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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

Average Customer Ratings

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Swan Song

This was an absolutely awesome book. I LOVED everything about it and I was so sorry when it ended. In my opinion this is a classic that rates up among the very top. Do not miss out on this one. I rarely write any kind of review but this book definitely rates one. A++++++ all the way.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Jupiter, FL, United States
  • 05-21-12

Excellent book and audio

Where does Swan Song rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

one of the best Audio's books of it's type I have read.

What other book might you compare Swan Song to and why?

The Stand. A similar story concept, but much much better. It is a much more intense and complete look at a post-apocalyptic world and the people left behind. It is much more interestingly presented and written about and the characters, I feel, are better developed and easier to relate to or believe. McCammon does an excellent job of putting you into their shoes (or lack thereof) and creating multiple characters with extreme character personalities. He goes way beyond The Stand's character's and morphing them into totally new, and incredible, beings. This is not a zombie book, but I do not want to give away too much. The "devil" creatures in both are well developed, but much more interesting and explained in Swan Song.

Any additional comments?

A must read if you liked The Stand or post-apocalyptic novels. It is not a monster or zombie book, but if you like those you should like Swan Song, too. IT deals with survival, but also of inner strength and courage and goes into the inner personalities of the characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Degrades into Cliche and "Campiness"

What would have made Swan Song better?

An ending that doesn't include a megalomaniac with a "doomsday" machine. I felt like I was listening to a James Bond movie with an unlikely bad guy who has a doomsday machine that exists beyond credibility. The doomsday machine relies on nuclear weapons launched from satellites that have existed 10 years past nuclear winter.

Has Swan Song turned you off from other books in this genre?

A bit. I like post-apocalyptic stories, but this one too itself too seriously with a cruddy ending. I kept waiting for a meaningful ending, but it never came. Cliche is the order for day for this book.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Narration was OK.

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

The ending.

Any additional comments?

Not worth the many, many hours it took to get to the end of this book.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Really struggled with this one.

Not as good as "World made by Hand" and not nearly as good as "One Second After". could not get past part 1.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Didn't hold my attention

How does one make a nuclear war boring? By telling it from the perspective of cardboard characters, and by not bothering to do any research on how such a conflict would proceed. I listened to the first four hours of this book, and found nothing to hold my attention. I didn't care about the characters, with the possible exception of Josh. I found his description of the nuclear Holocaust laughable in it's inaccuracy. I was dissatisfied with the performance, but since I can't put my finger on just why, it could be that the book was simply too poor for even a good narrator to bring it to life. Very disappointing in almost every respect.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Ian
  • Frankston South, Australia
  • 12-11-11

Top notch!

Aside from a very few flat spots, this is now my second favourite post apocalyptic tale after The Stand. The characters are uniformly superb creations that are given real depth and, regardless of their morality, made understandable if not likable. It's a fine story and well told.

But the cream in the sponge cake, so to speak, is the narration. Mr Stechschulte isn't a narrator I've come across before but his telling is pitch perfect. Regardless of a character's age, gender or ethnicity, they're given distinctive and recognisable voices that evolve even as the characters themselves do. A brilliant piece of work and one of the best narrations I've come across.

Thoroughly recommended.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Great Book

I read this book years ago and still have it. Glad it finally came out on audio. I listen to it and going to again. I am sure I miss some of it the first time around. Great listener. Hope more of his books come out on audio too.

8 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Poorly written, contrived motivations, childish.

I can understand a dark post-apocalyptic novel full of characters who, say, kill over a bowl of soup because starvation is an understandable, human motivation. Other human motivations might include vengeance, depression, lust, greed, ect. As readers we intuitively understand these kinds of motivations even if we are repulsed by them.

The protagonists in this novel have no such motivations. They are one dimensional cartoon characters motivated by their pure goodness or badness. In their wanderings they meet one dimensional cartoon villains every one of which is an uber violent sadistic psychopath intent on inflicting violence and suffering for no other reason than they are evil. Good guys do good things and bad guys do bad things for no particular reason. Repeat. It's childish dribble that fails to capture even the barest sliver of humanity or human motivation. You might be able to get away with it in a video game but not in a novel or audiobook.

The writing is also best described as immature bordering on childish. For example, it's hard not to giggle when we are constantly bombarded with messages of the empty desolate landscape, and yet every house or shelter the characters walk into is already occupied. I'm not sure if they ever enter an empty house even if we later learn that every other house in the entire city is supposedly empty. Over and over so often you have to laugh. Childish.

Sometimes the writing quality hits like a bucket of cold water that snaps whatever illusion had been created. For example, in one action scene a 300+ pound man, described over and over as a giant, is in a fist fight. After he dodges a punch he-- get this-- ducks down, crawls between his opponents legs, gets up, and hits his opponent (who incidentally is of course a sadist) when he turns around. Trying to suddenly picture this inane action sequence jarred me completely out of the scene, and so on.

For the purposes of context, I am an avid audiobook listener who draws from all genres but am especially attracted to science fiction, some fantasy, and horror, so it's not like this was out of my realm. It's just poorly executed and simply childish. I am writing this review because I wish someone else had written it first so I wouldn't have wasted my time and money on it.

11 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Shannon
  • OAKDALE, CT, United States
  • 11-27-11

Wow. Just wow.

Everything about this audiobook is absolutely amazing. The story is phenominal. From beginning to end I was completely riveted. The story flows easily from one place to another, through big events and small. And then there is the amazing tension for what is going to happen to the characters.
A big part of that is the naration by Tom Stechschulte. He does a such a wonderful job bringing the characters to life. He gives the each their own voice and through this you really get to know them and feel for them as old friends. You feel their joys and their sorrows as if they were your own. I laughed with them and cried for them.
What else can I say? Buy this book. Listen to it. You will not regret it.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • nick
  • chicAGO, IL, United States
  • 11-24-11

Gripping, fast moving and timeless.

I had never heard of Swan Song when I browsed the Audible Best Sellers catagory, but with all the wonderful reviews I downloaded it. I am so glad I did. In only 5 days I listened to 34 hours of untold intreige. Tom Stechschulte's narration is spellbinding, just unreal. A magical story that you never want to end.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Huw
  • 02-20-15

Outstanding!

This has to be one of the most gripping audio books I have ever listened to. Just fantastic, great characters, griping tension and a wonderfully rich story.

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  • sarahmoose2000
  • 02-17-15

THE STAND'S TWIN?

This was a great book, but Stephen King may have a few things to say about the similarities to his book, The Stand.

The slight difference is that nuclear warheads were detonated here, not a virus, but the oracle is called Sister (the Stand is Mother); and the groups of survivors lead their own tales against marauders until they unite at the end.

You would think that such a long book would be boring, and wonder how you could keep interest in the small group of heroes, but it proves the writing is great as I never once felt the need to check my watch and see where we were. In fact, I looked forward to going to bed, knowing I had more to listen to!

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  • Linda
  • 02-05-15

2nd time around

Read this book over 10 years ago and never forgot it. Was delighted to see it available as audiobook. Will probably listen to it again. Wonderful story brilliantly written.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-11-14

Outstanding first half.

It's very like The Stand and yet totally different.

The first half of this epic is totally engrossing and well written but turns into stereotype and cliche in the last third. A let down in the end. Still worth a go.

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  • Cee cee
  • 12-04-14

overlong, overwraught...just over it

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

not unless they thought Stephen King's characters were just too subtle and nuanced.<br/><br/>If you like your good and evil laid out very clearly, and sledgehammered home at every opportunity, this is the book for you.<br/><br/>Also, where on earth was the editor?! there are errors in this book, eg one character saying to another they've definitely decided to go somewhere then a few chapters later, claiming not to know where to go and all of a sudden, the distance to said place has shifted by about 5 to 10 miles. <br/><br/>Maybe the editor / proof-reader lost all will to plough on at that stage. I don't really blame them.

Has Swan Song put you off other books in this genre?

Apocalyptic novels are not really my chosen genre, I only bought this one as I'd liked McGammon's Matthew Corbett novel (1st one), so I'm not sure I can be put off something I never really went for in the first place

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Quite a good performance but sometimes he voiced the characters with a very low voice that was difficult to pick up on headphones

Was Swan Song worth the listening time?

If you want hours and hours of mindless, meandering, vaguely interesting chat, then by all means. It's not brilliant, kind of the literary equivalent of chewing gum...starts off fine then is very same-y then very bland then you keep chewing (not knowing why) and in the end, you don't mind if you spit it out and never think about it again.

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  • Ben Rendle
  • 12-02-14

Excellent

Would you consider the audio edition of Swan Song to be better than the print version?

Certainly, it is so nice to be able to sit back and relax and listen to such a great book

Who was your favorite character and why?

Josh, he wasn't the sort of character you expected in the beginning, he forepassed my expectations

Have you listened to any of Tom Stechschulte’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No, unfortunately I haven't, but would definitely be willing to do so based on this performance

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, most definitely I would of done so, if I had had the time!<br/>

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  • Jeff
  • 10-29-14

Good start but faded

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No, I thought the ending was poor. It started very well, but just faded at the end and I found I lost interest

What was most disappointing about Robert McCammon’s story?

The ending

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Yes, good narration

Did Swan Song inspire you to do anything?

No

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  • Jeremy
  • 10-20-14

Everything you need from an audiobook!

Any additional comments?

Superb! Everything about this audiobook works. Tom Stechschulte's narration is excellent which brings this epic story to life and keeps you enthralled from start to finish. All characters are fascinating and you want to know what happens to them. Tom's character intonations, voices, accents really work well. This was my first Robert McGammon audiobook and on the strength on this I have since purchased several more. You won't be disappointed with this one!

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  • T.J.Peabody
  • 08-15-14

What a journey!

Where does Swan Song rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This book kind of hits quite high with me. I was slightly put off with the long intros, which really did not need the length to them, but nevertheless, every word spoken by this brilliant narrator were like gems to hold onto.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favourite character has to be Josh. A gentle giant in all ways, and from his own doubts of his humanity, the reality of it saw his selflessness come to the fore.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The best scene? Well there were several, but if I had to pick out one scene, it would be when in the subway tunnels, the demonic character confronts the small team of newly found friends, where a battle of minds ensues, and revenge promised. Gripping.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

In a world lost of hope, strangers bring light to the dark world of the lost and displaced.

Any additional comments?

I have to mention the narrator, Tom Stechschulte. The book would only have a matt finish to it. Tom sets the gloss on in his efforts to bring the characters to life. Thank you TOM!!

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  • Ryan
  • 08-09-14

The next best thing to The Stand and The Passage!

Would you listen to Swan Song again? Why?

No, but that's only because I don't read the same book twice. If I did, I would read it many times again!

What other book might you compare Swan Song to, and why?

Swan Song has huge similarities to Stephen King's The Stand (in my opinion, best book of all time) and Justin Cronin's The Passage. It is an epic post-apocalyptic story of good vs evil and at nearly 40hours it builds a vivid picture of the world in your head which remains there even after you've finished it.

What does Tom Stechschulte bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I'm fussy with narrators. I often find good books with brilliant stories but I can't get past the first chapter because the narrator's voice doesn't work.<br/><br/>No problems here! The only narrator that I've preferred (and it's extremely close between the two) is the guy who narrated The Passage. Tom adds real life to the world and characters and you forget he's reading it to you.<br/>He makes the whole thing an experience rather than just a book.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I would if I could, but at 37 hours it's a tough ask!!!

Any additional comments?

I can't decide what I thought about the ending, even now I'm not sure if it could have been done a bit better. Only a very, very minor niggle.<br/><br/>Download this now, and set aside lots of time. I promise you will enjoy this.