on 4 October 2000
Dan Simmons prooves to be the master of yet another genre with this offbeat story based on the gods of Hawaii. The modern story tells of the millionaire businessman Trumbo desparately trying to offload a white elephant of a Hawaian holiday resort to a group of slightly stereotypical Japanese businessmen. Unfortunately for Trumbo, the ancient gods of Hawaii are arising, and slowly eating their way through the guests and staff of the hotel, in a variety of grotesque forms.
The story is told mainly from the point of view of Trumbo and two female guest. One, Cordie, is a winner of a holiday competition. The other, Eleanor, is the relative of a female traveller, who years before made a trip to Hawaii in the company of Samuel Clemens, AKA Mark Twain.
This parallel journey is told in the reading of the relatives journal as she witnesses the worship of the gods and endures the dangerous trip to their underworld in order to save the soul of one of her companions.
It is a very different read to the author's other books, without the huge scope of the Hyperion quartet, but has the same degree of research clear on every page. The description of a nightime trip over the dangerously thin lava sheets was one of the most affecting pieces of writing i have read.
The characters are well rounded and comically human, and the author does play with the readers preconceptions on who may or may not be the heroes in the story to good effect.
Very different to the "norm" but then the author seems impossible to pigeon-hole as a genre author. If you have enjoyed any of his other books, you should enjoy this definite change in pace.
on 13 January 1998
Fires of Eden gain points for sheer nerve. There's a story about awful things happening at a tropical resort, and it seems awfully familiar- although I was pleased that a goodly number of characters survive the carnage, instead of the one or two who usually live to see the dawn in stories like this. But at the heart of the novel is a journal which recounts a rousing adventure in which one of the main characters is Mr. Samuel Clemens. Ever since "Ragtime" came out in the 70's writers have felt free to have characters from history come into their novels and do their bidding. Mr. Clemens is a very believable character, and the adventures he has a century before the comtemporary action of "Fires of Eden" are, as a reviewer of his day might have said, a ripping yarn.
on 10 June 1997
Having never read Dan Simmons, I was impressed with his historical knowledge, his literary expertise and the general flow of the plot. Although I found Fires of Eden strange at times, I also found it thrilling and occasionally chilling. His ability to intertwine two stories at once attracted my attention. He combines history with the paranormal to form a story that captures and holds the reader's attention.
on 13 November 1997
Dan is one of my favorite authors, and this book certainly helps maintain his position there. Not being a real feminist one of the main underlying themes didn't really catch me up in it's swirl but I still thought it was a great book. Call me slow but I really had a hard time working out how the native names were pronounced, eventually I just gave them mental shorthand names and that solved that problem. I love Dan's style that plays two stories at once his switching back and forth REALLY adds to the suspense, someone should suggest to him to write in natural breaks so that I can get stop and get some sleep! One question though, how did Cordie get off a commercial plane with a large handgun? Ahh well, I guess I'll just have to read it again to see what I missed.
on 26 July 2001
Simmons manages to surprise me with sheer variety of style. Sometimes his books are relentlessly intense, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes funny. This one is all of the above. Scary, stange stuff happens, but the characters seem to realize the absurdity of their situation and react accordingly. A great read.