While at a used book store, I picked up a copy of Peter F. Hamilton’s book, Fallen Dragon. It must printed with some of the thinnest paper in the world because even though it was 630 pages in length, it measures only 1 1/4” thick in the hard cover edition I bought.Fallen Dragon revolves around the story of a man, Lawrence Newton: his youth, his present day, and several important episodes in between. In the present day, Newton is a marine for a multi-planetary multinational where piracy, known euphemistically as “asset realization,” is the corporate norm. The economics of this system are a bit suspect, and Hamilton asserts in the book that perhaps this economical model is due to collapse and that the time of that collapse is not too distant in the future. Hamilton litters the book with extended flashbacks that some reviewers have deemed unnecessary or extraneous. Maybe those folks read a different book than I did? Since many of those flashbacks provide detailed information that helps to inform the reader as to why the protagonist acts as he does, they seem integral to the story. The fact that Hamilton wrote them with his careful attention to overwhelming detail doesn’t make them superfluous, it just means that he wrote them in his style and you shouldn’t be reading the book if you don’t like his style.
Like Hamilton’s other books, this one is a page turner. The story draws the reader inexorably towards the ending much like a black hole sucks in all that surrounds it. You’ll be turning some mighty thin pieces of paper, but you’ll be turning them at a prodigious rate.
The book changes tack about three-quarters of the way through, and until Hamilton pulls all the strings together at the end, the reader can be left scratching their head and thinking, “Huh? What does that have to do with anything that took place in the first 500 pages??” Stick with it, however, and Hamilton offers a tidy ending as a reward. You might be left pondering the nature of paradox and time travel and Hamilton’s understanding of the same (as I was), but if you’re content to let those sleeping dogs lie, you’ll be satisfied with how the book ends.