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The Terror
By Dan Simmons
Read by Simon Vance

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The Terror

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The Terror
By Dan Simmons
Read by Simon Vance
Hachette Audio, (2007)
An Abridged Recording on 9 CDs
ISBN 10: 1-60024-076-3
ISBN 13: 978-1-60024-076-8
Genre: Suspense - Historical Fiction

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - April 23, 2007

The Terror, by Dan Simmons, is a historical thriller based on fact. The Terror is a superbly written tale that tells the story of the HMS Terror and the men who accompanied Sir John Franklin on his 1845 expedition to find the Northwest Passage. Read by the practiced and award-winning narrator Simon Vance, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat!

The story follows the Franklin Expedition as it searches for the Northwest Passage only to have their steam-engine ships (the HMS Terror was accompanied by the HMS Erebus) frozen in the arctic ice for more than two years. Cold, running out of food, and desperate for rescue, the 126 men of the HMS Terror must fight against nature, and themselves, to survive their hellish captivity. When Lord Franklin dies, Captain Francis Crozier makes the difficult decision to lead his surviving men over the ice toward possible safety. None were destined to survive!

The Terror is a fictionalized account of the trials and tribulations of the men of the HMS Terror and their ultimate fate. This is a story full of suspense, heart-pounding action, and yes, some palpable terror. At its heart, however, this is a story about the men of the expedition. Simmons, who wrote the bestseller Olympops is best when it comes to creating detailed and well-rounded characters. As you listen to this book, you come to know and understand the men of the expedition. You witness acts of true courage, and acts of blatant cowardice. Most important you come to care about the men, and your hands and feet will go cold as you hear about the horrors that they had to endure.

For those, who are sticklers for historical facts, be forewarned that Simmons does takes some liberties with this story, adding some supernatural elements and altering events somewhat, thereby making this a compelling work of literature, while removing it as far as possible from the realm of a true history without totally destroying the underlaying historical basis for the story. That said, The Terror is one of the best books I've listen to in some time. The story is gripping, the characters are marvelously wrought, and even though you know the outcome of the 'real-life' story from the beginning, you can't help but hope that Simmons takes pity on these frightened men and allows at least a few of them to reach safety!


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