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Hilldiggers (Polity #2) Paperback – Sep 2 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan (Sept. 2 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330528475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330528474
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 399 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #237,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Neal Asher was born in Billericay, Essex, and divides his time between here and Crete. His previous full-length novels are Gridlinked, The Skinner, The Line of Polity, Cowl, Brass Man, The Voyage of the Sable Keech, Polity Agent, Prador Moon, Line War, Shadow of the Scorpion, Orbus and The Technician.

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Format: Hardcover
The breadth & scope of Asher's Polity universe expands yet again in this tale of two bio-engineered human races on two different planets in the same solar system recovering from, and girding for what could be another interplanetary war.

The worlds in this system are not members of the AI-governed Polity, but the Polity is aware of them and has just instituted contact in the form of an agent infused with 2 competing viruses whose conflict could ultimately kill him. As one of Asher's familiar Old Captains, the Spatterjay virus provides McCrooger an imposing presence upon initial contact but quickly becomes a liability. It contributes to a debilitating reaction and procedure that leaves him weaker than he's ever been in his life at a time when he most needs to act.

Sudoria is the dominant world. Its space-faring powers are locked in a power struggle vying for ultimate control of local space that is moving their world towards civil war. The platform-driven Orbital Combine has a research vessel in which a completely alien entity has been captured and is being held in 4 containment canisters. Study of this entity has led to technological advances that worry the military Fleet as they help to erode its influence in Parliament.

Enter four gifted quad siblings driven to succeed... Born of a researcher who studied the alien and then committed a dramatic suicide shortly after they were delivered. They rise through very separate factions of society into positions of great influence and all have ability to affect the power play in different fashions.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars 29 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great read... Sept. 10 2007
By David W. Mcdonald - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The breadth & scope of Asher's Polity universe expands yet again in this tale of two bio-engineered human races on two different planets in the same solar system recovering from, and girding for what could be another interplanetary war.

The worlds in this system are not members of the AI-governed Polity, but the Polity is aware of them and has just instituted contact in the form of an agent infused with 2 competing viruses whose conflict could ultimately kill him. As one of Asher's familiar Old Captains, the Spatterjay virus provides McCrooger an imposing presence upon initial contact but quickly becomes a liability. It contributes to a debilitating reaction and procedure that leaves him weaker than he's ever been in his life at a time when he most needs to act.

Sudoria is the dominant world. Its space-faring powers are locked in a power struggle vying for ultimate control of local space that is moving their world towards civil war. The platform-driven Orbital Combine has a research vessel in which a completely alien entity has been captured and is being held in 4 containment canisters. Study of this entity has led to technological advances that worry the military Fleet as they help to erode its influence in Parliament.

Enter four gifted quad siblings driven to succeed... Born of a researcher who studied the alien and then committed a dramatic suicide shortly after they were delivered. They rise through very separate factions of society into positions of great influence and all have ability to affect the power play in different fashions.

There are some very obvious threads about politics, the places of those that have and wield influence, capitalism and the accumulation of wealth, military might and right and taking care of the world that you have amongst others. Knowing that a work touches upon all of these subjects would generally make me very wary. It could easily fall into the category of works like those of Sheri S. Tepper who feels that she has to save the world by battering you over the head and ramming her understanding of all of the world's ills down your throat.

This does not fall into that category. Neal deftly positions each storyline so that there is nothing "preachy" about the way events unfold. The reader is left to take what they will out of each action by following the reactions of the characters.

This work relies less upon the constant action of many of Neal's previous works. It is also contained within a single solar system which one would think reduces the scope of the work. But it doesn't, this is a very character-driven work that gets deeply into each individual's history and psyche! Initially, I found that the characters were fully realized with the exception of the quads, particularly Harald who was busy climbing his way through the ranks of the Fleet. Because they are all so driven, at times they, and he much more than the others seem fairly one-dimensional. I can't help but think that Neal planned it that way because of a twist that occurs that actually explains this phenomenon and puts it in believable perspective.

I have to tell you I blew through this book. I'll put that down to the slightly larger typeface than in previous Polity works. But at the end of it, this is a great story and a great read. I can't wait to see if Neal revisits this system and these characters again! Highly recommended!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent premise tapers off in last half May 31 2010
By 2theD - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Hilldiggers is an Asher novel which takes place in his unique Polity universe but does not follow the Cormac series or the Spatterjay series. Asher makes this novel distinctive by combining a good chunk of the Polity plot line with a savory chips from the Spatterjay line. The result is a rousing read for a seasoned Asher reader (this being my 10th Asher novel) but only for the first half. Throw in two planets with distinguishable race races, an ongoing war between them and a mischievous drone scouting the system... the first half is just a gem of a plot setting.

The book's synopsis sounds a little corny as `four exceptionally talented orphans' have been born through mysterious circumstances surrounding four `cosmic superstrings.' This initial cheesiness had me suppressing a gag reflex commonly experienced which reading synopses of self-published authors. While the ultimate motive for the conception is discussed, I found it a weak link in the plot chain.

The second half sees bad start when the protagonist Old Captain McCrooger begins to lose the Spatterjay virus and hence become weak, fragile. The weakening of the strong main character is a little demoralizing for the reader, as any Asher reader knows that the Old Captains are quirky, strong and a highlight in the Spatterjay series. The humanization of McCrooger is drawn out as he is injured over and over again without much direction.

Additionally, the predictable yet difficult to visualize space battle eventually takes place but doesn't seem as prominent as other battles in Asher's novels. The general plot direction is really predictable and no surprises were had except for a minor smile-worthy disclosure in the last two pages.

Hilldiggers is a good addition is the Polity universe with strong links with the Polity sub-plots but really tapers off in the last half to leave the reading unsatisfactory.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader March 6 2008
By average - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In something almost of a Culture-like situation, the Polity sends a human (of sorts) agent to try and establish diplomatic contact with a solar system riven by civil war, and two distinct variants of humanity modified to survive in their environments.

There's also an AI drone - whereas the Culture drones are smartarse snarky types who you might go to advice for for esoteric quantum physics, perhaps, Asher's Polity machines seem more like ones you could go to the pub with, if they needed to drink and weren't superintelligent compared to you, anyway. Tigger, the drone here, apart from admitting to being too slack to want to be a planetary AI, does some superhero dogooding around the place.

The Polity agent sent in is not of the Cormac variety, but rather a younger Old Captain from Spatterjay - someone transformed by a virus to be given longevity, and enhanced strength and regeneration abilities. So, also supermen, really, but this one has a serious illness.

He has to deal with four strangely enhanced genius quadruplets from one world, work out what is going on with a strange alien monster, and try and stop the interworld and intraworld tensions from evolving into devastating war. The title of the book comes from the name of some of the Sudorian main ships - the term meaning they have the firepower to remove geographical features.

A little more complex plotwise than some of the other Asher novels I have read, as you can see.

You still can't accuse Asher of arty writing, or being boring, which I am sure will continue to please his fans.

3.5 out of 5
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable book, but not my favorite Asher March 31 2011
By David Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've liked almost all the other novels in the Polity universe more than this, mainly because this doesn't really take place in the polity universe. There isn't nearly as much super-high tech stuff going on, and the story isn't as epic as many of the other Polity books. Still enjoyable, but not my favorite.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not the best Asher Nov. 13 2014
By Richard Albanese - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been on an Asher kick for the last year and have devoured all the Polity, Spatterjay, and Owner books, plus a few others. This is the last available one for me until his next release.

I have to say that I was mildly disappointed in this one. It starts out with a great premise; an Old Captain, an intrepid drone (not Sniper but still cool), weird and well described aliens, and original alien worlds, but towards the end this novel became a bit predictable and rote.

As he has been known to do, especially in Prador Moon, Asher signals the ending early on. Though maybe not as blatant as Moon, but you figure it out soon enough to make the climax anti-climatic. Gone is the biting wit and horror-movie inspired gore of previous novels - replaced by an almost contractual-obligation-type feel of the prose... Like he just needed to get on with it. The character development, though not Asher's strongest suit anyway, is a bit ham fisted and transparent at times, while at other times too opaque. The transformation of the Old Captain was, for me, a big let down (since I love those guys as they are!) - with a minor subplot regarding the Spatterjay virus that wound up not being material to the story. And I was disappointed in plot trajectory of the drone Tigger.

Still, if you are a Polity junkie like me, this remains a must read. Sorry Neal, but know that I will be the first one to buy your next book.


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