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Hyperion cover art

Hyperion

By: Dan Simmons
Narrated by: Marc Vietor,Allyson Johnson,Kevin Pariseau,Jay Snyder,Victor Bevine
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Editorial reviews

Hyperion, one of the most celebrated Sci-Fi novels of all time and the first book in the Hyperion Cantos series, begins in the midst of an interplanetary war in the 29th century. Five pilgrims set out to the mysterious title planet in an attempt to prevent Armageddon, but while most of the planets in the Hegemony are connected by rapid transit farcaster portals, the journey is far from safe. Modified humans known as Outsters lurk in space stations between planets, threatening the very fabric of the planetary alliance. 

Winner of both the Hugo Award and the Locus Award for Best Novel, Hyperion is easily one of the most important, groundbreaking books in Sci-Fi. It incorporates favourite elements of genre — including time travel, galactic war and intricate world building — making for a listen that any space odyssey fan will love. In audio, the experience is even more immersive as you’ll hear the individual stories of the five Pilgrims, each brought vividly to life by a different narrator. 

Publisher's Summary

On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it.

In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope - and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.

©1989 Dan Simmons (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

Hugo Award, Best Novel, 1990
Locus Award, Best Novel, 1990
"Dan Simmons has the Midas touch: Every genre he writes - whether SF, horror, mystery, historical, or thriller - he turns to gold. Hyperion and The Fall Of Hyperion set a new standard for grand-scale science fiction." (Kevin J. Anderson, author of The Saga of Seven Suns)
"Dan Simmons was a star from the outset. It was the Hyperion books that made him a superstar. The man, quite simply, is what we in the trade call a writer's writer." (Mike Resnick, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author)
Each of [the pilgrim's] stories would make a superb novella on its own. ( The New York Times Book Review, Gerald Jonas)

What listeners say about Hyperion

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  • Tom
  • 13-12-2016

doop.

good book. 10/10
would certainly doop again.
apparently based of Canterbury Tales?
this review requires a minimum of twenty words.

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Highly enjoyable but with some dull narrators

I didn't know anything about Hyperion going into the book and enjoyed a lot of the world building and deep dives in the characters. Some characters are more interesting than others, and some of the narrators are far better than others. The narrator for Brawne Lamia almost killed the book for me and ruined what could have been an interesting story. The delivery was so flat and uninspired that it was a slog just to get through to the end of that section.
Overall, great fun though and I enjoyed it enough to get the second book in the series.

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  • Joe
  • 28-07-2017

Just too slow.

The story is brilliant. I hung on till after the priests story, but after that, the book was painstakingly slow. I would compare it to 'restless leg syndrome' While I was engrossed in the story, I just kept wanting something to happen.

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good idea but too slow and descriptive

way too verbose, couldn't get into the story which was also too slow. it was so busy describing everything.

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Good...

Solid performances from the cast, wonderful writing, but just remember, if you get this book, you're in it for the long haul - the narrative is not even close to being wrapped up in just this book and you basically have to get the next in the series. But that's not to say it isn't satisfying. It's moving and thought-provoking, but there's no escaping the fact that it's kinda only half a book. Oh, and there's a looot of backstories. Like the whole book is a couple of backstories.

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  • Tim
  • 22-05-2015

Pretty good, not earth shattering

Good story and narration. The only sour note was the woman who voices Lamia, she sounds like a robot.

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top tier scifi

I read this series 10 tears ago when I first started hitting scifi. Its one of the best sci-fi available just behind the culture series. My mind still visualizes scenes from the book 10 years later. I have the advantage of reading every scifi book of any worth so I have to reread while I wait for the few good ones to release like the expanse

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It took a while but the cleverness of the story unwound slowly

Excellent story told by wonderful narrators. Their parts seamless.
Heartily recommended and to say more would give the story away. Very clever and brought to mind Iain M Banks, may he Rest In Peace.

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My favourite Sci Fi Saga

Dan’s work is incredible but for me, this story is one of the most profound. Do yourself a favour and go on this journey across time & space, past & future.
Get all four books. The best saga ever written

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Great science fiction

This novel is magnificent - Dan Simmons wrote a series of stories and structured them like Canterbury Tales and it works so well. Wonderful audiobook. I will listen again.

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  • Michael
  • 13-10-2012

The Shrike Awaits. Enter The Time Tombs...

I read this series back in its first published hardcovers, so I look at this book with a judgmental eye - Is it a worthy listen, and its subsequent writings? Here's my take on this audiobook.

This is outstanding scifi, to the point. It reminds me of "The Mote In God's Eye," in its depth, solid character backstories and various perspectives. As in the mentioned comparison, this is complex storytelling that makes you consider as you listen. Each character has purpose and propels the story along, often in unexpected ways. This is THOUGHTFUL scifi, with tremendous respect for the reader's/listener's time, intellect, and maturity. If you want pulp scifi, go listen to Heinlein - This one's for those hungry for a story with meat on its bones, one that makes you want more. One that makes you want to listen to it again, in case you missed something important, and that's quite possible, with this fantastic scifi audiobook.

What's it all about, you ask? Again, Audible listener, I give only hints in reviews, neither plots nor spoilers here. Here's a taste of what your hear...

Knights Templar traveling across the galaxy in living trees. A undying priest carries
a nightmarish secret from an abandoned zombie-like congregation, a woman becomes younger each day, and races to beat the clock, literally. A virtual reality-trained military leader seeks the love of a woman haunting him in his computer-driven landscape. A drunken writer seeks the final and ultimate story. A spacefaring horde, soon to arrive in the known space of man, to conquer and enslave the billions that fear their arrival. And of course, they all seek the Shrike, a man-shaped judge and jury covered in blades, riding the currents of the time tombs, bringing death to most, and life to some.

And that just scratches the surface.

These various stories and their perspectives come together to create a great tale, and you'll definitely want more.

The narration team does a good job to bring this audiobook to life - If you read my other reviews, you know I'm BRUTAL on narrators. The can make or break the author's work. So, "good" is high praise coming from me.

All in all, this is an audiobook that you'll like.

So the Shrike awaits. Enter the Time Tombs, Audible listener, and be judged!

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  • Lore
  • 05-05-2012

Excellent start to a series that finds religion.

Dan Simmons creates an amazing future with interesting technology where man's impact on the universe has some pretty significant ramifications for their own survival. This book kicks off the series in fine style and keeps you interested right up until the very bizarro ending.

The main story arc is about a pilgrimage to a distant planet to visit the Time Tombs. As you listen you know there is a lot at stake on the pilgrimage and you try to put together the pieces of the puzzle as you learn about each of the characters. Each one has their own significant reason for going to Hyperion and the future of mankind will be impacted by the outcome.

You will have to pick up book 2 if you really want to know how that all turns out as this book abruptly ends after all the build up. I was a big fan right until the ending which felt severely out of place to me. Book two wasn't nearly as good and for me all the excellent build up was wasted.

As the series goes on it finds religion and that is when it started to lose me. Combine the extremely complicated world of the AIs with the focus on Christianity for the humans and I found myself wishing I was listening to something else. I wasn't offended by it, I just didn't find the whole religous aspect of the books to be that interesting. Sadly it became the major focus of the series and my enjoyment dropped off significantly. I did listen to all 4 books and I enjoyed the first and last books more than books 2 and 3.

I enjoyed the narration and liked the ensemble cast used in book 1.



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  • Nancy
  • 25-02-2009

Bleak & Intense Sci-Fi

The first of two books in the series focuses on a universe where a far flung civilization is in decline. Seven disparate people embark on a reluctant pilgrimage to an ambiguous and malignant entity.

During the journey they tell their stories in an effort to puzzle out why they've been chosen, and how they can use their shared experiences to achieve their individual goals.

Wonderfully written characters make this bleak, intense book worth reading. But be forewarned, the experiences they share are dark! This is not a joyful read, but an extremely memorable one. Definitely a must for Sci-Fi fans.

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  • cestakey
  • 27-01-2009

Brilliant and Well Crafted

After reading the other reviews of this book, I am compelled to submit my own. First, this is a very well crafted science fiction classic. It creates an entire future universe that is both plausible and fascinating. Second, the story and characters are well developed, intriguing and real. I highly recommend this book. I agree that the female narrator was initially irritating, but once her story begins, becomes more interesting and you get lost in her tale. Be warned however, this only one-half of the book. For complete closure, you will need to read The Fall of Hyperion. Read back to back, this is a brilliant tale of the future with real and unique characters and storyline. This book is well deserving of both the Hugo Award and Locus Award for Best Novel of 1990.

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  • Aerindel
  • 25-04-2009

More than a book

The important thing to understand is that is the first part of series and in reality this book is little more than a prologue. That being said it is a gripping first chapter. The hyperion series is more than a story, it is a work of philosophical and religious fiction that explores the meaning of life and the universe. Don't take that to mean its not full of action, it is. This series has everything in it from medieval sword fights to massive space battles and the destruction of worlds.

At its heart this is the story of mankind's struggle for true transcendence. The plot is deep and convoluted involving substantial time travel and is its secrets cannot be fully understood until the last book. This is a work that you have to begin with some faith that at some point it will all make sense. Trust me, it does and the final revelation in The Rise of Endymion is remarkable.
Christians beware, this book may challenge many of your belifes in uncomfortable ways.

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  • Robert
  • 08-03-2011

Astonishingly good

I don't write separate reviews for books in a series. Especially here, where Hyperion has been called the prologue to the Fall of Hyperion (FoH), it's been intimated that the former cannot stand on its own and I agree. Some have compared and contrasted the two connoting that there is perhaps a lack of cohesion and that they are very dissimilar. To that end, I disagree. The "prologue" smoothly transitions into the main body of the work and feels completely natural. Taken together, the two seem very much a part of a cohesive whole.

I was skeptical that the stellar cast of narrators of Hyperion could be equaled by a single actor, albeit Victor Bevine in FoH. Mr. Bevine was phenomenal and I never, at any point in the listening, felt like the work was diminished.

It is good that I have listened to this author later in life. Having been brought up reading the classics of all genre of literature, it is often difficult to appreciate lesser works after having experienced the masters. Dan Simmons is a master when compared to authors of any genre. I have heard Simmons compared to Dickens. Truly in his development of characters, the comparison seems a fair one. It would be hard to compare the plot of this work to that of any other.

Often fraught with and characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions, the work is almost too much to be believed. But somehow Simmons makes it all believable for some time in the future. Unlike some classic, older SciFi which seemed futuristic when it was written but then later became seemingly dated, this piece is fresh, modern or hopefully even timeless. There's religion, technology, philosophy, excitement, a great deal of love and caring among seven pilgrim strangers and funny, now that I think about it, only one real villain in a world that is more vast than I can even imagine. This is truly a magnum opus in every sense of the word.

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  • mix579
  • 27-02-2016

I understand why it's a classic, but...

After reading it way back when it was first published in print, I recently listened to the audiobook version and had pretty much the same reaction to it. I feel almost obligated to admire the author for his skillful weaving of a complex, multi-layered web of tales, all written in totally different styles, each of them contributing in an ingenious way to our understanding of the world that forms the backdrop to this story. Really, really well done, and I fully understand why this book is a sci-fi classic.

Alas, in the end it all sort of falls flat for me, a classic example of arts for art's sake. Some of the tales are gripping (Detective, Poet, Soldier, ) but the others just meander on without much purpose (in particular the Consul's tale). At times it feels like a sophomore in English studies trying to squeeze as many "big" words, as many memes as possible into a paragraph to impress the professor. If someone had seriously edited the book and cut 25% out, it would have been a masterpiece. Well, there's still the issue that it really ends just when it's about to become really interesting. I'm not huge fan of blatant cliffhangers books that leave essentially everything open and bring nothing to a (at least partial) conclusion.

The narration cast is outstanding. Having different characters narrated by different actors works extremely well here.The person reading the poet is brilliant!

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  • Konrad
  • 27-01-2013

Befuddled

This story is clumsily populated with anachronisms, and non-essentials juxtaposed with obvious scientific understanding.

The author, at times leaves the story behind, apparrently for no other reason than to showcase his abilities as a writer, The story moves extremly slowly, and the only reason that I trugded through it was the overwhelmingly positive reviews that it got and that I already spent the credit on it.

In the end, it was worth the credit but just barely. as abruptly as the first book ended, I dont know that I am interested in the main characters enough to find out what happened to them. I may or may not get it.

This has caused me to question the reviews that a book gets.

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  • Richard
  • 30-05-2009

Uncertain but maybe...

I wanted to like this book so much. I love long books, I love a series of long books. Overall, however, I'm very disappointed. Simmons is a very good writer, uses language well, etc. I don't mind the sex scenes, although they seem at times gratuitous and don';t add much to the characters, and may just be a bit much. The pilgrim's individual stories, for the most part, were good and, as another reviewer said, one (in my case the story of Rachel growing younger and losing her memories) was very emotionally moving for me. And I agree that one of the stories (the last one, I think) was a bit confusing and not very interesting. I frequently felt like I was not paying as close attention as I wanted to, and finally realized that what kept running through my head was "When does the REAL story start?" It does seem like this is a giant "back story" telling how these characters got to where they are presently. I would have preferred at least starting the action with what (I presume) is in the second book, and then flashback to these backstories, but that is a personal preference.

The ending is not what I'd want, but I guess the author and all the readers knew a sequel (or many) were coming. It didn't disappoint me nearly as much as Stephen King's ending to the Dark Tower series, but then again I enjoyed every single thing in the Dark Tower series EXCEPT the ending, so it's a little different matter.

I'm putting any further downloads of this series on hold for the moment. I might actually re-listen to part or all of Hyperion (fast-forwarding occasionally) and then decide if I want more.

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  • surfgoat
  • 06-08-2018

Well written but boring

This book is on so many reading lists for exceptional science fiction that I didn’t hesitate to buy it when I saw it on Audible. I just finished it which was no easy feat as I was want to drop it several times. Right up until the end I was sure that there would be some noteworthy resolution that made the 24 hours of audio worth the listen. I was sorely disappointed.
There is no denying that the book was extremely well written. Some of the best pros I have read in any genre. The author writes masterfully and if Hyperion had been written to pass an English exam it would have been awarded highest marks. With the exception of the voice of Braun, the voice acting was also very good and seemed to match the characters.
Despite all that, I did not enjoy the story. I read for pleasure, nothing more, and science fiction in particular to escape reality into a future where hopes and dreams can be realized through technology. Hyperion, however, was a space soap opera. More drama than fiction and a book that belongs on the shelf next to other books of its kind adorned with a vapid but beefy protagonist poised to kiss his lover while a picturesque moon rises over the flower gardens of some tropical paradise. I read and/or listen to a lot of books in several genres and can appreciate excellent writing and story telling regardless of style. The fact that I truly detested Hyperion despite it being a renowned book in one of my favorite genres is more surprising to me than anyone reading this review of a book that has garnered 4.5 stars.
As I thought deeply about why I so loathed a book revered by the rest of the world entire, I came to certain conclusions. First, many of the individual stories from the pilgrims were interesting in their own right and While I did enjoy many aspects of them, none of them found or led to a final resolution but served to slowly bring the reader to the final conclusion that ultimately, nothing they did would alter the state of their universe. There was no culmination of events, no dramatic realization or suitable resolution that one could call a climax. There was no rising action or deepening mystery and therefore no need for the traditional “pay-off”, if you will, for having endured the dramatic unfolding of half a dozen lives. No. The end was basically a huge “screw you” where the reader learns that the problems hinted at throughout the pilgrims’ tales will have no resolution other than the inevitable one of death. Oh sure, I could read into what wasn’t said or consider what the characters could take away from their dramatic demise, I could glory in the sorrow that is the human condition, I could search introspectively for meaning in my own life as reflected in the woeful tales so eloquently posed; or I could go surfing, eat a burger, play with my kids and then relax in front of a movie about giant robots fighting aliens. I choose the latter; I choose life.

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  • Mr. S. Gibson
  • 15-08-2010

A fantastic combination

We all have our favourite authors and when listening to them as an audiobook we either fall more in love with them or end up slightly disappointed that they don't meet our expectations - we don't like the reader or it doesn't fire our imagination the same as with our own reading. With this in mind, when I have been selecting new authors, I have done so on the basis of comments people have made, playing a sample of the narrator and how well it has been rated here and elsewhere online.

Dan Simmons and Victor Bevine et al have been a find! This has book has depth in all sorts of unexpected areas and the narration is first rate. Lots of different themes are covered from different perspectives as the story unfold before you - you'll love some characters, hate others and see still others in a new way. It makes you think about certain things that are relevant and wonder how you might have chosen to deal with it.

I don't wish to give any plot away and I hope that you might discover this wonderful combination of first rate narration with a fantastic author.

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  • Peter
  • 02-12-2009

Inspired Sci-fi

I loved this book. It is beautifully written with brilliant characterisation and a really good storyline. The format means that there are six interesting stories narrated by each of the main characters and these in themselves are well-constructed sci-fi. The over-arching story kept me interested throughout and made me immediately order the sequel "Fall of Hyperion", which I also read and loved. Very highly recommended to people who like the genre - it is one of the best of it's kind. Well read.

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  • Mr. G. J. Walker
  • 10-11-2009

Fantastic...but only as good as the narrators

This story is probably one of the best sci fi books I have ever read (listened to!). The stories within the story are likewise fantastic.

The only reason I gave it 4 stars is that an audiobook is only as good as the narrator. This book is read by numerous narrators and the lady who narrates M. Brawne Lamia has one of the most annoying accents ever! It was more frustrating as Brawne Lamia is a really interesting character.

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  • Sharon
  • 22-03-2009

Wonderful Sci Fi

This has got to be one of the best science fiction books I have read. The listener follows seven pilgrims who are on a quest to meet a mythical monster - the 'shrike' on the planet 'Hyperion'. Each pilgrim shares his story with the others, and each story is told in a different style which reflects the individuals' characters. The stories are sometimes harrowing, sometimes sensual and sometimes touching, but always riveting. Dan Simmons has created an incredible, multifaceted world (worlds!) with history, politics, mysticism and religion all mixed in. It is thoroughly captivating - buy 'The Fall of Hyperion' at the same time as you'll want to read on.

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  • Dean
  • 03-05-2009

Exceptional

An exceptional book, a very good recording and an enjoyable and engrossing experience from beginning to end.

If you can find the time please try to read the book, but if that isn't possible then this is the next best thing, a story of stupefying complexity and subtlety.

The best thing is that the second book is as good if not better than the first, so enjoy.

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  • Mark
  • 18-09-2009

As fine a Science Fiction Novel as Dune

Every so often you come across something really special when reading or listening. This is not "like" Dune There were times when listening the to this novel when the words flowed over the ear like quicksilver. It has real characters, great action and a unique storyline, it is complex but not obscure and it is epic without being pretentious. In short it is a real gem, listen to it!

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  • Thomas
  • 11-08-2011

Brilliant!

On the book...
I really liked this book - and have recently finished listening to all of the series. Iain M Banks is still my favourite sci-fi author, but I'd listened to all of his audio books and wanted some more epic contemporary sci-fi and people seemed to recommend this - and rightly so. As a whole the story is definitely epic, has great characters and a really great story. In this one, the sex scenes were a bit perverse and unnecessary. I could see the idea he was going for with it - but it didn't play out well really and was pretty cheesy at times. Other than that, the story is really good and well worth reading.

On narration...
I didn't really think much of the narrator - it sounded like English wasn't his first language maybe. He pronounced every single word - like 'to' and 'a' - fully, which - when you actually hear it done - is quite strange. He occasionally made little errors in pronunciation - saying the 'chasm' with a soft 'ch' sound - which is a bit weird - or maybe he just did the whole thing in one take without bothering to fix the error. He also pronounced 'Aargh' exactly as it is written, with a clear 'r' and then a hard 'g' sound on the end. No-one really says that when they scream - that's just obvious - again - weird. The thing I disliked the most though was his inability to portray anything other than a small range of emotions. Whenever he took on a woman's voice - there was one set tone - and any emotion - such as anger - was not portrayed at all - it was always just 'the soft woman tone'. The range of accents for the different characters was good - just a bit more attention to tone and emotion was needed.

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11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • sophia monkman
  • 27-01-2012

The Best Sci Fi Series in Audiotape

This was an eye-opener! The whole series is exquisitely crafted and sensitively narrated and so good I hope it wins many many awards. The ONLY writer to rival Ian M Banks.
It takes just a little while to engage with the story, but then you realise that you are in love with this strange but fascinating world with astonishing yet poignant tales.
Highly addictive, I bought the whole series.

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9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark
  • 27-02-2018

Hard work to get through to the end, but no ending

The plot was OK and the characters interesting but the "science" did not work for me.
It seems in this world anyone can do anything anywhere any time. All a bit silly!
Unfortunately as this book has no ending I decided to go on to listen to the fall of Hyperion, that's 20 hours of my life I won't get back............
I had ordered the two follow up books but have returned them unread.

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8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • 21-01-2017

Brilliant Story Let Down By Monotone Narration

Would you listen to Hyperion again? Why?

No. I'd prefer to listen to the other books in the series. I also found the main narration to be boring and monotone. It was just the strength of the story that held my attention.

What did you like best about this story?

The separate story lines are all unique and very engaging. Thankfully they also gave my ears a break from the main narrator as they were narrated by different voice actors.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Everything! The main narration is so monotone I almost stopped listening to the book. I decided to give the book until the end of the first mini story (which starts at about the 2 hour mark) before deciding if the entire book was a lemon. Luckily, the first story was very enjoyable and after that the other voice actors who narrated the other stories really saved the audio for me. Had I stopped listening I would have missed out on a very good book.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The first narration from a different voice actor!

Any additional comments?

I think this book could have been so much better with a different narrator (such as R.C. Bray). With better narration I would have given 5 stars across the board. The other narrators were very good I just didn't like the main narration.

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