Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Hannibal Rising

Go To
Hannibal Rising is a novel and the final installment to the Hannibal Lecter series, published in 2006. It depicted cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter's beginnings as a serial killer.

The novel was adapted into a film of the same name in 2007 with author Thomas Harris himself doing the screenplay, directed by Peter Webber and starring Gaspard Ulliel as the title character.

Provides examples of:

  • Animal Lover: Hannibal's consistently kind treatment to animals is a Retcon of his early characterization in which Will Graham identified him as abusing animals in his youth. Here, he does no such thing, and in fact is unfailingly affectionate to them, whether they're his childhood horse or a Japanese cricket.
  • Antagonist Title: Averted as Vladis Grutas is the villain.
  • Asshole Victim: Hannibal's first kill, Paul Momund, was a foul-mouthed Vichy collaborator who insulted Hannibal's Japanese aunt with racial epithets, and was sliced up with her sword by Hannibal soon thereafter. In the book Count Lecter gets to Momund first, beating him with a cane only to fall victim to a heart attack and die midway through.
  • Atonement Detective: In contrast to the unrepentant collaborator above, Inspector Popil regards it as My Greatest Failure that he initially kept the peace for the Vichy government, before seeing the camp trains and defecting to the Resistance. To rub salt in the wound, he had to prove himself to the Resistance by killing a Gestapo soldier, and in retaliation the Germans killed eight innocent peasants. These events drive Popil to be a Nazi Hunter, though unfortunately he's not nearly as good at it as Hannibal.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Schoolboy Hannibal was fine with the little kids; it was the bullies that got hurt. See Knight Templar Big Brother for what happens if you hurt Mischa.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The film: Lecter successfully gets his revenge on both Grutas and the rest of his militia for their part in Mischa's murder and saves Lady Murasaki while doing so too, but ends up giving in to the cannibalistic urge when Grutas reveals that Lecter himself fed on Mischa too and as a result of both that and refusing to ever give up the desire to feed on others, alienates Lady Murasaki forever and is forced to fake his own death in order to escape. As history reveals, Lecter will then for the next few decades continue this deviance of both killing and feeding on people who usually deserve it—until he's eventually caught and captured by his own friend and mentee.
  • Breaking Speech: This trope was used on the Trope Namer Hannibal himself by Vladis Grutas. He claimed that Hannibal is not looking for revenge, but making sure the men that participated in Mischa's murder wouldn't tell the world that Hannibal ate her too. Hannibal did not take that one well.
  • Calling Card: Hannibal leaves the dog tags of the German deserters who'd eaten his little sister with their heads.
  • Co-Dragons: Grutas has two — Kolnas is his "public" Dragon, being able to conduct business through his successful identity as a restaurant owner that the other war criminals cannot. Milko is his "private" Dragon, and fulfills The Brute side of Dragon duties.
  • Cool Uncle: Aside from the habit of using his count title years before it actually belonged to him, Hannibal's uncle Robert Lecter is a pretty decent guy. He takes Hannibal in out of kindness, tries to help him work through his trauma, and genuinely loves his wife Lady Murasaki, so much so that when he hears about the racial insults Paul Momund hurled her way his response is to grab a cane and go beat the tar out of the guy, Andrew Jackson style.
  • Consulting a Convicted Killer: Well, not yet convicted but this book establishes that cooperating with police to hunt down Complete Monsters has been a running theme throughout Hannibal's life. Here, Hannibal consults Inspector Popil, who pegs him early as a murderer but takes an inordinate time in bringing him in because (A) Hannibal's hunting down war criminals who Popil despises and deeply wants to see apprehended, and (B) Popil has a crush on Hannibal's guardian Lady Murasaki. Even when Popil finally has Lecter arrested, he still tries to convince him to assist in the hunt for Grutas by legal means before releasing him to continue pursuing his vendetta.
  • Death by Racism: Hannibal's first victim is an Asian-hating racist who insulted his Japanese aunt, whom he then disembowels and beheads with her family's katana the day after.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Being confronted with the knowledge that he unwittingly ate his sister's remains destroys any lingering trace of positive emotion in Hannibal, driving him to kill Grutas in a final screaming rage before he freezes inside forever. Or rather for most of his remaining years, for it's not until many decades later when he meets Clarice Starling that "his heart's long winter" finally gives way to spring.
  • Diligent Draft Animal: Cesar the draft horse. Lecter uses him to remove heavy debris from the Lecter Family's bombed out hunting lodge in an effort to find anything that could give him the identities of the men who murdered his sister.
  • Disability Superpower: Presented as a somewhat dubious explanation for Hannibal's superhuman mental acuity, at least if the hypothesis from one of his doctors is to be believed. This doctor believes that a head injury Hannibal suffered during his traumatizing Start of Darkness caused the left and right hemispheres of his brain to operate independently, and that instead of handicapping Lecter this allows him to entertain multiple trains of thought simultaneously.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Inspector Popil falls hard for Lady Murasaki and part of why he goes as easy on Lecter as he does is a desire not to see her deported.
  • Doomed by Canon: No matter how much Lady Murasaki wants to save Hannibal and tries to convince him to return to Japan with her, we know that she will fail and he will become "Hannibal the Cannibal".
  • Dragon Their Feet: Bronys Grentz manages to outlive Grutas and the others who killed Mischa, primarily because he fled to Canada after the war, becoming a Retired Monster while the other four survivors remained in criminal occupations.
  • Dumbstruck: The young Hannibal becomes mute after losing Mischa. He is so traumatized by the event that he only starts speaking again after he meets his aunt 8 years later.
  • Enemy Mine: Lecter joins the French Communist party in order to gain access into USSR. Later, when Lecter gets arrested, the communists protest his arrest. Lecter has no sympathy for their ideas, of course, but finds them useful and even writes an article for them about the benefits of collectivization in Soviet Lithuania.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Played with: Grutas is able to restrain himself from begging for his life like his cohorts, but he can't stop himself from taunting Lecter in the hopes of enraging him enough to get him to drop his guard. He does almost manage to crawl to his gun, but makes the fatal mistake of lingering too long on Mischa, causing Hannibal to snap and carve him up like a butcher.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Nazi looters who eat Lecter's sister: Grutas is choleric, Dortlich is sanguine, Kolnas is phlegmatic, Grentz is melancholic, and Milko is Leukine.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Lithuanian Hannibal exhibits an intense fascination with Japanese culture in this book, despite having no interest in it in any of the three books before Rising.
  • Freudian Excuse: Hannibal Lecter witnessed his little sister being eaten by a group of Lithuanian Nazi collaborators when he was a child. The group's leader later reveals that Lecter had suppressed the worst part: He was forced to survive by eating his sister's flesh as well.
  • Harmful to Minors: Put it this way; if you witnessed your parents getting murdered by Nazis, and then watched the same Nazis butcher your baby sister, make her flesh into a stew and then feed her to you, you're not going to be well adjusted in the slightest.
  • Hate Sink: Grutas, as well as most of his band. Kolnas and Dortlich have a family and father they love respectively, but aside from these fleeting connections to humanity are as vile as Grutas and the others.
  • Hollywood Atheist: In another gratuitous retcon, Hannibal is made into one of these, giving his sister Mischa a blasphemous (if morbidly funny) funeral upon discovering her remains. Presumably he acquired his later faith (albeit faith that God Is Evil) after the events of this story.
  • Hope Spot: After Hannibal has his first encounter with Grutas, he is arrested by Inspector Popil, and after some back-and-forth the two appear to come to a mutual agreement to work together to apprehend the remaining members of Grutas's band. Then Hannibal gets home and finds Lady Murasaki has been kidnapped, which forces him to go after Grutas by himself.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: A long-delayed horrific version. Possibly it genuinely hadn't occurred to him for twenty years, or possibly he'd just refused to admit it to himself, but he ate his dead little sister as well, disguised in a stew.
  • I Have No Son!: The father of Dortlich, one of the Nazi war criminals, is thoroughly disgusted by what his son has become, and his last words are a request to have his records marked as having no living family.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: And that's why Hannibal uses one to performs his first kill on the Asshole Victim who insulted his Japanese aunt. Odd, because in the previous works, he'd been interested mostly in the Italian Renaissance. But Japan is popular these days. Could be some sort of poetic justice: she is a descendent of samurai, who had a rigid code of honor. He's preserving her honor, especially with decapitation. As a corporal punishment, decapitation was seen as VERY dishonorable. Had Hannibal made the man commit suicide, his aunt's honor couldn't have been properly restored.
  • Last-Second Chance: Lady Murasaki tries one last time to get Hannibal to turn back when he has Grutas at his mercy, begging him to give the man to Popil and come with her. As with previous efforts, however, his promise to Mischa outweighs his love for Lady Murasaki.
  • Mood Whiplash: A common criticism; the book has everything from fart jokes to shlocky over-violent revenge quests to Nazis murdering Jews on the Eastern front.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Pretty much all the Nazis try selling each other out when Hannibal's got them dead to rights. He doesn't take their feigned deals, but uses the information he gets from them to follow their trail.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: The fate of Hannibal's dead sister. As several bad guys with varying degrees of sympathy point out, she had hypothermia and they'd all have starved otherwise. Including Hannibal.
  • No Sympathy: Grutas is utterly blase about the atrocities he inflicted on the Lecter family, telling Hannibal that if he's looking for sympathy that he can find it in the dictionary between shit and syphilis.
  • Pet the Dog: Hannibal's Big Brother Instinct towards Mischa.
  • Pet the Dog / Karma Houdini: In the novel, when Pot Watcher (one of the Lithuanian deserters) runs back into the Lector’s lodge to retrieve the group members’ dog tags, he takes a second to throw young Hannibal the key to the shackles keeping him chained up, giving him a chance to free himself and escape. Pot Watcher’s death by collapsing staircase a split second later is a subtle sort of Karma Houdini escapism. He was just as responsible for killing and cannibalizing Mischa as his companions, but committing one kind act for Hannibal led to his not being subjected to the same type of vicious, bloody revenge-fueled executions that they were. So even though Karma didn’t exactly miss its target, his death was much more merciful than it could have been.
  • Pocket Protector: Lecter gets a bullet between shoulder blades, but is saved by a tanto which he earlier secreted on his back.
  • Pretty Boy: The young Lecter as played by Gaspard Ulliel.
  • Proper Lady: Lady Murasaki is the very portrait of a dignified Japanese noblewoman.
  • Renaissance Man: Or rather Renaissance Boy, but Lecter is as ridiculously gifted in multiple disciplines here as he is in other works.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The young Lecter goes on one against all of the men who had killed his beloved baby sister.
  • Save the Day, Turn Away: Climaxes with one.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Slavery is Big Bad Vladis Grutas's stock in trade, and on the eensy teensy chance that doesn't make him evil enough, he also mixes in Would Hit a Girl by having most of his "merchandise" be women.
  • Smug Snake: None of the Nazis are as clever or dangerous as they think they are.
  • Tattooed Crook: Grutas-the-gangster apparently has a tattoo of the SS symbol — long after he failed to make it as a Nazi.
  • Timeshifted Actor: Hannibal Lecter is played by Gaspard Ulliel as young man and Aaran Thomas as a boy.
  • Toilet Humor: An almost literal case in which Hannibal, upon being caught trespassing in Kolnas's restaurant, claims he got lost on his way to the loo and inexplicably lists off several synonyms for "toilet" in what is presumably Harris's attempt at humour. Hannibal's first attempts at communication following his trauma on the Eastern Front involves making a farting sound with his mouth, causing a person nearby to claim it wasn't them.
  • Token Good Teammate: Pot-Watcher is the only one of the six to help Hannibal, and it costs him his life. Possibly the case with Bronys, who became a Retired Monster after the war and doesn't seem to actively engage in criminal activity unlike the other four.
  • Underestimating Badassery: The Nazi fugitives assume that because Hannibal is just a young man that outwitting or killing him will be easy. Big mistake.
  • Unreliable Narrator: There are points in which it is implied that Hannibal is not being truthful with readers or himself, not out of deception but out of self-delusion. When he confronts Kolnas he initially offers to give the man a "pass" for the sake of his children; Kolnas ends up wasting the pass trying to kill Lecter, and after he is dead Lecter thinks to himself that he always intended to kill Kolnas, which comes across more as his own self-justification (and way of sidestepping guilt for leaving Kolnas's children fatherless) than genuine conviction. Later, at the book/film's end, he is shown by himself and seemingly untroubled by it, with the narration remarking that he has "entered his heart's long winter" and is untroubled at being abandoned by Lady Murasaki. Beautiful as that quote is, though, it sidesteps the telling detail that Hannibal avoids Japan and Japanese culture throughout the entire rest of his life, suggesting the incident haunts him more than he can admit to himself.
  • Weapon Stomp: In the novel, Hannibal gets into a fight with Grutas, who is scrambling toward a gun; he steps on the gun and slashes Grutas.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Grutas has three Mooks that guard his household the first time Hannibal tries to kill him: Mueller, Gassmann, and Deiter. Come the climax on Grutas's houseboat, Hannibal riddles both Gassman and Mueller with bullets, yet Deiter is nowhere to be seen.
  • Viler New Villain: Like Mason Verger in Hannibal, Vladis Grutas and his band of cannibalistic, war profiteering, slave trafficking Nazi collaborators are written to be as evil as humanly possible so readers can cheer Hannibal on as he violently murders them.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Averted, as Lady Murasaki not only can but does at the book's end, after it has become clear to her that the Hannibal she loved is lost forever.
  • You Remind Me of X: Variant 3; Lady Murasaki tells Hannibal that he looks just like his uncle. Since the young man is physically reminiscent of her late husband, she appears to be projecting some of the feelings she had for Robert on to her nephew.