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Book Review: Hellhole by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

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After years of deftly navigating the universe of one of the world’s most famous sci/fi tales, authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have struck out on their own with Hellhole, a tour de force novel that is easily the equal to their magnificent work in the worlds of Dune.

Set in a universe dominated by an imperial government rife with corruption and infighting, where murder and deceit are tools of the trade and freedom is a privilege for the powerful, it is clear from the very beginning that countless hours of planning and research went into the framing of the Constellation Universe. A myriad of plots and intrigue form up the solid foundation of Hellhole, and they tear at your heartstrings from page one.

Imagine having the choice where you must balance the freedom of billions of people against the blood of 17,000 innocent souls. Once you’ve wrapped your head around that decision, only then can one begin to understand the mind of General Tiber Adolphus and his subsequent exile to planet Hellholme.

From the heart of the Deep Zone; a system of fifty-four planets separated from the crown jewel worlds of the Constellation by the boundless vacuum of space, the defeated General Adolphus attempts to rebuild his life and the lives of countless others. Rocked by an extinction level asteroid strike in its past, planet Hellholme was never meant for humans; it is an inhospitable planet that would sooner chew them up and spit them out.

From apocalyptic-like weather to an ecosystem that refuses to bend to the hands of man, Hellhole — as it is affectionately known to those brave enough to face it — hides a greater secret than just how to live there. Deep below the scarred surface lie the remnants of an ancient alien race, and their re-emergence could spell doom for the freedom of the D.Z. or be the key to its very survival.

The cast of characters in Hellhole come off almost Shakespearean in their depth, every one with a particular part to play and so intricately created that the story would suffer without each personality. Dreams are destroyed, lives reborn, lovers lost and revenge is plotted as each twist of the plot lends to the beauty of the larger picture.

Hellhole does its best in offering something for everyone, and, despite having just a glimmer of their previous efforts in this current work, Herbert and Anderson have created an all new playground in the stars for the science fiction family.

Advertised as an “All New Epic,” there are obviously sequels in the works. So don’t pick up this novel thinking you are going to get a brief beautiful kiss of Sci/Fi and walk away. This “Epic” is going to be a tempestuous love affair and you will agonize till the next time you look upon the face of Hellhole.

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About C. David Apgar