After the incredible Hyperion, I was hoping for so much more from its sequel, The Fall of Hyperion. Let me be specific: Dan Simmons does provide more in terms of plot, with 600 pages that plodded along interminably toward its inevitable conclusion. But he loses the soul of Hyperion in two ways: First, he sheds the fantastic Canterbury pilgrimage structure that lent the first novel such lithe grace and tension. When you are unfolding a fantasy world for the reader, you best do it in a way that unifies as much of the plot structure as possible, since you are at the same time asking them to accept countless new details about their surroundings and preconditions. Fall does nothing in terms of unification. In fact, Simmons handles the story arc very clumsily, in my opinion. The second mistake is his lack of interesting characters. Along with the original pilgrims from the first novel, we get way too much of two new main characters: Joseph Severn and Meina Gladstone, both of whom are very uninteresting to the reader. Simmons places his most interesting and animated character, Martin Silenus, on the back burner for most of this novel, in favor of Brawne Lamia and Fedmahn Kassad - again, two wooden figures straight out of a cardboard convention. Perhaps I wouldn't be so blatantly irritated at these characters if Simmons had thought of something more interesting for them to do in the story, but this is not the case. The Shrike was a wonderful and nefarious tease in the first novel, but as it turns out, even the Shrike is boring once you get to know Mr. Crabby Scissor Face in person.
I hate to say it, but this story felt like a man run low on ideas, looking to cash in on earlier success.