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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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Simply an Amazing Story

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

I was hesitant on buying this book because of the mixed reviews and the length of the book. After the first part of of the book I was sucked into Swan and Sister's apocalyptic nightmare. The book is simply amazing, frightening, funny, sad, brutal, and inspirational. I am for once at a loss of words to describe this book of fear I might not do it justice. If you like The Stand by Stephen King you will IN FACT LOVE Swan Song.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Sister and Swan

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

Listening to the tone of voice in certain conversations allowed me to experience the characters emotional distress, love, and sadness.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Both.....I laughed and cried...and sometimes yelled!

96 of 97 people found this review helpful

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I Don't Think We're In Kansas Anymore

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

98 of 101 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • United States
  • 12-20-11

I would do it again

Good story, a touch of magic but not too much. It's rated R so kids should stay clear probably. It kept me listening without much of a break. That's a good book to me. Top 100

41 of 42 people found this review helpful

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Very compelling post-apocalyptic tale

Although written in 1987, this book really hasn't dated all that badly. It's a well thought out post-apocalyptic saga with a pleasing amount of paranormal added in to set it apart from the other post-nuclear novels of the time. In all fairness, it could have been about 5 hours shorter, but it is full of excellently characterized bad guys. If I had to find something to criticize, perhaps the Swan character could have been just a little less perfect, but nonetheless, I did enjoy the listen. It wasn't easy to turn it off come bedtime.

The narration is good. Tom Stechschulte does certain characters exceptionally well. I do wish, though, that he toned down his emotive reading a little. I prefer it when narrators let the emotion come through the words instead of using their tone of voice so much. But if you enjoy emotive readers, then you will really enjoy him. And for the most part, the slightly over-dramatic reading doesn't detract from the listening experience.

I certainly thought it was worth the credit!

51 of 53 people found this review helpful

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  • Renee
  • DOVE CANYON, CA, United States
  • 11-15-11

You'll be up all night listening to this classic

Swan Song has been my all-time favorite book, since I first read it in the 1980's, even when compared to other post-apocalypse dramas, like The Stand, or Lucifer's Hammer.

I still have my old dog-eared paperback copy on my book shelf after all these years!

I'm excited to purchase the audiobook and re-experience the edge-of-your seat thrills, and ultimately the hope for humanity that Swan Song delivers.

90 of 97 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeremy
  • Winfield, IL, United States
  • 02-01-12

Superb apocalyptic fantasy

Wow--how could I have never come across this book before? A big thank you to Audible for drawing this one to my attention. This is a massive, epic book about the end of the world (as it existed in 1987). Instantly reminiscent of Stephen King's The Stand, Swan Song draws readers into a post-apocalyptic landscape where only the strong survive. With a massive cast of characters to navigate, narrator Tom Stechschulte does a masterful job of presenting each one with his/her own personality and voice. Amazing job! This is a long book, and it's not always fun to listen to; the world of Swan Song is pretty dark. But in the end, the message of hope comes through, and the interplay of fast-paced action scenes with slower, more contemplative interludes provides a nice pacing to the story. Robert McCammon rides a perfect balance between realism and fantasy in this amazing book. Highly recommended!

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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don't miss out on this book!!!

I have been waiting for this book to come out in audio for years. I thought about waiting until I finished listening to the entire book before writing a review, but didn't have the willpower. Anyone who likes sci-fi will love this book. Although is is an older book it is so well worth the listen. It has everything a good book needs; it pits the forces of good and evil against one anther and is superbly written. I can comfortably and with confidence highly recommend this book. Thank you audible for bringing it to me!!!

66 of 73 people found this review helpful

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Horrible and beautiful at the same time

Imagine the horror of a sudden and devastating nuclear war. Russia has apparently bombed most of the United States, rendering most cities and much of the countryside as a nuclear wasteland. Pair that horrible situation with small groups of survivors and a mystical and beautiful crystal/jeweled ring which has unfathomable powers and you have story which portrays mankind at its worst and best at the same time. The story is long (34 hours long) and at first I did not think I would get through the entire book. It did not fully draw me in until about 12 hours in, but once it did I could not put it down and finished it in a few days. If you like apocalyptic tales you will likely enjoy this one. Excellent story and performance.

29 of 32 people found this review helpful

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Audible is Awesome

I wrote a review about missing chapters and how the unabridged version wasn't quite so unabridged. Then I wrote to Audible about it. They responded within 24 hours to tell me they had been made aware of the problem and had fixed it. After a new download, I now have the complete book.
The book itself is fantastic. I have a tattered paperback copy that I have read repeatedly over the years. Last year I bought a copy for my Kindle. Now I have the audio version.
Don't miss out on this great book.

35 of 39 people found this review helpful

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Best book ive read in years.

You won't be able to hear "Here we go round the mullberry bush" again with out getting the heebeejeebees. Very original book,great naration,keeps you on the edge of your seat. This would make a great movie.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Rob
  • 11-19-12

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?

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 09-07-15

More of an Opera than a Song!

When I got this book in a special offer I didn't expect too much from it despite the positive reviews. However, when I got round to listening to it my expectations were far exceeded. Sadly for me several of the existing reviews make many of the points that I would like to make. It is indeed very much like Stephen King's The Stand in many ways. The post-apocalypse setting, the fight between good and evil. It's also similar in the large cast of characters and the depth which the author gives to them. They stand out because they are drawn from all levels of achievement within our existing society. They carry the burdens of how current society treated them into this post-apocalyptic world and some discover the merits and strengths that were buried under its negative judgement.

It's a harsh book set in a harsh world but it carries messages of hope both on a personal and global level. You'll have to listen to it though to find out whether those slender seedlings of hope triumph over the brutal evil of a lawless world.

The narration is very impressive, particularly for a book of this length. As a result of the fine writing and the fitting rendition from Tom Stechschulte the length of the book is a positive without doubt.

Try this one, it has real quality.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephen
  • 12-25-11

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.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • @Scattered_Laura
  • 07-09-12

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!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Joanne
  • 01-09-12

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

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • monica
  • 04-11-13

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-09-12

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!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • sharon
  • 07-19-13

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!

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • W. Taylor
  • 10-13-13

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy Russell
  • 07-18-12

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 !

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Ricky
  • 08-27-15

A brilliant listen!

A slightly slow start but persistence definitely pays off. Swan Song is an excellent story and the narration was absolutely first class. For a single male narrator to pull off such a variety of differing voice tones for male and female characters was a top effort - I truly felt like I was feeling each characters different personalities the way Tom bought them to life.

This was definitely a story for mature listeners as it touches some adult topics, but I enjoyed the inclusion and the handling of those topics. Its refreshing to see a novel include real-world, gritty plot points instead of treating your book like a cartoon for kids.

I still find myself wondering 1 or 2 things from the supernatural portion of the plot - what exactly was the ring/crown? What was Sister's mirror? How did they come to be? But, for me, these questions have not detracted from the enjoyment of the story as a whole.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • darkestred
  • 08-22-17

Nowhere near as good as The Stand by SK....

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

Yes - it is a good listen however the Stand by SK is sooo much better if you're looking for apocalyptic supernatural thrillers. Some of the plot points are not explained at all and you're itching for the author to take it that bit further to conclusion. The supernatural components of the story are not explained or really explored at all - they just occur in the background. The whole book seems to lead up to *spoilers* Sister getting the crown to Swan and then when she has it... she doesn't use it! What is the point! Does the crown have healing powers? How could she use it as a weapon to defend herself? The end seems very much of a fizzle (unlike The Stand which is just epic). Also the cold war plot point is a little dated now in 2017. I love the *idea* of this novel but the execution left me wanting a bit more. Still, a good listen overall.

If you’ve listened to books by Robert McCammon before, how does this one compare?


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

He is a very talented reader - you forget one person is doing all of the different voices of the characters!

If this book were a film would you go see it?


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  • Michael
  • 10-09-16

great post apocalypse audiobook

i loved the book, but found towards the end even though i knew it was coming the supernatural side of it took over a bit to much