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The Terror - Ed's journal
The Terror
I've just finished reading The Terror by Dan Simmons.
I'd say it was a good book, but not quite what I was looking for.
To start with, it's very well written. It's ... referenced to history, and it's very clear that Simmons has done his home work - the 'feel' of the arctic expedition is very clear, sharp and precise. His background on the Esquimaux and Inuits are also... well, feel like they're real. (Although it took me a couple of misparses to connect Esquimaux with the "Eskimos" I'm used to)

Anyway. The story tells the tale of the Terror and Erebus, and their arctic expedition to find the North West passage through the ice, under the command of Francis Crozier, and John Franklin. References at the back strongly suggest (although I haven't actually checked) that this was real expedition - the novel thus explores and semi-fictionalises 'what happened'.

As with all Simmons stuff, it is very well written - as much art as story - and it feels like a firsthand account, that you'd be able to piece together from a historian's point of view - there's several points of view adopted, and a couple of them 'feel like' and read like someone's journal, and others adopt difference stances.

Despite all that though, I have to day I didn't really get along with it. The characterisation and atmosphere are evocative, but the plot feels largely unsatisfying. The story itself seems like there's ... well, I don't want to spoiler, but the last third of the book or so shifts significantly in context and focus, and builds heavily on an element earlier in the story that was given little weight. I think either would have worked as standalone novels, but being stuck together leaves the whole thing feeling somewhat disjointed.

I both would and wouldn't recommend it - it's really great for the atmosphere and feel of an arctic expedition, and also the ... 'almost historical' presentation of the expedition. That wasn't quite what I was looking for.
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(Deleted comment)
sobrique From: sobrique Date: January 29th, 2009 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having checked Wikipedia since, this does seem to be based on a real one.
jorune From: jorune Date: January 29th, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you're interested in this topic you could try HP Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness which is available here as a free download for your ebook. I also have an audio version on CD which you could listen to. When you think of your total trip time that you spend in the car each week it adds up to a fair amount of riding time each week.
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