Top critical review
It's all in the telling...
Reviewed in the United States on March 9, 2019
As with any story it's really all in the telling. Dan Simmons is an amazing writer. His prose is exquisite, his characters well developed, the dialog is spot on and action sequences compelling.
The problem I have with this novel is that the writer tries to do too much with (what is obvious by middle of the book) the first in a series. It becomes more evident with each turn of the page that, with seven protagonists, there are just too many stories to flesh out and still follow the story arc as set out in the beginning of the book. While there is one of the seven who is supposed to be the prime focus of the tale he never really achieves a central place in the telling.
Artistically I found myself nonplussed at the fact that all of the main characters, in turn, tell their own back stories, ostensibly, in their own voice. Unfortunately Mr. Simmons does a poor job of varying from his own style, or removing his own voice from theirs. This results in a certain homogeneity of the stories, even though each one is significantly different and unique.
When I cast my thoughts back near the end of the novel I found it hard to differentiate where one characters story left off and anothers began, the prose used was just too similar, and should have been as varied as the people telling them.
So we have, basically, a collection of short stories from completely different characters and perspectives, yet all told in the same voice, and woven into the same story arc. It's an interesting concept that could've been done better by taking more risks.
By letting our heros speak in their own voices instead of speaking through them in the authors voice these characters could've been much deeper and more engrossing.
Worse yet the author ends the novel abruptly in a ridiculous scene that's lifted right from a famous kid-lit fantasy story's middle! This weird left turn of an ending has the feel of an editors interference, possibly chopping up a too long novel into two, leaving the first with an inexplicable, maddening, mess of an ending!
There is no denouement, no satisfactory wrap-up at all. In fact I believe the publisher just arrogantly assumes that you'll be compelled to buy the next book in the series.
Frankly, I'm not sure that I will.
C. M. Thanks for reading. :^)