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.
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.
* * * 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.
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.
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.