Greg's Reviews > The Rise of Endymion

The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons
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Feb 18, 10

bookshelves: speculative-fiction
Read from February 04 to 19, 2010

** spoiler alert ** After reading and absolutely loving the first two Hyperion books I was really excited for the final two. I read Endymion, and even though I was warned it was a very different book, I was still mostly let down. More out of share boredom than anything else. But I was told that Rise of Endymion was much more epic in nature, and that it all pays off in the end. And I guess to a certain degree it did.

So first...the good. You do certainly grow to care more about the characters throughout these novels. And the last chunk of Rise is definitely very epic. Very sprawling. Very engaging. Simmons kills off huge swaths of characters, and managed to get me so worked up that I actually wanted these characters to exact revenge against the bad guys, a feeling I rarely have.

But there was SO much wrong with this book that I was literally rolling my eyes at various points throughout this novel.

There is a fundamental problem that authors come against when writing novels, and this is the simple fact that they are flawed humans who cannot possibly hope to encompass the characters and ideas they write about. As an author who is not a super genius, it's a very tricky matter trying to write about a character who is one. You have to remain distant to a certain degree to keep that character believable. Similarly, when you set up one of the most creative and interesting sci-fi worlds ever put to paper, it's probably best to keep a little distance and not try to answer all the mysteries you bring up. Because you just can't pull it off. As frustrating as it is to finish The Fall of Hyperion and still have so many questions left unanswered, I would have preferred that to the lame attempt spewed forth in this book.

Let me try to think through a few of things that bothered me most. I know that from Hyperion, Simmons really plays with causality a lot. So much so that I had to ignore a few things or they would drive me crazy. But he takes it to new levels in Endymion.

Rachel

So when we left off in Hyperion, the story was this. Rachel was a brilliant archeologist, goes to Hyperion, gets affected by the Time Tombs and starts to age backwards. Just before she has aged back to nothing she is saved by her father and brought outside by the warrior Moneta, who we find out is actually this very same Rachel who is now aging forward. Little baby Rachel is taken into the Time Tomb where she travels to the future, is raised as a fierce warrior, fights a huge battle with millions of shrikes, and then goes into the Time Tomb with the dead Kassad, where she travels backwards in time with him till she meets the live Kassad during the events of Hyperion. Okay, crazy, confusing, Simmons really messes with cause and effect, but whatever.

Now we jump to Endymion, and the very same Rachel who we know is Moneta, is now roughly 25 years old, and not a warrior at all. She's one of Aenea's disciples. Who by the way, are all mostly pacifists. So at what point does she travel to the future and get trained as a bad ass sex crazy warrior who loves the taste of blood?

Kassad

In Hyperion Kassad has one of the most amazing battles against the Shrike that seems to transcend space and time. Following the Shrike into the far distant future where he dies on the battle field and is placed in the Time Tombs to travel back in time with Moneta.

But now in Endymion Kassad is roughly 60 years old, and knows nothing about this future battle. And this is explained away that he will still travel to that future some time and engage in that battle.

Guess what though? The Shrike is actually modeled after Kassad, a cybrid you could say, created in a last ditch effort by future core ai to defeat humans. Which really puts a fucked up spin on the scene from Hyperion where Moneta is having sex with Kassad and turns into the Shrike who apparently precedes to fuck himself!

Lame.

Het Masteen

This character disappears for a bit during Hyperion, returns and dies. Here we find out that he's actually gone to the future to pilot the tree ship to enact Aenea's plan of atonement. I was actually fine with this, and thought it was pretty cool. What I wasn't fine with was Aenea telling him that his death that we read about is only a possibility!

Simmons states again and again that Martin Silenus didn't really understand everything he wrote, and got a lot of wrong. He uses this trick again and again throughout the final two novels. To a certain degree I understand what he's doing. Aenea's whole thing is "choose again". That every religion and philosophy has got it wrong. That they're all trying to attain the same thing but are blinded and confused by their own human biases, preconceptions, and failings. I get that he's making a metaphor about religious texts, and how these people were trying their best to convey truth, but couldn't because of their knowledge and the very fact that words by definition are imperfect abstractions of the truth. But that only gets him so far.

Hey, did you think the core had three battling elements? Nope, wrong, there's really millions and millions! Did you think that the core resided in the farcasters, using human brains and their neurons to store themselves in when people farcasted? Wrong! Did you think the core set up the destruction of earth so they could create all the different farcasters and give themselves more hard drive space? Wrong! You thought the core moved earth for their ultimate intelligence project? Nope, wrong! I wish I actually wrote down every time Simmons changed what we had been told in previous books, because I know i'm only remembering a fraction of it right now.

The biggest thing is that Simmons has Aenea keep talking about how everything is in flux. There is not definite future. Everything is a possibility. But so much of Hyperion's plot is dependent on the fact that these things are NOT just possibilities, that they are realities. You can't have characters traveling backwards in time and call the futures they came from possibilities. It doesn't work that way! Aenea can't travel to the future and have a baby with Raul after she's died and have that death only be a possibility. It's ridiculous.

I really enjoyed Simmons vague descriptions of the void that binds in Hyperion, and thought it was a neat concept. I can even buy wishy wash talk about love being the most powerful force in the universe...to a certain degree. But when Simmons starts talking about love being a fundamental particle of the universe, the thing that ties the void together. That void is a real place where memories exist as real objects, and by using love you can travel to any place where that love exists by using the void as a medium...well, i kind of wish nothing had ever been explained to me.

The other thing that killed me though most of this book was the obviousness of the fact that Aenea had at one point freecasted into the future and married Raul and had a baby with him. I imagine this is supposed to be obvious to the reader. But not at all obvious to Raul. Which is fine, and I enjoyed the payoff of him finally realizing this at the end of the book. But my god, how many damn pages were waisted on this? Raul obsesses over this incessantly, accosting every character he meets regarding their knowledge of it. And every one tells him the same thing, "i don't know, all I know is she never loved anyone other than you". I got so tired of dealing with this plot point every damn 10 pages.

I almost want to read this book again, just so I can write an even worse review of it.

Here's what I wish Simmons had done. Taken Enymion and Rise of Endymion, and made them into one book. Stopped contradicting himself every 5 pages. And focused on Aenea, and her teachings. Combined the character development in the first book, with the exposition about the cruciforms and the void and some of those things, and the non stop action of the latter part of Rise. The reason this book got as high a rating as it dead was because there WAS a decent amount to like. A. Bettik is a great character. I loved Father de Soya and Gregorious and his swiss guards. The payoff of Corporal Kee being reunited with them was worth it. And Father Paul Duree finally being allowed to resurrect and live was fantastic. And again, the last 100 pages or more was great non-stop action, with some much needed comedic levity with the return of Martin Silenus in the end.

The worst part about all this is that the first two Hyperion books were absolutely brilliant. So brilliant that after reading the next two I actually want to go back and give them higher ratings. Because either these two books need to go down, or the first two need to go up. But there's no good reason that there should be only one star separating the two halves of this story.
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Whitney the amount of retconning in the Endymion Cantos is totally unacceptable. the Moneta version of Rachel was a truly awesome badass and I was very sad to see her go.


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