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I've finished the series, but I'm left wondering about Moneta's transformation into a Shrike-like form during her last meeting with Kassad in the first book.

After that and during the second book before they meet again, Kassad is very unsure about everything regarding her. However, Kassad seems to have been put at ease again simply after they meet in the second book. The transformation isn't even brough up with her, if I remember correctly.

Almost all of the immediate questions left from the first book seem to be explained in the second. The others seem to be generally addressed at the end of the last book. But I don't think what was going on with that one meeting between Kassad and Moneta was ever discussed.

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    Keep reading...
    – Dima
    Jun 11, 2014 at 10:02
  • I read the last two books. I didn't notice it mentioned.
    – user28185
    Jul 10, 2014 at 4:00
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    I vaguely remember her bringing it up when they meet in Fall of Hyperion, to the extent that she says something along the lines of "it was the Shrike that tricked you, not me" (I think). I found the revelation that Moneta and Rachel were the same person to be far, far more irksome than the Shrike incident, however.
    – aroth
    Oct 22, 2015 at 14:29

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In Fall of Hyperion chapter 17, they meet again and fight. During the combat:

"Whatever happened in my future... your past," said Moneta, "it was not I who changed. I am not the Lord of Pain. He - "

In a way, this raises more questions than it answers. The Shrike does not pretend to be a human at any other time, and it is not obvious why it would imitate Moneta, seduce Kassad, and then transform to its usual spiky self at the climactic moment.

Subsequently, we learn of multiple possible origins for the Shrike, including that it is derived from Kassad himself, and sent back in time with Moneta as its companion and keeper. In that light, perhaps Kassad's statement in chapter 23,

The Lord of Pain can go fuck itself, Kassad sent. Unless it wants to fight me.

might make an odd kind of sense. Certainly the Kassad story is all about the intermingling of sex and war: when coupling with Shrike-Moneta, he perceives scenes of combat and death, and his attraction to human-Moneta is bound up in their shared battlefield experiences. I don't want to read too much into that Kassad line, but I do think that Kassad (and therefore the Shrike) is a sexual character, and that his perception of sex and violence are linked.

In many of these Shrike scenes, we see Simmons the horror writer using his experience in that genre. Not all of the imagery and logic meshes well with the worldbuilding elements of the rest of the plot; they're meant to feel like a bizarre intrusion on events. The Shrike is operating according to more of a nightmare logic. Within that mode of storytelling, this is the kind of thing that might happen, just like it unexpectedly turning to glass and shattering.

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