Three Seas Forum

the archives

dusted off in read-only


Olympos by Dan Simmons posted 17 June 2005 in ReviewsOlympos by Dan Simmons by Alric, Auditor

At long last, I've finished Dan Simmons' yet to be released Olympos, the conclusion to 2003's Ilium. Heck, I've been setting myself up to be a book reviewer simply to be able to get this book early, which it turned out to be my first Advanced Review Edition. So, here it goes:

Olympos by Dan Simmons is a massive book, both in size and scope. At the end of Ilium, war had truly been joined, war between the Gods and the Greek and Trojan heroes. War was coming to the old-style humans, or so promised Odysseus.

The book starts 8 months after the previous book ends. Changes have come to the characters and the settings. Simmons adds new PoVs from characters we're already familiar with, and he adds, or increases roles of, several other characters. War has come, has been earnestly joined by all levels of people and beings. Fighting between man and man has grown to all out warfare between the powers behind the gods.

Simmons has delivered a novel with an even larger scope, more action and entertaining developments than his previous novel. The story interesting and complex, and there are stories and histories behind the obvious. In these ways, Olympos is a glorious success of a novel and conclusion to an excellent beginning.

If you are at all familiar with Simmons' other works, Olympos reminds me most closely of The Fall of Hyperion in the style and tone of the narration. This is the book where the deeper issues and questions come more to the forefront. As usual, Simmons' is writing a tale about self-discover, or rediscovery, a what is it to be human story. He once again uses Shakespeare, Homer, Proust, Keats, Milton, as well as a host of other literary influences and direct involvements to work through his themes of art, genius, self-determination, self-destruction, and life.

The scenes, emotions, characters and constructs are for the most part excellent. The book will have readers at the edge of their seats, flipping pages late into the night... and feeling good about it.

Olympos isn't perfect though. I trust that some of the textual errors will be cleaned up as I was reading an uncorrected proof, a text that hasn't passed final edit yet. However, I think the story in Olympos was too big at times for what Simmons' was attempting to tell. I think the result is a few superfluous and wasted PoVs, a further fragmentation of some plot elements and climatic scenes, and a few too obvious places where Simmons', as the storyteller, editorializes on politics, philosophy and current trends. Oh, there is also somewhat more sex and sexuality at display here, which sometimes is more than fitting and sometimes... somewhat odd. If you're reading closely, these things occasionally stick out.

Olympos also managed to surprise me in good ways. Simmons' depth and scope of creative imagination, as well as his ability to pull and combine elements of literature and philsophy, rise to an entirely new level in this novel, in this two book series as a whole. Some of the characterization, especially in scenes of extreme suspense or action, is truly amazing. I also rather enjoyed his envisioning of earth and humanity millenia in the future in a way that had both aspects of plausibility as well and meaningful and somewhat understandible aspects of creative history, growth, war, etc. Another aspect that I enjoyed was the way that Simmons plays and harnesses different narrative styles and PoV approaches to give readers a different relationship to different story arcs and characters.

The ending... well the ending is interesting. Simmons' leaves the story like he leaves most stories, still in progress. He certainly ties up a great many of the plot elements, satisfactorily too, but not all of them. There is still some doubt, life continues and so does the eternal struggle. You'll just have to read it to find out.

All in all, I certainly recommend this novel, and Ilium before it, as a must read for any speculative fiction fan. Personally, I don't think the book is as strong as Ilium, either in total plotting or some specific characterization, but i think the two book combination is the best that Simmons has published to date. However, I'm fairly certain that some people will claim this novel to be Simmons' best, and I think they'd be justified in that opinion.

Olympos by Dan Simmons view post

Olympos by Dan Simmons posted 14 September 2005 in ReviewsOlympos by Dan Simmons by anor277, Didact

I read both of Simmons' novels on a long plane journey recently (I was glad I had the books). Two quick critcisms, (i) like many of Simmons' novels I think he is trying to be too clever and too complicated, (ii) in Olympus did it gripe anybody else's ar$e that Hector had cut down both Diomedes and Aias? (This was something that was completely out of character with respect to the Iliad and where were Memnon and Neoptolemus?) view post


The Three Seas Forum archives are hosted and maintained courtesy of Jack Brown