In this continuation of the previous story, we see Aenea’s adult life and how she became known as a messiah.
I don’t really want to say more than that about the plot. If you’ve read the previous book, then you know that’s what was established from the outset, that Aenea’s story eventually leads to her being considered a savior of the known universe. Typical of Simmons, he means that in the religious sense, and Aenea does become a Christ figure. I didn’t really have a problem with this other than Simmons is typically very clever, and this was utterly transparent. There was nothing subtle about it. That doesn’t mean it was bad, just surprisingly straightforward for someone who loves his obscure references.
Compared to the other books in the series, which were all epic and covered so much ground, this one was slower. In particular when Aenea was giving her “sermons”. If you’re not fond of pages and pages of exposition, you won’t be fond of that. They weren’t just info dumps either, but these drawn out, philosophical debates concerning the inner-workings of the world Simmons has built, and I was checking my watch trying to get through that. It rankled a little, as well, that my favorite character for the past two books, De Soya, was having adventures that got glossed over while we listened to Aenea create a new religion. If I could’ve chosen, I would’ve been reading about De Soya.
That was the only low spot though. In fact, that is the only low point of the entire Hyperion Cantos, and I’m not exaggerating. This was a strong finish to an immense series. When I use that word, I don’t mean long. I know series exist that take twenty books to tell their story. I mean that it’s rare when you read about a world built as intricately and fascinatingly as this one was. If you like world building, you’ve come to the right place, especially if you have a taste for hard SF. But he didn’t stop there. He populated that world with characters that you couldn’t help being interested in and told their stories thoroughly.
This book carried some bitter-sweetness to it, and not just because I knew that if Aenea was going to play out her Christ role, it wasn’t going to be pretty. But because it’s officially become one of my favorite series I’ve ever read, and it was sad to end my journey with it. All I can do now is encourage everyone out there to pick these books up, because they are well worth your time.