It is eight centuries into the future, five centuries after the destruction of earth, and the human civilization has spread over a web of extrasolar worlds. On the eve of a hostile invasion a group of seven is send on a last pilgrimage to the distant world of Hyperion to face the Shrike, a mysterious creature that is believed to grant the wish of one of them in exchange for the lives of the others. Hoping to uncover the hidden meaning behind their pilgrimage they decide to recount each other their tales and motivations to seek out the Shrike.
Each pilgrim has his or her own connection to Hyperion and reason to journey to the Shrike. The majority of this book consists of those tales, occasionally interspersed with their progress to the Tombs of the Shrike. In this case this style of storytelling works remarkably well in forming a coherent novel as the subsequent stories of the pilgrims slowly reveal more and more about the state of human civilization and the history of the web-world, outlining a world packed with enough weirdness to keep any fan of science-fiction or fantasy writing interested. Even though most of the characters may initially not seem like very likeable people they gain depth through their tales. The style of the prose changes according to the person that tells his story, resulting in a novel that is at moments very witty, suspenseful, touching and overall very versatile. The book ends with the pilgrims reaching the Tombs of the Shrike, after which the story continues in ‘The Fall of Hyperion’.
This is a very interesting novel, unique and varied in its storytelling, captivating and very hard-to-put down. Highly recommended!