Friday, September 4, 2015

James Review -- Hellhole: Inferno

This week I decided to review Hellhole: Inferno by Brian Herbet and Kevin J. Anderson. 

When the story opens with Percival Hallholme, the commander responsible for defeating General Adolphus’ first revolt against the Constellation, preparing to launch a fleet to crush the rebellious worlds of the Deep Zone. But while the fleet is preparing and moving to attack the rebels, Ishop Heer, the Constellation’s deadliest assassin, is still furious due to Diadem Michella’s rejection of his request to reclaim the noble title stripped from his family long ago. Despite his anger, he and his lover Laderna decide to complete their plot for revenge against the families responsible for stripping his ancestors of their nobie position by killing the Diadem’s sister, who has been held in a psychiatric ward for most of her life, rather than the Diadem herself. 

But Laderna’s attempt to carry out the murder ends in her capture and execution, leading Ishop with no goal other than claiming the Diadem’s life. But the two are driven to the rebel capital by a surprise coup. Meanwhile, things aren’t going well for the rebellion either. General Adolphus is left questioning just what other secrets his Xayans are hiding after the revelation of a Xayan faction willing to destroy worlds in order to prevent their kin from ascending to a higher level of being. 

On top of this a loyalist coup opens a path through the Deep Zone’s defenses and a betrayal by a trusted ally deprives Adolphus of crucial forces as Hallholme’s fleet arrives. But even this, combined with the Constellation’s new harsher leadership, pales when the rebels discover just why the Ro-Xayans were willing to inflict apocalyptic damage on their home world and now seek to eradicate it completely. The ascendance of the Xayans will destroy the universe or at least render it utterly unrecognizable and almost certainly non-inhabitable for humans. 

With the Xayans turning against the rebels and now using force to gain the power needed to ascend, Adolphus must convince Hallhome to form a desperate alliance for a conflict with the fate of the universe on the line.

I give this book 6,5 out of 10. The political maneuvering was handed well, for the most part, but the few battle sequences felt very rushed to me and there are many points where events occur that are just a little too convenient for the plot for my taste. However I think Hallhome was a good example of a non-evil antagonist done brilliantly. He doesn’t want glory, he doesn’t want power, he wants to end the war and go home. Unfortunately most of the other higher ranking human antagonists venture too close to old b-movie villainy for my taste. Still overall this is by far my favorite book by this author team so far.

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