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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling historical thriller
The Terror is based on the true story of the ill-fasted Franklin expedition to the Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage. Two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, set sail to find the passage and were never seen again by white men. Graves and artefacts were found by other later explorers but the story of the hundred plus men will never be fully known.

Simmons...
Published on 23 Aug 2008 by J. Cronin

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad but not great either.
Im a big fan of Dan Simmons and i have to say i was quite excited about reading The Terror, this feeling soon left me as i ploughed through confusing and non sequential dialogue that failed to go anywhere. It seemed more like an attempt by Dan Simmons to display to the reader how clever he is and how well he's researched his subject, this is an annoying habit displayed...
Published on 5 Jan 2010 by Raul Endymion


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling historical thriller, 23 Aug 2008
By 
J. Cronin "dudara" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Terror (Paperback)
The Terror is based on the true story of the ill-fasted Franklin expedition to the Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage. Two ships, the Erebus and the Terror, set sail to find the passage and were never seen again by white men. Graves and artefacts were found by other later explorers but the story of the hundred plus men will never be fully known.

Simmons cleverly uses this true story as the base for this fantastically thrilling novel. The dark nature of the human psyche is the true monster in this tale, not the huge beast that is methodically slaughtering crew members. The decline of the human body and the human mind is brilliantly explored and proves to be more chilling than the brutal attacks of the white beast. The story is well researched and it's all too easy to imagine yourself there in the dark and the cold, wrapped in clothes that never fully dry out. The invasion of the white Europeans into the lands of the native Inuit is also introduced in this book through the use of Inuit mythology.

This is a large book and the pace is somewhat glacial, if you'll pardon the pun. However, it's well worth the read. Just wrap up warm as you read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Monster Lite, 3 April 2008
By 
M. Marshall - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Terror (Paperback)
I was a little hesitant about reading this book, not being a geat fan of historical novels and having been left not particularly impressed by the only other Simmons novel I've read, A Winter Haunting. Generally speaking though, I found this to be an interesting and entertaining read, which, considering it's the best part of a thousand pages and mostly set on an immobile ship is someting of an achievement. Only the epilogue, which was a bit obscure and mystical for my taste, disappointed.

The nature of the story, which takes place over a number of years, and its isolated setting mean that a certain ammount of patience and commitment is required by the reader - not because its boring but because the plot requires the necessary time and detail to reveal itself in a realistic and believable manner. It's as far-removed from the Dan Brown style of smash bang wallop no-time-to-breathe story-telling as you can get.

A word of warning though: this is not a book about a monster - it's a book about a polar expedition with occasional guest appearances by a monster. If you're expecting The Thing you'll be disappointed.

If, like me, you were completely ignorant of the Franklin expedition then this book is also something of an education. Although highly fictionalised it nevertheless inspired me to investigate the factual events that inspired this novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Hornblower' meets 'Alien', 26 Mar 2007
This review is from: The Terror (Paperback)
This is one of the most claustrophobic and terrifying books I've read in years. The doomed Franklin mission to the Arctic is one of the great historical dramas of the 19th Century - the lavishly equipped expedition with an experienced crew vanished into the wastes provoking much soul-searching and anguish back in Britain. Then about 20 years ago, a few mummified remains were found in the high Arctic. We now know the men were malnourished, suffering from scurvey, and perhaps most terribly, being poisoned by their own food. We even suspect that cannibalism broke out in the dwindling ranks. But as to what actually happened to the Terror and Erebus - who knows?

Dan Simmons has brilliantly filled in the gap between the departure of the ships and the end of the expedition; he's taken full liberty with artistic licence, but used his historical sources well. The characters feel real (in a sense I suppose they were) and the atmosphere is stifling. An Arctic setting is a classic for confining characters in a small place and allowing tensions to build - if anyone steps outside they're going to die in the cold, so the pressure keeps building.

But then he adds something else - a beast on the ice. Is it a polar bear or something more? And he keeps you guessing for hundreds of pages, almost like a well-directed horror movie, the monster is never quite revealed until the moment is right. Up until then, it, or more often the results of its visits are glimpsed; your imagination does the rest.

Some of the dialogue doesn't quite ring true; being used to teach the reader a little about Naval life, the Arctic, or even at one point, evolution; but the writing is assured and confident, the characters all ring true and most of all - you care about them and their various fates.

A marvellous book - just don't read it last thing at night.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars icy terror, 25 Nov 2010
This review is from: The Terror (Paperback)
This is one of my favourite novels ever....although I have to admit I don't get a lot of time for reading I devour anything that is set or themed in my birth place.
The Terror describes the ill fated Franklin expedition to find the fable North West Passage...(If I was around I would've been more than happy to point them in the right direction)
As the ships are stuck fast in the ice strange things begin to happen and what follows is a supernatural series of events that the reader is not quite sure is actually happening or not. Starvation starts to affect the men's minds. It is a shame frozen foods weren't invented as I'm sure the lack of vitamin C could have been easily remedied by some frozen petite pois to accompany the seal meat.
But that's beside the point..The Terror is a great thrilling read...I recommend to anyone who wants to experience icy thrills.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great "disaster" historical novel with the fantastic thrown in, 27 Jan 2008
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This review is from: The Terror (Paperback)
The premise of The Terror is the ill-fated Arctic expedition, led by Sir John Franklin, of the 1840s. I must admit I knew nothing about the expedition beyond the basics when I read this novel, and as such I got a little lost when the point of view switches characters, but some research soon cleared that up.

This novel is meant to be historical fiction instead of a factual account, and in that regard it excels. Most of the characters are based on members of the real Franklin expedition, including the protagonist(s). Not wanting to spoil the plot, I'll say that the (fictional) encounters with native Inuits and the mysterious beast stalking the men are seamlessly woven into an historical context.

The plot itself is a marvellous one; gripping and page-turning without resorting to cheap shock moments. The characters are well-established, and you feel a genuine pang of sadness if one dies. I read the whole 950-odd pages in under three days, not because it's a skim-read book (it isn't), but because I was so drawn in. The plot is exciting, with much of the "I have to know what happens next!" of good storytelling.

However, this is not a perfect book. There is no one major bad point, just a few little niggles that conspire to knock a star off the rating.

Firstly, and I understand this is a copy error not a writer error, the proofreading in the paperback copy was shoddy. There are more than a few cases of words running together - "theanimal" - and the typist often uses a quotation mark (") to mark plural possessive (childrens") instead of an apostrophe or other mark. Obviously this is a printer error and not Simmons' error, but it does detract from the story and stop you being drawn in when it happens.

Secondly, there is one exception to the "seamlessly blended history with fiction" as I detailed above. In the middle third of the book, two of the characters are discussing their previous voyage. In just one page they manage to mention Charles Darwin, the Beagle voyage, Lyell's 'Principles of Geology' and Charles Babbage and the computing engine. For myself, this jolted me out of the story somewhat. It felt like Simmons wanted to get even more historical context into the novel than there is already, and suddenly found his opportunity (a conversation between two learned men) to do it. A reference to one of the above three would have been fine, but a long list is a little much, and the fact that no other historical figures are mentioned anywhere else in the book adds to the feeling.

Finally, I have a small issue with one aspect of Crozier's character (a fictional representation of the real explorer Francis Crozier). Again in the middle third of the book, he uses an aspect of his personality to help him through illness (again, I don't want to spoil it). This personality thing comes out of nowhere and goes on for pages and pages. Apparently Crozier has had this ability all his life, yet he's been on an ice-locked ship for two years and we've never heard of it until now. Like the other minor niggles, this isn't a major complaint but it does detract from the story somewhat.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend this book - to any fans of historical fiction, disaster novels, horror novels or Arctic exploring in particular - but to every reader in general. It is an adult book; there are a few sex scenes and gruesome moments, so I wouldn't recommend it to children and younger teenagers. The novel is also quite in-depth and nearly a thousand pages long, so if you're a fan of skim-reading and quick books this isn't for you.

Before you read it, if you're not familiar with the Franklin expedition in history then you might like to do a bit of research, if only to more easily distinguish the characters. Also, I found that the chapter headings are very important, as they contain the date and the person from whose point of view the chapter is told, and as the book (for the first two-thirds at least) is told in a non-chronological fashion keeping track of the dates is key to understanding the plot.

So yes, I'd recommend this novel. I'd never read Dan Simmons before this book, but I'll definitely be seeking more of his work out now!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad but not great either., 5 Jan 2010
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This review is from: The Terror (Paperback)
Im a big fan of Dan Simmons and i have to say i was quite excited about reading The Terror, this feeling soon left me as i ploughed through confusing and non sequential dialogue that failed to go anywhere. It seemed more like an attempt by Dan Simmons to display to the reader how clever he is and how well he's researched his subject, this is an annoying habit displayed in some of his other books most notably Ilium and Olympos.

Someone else mentioned there were too many characters and i have to agree, it wasnt until about 2 thirds of the way through that actually started to give a damn about the characters or learn enough about them so i was bothered what befell them. Crozier and Dr Goodsir being then 2 i cared about and of course Hickey, the only problem was that Hickeys accent in the book read like a pantomime pirate... still he was at least entertaining.

The end was rushed and a bit silly, it felt like he ran out of time, enthusiasm and ideas. I also got the impression he'd had the idea to include Inuit legends into the book but realised he hadn't mentioned anything about them for 850 pages and though 'damn id better wrap this up'.

Its a shame as he's such a good writer but i just failed to enjoy this book, i was actually glad when i finished it, it felt like id been released.

Thanks for reading my 2 pence worth.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intense and sinister, 12 April 2008
By 
lmhh (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Terror (Paperback)
I loved this book from start to finish. Based on the real voyages to find the North West passage it has historical authenticity but goes way beyond. Dan Simmons crates a claustrophobic and terrifying environment in which little is certain except the unrelenting nature of the cold and dark. He mixes the disturbing effect of isolation and starvation on people with a mysterious threat from outside which defies all normal precautions and considerations to create a frightening and unpredictable whole. In this intense situation characters have to make difficult and often harsh choices and are all the while stalked by the creature on the ice who seems to be able to take them at will. An excellent read. Recomended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Horror/Sci-Fi Adventure Tale, 22 July 2014
By 
William Mason (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Terror (Paperback)
I loved reading this book, and was sad to reach it's end. This is a fictional tale of the shipmen on board HMS Terror, on a fateful Arctic expedition in 1845, whose vessel gets stuck in the snow and ice. The story is very loosely based on real historical events, which adds to the drama. 126 men have to fight to survive against the hostile climate and ever diminishing food rations. But the real danger is far worse than this, namely an unseen and incredibly stealthy predator, who is stalking the ship and its crew. As winter approaches, scurvy and starvation take hold, as the men make a bid for escape across the frozen wastelands, always tracked by the malevolent unseen being. This is a long book, close to 1000 pages, but I found it "unputdownable". From start to finish there is nerve-shredding suspense, and the author's vivid portrayal of the arctic landscape and life on board the ship, makes you feel as if you are right there in the thick of things. I had never read Dan Simmons before, and I had no expectations from this book. This made it a delightful surprise to come across this work by accident, discovering a brilliant book which is much less widely known about than it ought to be. I don't like period pieces, and Master & Commander type books/films normally leave me cold, but this book was a remarkable exception. My father read the book on my recommendation, and he was equally impressed.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning novel, 11 Jun 2009
This review is from: The Terror (Paperback)
Ever since the doomed Franklin expedition set sail in 1845 and was subsequently never heard of again, a whole wealth of music and literature has been written in tribute to the ill-fated voyage, not to mentioned the odd television documentary.

It's easy to see where the interest comes from: two ships and 134 men disappearing into the frozen wastes of the arctic, leaving no real clue as to their fate. Subsequent searches have yielded a number of trinkets and artifacts, including human bones that show signs of cannibalism and scurvy.

There was always a fantastic story to be told here. Dan Simmons clearly thought so, as the fate of the Franklin expedition forms the basis of The Terror. Except that Simmons throws another ingredient into the mix - an unknown predator that lurks in the semi-permanent darkness beyond the two ice-bound ships, a predator that just happens to enjoy snacking on human flesh...

It is often said that the best ideas are the simple ones, and the premise of The Terror is both. The two Royal Navy Ships Erebus and Terror have become stuck in the ice deep in the arctic circle, and have been for almost two years. The conditions are horrendous, supplies are slowly running out and the crew are wasting away. On top of that, you've got the aforementioned predator lurking out on the ice. The scene is therefore set for both a riveting story and also for an interesting look at how mankind can survive such atrocious conditions.

Simmons wastes no time in jumping into the thick of the action; the first chapter begins the story long after the two ships have already become frozen in and the crews are already aware of the 'thing on the ice' as they call it. It also happens to be one of the best openings to a novel I've read in some time. While subsequent chapters do leap about a bit in the time line, after a while the story settles down and the chapters follow in chronological order.

Simmons' prose is impressive; clear and concise with barely a word wasted, he proves masterfully adept at re-creating the harrowing atmosphere of the men's icy surroundings. His descriptive writing is wonderfully evocative; you can almost feel the chill of the air and hear the screaming of the ice as it crushes the ships. In addition he manages to instill a real sense of claustrophobia and fear.

Despite the large cast, Simmons has opted to focus mainly on a small handful of characters. Some chapters are written in the standard third-person, though Simmons does deviate from the norm. The chapters written from Dr Goodsir's perspective are written in the form of Dr Goodsir's diary (and thus in the first-person) while some of the chapters focusing on Captain Crozier are written in the present tense. The latter in particular works very effectively, adding a sense of urgency and tension to the proceedings. Simmons really manages to get under the skin of his characters, leading to a number of touching scenes (as well as some horrific episodes) as the plot develops.

The story itself is the real strength of the novel. Harrowing, unpredictable and utterly engrossing, the horror of it all is increased when you remember that it's all based on a true story (minus the scary monster, of course). What the men go through is dreadful beyond belief, and seeing the main characters slowly unravel is fascinating, as are the crews' desperate attempts to stay alive. As the situation grows unbearable (well, more unbearable than it already was) you start to realise that the danger is not the creature on the ice, or even the weather conditions, but the darkness that lurks in the human soul.

With such a famous historical event, it was important that Simmons didn't let the addition of the predator overshadow the grim reality of the men involved. It would have been easy for him to simply turn the story into a slasher horror, but fortunately Simmons avoids this. The monster is terrifying, but the real enemy is the environment and - later - the men themselves. The predator just adds an extra level of tension, which works extremely well. The title of the novel can therefore relate to a number of things - the ship Terror, the creature on the ice, the terror of the men's descent into desperation, among others.

Having been riveted for over 800 pages, I was disappointed to find that the last stage of the book didn't match the excellence of the rest of it. The tension in these final chapters - with a couple of notable exceptions - just seemed to trail off a little, and the rhythm of the novel felt interrupted. The change in emphasis made these chapters feel almost like a separate story that had been bolted on to the rest of the novel.

Still, the lukewarm final chapters don't spoil what is a gripping novel. Well-researched and brilliantly written, The Terror is a harrowing tale which is masterfully told.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another solid book from Mr Simmons, 23 Feb 2007
This review is from: The Terror (Paperback)
If, like me, you pre-order your Dan Simmons book as soon as you hear about it, then no review is going to stop you from reading it.

So, good book, enjoyed it, a fine story well written. I was initially sceptical before reading because the last King/Koontz offerings have been so poor (think Lisey's story and Odd Thomas 2). But needn't have worried, Dan Simmons is a consistent writer of quality stories and has never put a word wrong yet.

The only reason not to give five stars is that it would imply that this is in the Hyperion class, it isn't. And one personal point, is that there was no need to introduce the 'beast/terror' as being marooned in the ice for three years was enough horror for me.

Recommended.
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The Terror
The Terror by Dan Simmons (Hardcover - 1 Feb 2007)
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