REVIEW SUMMARY: The final book in the Inhibitors series brings things to a conclusion on the ice moon Hela.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: On the ice moon of Hela, Quaiche (a normal human) discovers an anachronistic bridge spanning a giant chasm on an apparently lifeless moon.
On Ararat, the survivors of the Resurgam battle struggle to survive while the battle between the Conjoiners and the Inhibitors rages above the planet.
50 years after Ararat, the girl Rashmika Els thinks she’s discovered something the Quaicheist church is trying to hide. Ultimately, all three time periods meet with Rashmika, leading to the ending of these stories.
PROS: Great storytelling, still a cool universe, and sympathetic characters.
CONS: One big one. For those who wan’t to read without spoilers or even hints, I won’t place them here. Its also the reason I put the stars below the jump.
BOTTOM LINE: See below!
In Absolution Gap, Reynolds brings to a close the struggle of humanity against the Inhibitors. In his usual style, Reynolds tells the tale by weaving the stories of three different time periods together, pulling the strands together at the end.
In the first, earliest period, Quaiche is a normal human, working on an Ultra lighthugger, desperately trying to find something, anything unusual in the Haldora system that will put him back in the good graces of the Ultra Queen. If he doesn’t, his lover will be killed. While exploring the moon Hela, Quaiche discovers a bridge spanning a huge chasm. A bridge on a supposedly lifeless planet and in an unexplored system. He descends to investigate, and all hell breaks lose.
In the second period, roughly 50 years after the first, Clavain and the rest of the Resurgam survivors are struggling to make a life on Ararat. Meant to be only a short stopover, they have spent the last 22 years and Ararat has become a home. However, it seems that the Inhibitors have found them, and only the intervention of Remontoire is keeping them from destroying Ararat. With the help of John Branigan and the mysterious girl, Aura (child of Ilya), a small group of survivors heads to Hela to try and end the intervention of the Inhibitors.
In the last period, 75 years after the second, a young women, Rashmika Els, has been studying the native lifeforms of Hela, the Scuttlers. They appear to have been wiped out by the Inhibitors, but in an unusually sloppy manner. She believes the key to the scuttlers demise is also linked to the mysterious disappearances of the gas giant Haldora (for less than a second each time) around which it orbits. Haldora’s disappearances have become more frequent, and Rashmika sets out join the Quaichist church to discover why they seem to be hiding information about Haldora.
For most of the book, Reynolds really has the reader going on a rollercoaster ride. Opening with a long, slow build up to the first big action sequence, the story alternates between slow periods, building the tension, and fast ones where the action is intense and cool. Reynolds has really grown as a storyteller, here tellling a great story with sympathetic characters. But, and this is really too bad, Absolution Gap fails terribly when it gets to the ‘resolution’ of the Inhibitors and the mystery of Haldora.
I won’t go into detail, suffice it to say Reynolds pulls stuff out of a hat at the end to resolve the Haldora resolution. It isn’t quite a Desu Ex Machina, but it comes close. Also, the fate of the Inhibitors happens off-stage. After all the build up and hype, the ending was an incredible let down. I felt the same way after the Night’s Dawn Trilogy. This is still a good book and a must read for fans of the series, but Reynolds may have placed the bar too high for even himself to reach.