Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rise of Endymion

Dan Simmons
Bantam Spectra, 1997 (my copy is from 1998)
Size: Long (my copy has 709 pages)
Theme: Futuristic space opera
Narrative: Switches between first-person (for Raul) and third-person
Main character: Raul Endymion
Recommended minimum age: Young adult
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

This is the last book of the Hyperion series (#4 of 4), picking up the story where “Endymion” has left off. Again, the story is told mostly in first-person by Raul Endymion. This book provides an excellent follow-up to the previous 3 in the series, keeping the fast pace, strong action, and veil of mystery we already grew accustomed to.The story starts with Anaea completing her training in architecture and how she then sets all the other trainees to go forth to different worlds and prepare for the upcoming changes. In the meantime, an exasperated church continues pursuing Aenea and brings De soya back to active. A large part of the book is on Raul’s attempt to go back to Aenea after their forced separation, and the events that later transpire in the world of T’ien Shan, which act as catalyst for the endgame.

In this story, we find out the remaining details about the Shrike, the Core, the Void that Binds, the Cantos, the Tree of Pain, Kassad, and many others. Some characters from the previous books come back, in some cases, finally enabling us to understand open issues. I would say that all the important loose ends are tied up and that the author actually attempts to provide a theoretical basis for the technology and an explanation for different observed phenomena. Even with my strong education in science and technology, I found these very well espoused, which does not always happen.

As in the previous books, I found the story compelling and interesting. However, I have to mention there were about 100 pages or so where I found the plot dragging, and for the first time in this series, became bored and had difficulty plowing through. Those pages, the time at T’ien Shan, were filled with character names and descriptions (useless since they mostly disappear from the story afterwards), and narratives of places (natural and built). The names were the most annoying aspect. I think the book would benefit tremendously from having those 100 or so pages simply ripped off (were this not a heresy for true sci-fi literature fans). Aside from that, and even without representing a breakthrough in sci-fi, or attempting to tackle society’s dramas and pitfalls, this series is one of the best I have ever read.

Spoilers (warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):
Aenea is able to make enough people immune to the cruciform to ensure this immunity will spread as a virus and indeed will eliminate the main hold that the Core has on the human race (through the church). However, she is eventually captured as she ultimately needs to sacrifice herself to ensure her teachings reach everyone. The book ends with Aenea and Raul again reunited on Earth (returned to its original spot in our galaxy), sometime after her death, this being possible only because when she was younger she had travelled in time so they would now have 1 year to spend together.

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