Reviews of Ilium (2003)
Review by bkedryna (2004-06-28)
This is an awesome book. At times it's frustrating and annoying, especially at the end of the chapters, when something big happens but we won't know what until 2 or 3 chapters later. This happens a lot, but it also makes the book addictive and more interesting.
The story is told from 3 separate viewpoints, at the beginning each one taking one chapter in a round-robin fashion, but then merging, splitting off again, or spawning off others. Each is very different from the others - classic Greek battle of Troy; future decayed, spoiled human society kept like a zoo by unknown entities; or artificial intelligent life created by long-gone humans that thrives in Jupiter space. Each is interesting in itself, but what's most interesting is how they relate to each other, which is not easy to see at all - even at the end of the book!
This book is written in a cryptic fashion similar to Hyperion. You never know exactly what's going on, but you know that it all makes sense behind the scenes, if only you had more information... which the author works hard not to give you. Sometimes it reminded me of Philip K Dick's novels, where you don't know what's real and what isn't, sometimes it's so strange.. and yet much more scientific than Dick's works.
My biggest complaint was that the book ended before this universe was explained. I spent so many hours reading this to find out what's going on, and when I got to the end I'm still almost as clueless. I guess everything will be explained in the next book in the series. I can't wait.
This is definately hard sci-fi, not for newbies. It won't hurt if you're familiar with classical literature, especially Homer and Shakespear. There is some Proust too. But there are classical sci-fi things too, like robots, spaceships, advanced weapons and force fields. And quantum physics. And time travel. And teleportation. There are gods too, or maybe super-advanced aliens. Or both.
In essense, this book has everything. If you're really into sci-fi, this is a must.