Book Review: Endymion

The third book in the Hyperion Cantos series by Dan Simmons is “Endymion.”  While “The Fall of Hyperion” immediately follows “Hyperion,” “Endymion” takes place more than 250 years after the the second book.  So far, all three books have been very different.  This installment follows Raul Endymion of Hyperion, the future messiah Aenea, and the android Bettik as they go on an epic journey over many planets.  Of course, the Shrike makes an appearance.

What’s interesting is how this book is told from the point of view of three characters, Raul Endymion, Father Captain Federico de Soya, and the mysterious Nemes.  Most of it is from the point of view of the former two characters.  At times, it’s difficult to tell the order of events at the beginning of the chapters, as it’s not done in real time chronological order.  But the time frame is evident as the chapter unfolds.

As with the first two books, religion plays a major part in the story, though it mostly shows how corrupt religion can become.  In a way, “Endymion” is providing us with a 31st century version of the Crusades.

The characters are quite engaging.  The chapters involving Raul are told from a first person point of view, while the other chapters are third person point of view.  The entire book is written by Raul as a record of what happened.  He is a very resourceful and intelligent person who got on the wrong side of the law.  However, he has to be the hero.  Aenea is a highly intelligent and extremely mature for her age girl of only 11 years old.  I can’t imagine any real 11 year old kids speaking like her and with the knowledge she has, but she is a very unusual character, being the daughter of Brawne Lamia.  A. Bettik is a character readers of the first two books should be familiar with.  He is a brave and noble character and fairly likeable.  Father Captain de Soya is a military officer and a priest who is utterly devoted to the Catholic church, and is a man of strong morals who is single-minded in his pursuit of our protagonists.  Even though he is the main antagonist, I liked his character.  He’s not really a bad guy.  Far from it.  He’s just doing his job.  There’s a large number of other characters to complement these four, and many are very interesting, although some I found contemptible with greed and poor morals.

The story itself reads like an epic fantasy novel.  While this is pure science fiction, the adventurous style of this book would appeal to readers of epic fantasy, as they travel from world to world in strange new environments.  I could imagine each planet very clearly and vividly with Simmons’ descriptions.  He isn’t overly descriptive, so the story moves at a decent pace.  There is a lot of action and many tense moments that meant life or death.  Often, I can tell where a story is going, but in this case, I had no idea.  It had me constantly guessing what was going to happen next.  It was quite unpredictable with plenty of surprises.  I was very interested in what was going to happen next.  That makes it a very good story.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this book after the previous two, but I’m very happy to say that I’m satisfied.  I give this a very well earned 4 out of 5 stars.

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