Hannibal Rising Hardcover – 5 Dec 2006
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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, its a prequel to the earlier books, returning to Lecters childhood in World Wars Eastern Front. The youthful Hannibal sees his family murdered by the Nazis. But something else happens which alters (and deforms) Hannibals 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.
Weve 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
`...as 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
Top customer reviews
Hence we have what essentially comes across as very well-written SOTL fanfiction, complete with Hannibal's tragic back story and subsequent humanisation, the questionable character motivations and of course the "Clannibal". However, don't take this comment as a criticism. The story is a wild ride from start to finish and is as wonderfully narrated as his other novels. Not to mention, I found the book hilarious... Perhaps unintentionally at times (for example, when Hannibal broke into Clarice's car and licked the steering wheel - who would be able to keep a straight face while picturing that??), but that being said, I believe this book needs to be read after taking a few steps further into the fantasy end of fantasy realism. It may be with that outlook that I didn't detest the "shock value" ending.
Don't pick this up expecting another crime thriller. It's not Red Dragon or SIlence Of The Lambs. It's it's own thing, something else entirely. And somehow, it works.
I first read this book many years ago after seeing the Michael Mann film version (Manhunter). Although Lecter only appears briefly in this one, Harris sets the stage for the sequels, 'The Silence of the Lambs' and 'Hannibal'. He also introduces recurring characters, including Dr Chilton and Jack Crawford, and deftly keeps the tension on the boil as the police and FBI teams struggle to discover the identity of the killer.
This is a cracking good read from a master storyteller, and even if you've seen one or both movie versions, there's plenty here to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Oh man - I remember being impressed the first time, but reading it again I can't get over how perfect this is. The opening chapter alone heralds the entire book in a few sparse, densely written pages. And it just gets better from there on.
I was amused to read some of the other Amazon reviews from people who had seen Silence of the Lambs and then been disappointed because there's not more Lecter in this one. But there is - the entire thing is about Lecter and Graham.
Oh, and I once met Brian Cox on the top of Ben Nevis and we chatted for 20 minutes while he smoked a cigarette, and he is, in my mind, the creepiest Lecter of all. Love that film. Love the book.
The book was later adapted into Silence Of The Lambs. Although the plots are slightly different, some of the mechanisms within the plot are reminiscent and if you didn't know about the connection between the two you might think the author was just recycling ideas.
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