Hell’s Gate

hells gate

AKA – Book Review #13

Always distrustful of the Lowest-Common-Denominator effect, I have avoided reading many of literature’s Great Books.  While I reference ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’, or ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, I have not actually read them.  Another book I have declined to read is ‘War and Peace.’

The first three hundred pages are a boring family lineage tree that makes the Utah Mormons look like amateurs. While epic in scale, the book then plods to a conclusion after almost 1200 pages.  I did read the 5000 page John Jakes’ Bicentennial Saga series, but that was eight 600/700 page books, over five years.

Especially since I have retired, I read to pass time as much as for the enjoyment of a good story. I recently filched a book from the library in the son’s room.  It’s a Science Fiction book that runs to 1208 pages, before a thirty page glossary of all the terms.  It’s a ‘War and Peace’ equivalent that took me almost a month to get through.

The Book – Hell’s Gate

The Authors – David Weber/Linda Evans

The Review –

Like War and Peace, this is an epic saga of two mighty empires, entire planets. They’re both ‘Earth’, although neither of them call themselves that.  This is a tale of parallel dimensional worlds.

About two hundred years ago, portals began appearing, which allowed them to travel to a string of other ‘Earths’ where everything except mankind exists. They have been mining the metals, cutting the lumber, and fishing the seas.

In one group, a minority have Psi powers. They can broadcast and receive thoughts, feel when someone is lying and ‘See’ territory miles away.  They have firearms.

The other side has learned to harness Galactic quantum energy, effectively creating magic. They can throw ball lightning, heal wounds, use crystals loaded with power like computers, and have bred Dragons.  They arm with crossbows, swords and axes for close combat.

The story begins when they arrive at the same alternate Earth, from opposite directions. Each group has 200 years of never seeing any other people.  Two startled scouts meet in a dark forest, and manage to shoot each other.  One crawls back to camp before dying.

Each is convinced the other started it, and the story follows the inevitability of war. Each planet has several nations, benevolent kingdoms and democratic empires.  The story traces the good guys trying to prevent destruction and death, and shows the countries, industries and individuals who cheat, betray and lie to cause war, for personal, group, and national advantages, on both sides.

While the action moves along steadily, there never seems to be any urgency or suspense in the story. It just plods along for the 1200 pages – and doesn’t come to an end.  The author and/or publisher seem intent on capturing readers with a serial.  I have checked out the next book.  I don’t like spoilers, and read a book from front to back, but I checked to see how long Hell Hath No Fury is.  It’s only 678 pages, and I unintentionally got a look at the last page – and it still doesn’t seem to be resolved.

It’s a great book for someone like me. It ate up a lot of spare time – not that I have a lot of ‘spare time’ sometimes.  You’ll have seen it in my yearly list of Books Read, and you’ll see its sequel, and possibly a review, next year – the good Lord willin’, an’ the creek don’t rise.   🙂

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