, this is a solid 3.5 stars. The conclusion to the four-book Hyperion Cantos is quite epic, and I am still trying to figure out why it just didn't wow me. I liked it okay, but I know a lot of people who love this series and periodically reread it, and I have no desire to.
As with the first duology, Hyperion
and The Fall of Hyperion
, the second book is actually better than the first; Endymion
set up the final confrontation between the Pax, the Ousters, and the TechnoCore, and the final book resolves it. We see worlds and civilizations fall, we see conspiracies hidden for centuries revealed. We learn the truth behind all the mysteries introduced since the first book: the origin of the Shrike, the goals of the TechnoCore, the meaning of the Cruciform.
Raul Endymion and Aenea are the main characters, and as I predicted in Endymion
, they become lovers. She plays the role of Christ-figure in this book, fated to suffer for all mankind, and the parallel is very deliberate and direct. She is a messiah for a new SF age. I have mixed feelings about the whole "Love is a physical force that can save the universe" theme, but I will say that Dan Simmons was consistent in his worldbuilding and his plotting. Indeed, perhaps that it what impresses people the most with this series: its epic scale spanning the rise and fall of several interstellar civilizations that nonetheless remains focused on individuals and reveals careful, meticulous planning, with groundwork laid all the way back in Hyperion
. It's a masterful literary feat, and proves Simmons is a top-notch genre writer. He brings literary depth to this series, from Hyperion
's riff on the Canterbury Tales to The Rise of Endymion
's Biblical tribulations.
But somehow, it just didn't quite stop reminding me that it was just another space opera. Perhaps because I thought Raul Endymion was kind of a schmuck, with all his whining about how Aenea had another lover before him while he was lost in time. (Simmons handles time travel really well in this book: the twists are forehead-slappingly obvious yet they take you by surprise.) And I am not all that fond of allegorical messiahs, even if Simmons does subvert it a little by making this Christ a girl. (He's not exactly the first author to have that idea, though.) This is one of the best-written space operas ever, but there are others that I enjoyed more.
Still, it's an experience, vast in scale and with a grand finale. I would recommend that anyone read Hyperion
, and if you like it, it is worth reading the rest of the series.