Hellhole Inferno

Well I can quite honestly say this book is a one serious roller-coaster of a ride. Several hours after putting it down, I’m still not even sure what to do with myself.

 After the events of Hellhole Awakening, the people of Hellhole and the shadow-Xayans scramble to rally against the threat from the still-living rogue Xayans. Back on Sonjeera, the Monarchy is in an uproar after their surprising defeat and the breakaway of the Deep Zone planets. The dowager Queen decides to go to Hellhole on a diplomatic mission, hoping to keep her power. But after touring Hellhole, Queen Michella is shaken, and begins to realize that she can never have the old Monarchy back.
Before the Queen can return to Sonjeera, she’s captured by the rogue Xayans and learns the reason for their attack: the orthodox Xayans had developed their minds to the point where they could evolve and, in so doing, trigger another Big Bang, wiping out everything.
The rogue Xayans thought they succeeded in stopping the ascension, but the orthodox Xayans on Hellhole are nearly ready. Now, twenty-two huge asteroids from the outer reaches of the solar system are bearing towards Hellhole, summoned by the rogue sect as a last resort. Can all these lives and the planet itself be saved?  

Well I can quite honestly say this book is a one serious roller-coaster of a ride.  I finished it and then had to spend some time just staring into space absorbing it.  Several hours after putting it down, I’m still not even sure what to do with myself.

There is so much about this book that is great with moments of sheer genius that push it beyond great and into amazing.  The resolution for Hellhole’s fate was inspired and made so much sense.  The moments before that were just so intense that I was literally holding my breath.

The characters are just superb; General Tiber Adolphus and Sophie Vence are the two that I have adored all the way through this series and my heart was in my mouth several times, hoping that they would stay free just that little bit longer to do what was needed for the galaxy.  It’s also rare to come across characters that are truly detestable and despicable yet also be able to see how they came to power.  The clever writing in Inferno also allows some of those that were actually quite contemptible to redeem themselves and I found myself rooting for a few of them in the end.

The plot is clever with things happening on so many fronts but it’s never confusing; it’s always clear what is going on but as each event takes place it produces a distinct emotional reaction.  I think I say this in both the other reviews too but it bears repeating – the writing is just so clean, straight and to the point but still descriptive enough to clearly envision people and planets.  No padding, no flowery language, the prose just flows extremely well.

The pace throughout was full on and really well timed to lure you in and keep you there.  I couldn’t put it down because I needed to know what happened next at every stage.  When the answers finally came I was truly shocked;  by Ala’ru and the solution, and by the number of people who count lives as others would count grains of rice and treat them as just as importantly.

This is not a happy ever after book.  The cost of lives is just too high, for both people and places we’d grown to love.  Those people who finally stood up and did the right thing, who said no when the final demands came caused the biggest reaction in me.  I cried for those lost and those saved and I even cheered for those who got what they finally so very clearly deserved.

I can only applaud Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert on the conclusion of a truly epic series.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
  • Series: Hellhole (3)
  • Format: Hardback
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Hellhole Awakening

Hellhole Awaking is just utterly amazing … triumph and tragedy on an epic scale.

 General Adolphus knows the Monarchy crackdown is coming. Now he needs to pull together all the resources of the Hellhole colony, the ever-expanding shadow-Xayan settlement, and his connections with the other Deep Zone worlds. On Sonjeera, Diadem Michella Duchenet has collected a huge fleet, led by firebrand Commissar Escobar Hallholme, son of the man who originally defeated Adolphus.
Uniting themselves and pooling their minds, the shadow-Xayans send a power surge along the original stringline path that links Hellhole with the Monarchy’s hub on Sonjeera. All of the Diadem’s battleships are currently approaching on that route, and when the mental blast wipes out all the substations, the battleships are effectively stranded.
But now a bigger threat appears. Three large asteroids come in from the outer reaches of the Candela system. On Hellhole, the awakened Xayans finally reveal information that has been hidden even from their own followers. A large group of powerful, rogue telemancers split away from the main race-fanatics, violent, and ruthless. And now that the Xayan civilization is reawakening, the rogues have come back to destroy them once and for all. They are coming for Hellhole, and this time they will completely destroy it.

Hellhole Awakening follows on from the amazing Hellhole, and the series continues to intrigue me.  There is so much good stuff in this book that I want to shout so loudly about, that only the threat of spoilers keeps your ears safe!

The pace was brilliant, and ensured my eyes were glued to the words and I didn’t want to put it down.  It’s not a short book however, so I did, very reluctantly, have to put it down to go to bed.  I’m getting a bit too old now for through the night reads.  All that did was build the suspense even further, and as soon as I was awake and had a free moment, I felt compelled to pick the story up where I’d left off.

The plot continues to be as intricate as the first book – the interplay between the Diadem, the constellation and the deep zone worlds.  Revelations about the Xayan and then Shadow Xayan were a bit of a jaw dropper and there is so much joy and heartache tied in with them.

There is a genius plot element based around three stringlines, the DZ link, the old Buktu link and the constellation link.  It was both dizzying and amazing.  It added another whole dimension to the character driven story.

Michella has to be stopped, surely someone somewhere can!  I have no words to describe the atrocities carried out on her orders, and I’ll be honest, I cried.  The writing is so clean and crisp, and everything so well imagined that it felt like you were there and it was all so emotional.

Adolphus – seriously, when is he going to get a break?  He and the DZ people seem to be the only people with any humanity left and even he nearly loses it.  Sophie is his rock and my heart broke for her.

Candela and the Xayan secrets – heart-rending on so many levels.  Why couldn’t they have confessed before?  Why?

All of those characters and events push the story inexorably toward the ending; and what an ending!  Wow.  If I didn’t have the next book to hand, I think I might have self combusted.  I feel as if I should make a wall to commemorate the fallen.

Hellhole Awaking is just utterly amazing; if you like your science fiction with great plot-lines, characters that are so well imagined they seem real and triumph and tragedy on an epic scale then this series is for you.  Seriously!

Book Information
  • Author: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
  • Series: Hellhole (2)
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Hellhole

Exiled to Hallholme after he led a rebellion against the Constellation Empire, General Tiber Adolphus was expected to die from the planet’s barely habitable environment.  Much to Diadem Michella Duchanet’s annoyance, he refused to give in and instead managed to establish a small community that quickly expanded as convicts, malcontents,  and people with nowhere else to go were dumped and left to the mercies of Hellhole.  Struck by a meteor centuries earlier that wiped out all indiginous life, it’s a mostly barren wasteland with unpredictable and often deadly weather patterns.

Back in the Crown Jewel planets, the Lords and Ladies of the Parliamentary government enjoyed the fruits of the Deep Zone labours, requiring tributes from their already taxed economies, forcing them to give up valuable assets that would help their own colonists.  Determined not to let another rebellion take hold, the Diadem keeps her government on their toes, encouraging them to plot against each other if it suited her interest or simply have her spies and military personnel step in if it didn’t.  Diadem Michella Duchanet was the ruler of the Constellation and she would not have anyone get in her way.

For someone who read a lot of science-fiction when I was younger,  I don’t seem to be able to get into it much these days.  It has been a while since I found anything that held my interest, that wasn’t also linked to the romance genre.

Hellhole has completely changed that for me and I am very happy it did so.  It’s an engaging story of hazardous frontier worlds and brave pioneers yet also of intrigue, plotting and maneuvering among the nobles of  the vast Constellation Empire.   The despot ruler, Diadem Michella Duchanet, is a real piece of work, as are some of the myriad nobles that rule the individual worlds of the Crown Jewels planets.

When the book starts, General Tiber Adolphus is at the final battle of his victorious five year rebellion against the Diadem and her armies, and right from that first chapter I was drawn in.  And it didn’t really let up from there.

It’s a book that has so many different facets and layers; it isn’t just a book about a rebellion against an unfit ruler, nor just about the people who were imprisoned or volunteered as colonists on the Deep Zone worlds.  It’s not even just about the possibility of alien life.  It’s about everything that makes up a wondrous vision into a possible distant future.

The protagonists were really well written and I came to care about some of them very quickly.  I also didn’t just dislike the antagonists, I hated them.

Hellhole itself was described with vivid imagery and I could see it in my mind’s eye.  The other Deep Zone worlds too, but to a lesser extent.

The pace was excellent, going from almost a normal pace of life after the first few chapters to an almost frenzied state as different threads were coming together.  I even growled as I turned the last page and realised I would have to wait to find out what happens until the next book.  It caught me out, even though I should have realised that with everything that still needed to happen, it wouldn’t fit into the number of pages left.

The plot was so intricate and layered, I have no idea how the authors kept it straight, but it wasn’t confusing.  I knew where I was and what was happening, it just ramped up the tension as each layer was added.

There are a few shocks and surprises but I won’t spoil them here.  Suffice to say some of them were very sad but there is also joy to balance it out.

If you like great science fiction on an epic scale, you have to read Hellhole.. really!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)