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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well, we are definitely not in the Iliad any more, Toto
I reached the point long ago where I became rather fiercely committed to the idea of reading a novel without knowing too much about the story. Book covers are immediately discarded upon purchase (sometimes not to be found for months later when they surface again all crumpled and wrinkled), and I passionately avoid reading the back covers of paperbacks until after the...
Published on 28 Oct 2003 by Amazon Customer

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a standalone novel
This is a wonderfully literate novel. The literary references are enjoyable while the characters (particularly the moravecs) are well defined. Sadly, the three stories are not fully meshed at the end of the book. The ending felt rushed - as if the author was not sure whether he was setting up a sequel. It appears a sequel is planned, though. I hope the next volume is as...
Published on 2 Oct 2004


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well, we are definitely not in the Iliad any more, Toto, 28 Oct 2003
By 
Amazon Customer (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Ilium (Simmons, Dan) (Hardcover)
I reached the point long ago where I became rather fiercely committed to the idea of reading a novel without knowing too much about the story. Book covers are immediately discarded upon purchase (sometimes not to be found for months later when they surface again all crumpled and wrinkled), and I passionately avoid reading the back covers of paperbacks until after the book is read, at which point I am usually grossly offended. Consequently, I picked up Dan Simmons' "Ilium" simply because I heard it was a retelling of the Trojan War in general and Homer's "Iliad" in particular. Since I teach that epic poem in my Classical Mythology class and have always considered myself to be an "Iliad" person rather than an "Odyssey" person, that was enough to get me to pack this book away for a recent trip when I could commit myself to some serious continuous reading. So I was rather surprised to learn that a retelling of the "Iliad," after a fashion, is but one of three story threads that start to come together over the course of this 576 page novel, which is itself but the first half of a the saga envisioned by Simmons.
The Trojan War is being reenacted on Mars by a race of metahumans who have assumed the roles of the Greek gods of classical mythology. Our vantage point to this exercise is Thomas Hockenberry, a scholar who is pretty sure he is dead and remembers little of his life on earth, but knows Homer's epic poem chapter and verse, and along with the rest of his colleagues is cataloguing where the action diverges from the "Iliad." It seems that Homer played around with the chronology when he wrote his epic thousands of years ago, which begs the question of why Hockenberry is now watching it played out and getting involved in a way that goes well beyond academic interest, beginning with a night in the bed of Helen of Troy herself. Meanwhile, a couple of robots with a propensity for quoting Shakespeare and Proust are leaving Jupiter to head to Mars to check out the strange readings they are picking up and back on Earth a group of humans living in a post-technological world where mechanical servants take care of their every needs are starting to rethink the way things are. When the latter meets up with Odysseus, we have another substantial clue that (surprise, surprise) these three plot threads are all parts of the same puzzle.
I have to admit that my interest for the non-"Iliad" parts of "Ilium" took a while to be kindled, mainly because my fascination with how the Trojan War was playing out was so great. Hockenberry has been studying the Trojan War for nine years and as the novel begins he and his colleagues are excited because they have finally reached the start of the "Iliad," when Agamemnon, King of the Acheans, arrogantly insults the great warrior Achilles over Briseis of the lovely arms. However, this becomes almost a minor consideration for Hockenberry the Muse he serves brings him to the goddess Aphrodite, who wants the scholar to kill the Athene herself.
From the opening paragraph, where Simmons does a pointed take off on the famous beginning of Homer's epic, Simmons dances his story in and around the "Iliad." The question of how a mere mortal such as Diomedes could dare to attack the gods themselves on the battlefield, and actually wound then, is not answered: he is injected with nano-technology by another deity. However, it is when we get to the fateful point where Homer's story is effectively derailed and Hockenberry makes the inevitable declaration to Dorothy's little dog that we are no longer in the "Iliad" and are now charting new ground.
Ultimately Simmons is more like Euripides than Homer. It was the Greek dramatist who set up the ironic foreshadowing of the conflict between Agamemnon and Achilles in "Iphigenia at Aulis" and who created an emotional counterpart in "The Trojan Women" to the end of the "Iliad," where Hector's corpse is brought back to the city. Homer's epics were not holy writ for the ancient Greeks, and the tragic poets could use his characters to tell their own stories, which is exactly what Simmons is doing (there is one part that struck me as a deadly serious twist on Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata”). I have the feeling that the conclusion will be more like the "Odyssey," especially since the "original" fate of Troy, Achilles, Hector, and the others are well over the rainbow, but now I am curious to see not only what happens next, and who wins the new war that has begun, but also because I want to find out who is behind the curtain.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe the hype: An Instant Modern Sci-fi Classic!, 2 Sep 2003
By 
Sickbobby (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ilium (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
You have heard the hype: a modern day retelling of Homer's The Iliad, set in a science fiction context. Your reaction: if he pulls it off, then Dan Simmons is an absolute legend. The result? Not only does Simmons pull it off, he delivers more than we deserve. You see, Dan Simmons is spoiling our socks off with his genius.
The gods of Greek Mythology have chosen to exist on a newly terraformed Mars. To pass the time, they have brought Homer's Iliad to life, featuring real warring Trojan and Greek armies. As a side-project, the gods have brought back scholars who specialise in Homer's epic poem, with the aim of recording how accurate Homer's account was to the real thing. Thomas Hockenberry is one such scholar, and he's been in the thick of it for nearly 9 years. Tired and jaded with the constant witnesses to carnage, along with the very real threat of being killed by his Muse at a whim, Hockenberry is close to throwing it in. But the gods have another plan for him, one which will throw Mount Olympos into utter chaos.
At the same time we have a consortium of 5 robots who are about to leave Jupiter for Mars. They are on a mission to investigate the strange happenings on Mars - the recent terraformation of the once red planet, and a disturbingly high number of quantum teleportation which might just tear a big enough hole in space to swallow the whole universe.
Having just finished the novel, I am still unable to get over the sheer ambitious act of creating a world where Greek Mythology walks hand in hand with quantum/nano-technology. But it is not just the originality of the idea that makes it so great; it is Simmons' delivery that adds to the "wow" factor. Simmons avoids "showing off" and making the myth/technology idea into a one-trick pony. Using it as his basis, Simmons carefully builds upon this idea into a full-blown epic of a tale. WIth such gigantic deals at stake, it is obvious that we will know what is going to happen: that we will see the full wrath of Zeus, god of all gods. But that doesn't matter: what matters is that Simmons places us into the thick of it and carefully guides us through the three seperate story lines of Ilium, and delivers us to a climatic cliff hanger.
Simmons' style is as reader friendly as ever. Having a very basic knowledge of Greek Mythology, Homer's original poem, and some Shakespeare (all coming from primary and juniour high school), I found I had no problems in picking out the various inter-textual references that Simmons throws into an already heady mix. Add to this the main theme of Ilium - the idea of fate and who is ultimately in control of it? - and you have a very smart novel.
This book will redefine space opera. It could've so easily been just another sci-fi/alternate history adventure (ala Eric Flint and Harry Turtledove). Instead, it upps the ante for all sci-fi novels with its sheer idiotic ambitiousness, and its ability to deliver on what it has promised. Ilium reads like it is part one of one big novel, rather than a seperate entity to an eventual follow up. But by the time you finish Ilium, you will be in so much awe of Simmons, that you will forgive him for leaving you half way of this literary roller coaster ride. Ilium brings to the science fiction genre much deserved respectability and recognition. In the midst of popcorn entertainment and overblown excesses within the genre (not that it is a bad thing) Ilium is truly a work that will win over the critics (of the literary kind as well) and the masses. Truly magnificent.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a standalone novel, 2 Oct 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Ilium (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
This is a wonderfully literate novel. The literary references are enjoyable while the characters (particularly the moravecs) are well defined. Sadly, the three stories are not fully meshed at the end of the book. The ending felt rushed - as if the author was not sure whether he was setting up a sequel. It appears a sequel is planned, though. I hope the next volume is as good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not memorable, 4 Sep 2013
This review is from: Ilium (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
I have read Hyperion, the fall of Hyperion, Endymion and The rise of Endymion and I was in awe. The scope, beautiful ideas of future technology, the interesting characters, the great way Dan Simmons told their intertwining stories. I loved it and never did let go. Rereading the books a couple of times. Waiting and hoping for a new equivalent story. Well I did not, anyway, anyhow, find it in this book. Boring characters, boring storytelling. The idea of the book, mixing ancient history with SF, looked very promising. But it wasn't to be. The characters were bland, the storyline ridicilously bad, the ideas of future absent. All in all a clear miss.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting update to the Iliad, 2 Mar 2006
By 
I. D. Miller "ian_miller6" (Solihull) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ilium (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
There are three strands to this book, the main one of which revolves around a re-write of the Iliad from an SF perspective. And very interesting this aspect is too! I read the Iliad in my youth years, and this matched it enough to enable me to remember the main characters and story, while also bringing the refreshing angle of an historian ported through time to see it for himself.
There are also two other strands; one revolving around a small post-human civilisation on earth (with echoes of the Endymion series) and another around a handful of androids from Jupiter's moons. These don't work as well I'm afraid. There's a connection between one of these two stories and that of Iliad towards the end, and a very loose connection with the third at the very end, but the connection only really appears to be an introduction for a follow-up book. While I don't mind follow-ups, I do believe any book should stand up by itself, and this just left me hanging in mid-air. The author could have intended this to maintain the readers interest, but I just found this somewhat frustrating.
Still...overall, it's worth a read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I shall be reading it again..., 23 April 2004
By 
This review is from: Ilium (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
and not because I didn't understand it the first time around. I loved theuse of the Illiad, although some licence has been taken. It's the sort ofbook where more can be gained with each reading. Some of the story seemsvery unlikley, but then the whole scenerio is somewhat unlikley. Ihappily disabled my reality chip and dove right into the story.
My onlycritiscm was the ending which seemed somewhat rushed, almost as though hehad run out of pages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, but wait for sequel, 14 Jun 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Ilium (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
Like Hyperion, this is only the first part of the story. Wait for the sequel (Olympos) and read them back to back. The cliff hanger ending leaves you impatient for more. Otherwise it is a stunning piece of space opera - a myriad of sub plots interwoven with some classic Dan Simmons imagination that make these books such a pleasure to read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dan Brown, THIS is how it's done..., 16 Oct 2005
This review is from: Ilium (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
Have just finished reading this and it's sequel, Olympos. Both books are engaging, entertaining and well written; I ran the gamut of human emotions whilst reading them. I laughed a lot, was genuinely surprised by myriad twists and turns, had to put the book down at one point because I was crying so much that I could not see to read and, most importantly, was made to think and made to question.
Both books read as though they were written by a man who has learnt about and thought about the subjects and themes he has adapted and in addition has skillfully created fantasic yet believable individuals and situations using recognisable stories and characters.
Dan Brown, with his painfully flat characterisation, half-baked concepts and uninspired plotlines should read and learn: If you are going to use something familiar at the centre of your tale, do it in an intelligent, informed way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, weird but at its core a real page turner, 17 Dec 2007
By 
Belfast garden (Belfast, Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ilium (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
I avoided this novel for a few years - the plot summary made it seem so contrived that I simply couldn't imagine how Simmons could actually make it work.

A friend finally loaned me a copy and I devoured 300 pages in one sitting. This is a well oiled machine of a book - an unashamedly old school SF novel - big ideas, cracking plot, robust characters, a robot dog(!), and all leavened by some nice thoughts on Homer, Shakespeare, Proust and Browning.

I'm not sure it would suit the non-SF fan but if you liked Hyperion (and were disappointed by the mis-firing Endymion) then you are in for a treat.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intricate plot, excellent book. How does Simmons think this stuff up?, 4 April 2007
This review is from: Ilium (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
Mr. Simmons is arguably one of the best genre-hopping authors around, having pulled down awards for SciFi, Horror, Fantasy, etc. But this massive book (700+ pages in the paperback) makes me wonder exactly how does he think this excellent stuff up?

Ilium mixes the Trojan War (is it the real Trojan War, or a setup re-creation?), future humans (who are so pampered that they have forgotten or have been forced to forget their history, basic skills like reading and cooking, etc.), post-humans (evolved in some fashion) and Jupiter/Asteroid Belt organic-plus-Artificially Intelligent miner/workers into a story that is part future, part past. Combining these characters with literary references to Shakespeare, Proust (the Jupiter miners have all of ancient Earth in their databases and a weakness for literature), Homer and others, would in the hands of a lesser writer, make for a slogfest of a read.

Simmons masterfully blends these characters, time-shifting settings and science fiction creations into a plot that is a page turner for the majority of it's bulk. The plot opens up, little by little, letting the reader slowly but surely put these pieces together, while keeping us engaged with what's happening. The science of the science fiction is added to make this complexity quite possible, which is what good science fiction is all about.

The only issue I have with this novel is that (without giving away any spoilers) one has to read the next novel, Olympos. But it is a small issue, and, given the quality of Ilium, I will happily dive into Olympos.

Highly reccommended!
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Ilium (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
Ilium (GOLLANCZ S.F.) by Dan Simmons (Paperback - 1 Mar 2004)
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