This is one of those SF books that is highly acclaimed, seems to have been read by nearly every SF reader I know, and I have for some reason only just gotten around to it. Well, better late than never.
I wasn't sure how much I would like this because I normally don't go for fat space operas with lots of world building. The only other book I had read of Simmons, [b:Song of Kali|3979|Song of Kali|Dan Simmons|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1165368440s/3979.jpg|1623747], that, although I thoroughly loved it, was an entirely different kind of book. I have to say however that Simmons tackles this kind of SF with aplomb demonstrating to me that not only is he not
a one trick pony, but hat he writes as good or better space opera than many others who make it their speciality.
The book is long because it includes the not insubstantial back stories of six of the seven main characters within. They are pilgrims making their way to the mysterious time tombs on a world that is rapidly becoming the focal point of an interstellar confrontation between forces whose nature only becomes apparent as we hear the pilgrim's stories. The book is long but works because the separate stories are as interesting as the meta story itself and, although wildly different and told by starkly different characters, combine to add new layers of depth and complexity to the book as a whole. It also allowed the author to weave together several different types of SF that are not normally combined in the same story.
It should be pointed out that the book dumps the reader on the edge of a cliff with very little in the way of resolution. It does not, in my opinion, stand on its own. One will need to move on to the sequel to find out how it all works out. However this is undoubtedly an epic and ambitious work that, so far, pretty much achieves what I think the author set out to do.