By Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, Tor, $25.99, 544 pages

10Sometimes you need a scorecard to properly appreciate a book; Hellhole is one of those books. General Adolphus has been exiled to one of the most undesirable planets in the Deep Zone as the result of a rebellion against the Crown Jewels, and has found some allies against the Diadem Michella. With the aliens that are returning to the planet by combining psychically with humans, there is a lot to parse.

Although a huge number of characters are introduced, it is easy to keep track of who is who and what it is going on at any point. The characters are developed at a very nice pace, and we are privy to everyone’s reasons for what they are doing, which makes for an engaging book. Although the pace accelerates towards the end this is nonetheless a fun book to read, especially with all of the politicking and sneaking around. This is one universe where they need FTL travel, and the concept of interstellar highways as presented here works well in helping to establish the problems of the universe. Hellhole is definitely the space opera you have been waiting for; this trilogy promises to be a wild ride.

Reviewed by Jamais Jochim