Hyperion, is intricate, exhilarating, and, at times, wantonly embellished and needlessly esoteric. Simmons's works are all pocked with literary nooks and crannies that he fills by paying homage to classic writers, spinning poetry and prose, and reviving classic themes. Unfortunately, in his quest for literary achievement, he sometimes leaves the reader behind. Reading Simmons requires both faith and patience.
The stories embedded within Hyperion are a mixed bag. The priest's story is the most compelling. Father Dur?'s exile to Hyperion and his subsequent life with the Bikura is brilliant and haunting. The scholar's tale is also very good. The remaining stories range from mildly interesting to completely lacking in context. The purpose behind the stories is not always apparent and, without reading the sequel, they seem completely irrelevant to the story. They all play a significant role, but we do not learn this in Hyperion. They also serve to lay out the foundation for the frame story's complex setting. Simmons doesn't cut corners on anything. His universe is dark, detailed, and even confusing.
Be warned that Hyperion ends abruptly. I have no idea how this novel won awards without the context of its sequel, The Fall of Hyperion, considering that the frame story of Hyperion is completely unresolved at the end. If I hadn't known there was a sequel, I would have been quite annoyed. Even so, it wasn't clear at the outset that the sequel would be required for closure.
The narrators are talented and the overall production is excellent. All of the characters are given expressive voices that serve to illustrate and decorate their story. With a few minor exceptions, their voices are exactly as I would have imagined them to be had I been reading the paper version. The narrator who reads Silenus's part is particularly well-suited to the role.
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