Song of Kali

Thoughts on Dan Simmons's Song of Kali

I've called myself a fan of Dan Simmons for several years and have a shelf dedicated to his novels. I recently realized, however, that I had really only read two of the books on that shelf:  Hyperion and The Terror, both of which are excellent. I decided to dig into his 1985 debut novel to broaden my experience with this author I claim to favor.

I enjoyed Song of Kali. Even in my limited experience, I've felt Simmons excels at character and place. The narrator feels like a real, flawed person who, despite some of his unpleasantness, is put into such an awful situation that I rooted for him to escape and hurt for him each time something bad happened. The characterization of Calcutta, India as oppressive and overwhelming in both size and environment, filthy, confusing, aggressive, unwelcoming firmly cemented my wish to never find myself there.

The story is fast-paced, and when it isn't exciting, it is at least interesting or intriguing. I would put this novel firmly in the category of "page turner". My only gripe with it is that the last few chapters caused the conclusion to drag and took some of the punch out of the climax. Otherwise, this book convinces me that my high esteem for Dan Simmons was not premature, but rather prescient.