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Swan Song | [Robert McCammon]

Swan Song

Facing down an unprecedented malevolent enemy, the government responds with a nuclear attack. America as it was is gone forever, and now every citizen - from the President of the United States to the homeless on the streets of New York City - will fight for survival. In a wasteland born of rage and fear, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, earth's last survivors have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil, that will decide the fate of humanity.
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Publisher's Summary

"We're about to cross the point of no return. God help us; we're flying in the dark, and we don't know where the hell we're going."

Facing down an unprecedented malevolent enemy, the government responds with a nuclear attack. America as it was is gone forever, and now every citizen - from the president of the United States to the homeless on the streets of New York City - will fight for survival.

Swan Song is Robert McCammon's prescient and shocking vision of a post-apocalyptic nation, a grand epic of terror and, ultimately, renewal.

In a wasteland born of rage and fear, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, earth's last survivors have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil, that will decide the fate of humanity. They include Sister, who discovers a strange and transformative glass artifact in the destroyed Manhattan streets... Joshua Hutchins, the pro wrestler who takes refuge from the nuclear fallout at a Nebraska gas station... and Swan, a young girl possessing special powers, who travels alongside Josh to a Missouri town where healing and recovery can begin with Swan's gifts. But the ancient force behind earth's devastation is scouring the walking wounded for recruits for its relentless army, beginning with Swan herself.

Please note: Two chapters were originally missing from Part 2 of this book. We were alerted to the problem on 11/21/11 and have corrected it. We're very sorry for any inconvenience. If you had already downloaded the book, don’t worry - your library has automatically updated with the corrected version. Simply re-download from your library, at no additional cost, to get the complete book.

©2009 Robert McCammon (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

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  •  
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 07-07-13
    cristina Somerville, MA, United States 07-07-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "So I am a sucker for end of the world stories"

    Some reviewers have remarked on the similarity of this novel to The Stand. I can see what they are talking about -- the bizarre cast of characters, the epic quality, the quest of many whose paths ultimately converge. It is not quite as majestic; the supernatural Good v. Evil is not quite as elegant (and sometimes too over-the-top) -- and yet, it is a story well told. It grips you from the beginning and never lets go.

    If you like a good post apocalyptic yarn, this is one of them.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 08-23-13
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 08-23-13 Member Since 2015

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "I Don't Think We're In Kansas Anymore"

    HIS EYES GLAZED OVER LIKE POND ICE
    RM has divided this into 14 parts. Part one follows the President of the United States, who is a former astronaut who can't make a decision. Then goes to Professional Wrestler to a Bag Lady to a Trailer Park. I thought the characters were going to be cliche and that the writing was going to be very simple.

    YOU AIN'T GOT THE SENSE GOD GAVE A PISS ANT.
    Part 2, 3 and 4 got better, but I was thinking this was a cheap copy of "The Stand". Is there really an insect called a piss ant?

    AS COLD AS A VIRGIN'S BED
    Around part 5 or 6 they get to Matheson, Kansas. Holley crap the story really picks up then. From chapter 37 to 52 it is intense, it is scary, you will not be able to stop listening during these chapters. These chapters are some of the best written and scariest stuff I have ever read or listened to.

    LET'S QUIT SHIRKIN AND GET TO WORKEN.
    Chapter 54 till the finish is not as scary or intense, but is still a great listen. I am very impatient with most long books, but I found myself every morning, excited about getting to continue the story. Parts of this book will remind you of Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, Robin Hobb, and or Road Warrior.

    HOPE IS A DISEASE
    This was my first McCammon book, but I see one of his books is on sale in a 3 for two sale, and I will be getting it.

    FORGIVENESS CRIPPLES EVIL
    I will give the narrator a 95%, he did really well on all the voices and he was easy to listen to. i did think he used the clenched teeth mad a little too often, when a different response was called for, but that could just be my opinion. I have no problem listening to him again.






    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Venatries 11-21-11 Member Since 2013

    There are few things better than a good story well told!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "You Will Know Terror..."

    If you loved The Stand, you HAVE to get this book. If you don???t mind the hairs standing up on the back of your neck, get this book. If you???re looking for an epic good read that you can???t put down, get this book. It will scare you and keep your nerves tied up from start to finish. It's one of those books that you don't want to end.

    Thank you Audible for this treat. Please add more unabridged McCammon.

    20 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sarah 09-20-12
    sarah 09-20-12

    all books horror. especially zombie

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A must listen for Horror fans!!"
    Any additional comments?

    I bought this book because I heard that it is one of Stephen Kings favourite books...I was not disappointed.The only books I could compare it too are ... Stephen Kings' - The Stand andJustin Cronins' - The Passage.I loved this book! It is very long but give it a try!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    coreybeth Cincinnati, OH, United States 12-14-11
    coreybeth Cincinnati, OH, United States 12-14-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "My first review - Story wonderful & narrator A+"

    Wonderful story. I "listen" to books alot & simply could not put this one down. I'm an older mom with a two year old who needs sleep and actually caught myself several nights not realizing how late it was. (3am). The narrator is hands down the best I've heard. It wasn't until chapter 8 that I realized there was only one narrator. He's that good even with female voices and NO ONE sounds like anyone else. Great simply great. The story is not too shabby either. For those of us that like supernatural undertones this book did not disappoint. I've been reading alot of doomsday & zombie books lately and this is definitely my favorite. If I had to pick one thing I would change I think I would unfold the eerie/supernatural elements sooner for those of us that like that genre. The characters were well developed and it wasn't forced like some books. It honestly makes you think this could really happen. There wasn't one time that I skipped through a chapter (yep done that before). Another thing I like is that he spends just the right amount of time on character development & even imagery. I recently listened to a book where it seem it took the author a whole chapter to describe what a simple spoon looked like. I'm definitely a Robert McCammon & Tom Stechschulte fan. Just downloaded "The Oath" & so far Mr. Stechschulte is superb again! If you're on the fence - go for it - you won't regret it!!!!

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Hillsboro, OR, United States 04-10-14
    Christopher Hillsboro, OR, United States 04-10-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Someone has to point out this books weaknesses."
    What disappointed you about Swan Song?

    Where to start? I think it would be easier to say what is good about this book. If you liked The Stand, despite all it's wordiness and boring characters (I did), then you will probably enjoy Swan Song. It has a few unique ideas but I began to suspect, about five hours in, that I could tell where this story was going.


    What was most disappointing about Robert McCammon’s story?

    1) There was ultimately no price paid by humanity for destroying the Earth. Nuclear winter was over in 7 years? Everyone good got a new face? Complete tripe.
    2) The crown was introduced as protection for Swan and then never used. Did the author forget about it?
    3) Everyone is backwards. Like the world had reverted to the Dark Ages in just seven years. Someone smart must have survived.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The narrator did not help raise the seemingly low IQ of the characters. He performed them all as sniveling dullards.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Swan Song?

    Every other sentence.


    Any additional comments?

    For what it's worth, I did listen to the whole book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    loralou 07-14-13
    loralou 07-14-13

    Mother of teenaged bear, Wife to chaos, Warrior

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fabulous!"
    Where does Swan Song rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I loved this book. I found myself trying to find hidden corners to listen.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I really like trying to figure out what was with the characters. What was so special about them.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When swan's horse died. The raw emotion she felt moved me. I felt for her.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy CHARLES CITY, VA, United States 03-23-13
    Nancy CHARLES CITY, VA, United States 03-23-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Enjoyable but graphic"
    Any additional comments?

    I did really like the story and wanted to give it a 3.5 but that's not possible. I liked everything enough to keep listening and find out what happens but there were a few issues for me. The story was really graphic at times, as you would expect in an end of the world tale. Certain elements were quite fantastical and stretched credulity.In the end I would recommend for those who like end of the world stories and are used to explicit detail.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis Mazama, WA, United States 02-21-13
    Dennis Mazama, WA, United States 02-21-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not my style"

    I sat on this review for a while because I just did not know what to say about it. I did not care for the book, I did not like the storyline, it never captured me like some stories can, I struggled to finish it and never felt compelled to return to it once I had put it down. With that said I believe it was just a matter of style, I do not like books that veer off into supernatural events - generally - and this book is about very supernatural events.
    If though this is a genre you like then there is no reason not to give this book a try, the writing is not horrible and some of the characters are well developed and likeable when they are supposed to be and evil when they are supposed to be that as well, also the narration if very good and probably what kept me in it until the end, and that, let me tell you is a long walk. I thought the book could have been half its length and still to long, and this is coming from someone who will not read and abridged version of anything. If you are a Stephen King fan, you may like this book. I am not.
    Not one I would recommend,

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lea Gladewater, TX, United States 02-13-13
    Lea Gladewater, TX, United States 02-13-13 Member Since 2013

    bookwormmom45

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This is one of my faves!"

    I loved this story. It gripped me, seriously. I cared about all of the protagonists, and worried over their fates. I actually would get to my destination and keep listening with my mp3 player in the car, to find out what happened next. And esp. if you get it in this 4.95 sale, you will be bagging a deal. It's a wonderful story, don't miss out.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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  • Rob
    Sussex
    11/19/12
    Overall
    "Long but worth the effort"

    This is my second Audible book, and the first time I have been driven to write a review (of any kind). I have to say that this would not be my choice of book to read. Too big and not my normal genre. I have far too many books and not enough time to read them all ( oh woe is me!). I joined Audible to broaden my tastes with something different whilst walking the dogs, and I found that this lengthy (30 hours) story became an evening obsession for a month or so.

    Yes, it is a dark tale of a post nuclear apocalyptic America and is sometimes difficult to hear of the destruction and long term suffering...but that really is the point. How can you explore the possibility of redemption and survival without the descent into evil and chaos in the first place?. And it is like The Stand in that it is an exploration of good verses evil, with groups of characters on each side.

    But... the similarity ends there.

    The author has created a compelling story where each of the 90 or so chapters follows the POV of groups of people on either side of the moral divide. The main characters soon become familiar, and their individual stories inexorably and sometimes painfully progress to a satisfying and exciting series of confrontations at the climax of the book. I liked the ending.

    The big thing for me though was the experience of having this book, that I never would have read normally, delivered as a professional spoken performance through my earphones in the Ashdown Forest every day for a month. Really quite surreal!

    I was not convinced at the start, but was soon drawn into the timbre of Tom Stechshulte's voice. His vocal interpretation of each of the characters became to be "just right". This is not simply someone reading aloud. (erm Librivox anyone?) This is a proper job! I could not wait for my next daily instalment!

    Great stuff....

    Now...what to listen to next?

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Andy Russell
    New Pitsligo
    7/18/12
    Overall
    "As much an experience as a book !"

    I can say with hand on heart that this is the best book I've ever read, well listened to, but you know what I mean.

    The book covers the story of three main groups of suvivors of a nuclear war and wraps everything together nicely and cleverly by the end.

    Now, there are a few bad reviews here about it being graphic and violent , and this is undoubtably true. However this is a book about the end of the world - it's going to be nasty - there's no sugar coating to be had. I really can't see that it should be marked down because of that.There are a few moments of animals in peril as well that I found upsetting but I think the author just wasn't up for giving any get out of jail free cards - it's the end of the world - walts and all.


    You'll grow to love the characters and sometimes the author will kill them without any warning and you're left truly feeling a personal loss - honestly !

    I finished this yesterday, I did take a break half way through to listen to something else as it honestly is an emotional roller coaster ride and you sometimes need something a bit lighter for a wee while.

    You will cry, you'll maybe have the odd laugh too - but I can't see how anyone who likes this genre could do anything but love this book.

    I'm glad this was never made into a movie - I don't think anyone could do justice to this epic.

    There is a little bit of fantasy wrapped up in the novel as well, this isn't really my thing, but it's not much and it actually fits the story well.

    I think the narrator does a cracking job as well and his voices for the characters were a good fit in my opinion.

    So ... Sister, Swan and Josh - thanks for the journey - I'll miss you !

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • sharon
    Falmouth, United Kingdom
    7/19/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "End of the World.."

    Loved the character Sister, a fight between good and evil in the strictest sense, no smudging of lines in-between, very much like the 'Stand' by Steven King, which I must admit nudges into the lead between the two. Easy read and entertaining well as much as the end of the world can be!

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen
    Tempsford, United Kingdom
    12/25/11
    Overall
    "Thoroughly enjoyable"

    Have just read the previous review and had to briefly write my thoughts which are the exact opposite of the last reviewer.
    I couldn't wait to finish the book as I was thoroughly enthralled and caught up with the characters, I didn't notice how brutish it was as I expected rage and violence etc as it's an end of the world type of book.
    I really enjoyed it and will read it again at some point.
    Give it a try.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • @Scattered_Laura
    NEATH, United Kingdom
    7/9/12
    Overall
    "A brilliant, post-apocalyptic adventure tale!"

    How is it that this book has been off my radar for so long!? Seriously. I love epic, post-apocalyptic tales of survival and so this book should have been on my list from the moment of its release. Okay... maybe not that far back as I was two years old when it was originally released. No. This book was so good that even then I should have had it on my wishlist.

    This book is a must read if you are a fan of Stephen King's The Stand or Justin Cronin's The Passage. I happen to be a huge fan of both and Swan Song is a bit like the love-child of these works.

    It has a whole bunch in common with The Stand. The survivors of the apocalypse (which takes the form of a nuclear strike instead of a government-engineered plague) fall into two camps of Good vs Evil. There's a "dark man" figure who is decidedly evocative of King's Randall Flagg, and there are many religious undercurrents to the narrative.

    King's work was first published in '78 so it pre-dates Swan Song. Even though the argument could be made that McCammon's work is derivative, I actually don't care. I see it more as one great piece of fiction inspiring another. While King's work is definitely superior, McCammon's story is still a wonderful read. Whole bunches of books have been inspired by great predecessors, and just because they don't measure up to them, doesn't mean they can't be great in their own right.

    I guess there was a lot about this book which reminded me of other books, and I know that's not necessarily a good thing. However, in this case I honestly enjoyed every aspect of the book. The situation was gripping, the characters were realistic and the premise was epic. This is one of those books that I'd recommend to people after they'd read and loved The Stand. It's not as good as that, but it's damned decent as a follow-up read! A fab not-so-little read!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • zomodo
    3/11/12
    Overall
    "Breathtakingly amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

    Download this book instantly, you WILL NOT BE DISSAPPOINTED. This book gripped me from the outset and wouldn't let me go. I nearly pulled an all nighter listening to this once and I had to ban myself from night time listens. It is just so clever, and emotional and character driven. It shows evil and hope at a great time of difficulty. The narrator is pretty special and the writing is brilliant. It's a long book too (which is great) and I truly dreaded reaching the end. I was sad to see 'my friend' go. Don't hesitate to get this book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Joanne
    Stoke-0n-Trent, United Kingdom
    1/9/12
    Overall
    "Loved it"

    I've read most of Robert McCammons books and loved them. This is no exception. Tom does a really good job of the narration as well so double bonus. Not sure why the previous reviewer put what they did it's a post-apocalyptic tale - what did they expect!! Love that the characters are all so different and each have their own story to tell

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    1/9/12
    Overall
    "Loved it."

    Great story which is superbly read. I found myself building a relationship with every main character - good and bad - and thoroughly enjoying every moment of the book. As previous reviewer posted, I would expect a certain amount of "nastiness" in a post-apocalyptic environment and thus it didn't bother me. In fact, I think it helped creating the right atmosphere. Definitely a keeper!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • W. Taylor
    Stourbridge, West Midlands United Kingdom
    10/13/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A thoroughly unexpected pleasure"

    When I bought this book I thought I knew what to expect having seen many reviews which mentioned The Stand and having had a recent binge of post-apocalyptic reading myself. It managed, though, to deliver much more than I expected and something very different from what I expected.

    The beginning was, I think I can say without being too unkind, pretty much run-of-the-mill and conventional. There was a brief pencil sketch depiction of the main characters we were going to follow in their lives before the outbreak of Nuclear War and I have to say at this point the novel felt like the start of any disaster "B" movie and I worried that I had made a big mistake in buying this one, but very soon the author began to bring in some discordant and original notes.

    Without risking too much of a spoiler I think that I can safely reveal that as this novel continues it soon leaves behind gritty realism and approaches something closer to gritty magical realism. The themes of Good and Evil become embodied in certain characters and the nature of reality warps around them and the reader in an original and challenging way. I think herein may lie a challenge for some readers: if you buy a fantasy novel with an elf and a wizard on the front you know the extent to which you are going to be expected to suspend your disbelief but you may not be braced for a similar extent of suspension when you buy a novel about the survivors in an American landscaped ravaged by nuclear war. However, once you make this compromise this becomes an incredible journey in which you become deeply involved - I have to confess there was one point I didn't want continue because what little good had been reclaimed from this destroyed world was all about to be destroyed and I couldn't see any way for it to be avoided: that is how involved I had become in the story.

    The end of the novel might strike some as a little too neat and maybe a touch glib but I think that having travelled so far with the author and these characters we have all earned some kind of closure and not a cheap opening for book two. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will come back to it again (and again, quite possibly). I will recommend it whole-heartedly to certain of my friends and if you want to know whether I would recommend it to you I would say that if you enjoyed The Stand and or The Passage then this book is probably for you or if you enjoy a little fantasy in your reading but don't like it too feel too childish then this is the book for you too.

    I can not leave without a little word about the narration. Tom Stechschulte manages to portray a wonderful array of characters, accents and emotions with consistency and flair. He is a truly talented gentleman and who made a tour-de-force performance with this novel.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • monica
    Ireland
    4/11/13
    Overall
    "Swan Song"

    I was disappointed at first, extremely slow to start but about 5 hours in I got hooked and had to finish it. Have only read one other book by R McCammon the Wolf Hour and loved it so was hoping this would be as good.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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