Even though I was underwhelmed by the first book, The Abyss Beyond Dreams, I decided to persevere and conclude “The Chronicle of the Fallers”. In the year 2384 a group of humans leave Commonwealth space to found their own society. They find themselves sucked into the Void, where time moves differently and technology is dampened to nearly primitive levels, and dumped on a planet they name Bienvenido. Not only does the Void warp space time, it also gives sentient creatures the ability to perform telekinesis and telepathy. Stripped of their technology the humans devolve into a near feudal society, with power and wealth concentrated among a few who will do anything to maintain the status quo. Immediately on arriving at Bienvenido a near constant war begins with an alien species referred to as the Fallers, as they literally shoot eggs from space to fall on the planet below. The Fallers intent on claiming the planet as their own complicates matters for the beleaguered humans. This state of affairs lasts for 3,000 years until the events of The Abyss Beyond Dreams shakes things up.
A Night Without Stars picks up immediately after the ending of The Abyss Beyond Dreams. Now the humans can access technology but not the near mythical levels they had prior to imprisonment in the Void due to the loss of knowledge. Tech that had been implanted in the human genome, as part of the advancement of humans in the Commonwealth, has been awakening now that technology can advance again. After thousands of years the tech has degraded resulting in not everyone having access and this divides the humans into “Eliters” and normals, causing paranoia to run rampant and Eliters relegated to second class citizens, despite the revolution of the previous book that was to make everyone equal. With the tech suppression gone, the aliens have become an even more lethal threat than ever before and everyone, though divided and at odds, is trying to prevent the Faller Apocalypse which would erase humanity from Bienvenido.
In my humble opinion, A Night Without Stars suffers from the same problem as The Abyss Beyond Dreams. A previous character, that featured prominently in other Peter F. Hamilton series, comes to save the day, again. The twist this time is you don’t know it’s the previous character until about half way through the book. Unfortunately my husband slightly spoiled the surprise with an offhand comment he made while I was reading the first book in this duology. At the time what he said didn’t make sense but as book two started rolling I easily put two and two together. As a result, I spent a chunk of the second book waiting for the big reveal and annoyed by it at the same time. Overall the story arc between the two books is interesting, the aliens are creepy, and it’s well written. However, the ending has a whiff of deus ex machina about it and I wish that the plot didn’t rely on characters that have already previously done a lot of saving and are already 1,300ish years old.