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Swan Song

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  44,414 Ratings  ·  2,533 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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Kymberly Blake Swan Song is probably my favorite book ever...I've read this book every 3 years or so since 1987...love it still. The Stand is nowhere near as good,…moreSwan Song is probably my favorite book ever...I've read this book every 3 years or so since 1987...love it still. The Stand is nowhere near as good, and I can't believe Swan Song hasn't been made into a movie...but do not think they could ever do it justice...Its like Mad Maxx Thunderdome meets The Stand plus so so much more... 5 stars(less)
Cheryl Oh my goodness, this is not YA material. I had nightmares the entire time I was reading it. It is a very brutal, albeit I think realistic, look at…moreOh my goodness, this is not YA material. I had nightmares the entire time I was reading it. It is a very brutal, albeit I think realistic, look at what would happen to those few members of society who survive a nuclear holocaust. Definitely not YA. (less)

Community Reviews

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Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, horror-etc
$1.99 on Kindle today 6-10-17



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
...more
Dan Schwent
Aug 22, 2008 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
...more
Stephen
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
Becky
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
Fabian
Dec 11, 2014 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
...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
...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Jun 21, 2010 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
Lou
May 09, 2010 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
...more
Bradley
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Maybe if I'd have read this one before I had read The Stand or Lucifer's Hammer, I might have given this a full five stars, but epic length and nuclear holocaust doesn't automatically make a perfect book.

However. If you like your dystopias full of a long buildup and full cast and a slow decline into being in the evil camp versus learning you're in the good camp, then I totally recommend this book to you. It's the journey more than anything else that makes this a good read.

And then there's also t
...more
Algernon
Jan 17, 2012 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.

Stephen
...more
Bark
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, favorites
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
Maciek
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
Zoeytron
Mar 23, 2013 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
...more
David
Jul 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Magical girls with magical green thumbs, Randall Flag-I mean, the Man with the Scarlet Eye
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Jennifer ☼
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
Karl
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark_harvest-own
This is copy 252 of 650 signed numbered copies.
Jenna
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,
...more
Latasha
Aug 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this was fantastic! I listened to this for a buddy read. I never would've picked this book out myself. I'm not really into the apocalyptic scene. but I'm sure glad I joined them! it's so intense through most of the book.

listened to this again in 2017 and loved it just as much this time as I did the first time.
Claudia
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
McCammon ist ein großartiger Erzähler. Er versteht es, die Spannung von der ersten bis zur letzten Seite zu halten.
Sternabzug gibt's für die mystischen Elemente, die es nicht gebraucht hätte, z.B. den Teufel in Menschengestalt, der hinter Swan und 'Sister' her ist.
Diese Geschichte ist wirklich düster und mit epischer Wucht erzählt. Mich schaudert's immer noch, wenn ich z.B. an die 'Dreckwarzen' denke, die unterirdisch leben und dem Kannibalismus frönen.
-----------
Menschen in Ausnahmesituationen
...more
Kandice
Mar 15, 2010 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
...more
Emma
Oct 02, 2015 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
...more
Carol.
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
Randy
Sep 09, 2009 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
...more
Evans Light
Nov 20, 2011 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
...more
Ctgt
Aug 31, 2015 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
Kathryn
Jan 08, 2009 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
...more
Unapologetic_Bookaholic
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
Wayne Barrett
Dec 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Considering the rave reviews on this one I guess I'll just have to assume my 'scrooge' stage is kicking in early. I'll fall back on my "I guess it's just me" line.

I can't help but mention The Stand because of the apocalyptic/supernatural comparison and because I noticed it referenced by many others. Just my opinion, but this book did not come any where close to the quality of The Stand.

If I had read this when it first published, I would have been in my 20's and probably would have like it a lo
...more
Richard
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
...more
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  • The Fifth Dominion (Imajica Part #1/2)
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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.

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, was published in October 2016.

H
...more
More about Robert McCammon...

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“Once upon a time, man had a love affair with fire.” 62 likes
“Even the most worthless thing in the world can be beautiful, it just takes the right touch” 42 likes
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