The Commonwealth Saga of Peter F. Hamilton is comprised of several novels spanning centuries, characters and planets. Unfortunately, the publishing order does not concur with the in-universe order. What is the recommended order that will make for the most coherent experience?
The Commonwealth universe consists of three series of books that should be read in publication order:
- Commonwealth Saga:
- Misspent Youth (2002), "prequel"
- Pandora's Star (2004)
- Judas Unchained (2005)
- Void Trilogy:
- The Dreaming Void (2007)
- The Temporal Void (2008)
- The Evolutionary Void (2010)
- The Chronicle of the Fallers:
- The Abyss Beyond Dreams (2014)
- A Night Without Stars (2016)
The only possible exception to reading it in publication order is that the first novel, Misspent Youth (which was both published first and takes place first) has the feel of a prequel of sorts. It takes place 300 years before Pandora's Star, has a different focus, is much shorter, and is not necessary to read first to make sense of the rest of the series. Reading it first would probably be most "coherent", which is what you're asking about, but most fans would probably recommend to read it later on (although when you read it isn't terribly important) because it doesn't really serve as a good introduction to the universe.
This publication order does pretty much correspond to the chronological order of the plot, except that the Void Trilogy and the Fallers duology take place in parallel – however, they should still be read in publication order because of how the stories unfold. Both the Void Trilogy and Fallers duology will spoil earlier novels if read out of sequence. The books within each series absolutely need to be read in sequence to make sense.