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Swan Song

4.28  ·  Rating Details ·  38,983 Ratings  ·  2,239 Reviews
In a wasteland born of rage and fear, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, earth's last survivors have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil, that will decide the fate of humanity: Sister, who discovers a strange and transformative glass artifact in the destroyed Manhattan streets; Joshua Hutchins, the pro wrestler who takes refuge from t ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 956 pages
Published June 1st 1987 by Pocket Books (first published 1987)
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Mike It appears that many people like Swan Song more than The Stand. I didn't think The Stand was that great. I read the uncut version and there was a lot…moreIt appears that many people like Swan Song more than The Stand. I didn't think The Stand was that great. I read the uncut version and there was a lot of nothing happening. It was mostly rather boring. I'm buying Swan Song tomorrow from Barnes and Noble and can't wait to start reading it. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dan Schwent
Mar 12, 2015 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
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
Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin

Once again, thank you to goodreads friends for finding me another book to love!

There are so many people I fell in love with in the book. Also, Mule and Killer! Let's just begin. . .

The book is about us stupid humans trying to bomb each other into extinction, but I digress.

I fell in love with Sister Creep, Swan and Josh. I also loved Artie and Paul and Mule and Killer and . . . . there are so many.

We start out with each person's story, where they are in the world and what is going on when the
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
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
The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon)

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
Dec 23, 2016 Lou rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 01, 2015 Algernon rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
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 novels are dealing with the collapse of civilization following an apocalyptic event (virus infection in one case, nuclear war in the second) , both are set in the North American Midwest and follow the struggles of scattered bands of survivors. And both books feature supernatural beings as avatars of the forces of Good and Evil fighting for supremacy.

Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 13, 2015 Mike (the Paladin) rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror
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
Bark's Book Nonsense
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
Joe Valdez
The next stop in my end-of-the-world reading marathon was Robert McCammon's post-apocalyptic epic Swan Song. Published in 1987, nine years after Stephen King's The Stand, the story follows two bands of survivors -- one representing good, the other evil -- as they make their way across what used to be America while a supernatural being no less than Old Scratch himself seeks to undermine the good souls and shift the battle onto the side of evil. Yes, kids, eeriely similar to The Stand. More on tha ...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
Jan 08, 2017 Fabian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Percentage composition of previous or later works of postapocalypse (of a sort) in the DNA of R. McCammon's enormous horror epic "Swan Song":

41% The Stand novel
10% The Road novel (which is actually, in itself, like 7% Mad Max--a source which must NOT go completely ignored)
10% Blood Meridian novel (so about 60% of S.S. can be found in King and McCarthy alone)
10% Lord of the Rings (6% Two Towers battle + 4% magic ring emblem)
5% Lonesome Dove novel
5% Dawn of the Dead films (mall battleground, motor
Apr 05, 2015 Zoeytron rated it really liked it
'All that was is lost.' The trees are burning in Central Park. Grand Central Station and the Empire State Building - gone. Mountains of ruined debris tower over everything. Wait . . . the electric lights on the marquee at the Empire State Theatre are still merrily twinkling, the movie house itself seemingly untouched. Currently showing is the film 'Face of Death', while a lone cinema patron sits in the front row giggling manically.

Swan is a little girl with an old soul and a knack with growing
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
Dec 28, 2014 David rated it it was amazing
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
One of my trusty goodreads friend's recently recommended Robert McCammon to me and I am so grateful she did (thanks Jennifer!). I will be honest though that when I read "Boy's Life" that I zoned out at times because it seemed to become too wordy at times but I didn't find that to be an issue at all with Swan Song. Wow! Robert McCammon is truly a very talented storyteller and I was immediately wrapped up in this dystopian story of survival after a nuclear holocaust.

Most people, including myself,
Jul 01, 2016 Kandice rated it liked it
I enjoyed this, and I feel almost bad giving it three stars instead of two, but there were a few things that bugged me enough that I just had to. There has been a nuclear holocaust (seems to be the theme of my reading lately) and we see the aftermath through the eyes of what eventually become two main groups. Simply put, the good guys and the bad guys.

Almost every review I've seen compares this to The Stand by Stephen King and there's a good reason for that. In The Stand it's a disease that brin
Jun 20, 2016 Emma rated it liked it
Shelves: post-apocalypse
Talk about 'condemned by faint praise'! This book was okay. It was too long and too predictable.
I enjoyed the first 2/3 of this book but when I realised the author really was going to go for the saccharine ending, the wind was taken out of my sails.. Until then my only real niggling doubt had been the plausibility of some of the story line. Would there really still be so much canned food and fizzy drink lying around after 7 years? Would they really still have gas left for their vehicles? Would t
Evans Light
Feb 20, 2015 Evans Light rated it really liked it
Okay, I made it! Finished SWAN SONG tonight.

If reading anything negative about this book would make your head explode, then stop reading now. You've been warned. Just my opinion, and I'm entitled to it.

Overall, I would say this book was only about a 3 and a half star read for me. I can definitely see why so many people love it, and I imagine it would have been a hell of a lot better for me personally had I read this back in the late eighties as a teenager when the cold war was at its peak and nu
Sep 19, 2015 Ctgt rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
This is definitely old school PA and by old school I mean BZ(before zombie). Folks of a certain age will remember the old days of the cold war, ICBMs, nuclear arsenal buildups and the idiotic idea of crawling under your desk at school to protect yourself in the event of an attack. A familiar trope with multiple groups and POVs who converge for a final confrontation where the whole world seems to teeter on the edge of chaos or hope. Not much subtlety in the characters, they are either good or evi ...more
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
Aug 23, 2009 Kathryn rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, apocalyptic
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
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
Apr 21, 2010 Randy rated it it was ok
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
Richard Vialet
In this epic novel, after the world is devastated by a nuclear apocalypse, a group of survivors travel to find a town in Missouri that might offer a new beginning. One of them, a young girl named Swan, might hold the key to mankind's salvation!

This is an exciting and addictive book! It's got great characters, fast-moving action that still never feels rushed, and an incredibly-detailed plot. And McCammon's prose makes the long page-count zip by.

The sad thing is that it will always be compared to
Brady Bonney
May 14, 2007 Brady Bonney rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 17, 2008 Yael rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 21, 2011 Gertie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: enjoyers of: SF, apocalyptic fiction
Shelves: apocalypse, favorites
This is one of very few books I have actually bothered to reread; it is a LONG book at around 900 pages, but it whizzes by because of a constant desire to see what develops next.

I really enjoy apocalyptic fiction (what's up with that, anyway?), and this one is one of the most entertaining ones I've read. It is not particularly realistic, as it has some supernatural elements, but the characters are quite interesting, as well as their storylines, and the characters you don't love, you love to hate
Jan 05, 2011 Brian rated it it was ok
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
Jan 19, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sk-group, fof-reads
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
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  • The Conqueror Worms
  • Summer of the Apocalypse
  • Carrion Comfort
  • Blood Crazy
  • The Store
  • Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse
  • Wolf and Iron
  • A Gift Upon the Shore
  • Eternity Road
  • Selection Event
  • The Fifth Dominion (Imajica Part #1/2)
  • The Rift
  • Emergence
  • The World Ends in Hickory Hollow
  • A Wrinkle in the Skin
  • Dark Harvest
  • One
  • The Throat
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.

The sixth book in his Matthew Corbett historical fiction series, Freedom of the Mask, was published in May 2016.

The second book in the Trevor Lawson I Travel by Night series, Last Train from Perdition, will be published in October 20
More about Robert McCammon...

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“Once upon a time, man had a love affair with fire.” 57 likes
“Even the most worthless thing in the world can be beautiful, it just takes the right touch” 42 likes
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