The Rise of Endymion

The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons

See reviews of books one, two, and three. This review contains SPOILERS.

The time of reckoning has arrived. As a final genocidal Crusade threatens to enslave humanity forever, a new messiah has come of age. She is Aenea and she has undergone a strange apprenticeship to those known as the Others. Now her protector, Raul Endymion, one-time shepherd and convicted murderer, must help her deliver her startling message to her growing army of disciples.

But first they must embark on a final spectacular mission to discover the underlying meaning of the universe itself. They have been followed on their journey by the mysterious Shrike–monster, angel, killing machine–who is about to reveal the long-held secret of its origin and purpose. And on the planet of Hyperion, where the story first began, the final revelation will be delivered–an apocalyptic message that unlocks the secrets of existence and the fate of humankind in the galaxy.

The generally accepted thought is that each book in this series gets progressively less good than the one before. After having read all four, I’m not sure that’s true. I would say more that the first two books in the series are completely different than the last two. Especially if you think about book one in comparison to book four, you would really never have guessed what the ending to this whole series would be.

One of the things I loved about this book was the same as what I loved in all the others: the world-building. Yet again, we travel to even more fantastical planets, whose origins have just a hint of present-day Earth cultures in them.

I also liked that, in this novel, we get to basically see all of the original Hyperion pilgrims again.

Raul Endymion is hapless and bumbling. He even admits this in one rant inside the Schrodinger Cat Box. He’s always following, never seems to understand what’s going on, and is the last person to realize anything. This makes him somewhat of an annoying character. But it also makes him human. He displays insecurities far more than any other character. Which makes him a great contrast for the android, A. Bettik and Aenea herself, the child messiah that rarely seems like a whole person.

The philosophical explanations and endeavors weigh a little heavy. Most of the ideas postulated are so abstract, that it’s hard to get a hold of them. At the end of the novel, we see these explanations put into practice, but before that, it’s as if we’re grasping at cloud vapors.

I’ve thought about the title of the book a lot over the past few weeks, but I still don’t see it. The Rise of Endymion? The Rise of (Raul) Endymion? Raul doesn’t do a lot of rising or becoming a hero. He seems adept at surviving, I’ll give him that. But perhaps, the title is an allusion to the history that is never written, Raul’s story after the end of the series.

Is it worth reading the entire Hyperion series? I would say so. Unless you’re okay with never knowing the answer to certain mysteries like The Shrike, the labyrinthine worlds, and the Technocore.

Have you read the series? What did you think? Why do you think this particular book is called The Rise of Endymion.

 

Endymion

Endymion by Dan Simmons

(Endymion is the third book in a series by Dan Simmons)

It is 274 years after the Fall and the universe is in chaos. Raul Endymion, one time shepherd and convicted murderer, is chosen as a pawn in a cosmic game whose outcome will determine the fate of humanity. Selected as a bodyguard to the next messiah, Endymion will cross time, space, and the very fabric of reality as her protector, lover, and finally disciple. At the same time, the enigmatic Shrike – part monster, part killing machine, part avenging angel – has also followed the girl into the 32nd century. Yet it is Endymion who has been chosen to rescue Aenea, against all odds. How will her message change the universe – if she is willing to speak it…and if humankind is prepared to hear it?

While I still find Hyperion to be outstanding and the best novel in the series, I equally liked The Fall of Hyperion and Endymion.

One of the really awesome things that Endymion does is basically takes the reader on a modified tour of the worlds that made up the WorldWeb. In the first two books, we get glimpses of planets like Hyperion, God’s Grove, Maui Covenant, Barnard’s World, Old Earth, Lusus, Tau Ceti Center, and Renaissance Vector. Endymion takes us further. World-building is absolutely one of Dan Simmons’s strengths. And if he really puts that card down hard. And I loved it. I loved that he chose to go further with the WorldWeb, taking us to visit planets 274 years after the fall.

I find that all of Simmons novels don’t really grip you until 30-50 pages in. Endymion was no different. But once I was hooked, I was hooked.

I can’t say too much about the novel since it’s the third in the series, but one of the things it does is give us a new perspective on the Shrike phenomenon. For once, we see the monster as something that is, in fact, vulnerable and can be harmed, if not beaten. After the build-up of the terror of the creature for the past two books, it was interesting to see it in a new light. I can’t say if I liked it or not, though that probably has to do with my hatred of its challenger. What, you disliked something more than the Shrike? Unfortunately, yes. Simmons came up with yet another “monster”.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Blog Posts That Give the Best Picture of You

This week’s TTT covers ten blog posts (on your blog!) that give the best picture of you as a reader and/or a person. As always, TTT is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

I feel a little awkward with this one, as I’m writing a big ‘ol braggo post (but that is kind of sort of what blogging is, yes?)

1. My Extended About Me. Kind of an obvious choice.

2. This is a super recent post, but I think this short story is really representative of my writing.

3. On the same note, I wrote a short play two years ago and performed it at an open mic with my friend. I don’t do vlogs or anything or the sort, so this is your one and only (for the moment) chance to see me live. Haha.

4. And again, a little bit of flash fiction I threw up on the blog.

5. Favorite Book: Shadow of the Wind

6. Favorite Book: Hyperion

7. Favorite Book: Plainsong

8. Favorite Book: The Fault in Our Stars

9. Favorite Book (This and the afore-mentioned only represent a small portion of the things I love dearly): The Lover’s Dictionary

10. Most amazing motivational speech ever, by Neil Gaiman.

Hyperion

Hyperion by Dan Simmons

From the publisher: On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike.  There are those who worship it.  There are those who fear it.  And there are those who have vowed to destroy it.  In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all.  On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives.  Each carries a desperate hope–and a terrible secret.  And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.

It’s been over two decades since Dan Simmons first published Hyperion. In perspective, the book was published a few weeks after I was born. But it is to my extreme misfortune that I never crossed paths with this book until a few months ago.

What’s not to like about science fiction that is heavily influences by and pays homage to the literature that came before it? The premise of the novel sets the seven pilgrims on a Chaucer-like pilgrimage to the Shrike and the Time Tombs. So maybe it’s not exactly the England of the Canterbury Tales. But you’ve got to appreciate an author who winks and smiles at his readers and assures them there’s a reason they struggled through Chaucer, however painful or not painful.

Hyperion is kind of like sci-fi for literature nerds. In addition to the Chaucer, we’ve got allusions to John Keats and his unfinished poem, “Hyperion, as well as digs at the sci-fi publishing industry and a tip-of-the-hat to William Gibson and the classic noir novels of Raymond Chandler. Simmons is a total literature nerd. And I can’t help, but love him for it. Who else would I want guiding me through this bleak and grotesque future of the post-Earth Hegemony?

Told in parts by the Pilgrims, we get a terrible and beautiful picture of the world called Hyperion. I knew I was in love with Hyperion when I stayed up two extra hours reading about the trials and tribulations of Father Dure amongst the Bikura and then spent another two hours after that trying to fall asleep. And I wasn’t even sorry about it in the morning.

The back-cover description from the publisher doesn’t do this book justice. Sure, it piqued my interest. But after reading Hyperion itself I can’t help, but feel that the enticement falls quite flat and feels lame in comparison to the novel itself. I’m told that the later books in this series (The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion,  and Endymion Rising) don’t pack the same extraordinary one-two punch of horror and beauty. I’m not deterred though; I’ll inspect these books for myself.

Simmons is a talented writer. The world of the Hegemony is well-constructed and life-like. We believe in the characters, their unique voices, and their tortured pasts. We believe in the pilgrimage, in the war, and in the Hegemony. And above all, we believe in the Shrike.