- Author: Dan Simmons
- Publisher: Bantam Books
- Publishing year: 2007
- Number of Pages: 940
- ISBN: 978-0553818208
- My rating: 3/5
The men on board the HMS Terror — part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage — are entering a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, they struggle to survive with poisonous rations, a dwindling coal supply, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is even more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror clawing to get in.
I conquered the Behemoth that is this 942 pages counting beast of a book…
I read this book as a host for a read along on Instagram. Thank you all for participating and joining me in this journey!
After considering to throw it out of the window several times, thinking I would never finish or would just DNF it… after thinking I would freeze to death by its mere tediousness and slowburning… after reading this much misery and supernatural beeswax… I managed to finish it (and it took me waaaaaaaay too long!)
But… after that little intro I would love to point out a few things (positive and negative… well the negative I kinda already did)
Before I start this review, I do want to warn you there may be (light) spoilers for this book.
So, I had this novel for ages, ever since it was released mid-2000’s, I bought it. This because I had read a few Dan Simmons novels before that. And yes, I am a fan of the man’s writing. And this book is actually a really good book! The story, based upon real people and real events, was scary, dark and cold (I mean, we are on the North Pole) and had me on edge a few times! The beast (that we learn late in the novel is called Tuunbaq, an Inuit legend come to life) is a mutant form of a polar bear, huge and on enormous legs and ferocious AF! But the thing about this book, hence the 3 stars instead of 4 or 5, is that it’s just too thick, too big and has too much unnecessary information and storyline… If I weren’t the host of a read along for this book, I would probably have DNF’d it and thrown it away… but I didn’t and I did finish (yaay me!) but I’m still convinced that it could have dismissed at least 200 pages (or even more) of unnecessary info…
But as I said, I liked the story of Pole explorers getting stuck for years in the ice… At times I got serious The Thing vibes (you know that movie directed by John Carpenter, with Kurt Russell in the lead role) And knowing that both ships HMS The Terror and HMS Erebus were real as was a lot of its crew actually existed (see pictures below) makes for a very creepy story.. what actually happened to the ships and its crew… Simmons tried to give an answer to that question.
Would I recommend the book? Definitely, but know that you will need time to finish it and that you’ll get bored at times (which is actually what happens to the characters in the novel, they get bored and all they can do is survive in cold temperatures with a beast on the prowl)
For those who aren’t as patient… there’s a two season TV-Show based upon this book (in Belgium and The Netherlands, it’s available on Prime Video NL), I haven’t seen it yet but will be watching soon!
So, my real rating is 4(,5)/5 stars but its length and tediousness at times lowers it to 3(,5)/5 star rating now. (A little more spoilery info below pictures)
So I want to elaborate (this is more in-depth info on characters so very spoiler-y)
The book knows a lot of character deaths, in real life no one survived this trip!
The book knows little to none charachters that I could relate to or even feel bad about when they eventually died… apart maybe from two: John Irving, Blanky and Peglar. Especially Irving’s death was brutal (won’t elaborate further on that, you’ll have to read it) On the other hand there were a few deaths in there that were well deserved (albeit somewhat too late) like Hickey’s!
The ending of the novel, the final chapters, are all about Inuit (Esquimeaux) lore and folklore and an explanation as where the beast comes from, Tuunbaq, so that’s why they are there, in my opinion, but these as well could have been shorter or even removed (why not keep some mystery?) The only thing it does to a reader is boring them out again… I didn’t think they were really necessary in the while picture. 🤷♂️
I am still a huge Dan Simmons fan and plan on reading more of his books soon. But I know he still has a few books that I am not very sure of anymore, after reading this (Black Hills, The Abominable and Drood) but we’ll see when we get there 😝
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