A satisfactory, if not satisfying, conclusion to the Hyperion Cantos,
This review is from: The Rise of Endymion (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Paperback)
Dan Simmons wraps up his Hyperion Cantos with this final instalment and it turns out to be a mixed bag. For every high there seems to be a low. Before I get into specifics, let me state that this is still a very fine book that puts many other sci-fi novels to shame but Simmons never manages to reach the highs he did so consistently with Hyperion and The Fall Of Hyperion.
There are some genuinely astounding moments both in terms of writing style and storyline here: Simmons' environmental description is exceptionally good and allows the reader to form a very specific idea of the locations he envisiged when he was writing the story. Similarly, the major plot events are both highly original and gripping, making you really root for the central characters and develop a strong opinion of the various agencies at work.
However, there are negatives, and some of them are detrimental to the point of spoiling an otherwise fine conclusion to the Cantos. First - and not necessarily spoiling the whole experience - is that the ending is signposted from very early on. This isn't as bad as it sounds because the fun is in the journey; how we get to that conclusion. Related to this is the length of the story; it is overly stretched out over 700 pages and there is simply no need. While the sections that really drive the story forward are outstanding, there are also vast rafts of pages where simply nothing happens. Simmons could easily have cut over 200 pages from the story with no adverse effect on the story and it would have given a little more urgency to the characters' journey, both physical and emotional.
The characterisation itself is written and developed with real heart and I cannot stress enough how well he has done to maintain their base emotional state without uncharacteristic traits creeping in. The journey we go on with Aenea and Raul is both heartfelt and saddening with a real sense of melancholy underlying the whole relationship.
Secondly, we come to my major bugbear with this story. The whole religious rhetoric that runs through the entire Cantos - but which is much more prominent in The Rise Of Endymion - really degenerates the reading experience. I'm not religious myself but this isn't the reason for my criticism. It's that it's just wholy unneccesary in the context with which the story is written. There are reams and reams of religious dialogue that serve no purpose other than to slow the story down. Even Aenea breaks out into zen-like Buddhism on a couple of occasions. Clearly Simmons has some bone to pick with Christianity and much perfers the ethos of Buddhism but he shouldn't have introduced this concept/opinion into the Cantos as it simply has no place here.
Regardless of these criticisms, please do not be dertracted from reading this as it is a nice conclusion to the Cantos. I also wouldn't advise reading this without reading all three previous parts of the Cantos either as you WILL get lost in all the references to previous events. As a few previous reviewers have stated, there are a few plot lines that are not brought to a satisfactory conclusion but tying up all the loose ends doesn't leave any room for the imagination so I'm not overly concerned about that.
In conclusion, read, enjoy, and if necessary skip the sections with the religious rheteric.