Endymion (Hyperion Cantos #3) by Dan Simmons
Synopsis from the back of the book:
It is 274 years after the Fall and the universe is in chaos. Raul Endymion, onetime shepherd and convicted murderer, is chosen as a pawn in a cosmic game whose outcome will determine the fate of humanity. Selected as 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?
ETA: Forgot to type up the summary, whoops. It’s not a good one, and arguably spoils too much, but I couldn’t find a better one since everything online just says, basically, ‘sequel to Hyperion, amazing, blah blah blah’.
This book dragged so much. That’s not to say the previous books in this series were quick reads, because they weren’t, but this one was longer and it felt like less got done.
Half of Endymion reads a lot like The Hobbit, only without the bits of fun that make it a good read – notably, the half following Aenea and Endymion. The other half, following Father Captain Federico de Soya, is better paced, with more action going on, but it was also clearly the B-plot, and we spent more time with Aenea and Endymion going nowhere.
Both groups had interesting philosophical and ethical discussions, however, and since that was what I was expecting to be interested in after the last two books, I can forgive some of the dragging. Not all of it, of course, but some.
In the end, I think the most appealing part of Endymion is the idea of destiny and fate. Just because you’re supposed to be something, must you? That is the question Aenea faces and demands an answer for, and it is also a question that haunts de Soya as he chases Aenea across the worlds. Unfortunately, it’s also not a question that was answered in any meaningful way, in my opinion, during the course of this novel. I’m hoping it will be picked up in book 4, aka Book 2 Part 2.
Because of that narrative structure – part 1 and part 2 of book 2 – I’m willing to forgive the way the novel ends without wrapping everything up. It does reach a conclusion of sorts to some of the main points of both plots, and it provides a decent stopping point – and a much needed breather – but it still felt very abrupt to me. Especially the way everything escalated in the final fifty pages to bring the two plots careening back together. The whole thing with Nemes just felt very messy to me.
But I digress.
Like the previous two books, Endymion incorporates a number of narrative styles. Most notably, Endymion’s portions are first person past tense, being written many years in the future, while de Soya’s portions are third person present tense, going on right now. It makes for an interesting contrast even if it does deflate quite a bit of the tension we’re meant to be experiencing between the ways their plots are interacting. The only people I felt concern for were side characters and de Soya’s group. Not Endymion or Aenea.
Another 3 of 5 stars. It’ll probably be a while before I get through the final book in this quartet, though, because those stars are getting boosts from my enjoyment of the narrative styles and the philosophy.