– goodreads –
As a DNF, this review is incomplete.
Another case of an old classic not living up. It is, in ways, a very good book. A team of seven pilgrims – a priest, a soldier, a poet, a scholar, a detective, a consul and a templar – is assembled to travel to the planet Hyperion and the Shrike. On the way, each of them tells the tale of how and why they got to be there. It’s an interesting structure. The prose is good as well, if tending towards descriptive at parts. The worldbuilding, fascinating enough. There’s a lot of allusions and literary references to everything from Chaucer to Keats and many other classics.
The Priest’s Tale I enjoyed very much. The tension and the mystery of what happened to the older priest, of what’s up with the Bikura society kept me at the edge of my seat, reading it long into the night with many a “what the fuck.” It’s almost horror in the end, but so incredibly compelling.
The Soldier’s Tale was when things started to go sour. It’s a story about a man who is visited by a mysterious woman during battles. She helps him defeat the enemies, then they have sex. Many, many times. I rolled my eyes.
The Poet’s Tale solidified the DNF. it’s just…ew. No. I didn’t mind the sweary casual style, but…I’ll let the quotes speak for themselves.
Centuries later, when I was in my satyr period, I felt that I finally understood poor don Balthazar’s priapic compulsions, but in those days it was mostly a hindrance to keeping young girls on the estate’s staff. Human or android, don Balthazar did not discriminate – he poinked them all.
Luckily for my education, there was nothing homosexual in don Balthazar’s addiction to young flesh, so his escapades evidenced themselves either as absences from our tutorial sessions or an inordinate amount of attention lavished on memorizing verses from Ovid, Senesh, or Wu.
Sissipriss Harris had been one of my first conquests as a satyr – and one of my most enthusiastic – a beautiful girl, long blond hair too soft to be real, a fresh-picked-peach complexion too virginal to dream of touching, a beauty too perfect to believe: precisely the sort that even the most timid male dreams of violating
Scholar’s Tale was the next, and my last. It was the one I heard the most about, so I decided to give at least this a try. It was indeed amazing. And chilling, and quite sad, though I can’t say more without spoiling. But it’s perfectly worth reading just this and the priest’s. They stand well enough on their own.
I decided to end it there, on a positive note.
I may return to it one day, but at the moment, with the disappointment that was Hard to Be a God still too fresh, I was simply too frustrated with old sci-fi and shades of homophobia and outdated tropes. There’s so many other great books out there that this shit really isn’t hard to avoid. If you can look past it, by all means, be welcome to it, there will be a great story underneath for you. I, alas, cannot.