy, and judging from Hamilton's past output, that means it'll be the better part of five years before he moves on to a new effort.