This is a much busier read than the first book with quite a lot to follow. Luckily each thread has its own texture so it's quite easy to slip from one to the other. It also handles the time travel aspect quite well, which is something that usually puts me off a story but is used to good effect here.
While there are many individual threads the story loosely groups into two - the first being the personal stories of the pilgrims. As with the first book these are the strongest aspect to the story. There is great drama here and great sadness, so much so that at one point I renamed the book to a litany of suffering.
The different characters blend together well in these threads and each cast a different focus on what it means to be human. I noticed a different quality to the writing here as well, the author deals with personal circumstance and tragedy in a fluid manner that really speaks to the emotion of the events. The father and the daughter with Merlin's disease really stands out as an example of this.
Less strong is the grand overview thread, or the space opera aspect if you prefer.While this has some nice ideas, it just doesn't come across as well as the individual tales of the pilgrims. What does work is how it draws the different threads together and comes together for a cohesive conclusion.
I love stories that make you think and science-fiction is a goldmine for that type of stories and here we have a wide range of different philosophies and concepts that give pause for thought. As I mentioned earlier I didn't agree with some of the direction, but that's just personal taste, in the end I enjoyed where the patterns took me.
In summary this is an excellent read and a stronger more rounded book than the first and I've already bought the next in the series to see where it takes me.
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Click here to buy The Fall of Hyperion from Amazon (and it's an intriguing read)