This is not a review of "Hyperion", per se. It is, instead, a summation of what I consider to be the strengths and shortcomings of a critically- and reader-acclaimed science fiction series.
If I were to advise a reader, my advice would be that they acquire and read the first two novels ("Hyperion" and "Fall Of Hyperion") in succession. It is my opinion that the tertiary and quaternary novels are fundamentally weaker than the primary and secondary, to the extent that they actually cause harm to the narrative. I evaluate the "Hyperion" series as two two-book series'; the first series being "Hyperion" and "Fall Of Hyperion", and the second series being "Endymion" and "Rise Of Endymion". I'll refer to them as the "Hyperion books" and "Endymion books" hereafter.
The "Hyperion books" stand, in my estimation, with classics such as "Dune" and "The Hobbit" in their conception and realization of potential realities. The "Hyperion books" have consistently enthralled me, even after repeated readings, and I value that experience. When I discover new plot points in a book after the fiftieth reading, I believe that points to the author's command of meta-threads within the narrative. The narrative has not fundamentally changed, but the overarching framework that contains the narrative threads has evolved, and presents new opportunities for intellectual ferment. If I were to give them a rating, it would be four and a half stars; there are some fundamental weaknesses in linking the narratives and in character reasoning that stop the "Hyperion books" short of a five-star ranking.
Now, the "Endymion books".
"Puagh. Vomit.", to quote John Ashbery.
Well, perhaps not THAT bad. But, still. To be blunt, the "Endymion books" ___ by comparison to their predecessors. The character development is weak, the narrative veers from mildly interesting to Barnum and Bailey "I Gotcher Suspension Of Disbelief Right Here Behind The Egress" outrageousness, and the precise, complex and highly developed feel of the "Hyperion books" is almost entirely absent. In general, I don't recommend that readers who adore the "Hyperion books" continue with the "Endymion books" because, like I said, the narrative is actually damaged by the "Endymion books". If I were to rate the "Endymion books", I would give them a two-star rating. And a healthy "Puagh".
I think the best way to sum up how I feel about the series as a whole is as follows: "Hyperion" and "Fall Of Hyperion" are brilliant, and well worth reading for any fan of science fiction. "Endymion" and "Rise Of Endymion" are like books adapted from screenplays; you suspect them of being capable of much more than they deliver. They are what they are, though; and, for me, it's more fun to imagine what they could have been than to read their rather disappointing reality.
Buy "Hyperion" and "Fall Of Hyperion". Borrow "Endymion" and "Rise Of Endymion". And then write a review so that we can all argue with you.
Thanks for reading,
Ashton Treadway END