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Hannibal Rising Hardcover – 5 Dec 2006

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 337 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd; 1st edition (5 Dec. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434014087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434014088
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 4.4 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 198,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Thomas Harris remains both the progenitor of the modern serial killer novel – and its greatest exponent. Red Dragon was the first appearance of the murderous Hannibal Lecter, and with its success, the Harris imitators burgeoned almost immediately. The Silence of the Lambs, however, moved Harris into really rarefied heights, its achievement boltered by the addition of a strongly drawn heroine, trainee FBI agent Clarice Starling. Hannibal, the last outing for Harris’ monstrous Lecter, drew a more controversial response, with Clarice Sterling locked into a bizarre relationship with her cultivated predator, and it looked as if the next book would develop that grim scenario.

However, Hannibal Rising goes in a totally unexpected direction – in effect, it’s a prequel to the earlier books, returning to Lecter’s childhood in World War’s Eastern Front. The youthful Hannibal sees his family murdered by the Nazis. But something else happens which alters (and deforms) Hannibal’s psyche forever. The boy moves to Paris with the beautiful Japanese widow of his last surviving relative. And soon, an orgy of grisly revenge is in train, wrought on some opponents almost as nasty as Lecter is to become himself.

We’ve seen this before: Hannibal murdering people quite as ruthless as he is – whether this makes the operatic bloodshed satisfying is a matter for every individual reader. Whatever your stance, the effect of Harris’ prose is, as ever, utterly irresistible.

Hannibal Rising is comparatively uncomplicated, when set against the complex, richly textured Harris novels that came before it.

Is there a danger that in showing us how Hannibal became a monster, something is lost of his terrifying mystery? As if to deal with this possibility, Harris keeps Lecter unknowable by removing his customary articulate examination of this own motives (he is still a boy, after all). But the tale of bloody vengeance has a forward trajectory that (whatever your reservations) will render this is a one (or two) sitting reading. And the next book will, surely, recapture that richer Harris texture. --Barry Forshaw


` Hannibal goes on his fiendishly imaginative rampage, the pace picks up, one turns the pages faster, time flies, and one is sorry that there aren't more pages to turn'. -- The Sunday Times

`Lecter remains a powerful, iconic creation...he is more like Dracula, coming out of the forests of eastern Europe to bring his evil to an unsuspecting west.' -- Observer

`This novel is a sure-fire best seller and will be gobbled up by Harris's millions of fans world wide. No doubt the Hollywood studios are already queuing up to turn it into a film, and who can blame them with a work of this magnitude.' -- Independent on Sunday

`Thomas Harris [is]... a writer of vivid and fluent thrillers.'
-- Daily Telegraph

`Thomas Harris is undoubtedly a master of his craft and a great writer' -- The Mirror

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 16 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
Despite his reputation I did not enjoy Harris' latest book at all. A lot of the time I was left in confusion, due entirely to Harris' writing style. I presume he knew what he meant when he wrote the words, but to me, the end-user, they were just not clear. The plot can easily be followed when summarised on Wikipedia. I guess that Wikipedia contributors find writing with clarity much more easy than Harris does.

A big no-no: I HATED the Japanese character Lady Marasaki. I LOATHED her. I didn't see the point of her at all. She was a dreary individual whose function seem to be to utter some quasi-philosphical rubbish now and then. And yet she fills up pages and pages, in scenes that seem to have no aim or purpose.

I found the dialogue to be entirely unbelievable, especially from Marasaki. Hannibal himself is more credible, but then that is probably due more to Anthony Hopkins the actor than Harris the author. The characters I did not really care about. I wanted to find some sympathy for Hannibal, afterall, who doesn't love a great serial killer? I was prepared to find his "journey" to cannibalism traumatic, brutal, psychologically enlightening. I would've been easy to please, but in the end, after been given cheap clues that I'm expected to swallow wholesale, I just thought "So what?" and was left unmoved and unconvinced.

One annoying thing - I'm pretty sure the erudite Hannibal Lecter would've known that Bach did not write even a single string quartet so he wouldn't be humming any of Bach's string quartets. I'm presuming Harris meant J.S. Bach, although none of the Bachs wrote for this ensemble.

In all, this is the poorest of the Hannibal books. Or rather, the least rich, but by long, long distance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. Keogh on 30 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
I'm very surprised to see so many negative reviews for this book, I enjoyed it very much. I think the people who are saying this made Hannibal less scary and he should not have been made a sympathetic character have entirely missed the point of the novel - he was a normal child, he became corrupted through very human feelings, and then his heart freezes and he becomes the monster Hannibal Lecter. The Hannibal we see throughout this novel is not the same one as in Silence of the Lambs or Red Dragon or Hannibal. The novel ends by saying he is no longer human. In this novel he was motivated by revenge and justice and we can probably all sympathise with him even if we wouldn't take the same course of action. Afterwards, who knows what he is motivated by? This book did not reveal all and doesn't give us much more insight into the Hannibal we know from the sequels. You can still enjoy him as a fathomless monster.

There are worthy criticisms of this book, like the strange omission of mentioning his sixth finger, but they are small matters.

The language here is beautiful. I see that other reviewers were also reminded of Memoirs of a Geisha, and perhaps it doesn't help that the Japanese maid has the same name as Sayuri before she became a geisha, but besides being Japanese, enjoying nature and using flowery language, Lady Murasaki is nothing like Sayuri. I was reminded more often of Perfume by Patrick Suskind, especially with Lecter's 'memory palace', the French setting and the darkly comic tone that the book sometimes took. I find Grenouille and Lecter both credible, complex and intriguing 'bad guy' protagonists.

I hope Lecter fans will not be put off by the bad reviews. I think the main criticisms of this novel are not justified if you just pay attention to what Thomas Harris actually writes.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover
So, seven years after Hannibal, Thomas Harris delivers the fourth entry in the series that won't stop paying out. Hannibal Rising, badly titled though it is, is a potentially intriguing prequel to the previous three Lecter novels, explaining the "evolution of his evil", from when we first meet him at roughly age eight, to when the book closes, with Hannibal in his early twenties and about to embark upon a medical career in America.

To be brutal, there's not much more to be had from this novel than a synopsis could give (and many have). The noble Lecter family are living in Lecter castle when Hitler's 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union turns the Baltic forests into a bloody disaster area. Hannibal's family are killed in the turmoil, including his treasured little sister Mischa. Hannibal's uncle Robert eventually whisks him away to Paris to live with him and his wife, Japanese Lady Murasaki. Whilst there, he flourishes as a medical student. Uncle Robert dies, and Hannibal remains with Murasaki. The book is easily sectioned off in this way, and eventually turns into a grim revenge tale as Hannibal chases down those soldiers responsible for his sister's death.

And that's it, really. Garnish with a well-turned, ominously poetic sentence or two, then expand with lots of mediocre or downright bad ones, and you have Hannibal Rising. It is both a ridiculous affair and a perfectly enjoyable book. Employ knives of intelligence to get the cut of its jib, and it obviously falls apart - especially when stood against Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and even Hannibal (which I will unashamedly praise to anyone interested).
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