Dan Simmons – Olympos

I was happy to have the sequel to the science fiction novel Ilium by Dan Simmons at hand after completing it as I had enjoyed it quite much. Olympos (2005) started of in full gear, bristling with action and a quick pace, with a dash of original storytelling, combining epic pseudo-fantasy, classic literature, artificial intelligence and quantum physics. I devoured the pages until the novel reached about one fifth of its length. Then things changed. And not for the good.

The first change was the pace. It slowed down considerably. Simmons changed his focus to an other of his three storylines. Personally this had been the least favorite of the three storylines as it was the least original and exciting one. Unfortunately much of the change in focus also involved long times spent on the inner thoughts of several characters. Over the years I’ve considered such elements in novels to be easy weak points as its more filler than story development for a writer. A character may reflect on earlier events or summarize things happened during a break, but they do have to be substantial. Along with this story line on of the others also slowed down. Only the third kept some pace, only with the downside that it received less attention.

With the slowing down of the story, the plot development also slowed down. The pace went slack and much less was happening. And what was happening didn’t have the freshness and originality of the first novel. Basically Simmons seemed to be out of ideas. Most revelations and discoveries had been presented in the previous book and the revelations that he did present were not much original or simply not much interesting. The plot development settled for the more convenient paths, avoiding real twists or scares. Certain things became rather predictable. There were few twists and even these I took with a shrug. Some other twists were simply out of place and didn’t make sense. It could have been left out without much of a fuss, unless I have missed something important. In between Simmons put in several explorations of, how to describe it, ideas and thoughts of his own which to me seemed to have little relevance to the story. He at least kept it vague enough for me to be unconvinced.

While I had some trouble to put Ilium down at times, I sometimes had trouble to pick Olympos up. I did keep on reading, but with a much slower pace and for shorter periods. It also didn’t help that Olympos didn’t gather up pace again near the end. It has been a while since I’ve encountered an ending which was so dull. Simmons took the easy way out and avoided much of the hardships. In the end I can only say I was disappointed. After a strong start Olympos acted as a weak conclusion to the duology. Perhaps others would find more in it than I did. It just didn’t deliver what I had hoped for.


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