Reviews: The Terror

Awful Chore

I have a certain amount of interest in Franklin's Lost Expedition. These were 129 very brave and hearty individuals. The author clearly wants to get as many of the crew's names in as possible, and yet he does a disservice to many of them. I get that he wanted to tell a fictional story, one more fascinating than these men just died on their own. Murder, plotting, and a monster are much more interesting than that! After all, how could experienced sailors blunder in such a grave manner.

But blunder they did and really of the crew, they weren't an especially experienced lot. Of the 129 men, only 6: Franklin, Crozier, Gore, Goodsir, and the two ice masters, Blanky and Reid had arctic experience. None of the other crew were experienced in dealing with the ice.

Getting back to the book, it's around about 700 pages and frequently a bore to read. Lots of really awful sex scenes (imagine being a descendant of Cornelius Hickey or Magnus Manson. They get the worst of the Historical Villain Upgrade). I must say, even through all that, what put me off the book the most was the sci-fi monster element. It's not my cup of tea and at the time I'd bought the book I wasn't really aware that it was part of the story. The monster goes around eliminating some Red Shirts and Mauve Shirts in a sort of random manner (which makes sense, I suppose) and then just like that, we're down to only Crozier. Crozier is a convenient hero for both fictional and more serious historical writers. After all, he had previous arctic experience, and he was lowborn and Irish, yet managed to advance in the rigid and terribly class conscious Royal Navy. Quite an achievement that. Many people like to believe that it was Crozier who was the last man standing and I suppose his case is as good as any. The author though sort of stereotypes him as a drunken Irishman though. Something I find most unlikely. The Lady Silence character is also a convenient escape hole to allow Crozier, who almost everyone is sympathetic to, to survive.

I confess I only finished the book because I invested the money to purchase it. I would willingly sell my copy, but at the same time, I would have a hard time putting someone through that in good conscience. Avoid this book at all costs.

What a slog

I picked up this book because I enjoyed the author's Hyperion Cantos and wanted to give another work of his a shot. I really wish I hadn't. While this is a well-written and well-researched book, it's not nearly as enjoyable as the Cantos. It's an unpleasant slog though seven hundred pages of human suffering and misery, with an Eldritch Abomination thrown in for good measure. Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy set in at about the halfway mark, and it went downhill from there.

Anyone Can Die, and they frequently do in the most unpleasant ways possible freezing to death, scurvy, poisoning, brutal murder by either fellow sailors or the titular Terror, etc. And of course, it feels like most of the more likable characters meet gruesome ends early on, leaving the vilest and most unpleasant characters to grace the final chapters. And there's a LOT more unpleasantness to be found in the book as well blood and gore, graphic autopsy and injury scenes, vivid descriptions of horrible illnesses, and some rather squicky sex scenes. And count on every Hope Spot ending in just more tragedy and pain for all characters involved.

At one point one character, upon meeting the titular monster, just asks it "What took you so long?" I ended up echoing his sentiment, and found myself finishing the book only because once I was 400 pages in, I felt obligated to finish. And in the end, I found the Eight Deadly Words changing from "I don't care what happens to these people" to "Will the giant bear just eat everyone already?"