Endymion – Dan Simmons (1996)
‘Two hundred and seventy-four years after the fall of the WorldWeb in FALL OF HYPERION, Raoul (sic) Endymion is sent on a quest. Retrieving Aenea from the Sphinx before the troops reach her is only the beginning. With help from an android named A. Bettik, Raoul and Aenea travel the river Tethys, pursued by Father Captain Frederico DeSoya, an influential warrior priest.
And the Shrike. Which haunts them all…’
Blurb from the 2006 Gollancz paperback edition
Some two hundred and seventy four years after the fall of the human Hegemony we return to Simmons’ sumptuous universe and the planet Hyperion.
The poet Martin Silenus still lives and has saved one Raul Endymion from execution in order to send him on a mission to save the daughter of Brawne Lamia, who entered the Time Tombs at the time of the Fall and is now due to reappear.
Since then, the Pax, a horribly mutated version of the Catholic Church, has risen in power, using the parasite ‘cruciforms’ as a central part of their faith. The cruciforms, which form the shape of a livid cross and live within human flesh, have the power to regenerate the body.
The Pax believe that the child Aenea, being the daughter of the cybrid Yeats, is an abomination and a threat to their power and plan to capture her.
Endymion, however, with the aid of the Hawking mat flying carpet and the Consul’s ship, manages to rescue Aenea and fly her into open space.
The Vatican, however, has appointed Captain Federico De Soya to lead a small team of elite soldiers to capture her. essentially then, this is a pursuit story, but given Simmons’ considerable writing skills is turned into quite something else and raises more questions about the events of the preceding volumes.
Aenea and her rescuers manage to escape into the River Tethys, which was a river journey covering many worlds due to the installation of farcaster portals along river routes on the planets of the Hegemony. Controlled by the Technocore, the portals allowed travellers to sail down the river, travelling from world to world. It gradually becomes apparent that Aenea has some connection to the Core, since the portals – non-functional for the last three centuries – are opened for her and her companions, which leads Captain de Soya and his team to have to endure repeated death by high-G velocity and subsequent resurrection in order to pursue them.
Although complex, weirdly gothic, highly entertaining and peppered with literary motifs and references, it somehow lacks the elegance and sheer mystery of Hyperion, and it is hoped that this will be regained in the final volume.