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Hellhole by Brian Herbert & Kevin J Anderson

01/06/2011. Contributed by Rod MacDonald

Buy Hellhole (The Hellhole Trilogy book 1) audio book in the USA - or Buy Hellhole (The Hellhole Trilogy book 1) audio book in the UK

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Hellhole (The Hellhole Trilogy book 1) audio book by Brian Herbert & Kevin J Anderson. pub: Macmillan Audio. 19 hours 15 CDs. Price: $49.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-4272-1142-2).

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One has only to think of the ‘Dune’ books and the names of the authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson immediately come to mind. Undoubtedly making a successful team, their record speaks for itself and now they have entered into a new venture with this Science Fiction three-part series called ‘Hellhole’ of which this is the first offering. They have indeed produced a very exciting book! It has an electric story, involved with human passion full of conflict and emotion, and no doubt it will be rewarding for everyone.

The narrator is Scott Brick. Having read some of the ‘Dune’ books amongst many others Macmillan Audio listeners will be very familiar with his voice but this man is also an actor of Shakespearean repute. He has a very versatile voice which is easy to listen to, bringing life to all the characters in his own special way. When listening to audio books one has got to remember that there are audio books and audio books. Some are very good and others are pretty well awful. The recordings from Macmillan it must be said are all made to the highest standard and after having listened to fifty or more of their audio book novels, I can attest to this fact. You won't be disappointed when it comes to sound quality.

A point to mention. On the Macmillan website you'll often find audio samples of the books on offer. While these are okay, the sound quality is nothing like that which you will get when you play the CDs through your sound systems. Okay, you can take the CDs anywhere and play them in portable devices or in vehicles but the quality from a good music system with proper speakers is so much better. The narrator comes alive as does the book and all the technical expertise that has gone into the recording is delivered in full.

Now to the book itself. It's basically a story of class struggle between the rich and the less well off. The Constellation comprises twenty wealthy planets, culturally well-endowed, healthily populated and rich in money. The leader of this group of planets is a mean and nasty old woman called Diadem Michella Duchenet. Holding onto power with an insidious grip, she may appear to some as a nice old lady but the truth is somewhat different. She is ruthless and manipulative. People are merely pawns in a power game. They are expendable. She has got to this position by fighting all the other noble Lords of the Constellation and is not likely to give up power so easily.

There are also fifty-four planets in the Deep Zone. They have resources which the Crown Jewel planets exploit but they are oppressed and kept in poverty. Over the years, this oppression has increased to intolerable levels, instigating a revolt led by General Tiber Adolphus. He is the main character in the novel but there are many others with significant roles.

Hellhole is a planet where you would not wish to send your enemy. Battered by an asteroid impact in the past, it is now subject to extremes in weather plus volcanism and much more besides. Despite this, exiles and colonists fight to make a living on this desperate world.

This is the scenario for the novel. A war is being engaged between the general and Diadem. The plot takes a twist when a couple of guys on Hellhole discover the remains of an alien race at once lived there. The consequences of this discovery are absolutely astounding and it will shape everything that is to come.

This is a very exciting novel with lots of good characterisation, sub-plots and interesting twists and turns. The dialogue is fast and furious, likewise the action, and it is a page-turner from start to finish. Space opera at its best. Of course, as you would expect, the end of the first book ends in a cliff-hanger which will make you desirous to get your hands on the next part.

This audio book is certainly recommended not just for its story but for the good quality reproduction of the narration. It's new and exciting and it will surely be well received.

Rod MacDonald

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This book has 42 votes in the sci-fi charts

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