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The Terror (2007)

by Dan Simmons

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,6541722,423 (3.98)332
Their captain's insane vision of a Northwest Passage has kept the crewmen of HMS Terror trapped in Arctic ice for two years without a thaw. But the real threat to their survival isn't the ever-shifting landscape of white, the provisions that have turned to poison, or the ship slowly buckling in the grip of the frozen ocean. The real threat is whatever is out in the frigid darkness, stalking their ship, snatching and brutally killing their fellow seamen. Captain Crozier, who has taken over the expedition after the death of its original leader, Sir John Franklin, draws equally on his strengths as a mariner and on the mystical beliefs of the Eskimo woman he's rescued as he sets a course on foot out of the Arctic and away from the insatiable beast. But every day the dwindling crew becomes more deranged and mutinous, until even Crozier begins to fear there may be no escape from an ever-more-inconceivable nightmare.… (more)
  1. 40
    On the Proper Use of Stars by Dominique Fortier (jseger9000)
    jseger9000: Both are fictionalized retellings of the Franklin Expedition. The Terror contains supernatural elements whereas On the Proper Use of Stars aims to be more of a nonfiction novel.
  2. 40
    Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition by Owen Beattie (VivienneR)
  3. 40
    Dark Matter by Michelle Paver (Jannes)
    Jannes: More Arctic horror. Simmons might is a bit more viceral, but the heart of the horror - the cold, darkness and isolation of the arctic north - is the same in both novels.
  4. 30
    The Arctic Grail: The Quest for the Northwest Passage and The North Pole, 1818-1909 by Pierre Berton (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Compelling non-fiction work detailing historical facts around the quest for the Northwest Passage, including the Franklin expedition. Listed among Dan Simmons' sources at the back of his novel.
  5. 20
    The Martian by Andy Weir (TomWaitsTables)
  6. 20
    Cold Skin by Albert Sánchez Piñol (caimanjosh)
    caimanjosh: The Terror is rather less literary-aspiring and far longer, but the same elements of horror in the desolate Arctic/Antarctic, combined with some meditation on the nature of man, is present.
  7. 10
    Tales of Unease by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (saltmanz)
    saltmanz: Doyle's short story "The Captain of the Polestar" also features an artic expedition with elements of the supernatural.
  8. 10
    The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For death and the cold and the nameless, stalking monster.
  9. 00
    Last Call by Tim Powers (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For an alternate interpretation of historic events.
  10. 12
    The Queen of Bedlam by Robert McCammon (Scottneumann)
  11. 12
    Mister Slaughter by Robert R. McCammon (Scottneumann)
  12. 13
    Speaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammon (Scottneumann)
  13. 02
    Drop City by T.C. Boyle (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For characters failing to adapt to their environment.

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» See also 332 mentions

English (164)  French (3)  German (3)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (172)
Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)
A powerful re-telling of the Franklin Expedition and the beautiful movement of fact flowing into myth. Oh, by the way, there is a monster involved too. I would not be giving anything away if I told you, it ain't a polar bear! A wonderful novel to read anytime of the year with the lights on. ( )
  Steve_Walker | Sep 13, 2020 |
The Terror was a ship - a state-of-the-art ice-breaker - and it had a sister-ship, Erebus. If you know mountains you may note that two volcanoes in Antarctica share these names. They were, in fact, named after the ships. These ships later saw service on an expedition to find the North-West Passage - and never returned.


See the complete review here:

  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |

Simmons captures both the hubris and bravery of Arctic explorers. The suffering is immense and always surprising. So many ways to die! ( )
  MaximusStripus | Jul 7, 2020 |
Seriously. I shrugged my way through 996 pages (why oh why was this book so freaking long?) and at the end said well that was...something. Simmons jumps from person to person in this almost 1,000 page book. We also get shifting timelines (oh joy...wait no joy, I usually always hate it when authors do this) and then creation stories thrown in here and there as well.

I wish that I had liked this book more than I did. I love historical fiction for the most part, and I like to see an author's spin on an actual event. Simmons goes and does his own spin on what happened to to Captain Sir John Franklin's lost expedition, see Franklin's lost expedition-wikipedia. I was fascinated to read the bare bones about this expedition and was excited to see how Simmons was going to spin things about how the HMS Terror and HMS Erebus were lost.

I would say that the ultimate main character is Captain Francis Crozier. We also get third person point of views from other characters such as Captain John Franklin, Dr. Harry D.S. Goodsir, Third Lieutenant John Irving, Mr. Tom Blanky (Ice Master), Hickey (caulker's mate) Chief Petty Officer Harry Peglar, Mr. John Bridgens, First Mate Charles Des Voeux, and Thomas Jopson.

Believe me that is a lot of character points of views to wade through even though this was a really long book. And honestly without the chapter headings for some of these people I would have been totally lost about who was "speaking" at various times while reading. I had a lot of notes while reading this one since many of them were reminding myself of certain dates and making sure that I knew who certain people were since sometimes they were referred to in other characters chapters.

I wish that if we kept up with anyone, we would have kept up with just Crozier, Irving, and Goodsir. They were the most interesting characters to me while reading and the ones I kept rooting for while wading through this book. I really don't understand why Franklin's POV was even included in this one. Or Hickey's for that matter.

Frankly the one character I really disliked was Hickey. I hated that Simmons chose to make this character gay and also it read like he was possibly a pedophile (I can't really tell, there was a throwaway line about him pressuring younger boys on the expeditions to do what he liked) and evil. I mean you could have this character just generally be a bad apple who then turns evil based on what the expedition is going through. I can't imagine slowly starving to death and freezing on top of that. That would be enough for a lot of men to decide to turn against one another. I just think throwing his sexuality on top of everything was gratuitous.

We also get the character of Lady Silence (called by the crew) who is an Inuit (Esquimax) young woman who is also staying on the Erebus with her crew. It takes a long winding road for the reader to understand how Lady Silence ended up on the ship. My question was why the heck did she even stay based on what we find out later on in the book. Or at least not do something when we find out about what is going on. Heck I had that same question for the character of Irving. It took me completely out of the story after it is revealed what he has seen for it all to be handwaved away by love.

Overall, I think taking a historical incident and trying to give your own spin on it is very tricky. I honestly don't think that Simmons pulls it off that well. Or maybe I am just a jerk. One of the things I read about that occurred was that there were many Inuit who saw these crewman. I am baffled that no one would seek out the Inuits help. There are a couple of guesses that because of cultural norms/prejudice that the crew of the Terror and Erebus would not have looked for help, and I wished that the book had touched upon that a little bit better. If I see nomadic people about who look well fed and warm, I am darn sure I would have stopped and asked how were they doing it and or begged for food.

Introducing the "horror" aspect to this book at first works out really well. I found myself fascinated by how the crew was dealing with the fact that they were slowly being stalked to death. Then it all kind of went pear shaped a bit when Simmons starts to overexplain things and ties it back to some Inuit legends. I really wish that he had left that part alone. I don't need to know why something evil exists, if I am reading the book, it's enough for me that it exists and is doing really horrible things.

The writing was fairly crisp in a lot of places. But, I will say that without the chapter headings with dates I would have been totally lost about who was "speaking". It didn't help that for the first 1/3 of the book the book jumps between Captain Crozier, Captain Franklin, and Dr. Goodsir. That really got on my nerves after a while since we get some major reveals when I realized we were jumping back and forth between "present' and past and then referring to events that occurred in the past that we as readers were still not at yet. Why he chose to not just tell this story in a linear format is beyond me. It added nothing doing it this way, and also took away a lot of major reveals that I would have been shocked by. Instead, I already knew for the most part what was coming, and instead waited to get there.

Also the flow was pretty terrible from beginning to end. If you write a 1,000 page book, I think that flow is one of those things you have to keep your eye on. This book didn't make me interested enough to read it straight through or even try to.

The setting of the Arctic was really good though. I do like how Simmons describes the cold, the silence, the sky, etc. I felt the crews hunger when described as well. I would have been over this whole thing a good week into it though, I don't like cold weather much.

The ending didn't tie up some of the remaining loose threads which was a bit disappointing. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Now, there are mixed reviews of Dan Simmon’s book, The Terror, but you’ll find nothing wishy-washy about my opinion. As far as I’m concerned, this book is incredible. I’m not talking about the TV version of this story that has been created recently – it’s good – but it’s like comparing apples and oranges.

What Dan Simmons has done with The Terror is more than just creating a mythical creature to interact with characters on a ship that actually existed. He writes this story in a way that makes the reader fully aware of how terrifying and oppressive everything is to the sailors of the Erebus and the Terror. I’ve seen some reviews in which people have said that the long narratives in this book are boring and monotonous, but I think that’s brilliant. It’s routine and procedure that keeps these sailors alive on the ice for as long as they make it.

There is a wonderful cast of characters in this novel and the marvelous, John Lee is the perfect narrator. His skill with accents is remarkable and I completely forgot while I was listening that I was hearing one voice. I wasn’t hearing one voice, I was hearing the voice of all the characters. John Lee is perhaps, the best narrator I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. I would be happy to listen to anything that he read aloud.

This story is a fictional story stemming from the lost ships, the Erebus and the Terror. It’s more than just the ice and devastatingly cold temperatures that attempts to kill the men in this story. They are being stalked by a horrifying creature. Its strength and size are beyond anything natural and it haunts them, stalks them and follows them. Simmons is a master of writing tension and suspense… and the “attacks” of the monster in this book are terrifying.

If you love audiobooks… I can pretty much guarantee you’ll love this one. It’s worth it for John Lee’s talent alone. ( )
  KinzieThings | Jun 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 164 (next | show all)
An immobilized ship can be a potent metaphor for certain states of existential unease, as it is in Conrad’s novella “The Shadow-Line” (114 pages in the Everyman’s Library edition) or Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (625 lines). And the polar regions, frigid as death itself, have always provided an exceptionally hospitable environment for horror: Mary Shelley (“Frankenstein”), Edgar Allan Poe (“The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket”), H. P. Lovecraft (“At the Mountains of Madness”) and John W. Campbell (“Who Goes There?”) have all dreamed dire happenings at one pole or the other, at much more modest length. (“The Terror” is dedicated, with “many thanks for the indelible Arctic memories,” to 12 members of the cast and crew of the classic 1951 movie based on Campbell’s story: “The Thing From Another World.”) But of the many possible approaches to making artistic sense of the Franklin fiasco, just about the least promising, I’d say, would be to turn it into an epic-length ripping yarn.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe New York Times, Terrence Rafferty
Skilfully, horribly, Simmons details the months of darkness – the temperatures of -50F and lower; the shrieking groans of the ice; the wind; the hunger – from the multiple perspectives of the men on board the ship, and with such detail that I defy readers not to grab another jumper. He adds in another, more deliberate evil: a stalking, polar bear-like monster which tracks over the icy wastelands around the ships, picking the men off one by one. "To go out on the frozen sea in the dark now with that … thing … waiting in the jumble of pressure ridges and tall sastrugi was certain death," he writes. "Messages were passed between the ships now only during those dwindling minutes of half-light around noon. In a few days, there would be no real day at all, only arctic night. Roundtheclock night. One hundred days of night." What a horrifying thought.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Guardian, Alison Flood

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dan Simmonsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brèque, Jean-DanielTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herrera, AnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This elusive quality it is, which causes the thought of whiteness, when divorced from more kindly associations, and coupled with any object terrible in itself, to heighten that terror to the furthest bounds. Witness the white bear of the poles, and the white shark of the tropics; what but their smooth, flaky whiteness makes them the transcendent horrors they are? That ghastly whiteness it is which imparts such an abhorrent mildness, even more loathesome than terrific, to the dumb gloating of their aspect. So that not the fierce-fanged tiger in his heraldic coat can so stagger courage as the white-shrouded bear or shark.

-Herman Melville "Moby Dick" (1851)
This book is dedicated, with love and many thanks for the indelible Arctic memories, to Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer, Dewey Martin, William Self, George Fenneman, Dmitri Tiomkin, Charles Lederer, Christian Nyby, Howard Hawkes, and James Arness.
First words
Lat. 70 degrees -05' N., Long. 98 degrees -23' W.
October, 1847
Chapter 1. Crozier: Captain Crozier comes up on deck to find his ship under attack by celestial ghosts.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Their captain's insane vision of a Northwest Passage has kept the crewmen of HMS Terror trapped in Arctic ice for two years without a thaw. But the real threat to their survival isn't the ever-shifting landscape of white, the provisions that have turned to poison, or the ship slowly buckling in the grip of the frozen ocean. The real threat is whatever is out in the frigid darkness, stalking their ship, snatching and brutally killing their fellow seamen. Captain Crozier, who has taken over the expedition after the death of its original leader, Sir John Franklin, draws equally on his strengths as a mariner and on the mystical beliefs of the Eskimo woman he's rescued as he sets a course on foot out of the Arctic and away from the insatiable beast. But every day the dwindling crew becomes more deranged and mutinous, until even Crozier begins to fear there may be no escape from an ever-more-inconceivable nightmare.

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Book description
The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of triumph. As part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage, they are as scientifically supported an enterprise as has ever set forth. As they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, though, they are stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror constantly clawing to get in. When the expedition's leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. With them travels in Inuit woman who cannot speak and who may be the key to survival - or the harbinger of their deaths. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the terror of the ice stalks them southward, Crozier as his men begin to fear that there is no escape.
Haiku summary
It might have been wise
to check in with the locals
before heading north.
When stocking your food/ Make sure the provisioners/ Aren't using lead. (goldenmoon)

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