I have finally finished the mega-novel that I’ve been reading for a few weeks. Over 4000 pages (spread across three books) – the Nights dawn trilogy by Peter Hamilton. Though worth finishing, it wasn’t as good as some of his later books. The way the plot evolved was fairly predictable, though it was worth finishing. But, it feels like it could have been done really well in 50-60% of the length. However, I still like these ‘Space opera’ books as I think it is fascinating to think about how cultures and behaviours might differ when different constraints and opportunities are presented. Iain M Banks is by far the best, though several of his books are pretty dark.

That said, some are less great. I just finished the first book of the sevens suns series by Kevin Anderson – and thought it was utter junk. The author seems to have no idea what to say and what not to – and feels that saying the same thing three or four times in case you were too dim to spot it the first time is good practice – he does it often enough. All the characters are dreadfully one dimensional – you can tell who’s a bad guy and who’s not the moment you encounter them, and it is desperately black and white – no shades of grey in behaviours or motivations. Alan loved it though and is busy on the second book – I can’t be bothered to waste valuable time on it.

I did read a few others along the way – the last Harry Potter kept me going on the plane back from Africa and was less bad than I thought it would be. A couple of non-fiction books also kept me going whilst I waded through the epic. The Undercover economist by Tim Harford had me entertained (though I need no persuading about market economics). Very much worth reading. I also greatly enjoyed The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins.

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