The collaboration between authors in writing a novel is always an intriguing concept. It can become either a symphonic relationship of well painted characters or a splatter of conflicting ideas. Hellhole by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson is a good example where such an alliance actually works. Soon to be on par with the duo’s success in the Dune stories, the two have again combined forces to create an intricate universe of wonder and turmoil.
Hellholeis the nickname given to a planet named Hallholme, a distant world devastated long ago by an asteroid. One of over fifty planets in a far off region known as the Deep Zone, it is now the prison home of exiled General Tiber Maximilian Adolphus. He is the failed leader of a rebellious force who long ago tried to overthrow the Constellation’s supreme ruler Diadem Michella Duchenet. Unbeknownst to the Diadem, Adolphus hatches an elaborate plan to sever all ties with the old government and the Crown Jewel planets of the Constellation. All the while, a new alien civilization is discovered with unknown implications to both factions.
It is a complex story with a well conceived plot. The density of this book is where Hellhole may drive some readers away. With over a dozen storylines intertwining, there is never a dull moment with tension, mystery, suspense and wonder. Unfortunately, sometimes bouncing back and forth from one end of the universe to the other faster than the speed of light can become a little confusing. A glossary is included in the back of the book which helps the reader immensely, but it can also be very distracting when it becomes necessary to flip to the back of the book right in the middle of intense action.
Character development can seem thin and sometimes rushed do to the multifaceted storylines. However, it appears inevitable that these storylines will eventually cross in future novels, enabling the authors to further build on some of the more intriguing characters. Be forewarned though, the authors do not shy away from killing off characters either. Just like in real life, even the characters some readers may find interesting and want to see more of are not safe.
After reading Hellhole, it becomes clear why the two authors are successful when joining forces. Not only is their ability to bring together an abundance of intriguing characters evident, but their talent for building astonishing worlds in such a vast universe is pure artwork. Hellhole by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson is only the first installment of a much larger story. Sure it may take a long time and many books to complete this daunting saga, but all indications suggest that the devoted readers should be well rewarded.