Hellhole Inferno (Hellhole Trilogy)
by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson
Cover Artist: Stephen Youll
Review by Jon Guenther
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765322715
Date: 12 August 2014 List Price $27.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
I had high hopes for this final book in the Hellhole Trilogy and I'm sad to report that Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson didn't quite come through. That's not to suggest the whole thing stood as a disappointment, but there were definite shortfalls that didn't have to be in order to satisfy this massive story-line.
Throughout the trilogy, the authors built a credible universe that seemed quite familiar to the universe-building seen in Frank Herbert's Dune series (see my review for the middle book, Hellhole: Awakening, where I talk about some of those parallels). Building on that universe established in the first two books, Hellhole: Inferno then picks up the story where the last book left off, and the rebels under General Adolphus have delivered a harsh blow to Diadem Michella Duchenet and her empire.
On a good note, the idea of the terrestrial war between the Ro-Xayans and shadow-Xayans (through the co-mingling of their human hosts) was a concept that appealed to me quite early in this series. There are also many passages where character interaction is credible and interesting, if not always moving the story forward. This book, like the first two, also demonstrated the skill of our venerable authors in describing action during the space battles and ground-fighting. It must also be noted that in no small part did they fail to wrap up each sub-plot point in a mostly satisfactory fashion. There is one case of betrayal I felt smelled a bit too much of deus ex machina in this one, but I found I was able to look past it given the motivations of the character involved.
Something of a surprise to me, the chief con that lent to my disappointment, was how little our protagonist (Adolphus) spent "on stage". It seemed clear to me, Mr. Herbert and Mr. Anderson were having almost too good a time covering the lives of the other characters spread throughout their intergalactic opus, which left our hero a bit lost in the shuffle if not entirely forgotten. I think considering Adolphus was the lead conspirator in the entire thing, and the whole reason we cared about Hellhole, the Constellation universe, or anything else for that matter, this is a bit short-sighted.
Nonetheless, I recommend the book on the merits that you do get to find out what happens and if you've been ardently following the series (like me) and have a vested interest in getting some closure, Hellhole: Inferno should do the trick.