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Swan Song

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  27,317 ratings  ·  1,686 reviews

Thetrade paper reissueofRobertMcCammon's New York Times bestselling Swan Song.

An ancient evil roams the desolate landscape of an America ravaged by nuclear war.
He is the Man with the Scarlet Eye, a malevolent force that feeds on the dark desires of the countless followers he has gathered into his service. His only desire is to find a special child named Swan -- and destroy

Mass Market Paperback, First Edition, 956 pages
Published June 1st 1987 by Pocket Books (first published 1987)
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Dan Schwent
What if the apocalypse that befell the poor souls in The Stand was nuclear instead of viral in nature and the whole thing was written in a style more like Richard Matheson's than Stephen King's? Well, you'd probably have Swan Song.

Comparisons with the Stand are inevitable. Both are about the survivors of an apocalyptic event and both have a devil type figure walking around stirring things up. Swan Song doesn't have that final battle between good and evil thing going like the Stand did, although...more
4.5 to 5.0 stars. I am a big fan of The Stand by Stephen King and I thought it was the "standard" in apocalyptic fiction...UNTIL NOW. Swan Song is THE BEST apocalyptic science fiction book I have ever read. At over 950 pages, this book could have been a chore to get through but that was not the case at all. I flew through it and never found my attention wandering or my interest waning. A truly spectacular novel with a superb cast of really good peeople and REALLY BAD PEOPLE!! Highest possible re...more
Whispers from the Pirate's Ghost Whisper

Swan Song by Robert McCammon

Every now and then, you come across a book where it seems that the complexities of life have been disassembled from reality and reformed within the pages and text. A story that, sometimes in its simplicity, captures the moving parts and varying angles of spirituality, psychology, physiology and sociology like a prism, separates them by colour, strength and depth. Then uses the differing colours to paint a kaleidoscopic tableau that opens our minds to that which is kn...more
An epic story it made me reminisce of other epic stories with similar good versus evil characters, like those of Lord of the rings and the dark tower series.
The black Frankenstein, is what he used to be called in his wrestling days, known as Josh and the Bag lady known as Sister creep are two memorable characters that are courageous with plenty of heart. They really made the story that much more great, and obviously Swan a young girl who is a main character through the whole story. She can right...more
Taking a quick glance through reviews of this book, they seem to have two things in common. One, they all start with a reference to the book's size. And two, they all remark about the comparisons to The Stand.

And now mine is no different.

Holy SHIT, this was a long ass book... but it doesn't at all compare to The Stand, in my opinion.

Was it good? Yeah, good, but for a book this ambitious and huge, I expect more than just good. Part of that is that I think I'd have appreciated it a lot more had...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Well, I approach this review with some trepidation. A large number of readers here love this book, including a "Goodreads friend" whom I usually agree with...(sorry Stephen, Stephanie, Rose). But I just didn't care for it. I found it a "poor man's The Stand". The book is full of stereotypes, cliches and tropes. There are old hackneyed ideas "guns are BAD", if you look nonthreatening your less likely to be threatened, war is evil...on and on. Some of the story telling put me in mind of the old "w...more
Aug 17, 2013 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Magical girls with magical green thumbs, Randall Flag-I mean, the Man with the Scarlet Eye
Okay, I have to say this up front; in many ways, Swan Song is a very stupid book. It's highly derivative of Stephen King's The Stand, to which everyone compares it to, for good reason, and Robert McCammon is no Stephen King.

When I say it's derivative, I don't mean I think McCammon was deliberately imitating The Stand, though I can't imagine he was unfamiliar with King's novel, and assuming he was, it's kind of amazing how many obvious similarities there are that he didn't see fit to alter a smid...more
Here's the bottom line: Swan Song is one of my favorite books of all time. It stills impacts me every bit as much as the first time I read it.

Swan Song is very dark, and it's scary, but it's also one of the most beautiful and hopeful books I have ever read.

Weighing in at 956 pages, it's a huge story in every sense of the word. There are characters you will hate and fear as well as characters you will fall in love with and care about long after you've finished reading. There is magic, evil, goodn...more
Barks & Bites
I read this book back when it was first published in the ‘80’s. I was still in high school, had big frizzy hair, wore too much blue eyeliner and pretty much hated my life. I spent most of my free time haunting the local Osco drug for the newest horror paperbacks to escape it all. When I saw this huge tome (900+ pages) I scurried back home with it thinking I had just hit the jackpot. And I had. It turned out to be one of the best horror novels I’d ever read and I was reading a lot back then. This...more
Now this was a big monster of a book. Swan Song is huge, huge like the Xbox. My copy spans 850 pages and is hard to carry around because of its size - it'll never fit into a pocket and will take significan space when deposited in a bag (why it was released by a publishing house named "Pocket Books" then?).
It's about the end of the world. Written in the 80's, when words like Cold War were used often, it's no wonder that in the novel the relationship between Soviet and American governments has det...more
MK (Food actvist)
A massive journey you’ll end up loving or hating. Robert McCammon does not waste time padding his chapters. He sets a rapid enough pace with a story that needs to unfold rather quickly. Characters that need to be introduced and understood fairly fast. Granted, this was written in the 80’s. So no cell phone, iPODs or Internet. Yet he still maintains a vivid connection between characters, worlds’ away.

The beginning is the end and people are bracing nuclear war. Fallout shelters are built, the Pres...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Feels like The Stand, only with greater amounts of mysticism and nuclear war instead of disease.

Not quite sure why McCammon needed to jump 7 years into the future. Further degeneration of societal breakdown? Need to age the lead characters? What was he thinking? If the nuclear winter lasted 7 years, I think there'd be almost no one left--there's only so much scavenging one can do for canned food and gasoline. Shelf life, people, shelf life. That jump tested my patience. Fairly believable until...more
No spoilers, though I'm sorely tempted...

I originally rated this book 4 stars but now that I’ve slept on it, I have to rate 3 stars and try to keep my reasons short. Swan Song is a mix of apocalypse, horror, and fantasy. Lovers of any of these genres might consider giving the book a try. I recently read The Strain and my feelings about both books are similar.

My main problem with this book is the Hollywood feel and the zero room for interpretation since every little bit is explained for the reade...more
Did you ever read the Stand? When it was over did you want to punch your self in the head hard enough to forget you did? Or were you even a little disappointed?

I remember when I read it I was really disappointed with the end, but so proud of my eighth grade butt reading a 32,000 page book that I didn't tell anybody.

Robbert McHammond has (unintentionally I think) chosen a lot of the same horror staples as Legendary Hack Steven King, and every time he makes King look like nothing more than a mar...more
When I picked up this book I was filled with the expectations that this would be like Stephen King's "The Stand." Well after the first few chapters nearly all the simliarities melt away. To me this book is much more brutal and real. Of course the book does have its fantasy aspects but the overall setting of a post nuclear American seems very realistic. The characters are very well developed and likable. The book is very fast paced especially for one that is 950 pages or so. I never once thought...more
I wish you could add stars to the maximum 5 this site gives you for reading -- something like 20+ stars would be no more than this legendary breakthrough novel by R. R. McCammon deserves. First published in 1987 and never long out of print since, SwanSong is the story of World War III, and of three groups of survivors of that hellish war into whose hands has been thrust the fate of the world. Taking place over a span of seven years, the story sees Swan, a young girl who may be the salvation of t...more
6/27/2004 - 5/10

Swan Song was very similar to Stephen King's The Stand. Both are about most of the Earth's population dying, a supernatural evil trying to destroy everything, and groups of people congregating to rebuild society or destroy it. Swan Song was an easy reading page-turner, but it didn't live up to expectations. The set-up of nuclear aftermath had a lot more potential. I thought the plot wasn't great, it was kind of schmaltzy at times. The whole thing about 'true faces' was pretty stu...more
5 stars

Well, after decades in my queue,I finally did it, I read Swan Song, the massive classic post-apocalyptic tale from Robert McCammon. This is one incredible journey and adventure for us to share with a bunch of wonderfully realized fictional characters. McCammon does not hold back from laying blame for the destruction of the world on us, on our society, on the time periods Cold-War. He passes judgment on people, on cultures, and on countries as a whole, and taken in context, it added to the...more
I have read some 15 years ago The Stand by Stephen King. There are some parallels that could be drawn between that story and Swan Song. Both dealing with the collapse of civilization following an apocalyptic event (virus infection in one case, nuclear war in the second) , both set in the North American Midwest and following the struggles of scattered bands of survivors. And both books featuring supernatural beings as avatars of the forces of Good and Evil fighting for supremacy.

Stephen King migh...more
I came close to liking this. Look, the dialog is...awful. There are weird factual errors. For example, wolf packs roaming the I80 corridor near Hazleton Pennsylvania. I live here. I can tell you...not even close. But I have a bigger problem with this text.

Okay, so here we have a writer that takes Chekhov's 'Loaded Gun' postulate, tears it out with his teeth, rips it up, craps on it, then puts it in a burning paper bag, drops it on your porch, knocks on the door and runs away. What do I mean? Wit...more
When I came across this book and read the synopsis I wondered if it was a rip off of Stephen King's epic The Stand. However, I gave McCammon the benefit of the doubt and bought the book any way because I like his previous novels. Best decision ever! This book is just terrific entertainment. While the post-apocalyptic theme and the basic plot are similar to The Stand I actually like Swan Song better. It feels less bloated and better paced. Also, I normally don't like keeping track of several diff...more
Miss Kim
Oct 16, 2011 Miss Kim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Post Apocalypse Fans
Warning: there may have been wine involved (imbibed)during the writing of this review.

First off, there are a ton of 80’s references in this book that I loved. I grew up in the 80’s, and it just grabbed me. None of these were out right specific, but I felt them.

• Nukes! Fear them every day
• Russians are BAD.
• The movie Red Dawn
• Mad Max
• Kmart
• Nukes!
• Terminator
• Of course I must mention King’s The Stand

I loved this book! I put off reading it for a while because I hold The Stand so dear to my h...more
Now that was a big ass book.

Well, not exactly.

But it's a big-un.

It's pretty good though. I've often heard how this is similar to The Stand by Stephen King, which is one of my all time favorite novels. And it is similar, though different.

I mean, they're both big ass epic books about the end of all things and the people that survive to set shit right again. Good vs. Evil and all that. "It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine." -R.E.M.

But the characters are different, with their ow...more
Okay, I get that book started off with roughly 4-5 stories, which quickly got down to 3 for majority of the book with it all coming together. Also if you consider my previous statement a spoiler, then you’re a butt face. Even that though, this book was long. I say this when Atlas Shrugged is probably my favorite book, ever. I like long books but there was a lot of PREDICTABLE gobbled goop. That being said I minus 1 star, but that’s it. This is a 5 star book for me.

I loved it, subside from Mr. F...more
Dec 29, 2013 Alondra rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
5 Stars

Wow. I don't think there are enough words. McCammon definitely has become a favorite writer of mine. After reading Boy's Life, I was hooked and now with this work, I am a fan.

Here we have a tale of what happens after the world nukes the hell out of each other; and how do we, as humans, survive. Amazing story, epic in scale, and such wonderful characters. I cheered our heroines, Swan and Sister; on as they tackled this new world order, with hope. The despair and evil that tried to catch h...more
Adam Light
Okay. Well, I read this book in high school the first time. I decided to reread it, because I couldn't remember why it stuck with me all these years. I will say that there are many aspects of this book that seem like direct homages to Stephen King's The Stand, but it is original enough to avoid being categorized as a King rip-off. There are many characters to care about, and the tension never lets up. The book starts a little slowly but I think that is to be expected with such an epic novel.
I lo...more
Sam Arnold
It took me ages to read this book but I am glad that I preserved with it until the end. I changed format in the end and read it as an audio book. Through this method I greatly enjoyed the book and found it easy to get to the end. I have a theory that it depends whether you read this book first or Stephen King's The Stand as to which one you enjoy the best. I completed reading The Stand many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it which is why I would say Swan Song is good but not as good as The Stan...more

It's safe to say that I have now found my favorite post-apocalyptic novel (not counting Riddley Walker, of course). Though Swan Song is quite voluminous, the entire story seems to fit very well together; unlike many novels of a similar length, Swan Song avoids having parts of the story that seem to drag on, or feel slow. It's a well executed tale, through and through.

The comparisons between this book and Stephen King's The Stand are inevitable and common, but are largely superficial. Any atte...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book had everything a reader could wish for. I learned a bit about geography, war, hope, love, agriculture, perseverance, faith, and a whole lot more. It really made me think about things such as the end of the world, survival, war, friendship, love, and the "what if's". The only reason I did not give this book five stars is because there were parts, specifically the combat scenes, that seemed to drag out a little more than necessary to get the point across. The book flowed well and the cha...more
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Robert Rick McCammon was a full-time horror writer for many years. After taking a hiatus for his family, he returned to writing with an interest in historical fiction.

A new contemporary novel, The Five, was published in May 2011 by Subterranean Press.

The Hunter from the Woods, a collection of novellas and stories featuring Michael Gallatin, the main character from The Wolf's Hour, was published as...more
More about Robert McCammon...
Boy's Life The Wolf's Hour They Thirst Mine Speaks the Nightbird (Matthew Corbett, #1)

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“Once upon a time, man had a love affair with fire.” 39 likes
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