Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Review - The Terror

The Terror
by Dan Simmons

Mass Market Paperback 992 pages
Little, Brown & Company
ISBN-13: 9780316008075

The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of finding the Northwest Passage. When the expedition's leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the Terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear there is no escape. A haunting, gripping story based on actual historical events, The Terror will chill you to your core.

My Review:

Simmons does a great with his descriptions, creating a sense of isolation and hopelessness. These men are stuck and many will die. The creature is an interesting psychological twist - is it real or all in their minds?

I admire that The Terror has the pacing of a book set in the 19th century. The tone and mood are perfect for the time. However, reading this book was tiring and taxing. Because of its length, it's like a marathon - one that some people are bound to give up on before finishing the race. And while character development is important, I felt there were too many flashbacks.

The Terror is fascinating, yet dull; intriguing, yet frustrating.

That said, I would be willing to try another of his books.


JournoMich said...

I think this is the sort of SciFi book I would enjoy. SciFi yet historical. Thank you for the post! A bit of mystery mixed in with the education part of historial fiction and science fiction.

I happened upon Scott Westerfeld yesterday and his book 'Leviathon.' Have you read any Westerfeld? Here is his blog: http://scottwesterfeld.com/blog/.


Unknown said...

I love it when a book has historical elements, no matter the genre.

I don't like (well, who does?) a frustrating read. Let alone dull. As you said, perhaps another of his books would prove surprising.

The Old Silly said...

I have that book and have been TRYING to read it. I can tell it is epic, well ogunwritten, intriguing, all that ... but gosh it's sooooo long and has such a sloooow build and yes flat out boring in several lengthy passages in the opening chapters I've found it hard to really commit to taking the time necessary to really dig in and get the read done. I remember when I read Shogun - that book has a slow start and build, but WOW when it got cooking it was a gripping page turner.

Marvin D Wilson

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Michele, Leviathan is on my list! I'm not big into steampunk, but I want to see what the fuss is all about.

Marvin, nice to hear someone else is struggling. Not that I want you to struggle! But I know so many have loved this book and I was almost afraid to post anything negative about it. (Thought Simmons fans would hunt me down!) It is an interesting read, just 400 pages too long...

Helen Ginger said...

An honest review. You liked it, but weren't overwhelmed by it, but you would read another by this author. I love the title, though.

Straight From Hel

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks, Helen. Yeah, I'd give another Simmons book a try. Preferably a short one!

ediFanoB said...

For me the book has just the right length. I liked it a lot:
I recommend this book warmly to everyone who is interested in
- Arctic Zone
- Discoverers
- Abysms of the human soul.

In January 2010 I read, enjoyed and reviewed DROOD by Dan Simmons. Only 771 pages in paperback.
It is an inimitable - which is also used as a description of Dickens, please forgive the pun - mix of a portrait of Victorian culture, manners and morals, mystery, gothic traces, partial biography of two men, history, drama, travelogue, relationship study, friendship and drug experience.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

ediFanoB, I'd try another one of his books. This one was just too long and frustrating for my tastes. I have heard good things about Drood though.