Book Reviews of The Terror

The Terror
The Terror
Author: Dan Simmons
ISBN-13: 9780316017442
ISBN-10: 0316017442
Publication Date: 1/8/2007
Pages: 784
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.

3.9 stars, based on 51 ratings
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

31 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Terror on + 73 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
At 800+ pages this book can certainly be a fearful prospect, but within the first few chapters I was so wrapped in the terrifying prospect facing our protagonists that I didn't even notice the size of the book. Lost and trapped for two years in the blinding cold of the arctic ice, the crews of the ships Terror and Erebus face not only eminent starvation and the madness creeping up on them in their isolation and petty day-to-day grievances, but now also the unknown monstrous thing that stalks them, a monster of unimaginable strength and cunning. With the monster stalking them from without, and a growing faction of human monsters within their own crews, the tale of the heroes of the Terror will keep you up at night and give you a new appreciation for a warm summer's day and a convenient snack.
reviewed The Terror on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
I really enjoyed this book. If you like survival books you'll like this. He does each chapter from a different persons point of view(multiple chapters for each character) You definitely become involved with the characters. I did not know it was based on a true story. Very interesting to now go and look into the true history. Simmonds did a great job weaving in the true material.
reviewed The Terror on + 91 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
* * * Historical fiction. Two English ships searching for the Northwest Passage get trapped in Arctic sub-zero ice (history). They are not alone; something is killing them off (fiction).

The 800 pages may seem long, but they are not boring. The book captures the struggles the crew may have gone through, from hunger, sickness and mutiny to gruesome death.

My only complaint is of the authors love of nonrestrictive clauses. If you can understand this sentence - the book includes a map of the possible route the ships may have taken which are probably based on thorough research done by the author - then you can understand the book. An arduous read but tremendously fascinating, especially if you are into historical fiction.
reviewed The Terror on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
This book is rather hard to define and transcends genres. It is a fictionalized account of what might have happened to the Franklin Expedition which disappeared while exploring the Arctic in 1846-1848 in search of the North West Passage.

It starts with the crews of the two ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror already stranded and ice bound. The narrative jumps around in time and perspective. We are offered events from the perspectives of Francis Crozier, Captain of the Terror, Harry Goodsir, surgeon aboard the Erebus and Sir John Franklin, commander of the expedition, among others. This can make it a bit difficult to follow the storyline but adds some richness as well because we are able to understand some of the different motivations and desires that drove these men to take on such a dangerous challenge.

To complicate matters further the crews are being stalked by a mysterious (and possibly otherworldly) beast that is killing them at random. Their food stores are determined to be tainted and there is no game for them to hunt. All of which adds additional strain and already stressed crew.

Even without the supernatural stalker, this tale would have been worth reading. I think Simmons offers an interesting and realistic perspective of how events may have played out. The twin themes of patriotism and religion also weave their way throughout the storyline. Most of these men truly believed with every fiber of their being that England was blessed by God and they had a right, if not an obligation, to venture forth in search of ways to make the Empire even greater. This confidence (even arrogance) may have been all that sustained these men during some of the harsh times they endured. Their ability to maintain order, keep their spirits up and keep on going despite the obstacles that faced them is genuinely awe inspiring.

This book is long and sometimes it can be a bit hard to slog through all the verbiage but at the end of the book I felt it was a rich and detailed story worth telling and worth reading.
reviewed The Terror on + 13 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
This was a phenomenal book. Yes, it was long. But, unlike another reviewer, I found the great detail contributed profoundly to understanding the bleakness and danger of the situation. I enjoyed the twists and turns and was a little frustrated (in a good way) that I could not figure out where the author was going until he got there. It is very rare to read a book that has such a fresh approach that the end is not somewhat predictable. This book did not tease with a long build-up and then disappoint with a neat bow at the end of the book. I was very gratified that the end was as fully developed as the entire story of getting there. I also found the entire premise to be thought provoking, in that it provided me with insight as to how other cultures might develop spiritual beliefs and mythologies. There really isn't any proof that they are wrong and we are right.
reviewed The Terror on + 373 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
This is more a non-classic Melville book in that it digresses and assaults the reader with nautical terms. Simmons goes so far into descriptions of helms and sterns that you lose sight of the actual monster. The plot could have been substantially expediated if the characters would have stopped "reflecting" every hour or so.
reviewed The Terror on + 86 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This Dark historical fiction novel is very rich in detail. Its nearly 800 pages provide an in-depth look at many of the Erebus and Terror officers, sailors and marines. The book focuses on many individual characters, and the chapters are told from varying points of view. It is a well-told, straight-forward story that is not confusing.

However, The Terror is not a fast read, and I think the author intended the story to be lengthy and slow moving. It exemplifies the long, arduous treks that the ship crews took across the ice. Sometimes it took them a full day to walk less than a mile. The length of the book is also a metaphor for the long wait aboard the Erebus and Terror ships for the coming of spring, a glimpse of the sun, and the breaking up of ice. It is a metaphor for the long, painful process of starvation and scurvy that threatens to kill the crews long before the -80 degree temperatures can.

I read in a review of this book that the ending was disappointing and unbelievable. I completely disagree. The Terror provided the best possible fictional ending for a real-life polar expedition that was never seen again.
reviewed The Terror on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I do think that Dan Simmons is an extraordinarily gifted writer, uneven, but gifted. This is a novel of British Arctic exploration. If it had been written by any other author, I would not have been interested, as I find the exploration for the Northwest Passage one of the most misguided and ignorant of all the explorations of this planet.

However, Dan Simmons has written this carefully and skillfully in the manner of a Victorian novel, including diary passages. The tone perfectly keeps you reading along, even when the subject matter strays into the fantastic and horrible. I might not entirely sympathize with the heroes and villains of this tale, but I will remember the indomitable captain, the intrepid surgeon, and all the other well drawn characters.
reviewed The Terror on + 73 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
At 800+ pages this book can certainly be a fearful prospect, but within the first few chapters I was so wrapped in the terrifying prospect facing our protagonists that I didn't even notice the size of the book. Lost and trapped for two years in the blinding cold of the arctic ice, the crews of the ships Terror and Erebus face not only eminent starvation and the madness creeping up on them in their isolation and petty day-to-day grievances, but now also the unknown monstrous thing that stalks them, a monster of unimaginable strength and cunning. With the monster stalking them from without, and a growing faction of human monsters within their own crews, the tale of the heroes of the Terror will keep you up at night and give you a new appreciation for a warm summer's day and a convenient snack.
reviewed The Terror on + 149 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Story of two explorer ships stuck in the ice of the artic while searching for the Northwest Passa - it chronicles their struggle for survival against the elements, each other and a strange white beast that lurks in the snow. It was a little slow in spots and the horror part of the plot is secondary to the description of the explorers' fight for survival.
reviewed The Terror on + 541 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Rarely do I give up on a book, but I did give up on this one at about 300 pages in. I kept hoping it would pick up, but it did not interest me. Perhaps someone who enjoys tales of swashbuckling sailors at sea (Patrick O'brian anyone?) and murderous creatures (Stephen King fans?) would enjoy it, but I did not find any of the characters interesting enough to care what happened to them.

The book was well-written, but I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief long enough to be terrified by The Terror.
reviewed The Terror on
Helpful Score: 1
I decided to read this book because Stephen King recommended it in a review, and I had read a few of Simmons' books - I certainly was not disapointed. Once I started reading this I did not want to put it down, there were several nights I slept only a few hours while I stayed up reading, glued to the pages. It took a bit of effort here and there to keep with it, but it just helped to build the terror of the story. Also, the story was taken from real events and real people, so it certainly made the unbelievable hardships of the crew even more horrible and vivid.
reviewed The Terror on + 636 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a long and quite interesting book. I think I would've enjoyed it more if it hadn't been suggested as a similar book to Frank Schatzing's _The Swarm_...
This book was detailed and seemed quite well-researched. Some of it was very horrific, but it did have a some surprisingly happy moments. The ending did involve a bit of a disappointing twist, that seemed rather unnecessary. The last two chapters were little more than explaining away the previous 600 pages of the book, which was very disengaging. However, I will watch out for his work because he has a real skill in crafting sentences... the books of his that I read will just be subject dependent, that's all.
reviewed The Terror on + 228 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book is a classic. Its and epic of almost 1000 pages that I could not put down! A historical fictional account of the 1848 English attempt to find the Northwest Passage. Simmons has such attention to detail about the ships, the sailors, the sea, and the arctic. How they managed this with the tools available at the time is a wonder in itself. Keeping control of 125 men under these conditions even more miracoulous! For three years these men struggle to complete their mission and stay alive. Characters that you cheer for and despise for they either rise to be more human in unhuman conditions or sink to despicable horrors. Fantastic!!
reviewed The Terror on + 14 more book reviews
Simmons spins a chilling fiction , based on a true tragedy, namely the doomed 1840's Franklin Expedtion to find the Northwest Passage. As the crews of the ice locked ships wait in the icy darkness, slowly starving to death, something else is out there.....what is this monster? is it real, or...... imaginary....
reviewed The Terror on + 3 more book reviews
This is my second reading and not my last. The book has made it to my all time favorites list. Historical fiction with a dollop of Stephen King. I was "in the book" I tell you.
reviewed The Terror on + 21 more book reviews
I have mixed feelings about this book. There were parts of it that I really enjoyed, and parts of it that I really disliked. I found myself skimming a lot (something I don't usually do). I think it was the wordiness; the author tended to use 50 words to describe something where 15-20 could easily have sufficed. I liked the different points of view in the storytelling, for the most part, but would have enjoyed "Dr. Goodsir's" part of the narrative much more had the author not written it in diary-style with all of the bizarre capitalizations. Additionally, the "Terror" beast, along with its origins and actions, is never fully or adequately explained (to my personal satisfaction). Overall, this is a decently good read, but rough in many spots.
reviewed The Terror on + 465 more book reviews
Simmons writes well, but this book was way, way, way too long. At 750 pages, there were many back-stories I could have done without (and did, skimming many parts), and lots of repetitive passages. Chapters jump around between characters and in time, which is a little disconcerting at first, but effective. The pages from the surgeon's "notebook" are particularly worthy of skimming once the halfway point is reached. Not quite as exhausting to read as it probably was dragging boats across pack ice, but it was a chore to finish it.
reviewed The Terror on + 278 more book reviews
900+ pages of historical fiction and wonderful albeit frightening at times, characters. Not for the squeamish as these arctic explorers try to survive each other and an unknown monster. While it felt sometimes long and drawn out, it kind of had to be as it covers several years of them being stranded in the arctic. Very well-written. It took me several days to finish but I admit I was hooked (pun intended) by it.
reviewed The Terror on + 291 more book reviews
Although The Terror is a hefty 700+ page novel, it is an extremely well-written, well-researched novel that I would heartily recommend to anyone. It is equal parts historical fiction, thriller and medical drama, with bits of romance and Eskimo lore thrown in for good measure. The Terror by Dan Simmons is about the ill-fated expedition of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, two naval discovery ships out to find the Northwest passage across the arctic sea to China. This part of the story is true and based on actual events; Mr. Simmons adeptly weaves in a fictional story about what might have happened to the sailors but he also adds in a supernatural spin, as the men on the ice find out fairly quickly that they are not alone. This book has been on my to be read list for some time but I just now got around to reading it. I figured winter would be a good time to read it, as you cant go more than a page or so without the author mentioning the misery of the ice and snow and cold. Some parts of this book dragged a bit, especially in the first half of the book as the characters seemed to be dealing with the same problems and in the same situation, but it does pick up around the halfway mark or so and becomes the book that you dont want to put down. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character, perhaps 10 in all, although it isnt confusing. I really loved this book and cant say enough good things about it. For a time, I thought that the ending was going to be a predictably sad one, but thats not the case; if I said anymore about the end it would be a spoiler, so I wont. Suffice it to say that its not a predictable ending and that the story nicely resolves all of the loose ends and is somewhat circular in structure. Read this book!
reviewed The Terror on + 105 more book reviews
Thrilling survival story of a Brittish exploration crew seeking out the Northwest Passage in the 1800s. Draws you in with great characters, plot lines, mystery, suspense, and a fascinating setting. However, there's a point where this novel turns 180 degrees and becomes a different book. Very disconnecting.

3 stars out of 5
reviewed The Terror on + 14 more book reviews
Good book. Slow starter, but once it got going, I couldn't wait to see what happened. Totally surprised me at the end.
reviewed The Terror on
I read this book and it is outstanding. I want a copy for my personal library.
reviewed The Terror on
A thrilling and terrifying adventure based on the Sir John Franklin expedition to find the Northwest Passage in he 1840s. Dubbed as a horror novel, but it's so much more. One of the best books I've ever read.
reviewed The Terror on + 2 more book reviews
When Simmons is on there is no one better. In "the Terror" he's on like crazy. A great book if you like to find a challenging read to "sink your teeth into."
reviewed The Terror on + 22 more book reviews
Amazing story! Simmons draws you right into the struggle of these men. Story is based on a true story. Once I read his story I had to read more about the true story. Couldn't put it down!
reviewed The Terror on + 5963 more book reviews
Best not read in winter if you live in the northern part of the country.
reviewed The Terror on + 39 more book reviews
Entertaining to be sure, but reading it felt a little like riding a rollercoaster backwards. Fast paced and attention grabbing in the begining, it loses a little momentum mid book, picks up again and comes to an abrupt and awkward halt at the end. I respect the author's creativity throughout, but he lost me in those last couple of chapters. Not plot-wise; that was easy to follow. What lost me was the plot itself. I spent more time thinking "Why would the author go THAT route?" than about the story. Maybe I'm a teensy bit overly analytical, but I felt the ending could have been much better with a few omissions and tweaks. Overall a good book. Would read again, just maybe skip the end the second time around.
reviewed The Terror on + 3 more book reviews
I thought this was an excellent story, part fact, a lot of fiction. Loaned it to a friend and he did not like it. Oh well, his taste is in his mouth anyway. I almost did not put in on the list, but was going to keep it, but I have so many keepers already. Time to downsize.
reviewed The Terror on + 32 more book reviews
Another great novel from Dan Simmons, but can be a tad slow at times. Not as great as the Hyperion cycle, but much better than the more recent "Drood" in my opinion.
reviewed The Terror on + 16 more book reviews
Although the premise is quite interesting I did not find the execution to my liking at all.

1) This book is incredibly long. It took forever to read considering the author goes into detail ad nauseum about every little thing. Sermons said over the men's graves. Repetitive descriptions of the smells and sounds of the ships. Every little detail was included right down to the color of their socks. Did we really need to know the color of their socks?

2) The bouncing around in the storyline. First its 1847. Then its 1845. Then you're reading a surgeon's journal. Then your back in 1847. I felt like I had to keep an outline to keep everything straight. Now, granted, I do prefer a book that is written from one point of view so the jumping around to different characters would have annoyed me no matter what. But the jumping around to different characters AND different times was quite exasperating.

Not a keeper for me.