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Swan Song

4.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  35,639 Ratings  ·  2,053 Reviews
McCammon’s epic bestselling novel about a girl psychic struggling to survive in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust
Something flashes in nine-year-old Swan’s brain, telling her that trouble is coming. Maybe it’s her mother, fed up with her current boyfriend and ready to abandon their dismal trailer park and seek a new home. But something far worse is on the horizon. Deat
Kindle Edition, 864 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Open Road Media (first published 1987)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dan Schwent
Mar 12, 2015 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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)
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
'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
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
Dec 28, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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
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,
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
Evans Light
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 21, 2010 Randy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Brady Bonney
May 14, 2007 Brady Bonney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 05, 2011 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 16, 2009 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 17, 2008 Yael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Apr 27, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2012
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
Andrew Lennon
Jan 21, 2015 Andrew Lennon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I actually read this book a year ago, but even now my mind keeps drifting back to eat. I've noticed that I am constantly comparing books I'm reading now to this book.
So this made me think, for this book to still have such an impression on me even a year after I've read it, I obviously enjoyed it a lot more than I originally thought.
Changing my 4 star review to a 5 star and leaving my original review below.
I think when I look back that this could possibly be one of my favorite books of all time.

Oct 06, 2015 Joey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
Mule was my favorite character. Why did the Devil remind me of Gob from Arrested Development? Almost a five star. A very Goodread.
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The Read-a-Thon-ers: Chapters 80 through end 3 5 Mar 17, 2016 01:30PM  
The Read-a-Thon-ers: Chapters 14 through 33 5 3 Feb 28, 2016 12:56PM  
Swan Song vs The Stand 6 38 Feb 14, 2016 08:50PM  
Apocalypse Whenever: Swan Song only $1.99 today (the 18th)! GRAB IT! 8 13 Jan 18, 2016 03:05PM  
The Read-a-Thon-ers: Chapters 1 through 13 6 6 Jan 07, 2016 10:32AM  
The Read-a-Thon-ers: Chapters 48 through 64 2 6 Dec 13, 2015 05:31AM  
The Read-a-Thon-ers: Chapters 34 through 47 2 4 Dec 10, 2015 05:26AM  
  • Carrion Comfort
  • Summer of the Apocalypse
  • A Gift Upon the Shore
  • Emergence
  • Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse
  • Dead in the Water
  • Wolf and Iron
  • Dead Sea
  • Eternity Road
  • Ghost Road Blues (Pine Deep, #1)
  • The Stand
  • The Stake
  • The Wolfen
  • A Wrinkle in the Skin
  • Yesterday's Gone: Season One
  • The Keep (Adversary Cycle, #1)
  • The Store
  • Meat
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 fifth book in the Matthew Corbett historical fiction series is The River of Souls. It was published by Subterranean Press in trade, limited, and
More about Robert McCammon...

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“Once upon a time, man had a love affair with fire.” 46 likes
“Even the most worthless thing in the world can be beautiful, it just takes the right touch” 41 likes
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