Stephen King called this one of the three greatest horror novels of the twentieth century, and it was on that recommendation that I picked up and forced myself to read this book. I love Stephen King, but I totally disagree with him. This book was not great, not even good. I like careful writers, and Dan Simmons is anything but careful. This story is at least four hundred pages too long. Actually, it's more like 700 pages too long. I think it would have done nicely as a short story, for all the emotional involvement I felt with the characters. A short story would have got the point across without wasting so much of my time and effort. I really expected big things from this book and all I've gotten is the well-earned knowledge that I don't like Dan Simmons's writing.