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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harris Rises; The Wound Man waits in the wings
I don't think I've ever seen a book bagged as savagely on Amazon as this - so much so that, despite having pre-ordered and received my copy, I almost didn't bother to read it.

what a pleasant surprise, then to find a beautifully crafted, clever, literary novel, developing ever further one of the most complex characters of modern fiction, packed full of the same...
Published on 17 Jan 2007 by Olly Buxton

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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hannibal Rising - Thomas Harris
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...
Published on 24 Feb 2007 by RachelWalker


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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hannibal Rising - Thomas Harris, 24 Feb 2007
By 
RachelWalker "RachelW" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Hannibal Rising (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). However, silence your critical faculties, and the whole thing is fine, replete with all the basic things one might want in a thriller: easy writing, swift pace, interesting settings, apparently interesting characters, a plausible if macabre motive, and, of course, blood, bone and death. And all that is fine, but this is Thomas Harris, and one does expect slightly more than the "basic" things.

It is very hard for me not to be tempted by the idea that the whole thing is a kind of joke, that Harris is being wilfully perverse. His previous novels are testament to his talent, his intelligence, his writerly ability. So where does Hannibal Rising come from? Is he on autopilot, writing with his eyes closed, giving the public what they want? I find it hard to believe that he has "lost" it. Or has he placed his tongue in his cheek and sent Lecter up? This genesis is, after all, one that Lecter himself would find laughable. Or, at least, the Lecter of the first novels would. Indeed, in the first novel he said "nothing bad happened to me" (and had a sixth finger, too). But what does this say about Harris, the way he views his work, his characters, his readers, etc? Either way, I don't think the implications are that good.

More bad things: the characters are, on the face of it, interesting, but in the end they're empty. Even the young Hannibal isn't that interesting. There's no real insight into his mind: it's just like watching a vaguely curious insect respond to light and shade. The chapters are too short. The story has little development. Where's Harris' lush detail? Where's the tautness, or even the suspense? What's the point of the whole book, really?

The worst thing, though, is the entire concept of the thing. The "explanation" of Hannibal Lecter. We didn't need it, and we didn't want it. (Indeed, in terms of "explaining" someone evil, I see strange parallels between this book and Norman Mailer's latest effort!) It removes so much of what made Lecter what he is. Revealing too much of your monster is one of the cardinal sins of this kind of thing (be it a book, or a film, whatever). It's not even a good explanation: guess what, it's Hitler's fault. It's an absolutely ridiculous peg to hang the cause of Lecter's deviance on. It's all the more ridiculous given that Harris explains almost all of Hannibal's foibles in the light of one event from his past. Which is both laughable, and a quite ridiculous idea of how people's characters are formed.

Harris makes us feel empathy for Lecter, and that made me uncomfortable. It's easy, too; the easy way out. Give him a little sister, kill her, oh how we pity. Easy emotional manipulation. I don't think it's morally "wrong" for Harris to make us feel empathetic towards Lecter, that's not really my criticism, but did we really want to? Or need to? It brings us closer to him, and takes a lot away from the previous books because of it. The turnaround Harris has made with the character is almost criminal. It's not necessarily "bad" if it were in isolation, but when measured against Harris's previous work, it doesn't compare at all well. I get the sense that this back-story is exactly the kind of story Lecter himself would make up to amuse people.

In the end, it's an ok thriller. But the whole thing is unnecessary, and even so could have been done a whole lot better. My advice is to leave the original Lecter trilogy alone, and leave this well alone. In the end, it reduces the power of the whole cannon.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harris Rises; The Wound Man waits in the wings, 17 Jan 2007
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This review is from: Hannibal Rising (Hardcover)
I don't think I've ever seen a book bagged as savagely on Amazon as this - so much so that, despite having pre-ordered and received my copy, I almost didn't bother to read it.

what a pleasant surprise, then to find a beautifully crafted, clever, literary novel, developing ever further one of the most complex characters of modern fiction, packed full of the same metaphor and figure as was Hannibal - a further stage in Thomas Harris' development from author of intelligent thrillers to a proper, literary, writer. Unlike most people, I liked Hannibal, but thought it was a bit baroque for its own good. With Hannibal Rising, Thomas Harris has kept the melody, but cut the ornamentation down to a plainsong.

The character Hannibal Lecter's progress from his walk-on part in Red Dragon is intriguing: Thomas Harris can scarcely have expected, let alone intended, that a character seemingly named for the sake of a cheesy rhyme would, er, consume thirty years of his professional life. In Red Dragon Hannibal Lecter was mostly a bogeyman (at that point he displayed the classic psychopathic trait of childhood cruelty to animals - which has long since been revised into an uncommon affinity for assorted birds and horses): only in the novel Hannibal did Harris really begin to extend a figure who transpired to be more supernatural than human (there are unmistakable resonances of Dracula) and not really immoral at all. Perhaps this is Harris' most shocking initiative of all: A heartless psychopath, via a preference for eating only the rude, is now given a full moral basis and, what's more, we're on his side as he wields the knife. That's a pretty subversive shift in perspective, and Harris has executed it without us even realising what he was up to. Yet people still complain.

The heart quickens briefly in the suspense, but mostly that's not what Harris is interested in, and nor can he really go to town since, by definition, we know what the outcome will be: Hannibal must survive, and given his superhuman faculties it is difficult to believe he is in any real danger throughout.

What Thomas Harris is more interested in is the figurative devices through which he explores his doppelganger and by which he binds him to the existing canon. For those who bemoaned the lack of the writer's craft in this book I can only suggest you read it again, for barely a word is wasted, and Harris' writing is as deft and lyrical here as ever I've read it. There are no accidents, and it is not one that evil is personified by the "totenkopf" (or "death's head") insignia, nor that unspeakable slaughter of innocents once again takes place in a barn, just as it did in Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal (now we have a full circle: by rescuing Catherine, Starling has stopped her lambs screaming, and by avenging Mischa, Hannibal has stopped his). Every sentence is stuffed with allusions to the senses, and particularly smells, and sparks (such as those in Hannibal's maroon eyes) are a constant presence.

The best news is that - albeit another decade away, there is clearly more to come: Will Graham has been the most interesting and complicated of Lecter's antagonists, and it can be no accident that Harris has saved the most fascinating period of both of their lives - between Lecter's arrival in Baltimore and his only proper apprehension by Graham - for last. We have yet to find out what happened to Benjamin Raspail and Mason Verger, and Harris has positioned himself nicely to finish the cycle with the police procedural which most of his fans, judging by this site, seem to crave above all else.

Olly Buxton
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent, psychotic and spine-chilling a true masterpiece., 29 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Hannibal Rising: (Hannibal Lecter) (Paperback)
Dr Hannibal Lecter is the only cannibal I've ever wanted to succeed. A truly engaging character who it is a little to easy to empathise with.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's just as gripping as the movie, maybe even better, 14 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Hannibal Rising (Paperback)
One of the thing's I love about book's is that they have little scenes which you never see in the movies because unfortunately the film's showing time is limited. The Hannibal rising movie was brilliant but for most of the time the book's will alway's be better.This has been my favorite book out of the whole series so far, but I have yet to read the others.Recomended for people who love crime,thriller's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great prequel, 30 May 2012
By 
G. Keogh (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hannibal Rising (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harris strikes again., 8 May 2010
By 
Mr. J. A. Watson (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hannibal Rising (Paperback)
This is the last one in the Hannibal Lecture series i have read. It was a very solid read that kept the pages turning throughout. Although i would say this is not quite as good as Red Dragon or Silence of the Lambs it is on par with Hannibal. The plot is solid and very believable and the charectures are awesome and savage especially Grutus.
The book is not as graphic as the other 3 but still leaves plenty to the imagination.
A solid page turner that lives up to the Hannibal series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars the becoming of hannibal lecter, 4 April 2009
By 
Lindymck (Falkirk, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hannibal Rising (Paperback)
having seen the film which was very dark, gruesome and totally opposite to the book. not great detail in how he killed the people (some of which was changed in the movie, to be actually more vile than the book) more focus on how hannibal become the entity that he was in the other books. kinda disaapointed with it
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different kind, 9 Jan 2007
By 
Mr. R. M. Lucas "R.M.Lucas" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hannibal Rising (Hardcover)
The origins of Lecter were told in just enough light in the novel Hannibal. The reason Hannibal Rising does exist is because a film producer commissioned it.

It has been referred to as a prequel, and that gives certain impressions of what to expect. Hannibal Rising is a different kind of novel which will leave many people preferring Mr. Harris' other Lecter-featuring tales. It falters slightly because of the popularity of Lecter which brought this book into being -- This is a book almost entirely about him, and so it lacks the intense procedures of criminological study from the standpoint of those hunting him. Hannibal takes the role of the hunter, and those he hunts aren't necessarily interesting nor as deeply developed as the characters in the previous novels.

It is easy to compare it to the other books. It is far from the mothership of what you may have grown to expect, but if you can let go of those presumptions, you might just enjoy this as its own entity. A revenge story.

The deaths do not have the cheeky wit of those in Hannibal's later life, and that is because he is not yet the refined well-aged wine he will become.

Harris' style still has the dark little details and quips which speak volumes for a character, and which continues to make him a passionate author who obviously enjoys when he writes and only writes what he can feel. I like that.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing cop-out, 10 Dec 2006
This review is from: Hannibal Rising (Hardcover)
Thomas Harris has delivered three fantastic novels based around Hannibal Lecter's character, but unfortunately this final instalment is a real let-down. Harris leads us to expect "static scenes, fragmentary" in the Prologue, and goes on to deliver just that - scenes, with little narrative and characterisation. This novel assumes (fairly, for contemporary readers) a high degree of familiarity with Lecter's character, but for readers of the future who want to read in sequence, there is little here to recommend the subsequent stories.

This book, with it's large print and acres of blank paper, fails to provide anything you would expect from a Thomas Harris novel. There is nothing clever, funny, detailed or impressive about it. When the movie is released, I would be surprised if it varies by one single scene; what Harris has delivered here feels like a summary of a film script, dashed off at the behest of a studio to whet the appetite for next year's film adaptation.

Really disappointing for everyone except Thomas Harris and his bank manager, and a real poke in the eye for loyal followers and fans.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately disappointing, 19 Feb 2007
By 
K. Hutchins - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hannibal Rising (Hardcover)
I have enjoyed all his previous work, but found this a disappointment, it's difficult to describe exactly why, but I think it's a combination of the fact that you know that he's going to survive it all unscathed, because he goes on in future books and they is no sympathatic character, I don't like anyone in it, really - and if you do get to like a character it's inevitable they're going to die - so there's not much to look forward to.

The whole thing felt rushed & a bit "Hannibal met someone, something bad happened & then he killed them", I was quite bored & very nearly didn't finish it at all, which is extremely rare for me. By the end I felt cheated & sad that I had wasted my time. If you're a full-on Thomas Harris fan, you're bound to buy it - otherwise you haven't got the full story, but I wish he hadn't written it or had written it better. If you aren't a fan - read the other books & leave this well alone - you'll never get that time back.
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Hannibal Rising: (Hannibal Lecter)
Hannibal Rising: (Hannibal Lecter) by Thomas Harris (Paperback - 7 May 2009)
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