"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.
Starts out kinda slow, almost stopped listening, but it really grabbed me after a while. I can recommend this one without hesitation. A heartwarming story, and I never say heartwarming.
YES!!! This is one of the best stories I have listened to through Audible.
This story is well crafted. It talks about a nightmare that even now could befall us. It gives one pause to think of our relations with others and how we treat people. The story moves along at a great pace never did I find it lagging.
This is the first to my knowledge. I found I was listening to the story and not to the narration.
Sister, because of her gutsy determination.
The only other comment I have is regarding the language. The language has far too much swearing. Those who are bothered by foul language should be aware before listening to this story. That being said this is a story that is well worth the read or listen.
I was engrossed in this book. It felt like it paralleled our current economic situation at least as to how the book starts out. Well written and engaging, although not for the faint as it has some fairly graphic portrayals of living in a post nuclear world. I would recommend this book in an instant.
I remember reading this in high school in '92, i was really into post apocalyptic type stories. All these years later this story has not lost one bit of greatness that it was to me back then. It's well read by the narrator and different voices he performs for the many characters in the story are well done. This is a must have for any sci-fi lover that hasnt already picked this up.
I remember reading this when it first came out in book form. I had remembered it as being one of my favorite books ever. When it came out in audio format I was afraid I'd remembered it wrong and that the book would be forever ruined for me in revisiting this story years later. I was wrong. I loved every second of it! Well worth every second spent listening!
If you've read The Stand, don't waste your time with this book. It's pretty much the same thing except that the cause of the end of the world is a nuclear war, not a virus.
Well that and the characters are 2 dimensional and unlikeable. I found myself just hoping they would all die so the book would end sooner.
The plot points are cliched by today's standards, and many aspects of the story go unexplained/or unresolved. For example *** Spoiler alert***:
The big bad chases the good guys for the entire book, trying to kill them. Then at the end, he doesn't get killed but for some inexplicable reason stops trying to kill the remaining good guys. Yup, it's the end of the book, so now he's satisfied just stalking them and acting creepy *yawn*.
I know some people love this book. But if you read the reviews carefully (unlike I did), you'll see that it's a very polarizing book. People either seem to love it or hate it. And for the most part it seems like the folks who love it, do so because they read it when they were younger and have fond memories of when they first read it. Obviously, i'm in the latter group.
It may have been okay when it first came out, but it certainly hasn't aged well. Use your credit wisely and read The Stand instead.
One of the main reasons I listened to this book was the large number of glowing reviews it had received here and on Amazon. I am truly unable to understand how so many people can think this was a five star book. I enjoyed the narration and that was about it. While there are some scenes and episodes that are decribed in very good detail, there are two main problems with this book. The first is that it is at least 50% to long. This is a book that truly needed a good editor to trim it down. The second problem is larger - the author can't seem to decide if he is writing a realistic post-nuclear distopia novel or a supernatural horror novel. And he fails at both. The realism is not that good - there are people everywhere but no wildlife seems to have survived, except wolves, which have multiplied as if by magic. And maybe it was magic - that is certainly implied, but the supernatural parts of this novel are so inconsistent and sporadic that they don't really add anything to the story. The main characters, with maybe one or two exceptions, do such stupid things following the nuclear devastation that they should all be dead. Who, in their right mind, would get out of a basement where they had been trapped for months and start walking without digging out any of the supplies and water stored in the basement with them? Apparently it was Josh and Swan, two of the main characters. Did the glass ring actually play any real part in the story other than being a prop that could be brought out to liven things up? If there is actually a good force in the world that can make the glass ring and the Job's masks and give Swan special powers, how is that this force can do all these things but can't communicate with anyone in the story - even through the glass ring? And why is the villian yet another stereotypical creature who can't be killed but also gets run out of town at every turn? If he is so weak, why can't they kill him? If he is so strong that he can rip an electified fence off it's posts, why can't he just win? This is just ridiculous. And the entire book was like that. Don't waste your time or your money.
This is much more a mystical fantasy novel than it is a
Well read. Wish he would go a little easier on the voices and accents.
This book would have been better if really did have any element of
This book makes me very cautious about reader reviews. If this genre is only
These characters are 'mankind' and 'haters of mankind'. The haters win and the reader will hope for relief in vain.
I would cut Swan. She gives the reader the illusion of hope, but her role is silly and undeveloped.
This seems like a book that would appeal to a culture that has given up on itself.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
This was my first and probably last Robert McCammon book. Firstly, the positive: the book did hold my attention. It was exciting in a horrible kind of way. You know how our eyes are drawn to gory sites? I think it is a pathology of the human condition. I mean why would we read books of this ilk in the first place. The book starts with nuclear war and two superpowers exchanging missiles. It then quickly shifts to the aftermath and three or four subplots that intersect as the book progresses and culminates in a rather silly ending.
I often comment in reviews about how much a narrator makes or breaks a book. In this case I believe it was the latter. Tom Stechschulte does a great job with the older male voices and especially the most demonic of them all. The women and youngster of both genders are overly melodramatic to the point of being distracting and adding a color to the text itself that might not actually be there in the printed word. In an overly, nitpicking kind-of-way it almost seems unethical for a narrator to actually change a book by how it's read but it is done and sometimes for the better. I'm having difficulty determining if the opposite was true here or the book was just not that great on its own.
There were many unanswered questions not the least of which was who was the protagonist Swan in the first place. What was the crown. How could the devil have been so easily outwitted and even physically outfought by some loony, old bag lady. Give me a break.
I did not totally (but mostly) dislike the book. After all, I finished the 30+ hours of it but, as is often the case, I only kept going and hoping that it would have a great ending. It did not. The ending was silly and actually the whole book got worse as it went on. This was a book that perhaps a YA male might enjoy but for me it lacked depth, imagination and a good narrator.
"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!
Now...what to listen to next?
"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 !
"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!
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.
"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!
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.
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
"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.
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.
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!
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