I read just this book of the series, and want to join other that gave 5* rating. Like it, both the plot and the narrator.
Dan Simmons accomplished a rare feat - both in Endymion and The Rise of Endymion. The plot is intricate and unexpected. But the main hero - I believe intentionally - is an irritating dolt. Keep in mind that he does not develop or increase his mental abilities throughout both books. Rohl is just driven by events and actors from one adventure to another, generally reacting, but hardly ever initiating or playing deciding role, with exception when a brute force is called for; he is the last to understand what happens, and he is often irritated by things he does not understand, just as it is typical for dumb people. Again, I believe this character was intentional, if unorthodox. Don't take me wrong here, I don't see only negatives; Rohl is also a kind and ethical person.
Hopefully my warning will let you enjoy the plot - which is very creative, and prepare you to give main hero more slack than conventional.
Narration sometimes drones in exalted tone for minutes, mostly when depicting Rohl observations, which is fitting the hero's character, but is hard to enjoy after a while.
A great story. Lately I became tired of the 'kill the evil superior technologically aliens with our low technology but right to exist and propagate in our primitive ways values' kind of science fiction. So I tried to find something of a different kind. And this is just what I was looking for. There is just a tiny obligatory overtone of the above theme. Well developed story. Narration is also excellent.
I listened to ALL John Ringo books first, no disrespect to Larson, but this is why the comparison. If you like John Ringo, you will like Larson. I personally like Swarm even a little bit more, but this is a close call based on averaged Ringo's books impression (some later Ringo's volumes, specifically written in collaboration with others I rate way lower than earlier ones authored by Ringo himself. But then again, I never believed in creativity by committee, so this was another confirmation of this belief).
I like authors like Richard Morgan and Peter Hamilton. Someone recommended to listen to Alastair Reynolds, supposedly similar style. This is his second book that I can not finish (the first I actually forced myself to complete), but I give up on this one, it is not worth the suffering. Thought there are a lot of people that liked the book, so it must be my personal taste.
This is the only lame book in the series. Converting aliens into any religion that will stick to make them peaceful? This seemed to work great for humans, didn't it?
Because of the lame plot, not much could be done developing the characters, and it shows. Particularly the super AI ditzy-nagy ship-woman character is below contempt. Same for the alien horse priest, his son and wife, and pretty much the rest of the cartoonish characters.
It contrasts dramatically with the other books, my hopeful guess is that Tom Kraftsman, and not John Ringo, have done most of the writing (or the plot?) So, 2 stars for the story, but the reading performance alleviates the pain.
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