1 July 2017

Book Review: The Fall of Hyperion

Title: The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, #2)
Author: Dan Simmons 
Year of publishing: 1991
Published by: Spectra 
Source: school library 

You can also read my review for Hyperion

In the stunning continuation of the epic adventure begun in Hyperion, Simmons returns us to a far future resplendent with drama and invention. On the world of Hyperion, the mysterious Time Tombs are opening. And the secrets they contain mean that nothing--nothing anywhere in the universe--will ever be the same.

The only real problem I have with the first book, Hyperion, is that it doesn't stand on its own, but is the first half in this two-part epic story. That's something that I didn't reflect upon when I was reading Hyperion, but it is something that became very obvious to me when I started reading The Fall of Hyperion. And to be honest, I felt a little cheated. Still, Hyperion is a fantastic book, and it deserves an equally fantastic sequel. Is The Fall of Hyperion that sequel? 

First of all, I have a difficult time calling this book a sequel, since it's basically one story split in two halves. A continuation is a more appropriate term. As a continuation, this book doesn't skip a beat, as we are being thrown right back into the story.  

If Hyperion is in its core a set up, then The Fall is very much the pay-off. This is where all the foreshadowing, all the hints, and undercurrents which I have talked about in my last review, come into play. 

As the war rages between the Hegemony and the Ousters, the pilgrims are sitting by the opening Time Tombs on the planet Hyperion, and waiting for the Shrike to show himself. What neither of the pilgrims know is what the terrifying time-defying creature has in store for them, or what part each and everyone one of them plays in the outcome of the war, and in the future of humankind itself.

Meanwhile, on Tau 
Ceti Center - the administrative center of the Hegemony - a cybrid clone of poet John Keats is having prophetic dreams about the pilgrims, while trying to figure out the purpose of his existence. 

And CEO Meina Gladstone - the one woman in whose hands rests the fate of the entire galaxy, is slowly coming to a realisation that there may be an even bigger threat to the Hegemony than the savage Ousters.

I wish I could talk more in-depth about this story in terms of its many subplots, and themes, but in doing so I would be robbing you of the chance to experience this book by yourselves. There are riddles, and mysteries woven throughout the two books, and half the pleasure of reading them is trying to solve these mysteries. The Hyperion books are not an easy read. They require your full attention. They not only make you think, but they make you think ahead, and try and figure things out by yourself. This is something that I admire about these books.

The Fall continues to build upon the themes that were first introduced in the first book, such as nature versus technology, man versus AI, and the future of organised religion. One of the major themes in these books is man's relationship to God, and here, Simmons poses an interesting question: can mankind create a God, or a higher intellect through active faith?  

Just like in the first book, there is so much going on here; there are so many subplots, and so many characters, but once again, Simmons handles it all so well, balancing the subplots, and giving all the important characters the time that they require to grow. 

Like I said, Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion are essentially one book, which means that they are consistent both in style and in language. Consequently, The Fall possesses the same strengths that made the first book so great. 

Where it does falter sometimes is the pacing, specifically during the many briefings and meetings between the Hegemony higher-ups as they are strategizing, and bickering with one another. I understand that these scenes are important for the plot, but whenever my attention was directed to these "situation rooms", I felt like the story came to a halt. It's Hyperion - the planet, not the name of the book - that's interesting to me. This is where it all happens. 

In the first book, Simmons took us on a grand tour of the Hegemony, and its many worlds and cultures by incorporating the pilgrims' stories into the main plot. Here, we get to visit these worlds in real time, and witness how this war is affecting these very diverse societies.    

The ending is an open one, but the conclusion is nonetheless satisfying. Simmons wraps up most of the subplots nicely, while still leaving enough room for interpretation. Even as the story draws to a close, there are still questions to ponder about. 

It would be tempting to rate The Fall lower than its predecessor, only because Hyperion gave me a greater case of the feels. Still, The Fall is just as good a book as its predecessor. Simmons does a fantastic job conveying the sense of urgency, and panic as the war between the Hegemony and the Ousters escalates. There are few books that I know of that depict the big intergalactic events so well, while at the same time delving deep into the minds and souls of the characters. 

My Rating

Plot: 5 stars
Story: 5 stars
Characters: 4 stars 
Language: 5 stars

Total: 5 stars 

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