The sequel to Hyperion is a very different beast to its predecessor; instead of the loose collection of stories told by a small group, we get a fully formed space opera with a much wider canvas.
We still follow the Shrike pilgrims, and their segments are among the most tense in the novel as they are relentlessly stalked and picked off by the bespiked killer. Each of the characters gets a chance to shine, and the bonds of friendship between them are touchingly conveyed.
We are also introduced to new protagonists; the first is another Keats cybrid who, through his dreams, monitors the pilgrims and their situation. It's a neat narrative device, and also allows Simmons to continue to share his love of the poet's work.
We also follow, to a large extent, the CEO of the Hegemony, which shows the wider scope of the sequel; we are drawn into the galactic war with the ousters, an escalating situation that really ramps up the stakes. There are plenty of twists to the complex tale as well, as we find out what the ousters want, what the Shrike is, and what role the mysterious AI Technocore have played in everything.
This is, if anything, an improvement on the already fantastic original, and Simmons' grasp of character, story and sheer scifi wonder remain among the best in the genre. Great stuff.