Scot, June 3, 2010 (view all comments by Scot)
This story was relentless - by turns incredibly discouraging and impossibly sad, and exhiliratingly exciting, insightful and uplifting. By the time it was over, I was just plain tired out, but I had a rolicking good time on the way there. This book is a wild ride. It's messed up as heck (did I just say heck?). It's revels in blood and guts. The violence is as graphic as any I've encountered in a novel. But the writing is great and the story is very engrossing. Definitely a good read, and one that offers profound lessons about the foibles of racism, absolute or near absolute power, hubris, and the foolishness of the western world. The west, by the way, comes across here as at once all science and no sense, and ridiculously tied to baseless convention and superstition. I consider the unflattering paradox of the western world that it represents recompense for being subjected to some pretty challenging characterizations of Alaska natives and gays throughout the first two thirds or so of the story.
The author provides endless details into the lives of arctic voyagers of the mid 1800's, including their depressing sex lives, chronic alcoholism (which is a metaphor for a lot that the author seems to be trying to put across in this story), ridiculous naivete, racism, and sexism. There is deep insight into the class system of the time and how it didn't work; lots of information about the lack of knowledge folks had back then about how to survive in the cold, properly preserve food, and maintain good personal hygiene; and more than you ever wanted to know about scurvy, the artic, snow, and ice.
Through it all, the story unfolds fast and furious with enough plot twists and turns to keep you flipping the pages. The characters are finely drawn. The writing gives up on the story a little bit now and then, but it's a long read, so I'm giving the author a break. His journey to this book couldn't have been easy.
Anyway, read it for yourself and see what you think.
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Little Brown and Company -
This book is based factually on the missing Franklin expedition, last seen by Europeans in July of 1845. The HMS Erabus and the ill-named HMS Terror were the space shuttles of their day, and Dan Simmons spins a haunting and suspenseful tale of this exploration. Based on archaeological evidence found in the past 20 years, and on his own vivid gothic imagination, Simmons has recreated in a stunningly addictive read, what possibly happened to this crew.
Based on the true story of two ice ships that disappeared in the Arctic Circle during the Sir John Franklin Expedition in 1845, "The Terror" is a deeply absorbing story that combines awe-inspiring myth, grinding horror, and historically accurate adventure ("Seattle Times").
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