The Past...Caught behind the lines of Hitler's Final Solution, Saul Laski is one of the multitudes destined to die in the notorious Chelmno extermination camp. Until he rises to meet his fate and finds himself face-to-face with an evil far older, and far greater, than the Nazis themselves...
The Present...Compelled by the encounter to survive at all costs, so begins a journey that for Saul will span decades and cross continents, plunging into the darkest corners of 20th-century history to reveal a secret society of beings who throughout the ages may exist behind the world's most horrible and violent events. Killing from a distance, and by darkly manipulative proxy, they are people with the psychic ability to "use" humans: read their minds, subjugate them to their wills, experience through their senses, feed off their emotions, force them to acts of unspeakable aggression. Each year, three of the most powerful of this hidden order meet to discuss their triumphs of induced bloodshed and deliberate destruction. But at this reunion, something will go terribly wrong. Saul's quest is about to reach its elusive object, drawing hunter and hunted alike into a struggle that will plumb the depths of mankind's attraction to violence, and determine the future of the world itself.
©2009 Dan Simmons (P)2011 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Epic in scale and scope but intimately disturbing, Carrion Comfort spans the ages to rewrite history and tug at the very fabric of reality. A nightmarish chronicle of predator and prey that will shatter your worldview forever. A true classic." (Guillermo Del Toro)
"[Carrion Comfort is] one of the few major reinventions of the vampire concept, on a par with Jack Finney's Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, and Stephen King's Salem's Lot." (David Morrell)
A man and two women meet up congratulating themselves on their game prowess, one boasts at actually having killed John Lennon and JFK, compelling strangers to do their dirty work. An Auschwitz survivor is struggling to find the Nazi commander who compelled him in a sick sacrificial game of human chess during WW2.
Various individuals, having lost loved ones or been effected by the crazy trio, band together to stop them once and for all. A long, but brilliant listen.
I really like Dan Simmons, even though I think he's got a serious problem with editing his books. Still, I think he's a good enough writer to get away with it, and he does it again in Carrion Comfort.
This is a sad, painful portrayal of power and corruption, and what it does to common people. Now blend in agroup of absolutely psychotic, sick minds and you have the makings of an excellent thriller.
If you enjoy long tales and not-so-happy endings, this book is for you.
If you've read Simmons before and didn't enjoy it, this is definitely not for you.
I, myself, loved it!
I'm deeply relieved to be finished with 'Carrion Comfort'. Not because I found it hard to handle or oppressively creepy, or because it got under my skin, all things which I'm sure Dan Simmons was aiming for, rather because it's frustratingly poor.
Whilst the concept is intriguing and the author releases much of its wicked potential, the words themselves limp out like wounded animals. Barely a passage went by without a sigh, shake of the head or roll of the eyes as another description or piece of characterisation clunked and died before me. It also displays a distastefully leering attitude to women and sex at various points.
Recommended, however, if you're a fan of lines which go 'This was the most [adjective] [noun] that [character name] had ever [verb]'. There are hundreds of them. Everything is 'the most' this or 'impossibly' that. Still, i've learned as i've progressed. Observe: This is the most frustrating, long-winded book I have ever read. It's unnecessarily long and, at times, impossibly annoying.
I wonder if the people who gave this a high rating simply are in denial; are they just refusing to not like it, since that would mean they've wasted 39 hours?
Up until the 35 hour mark I still thought that this book could turn out to be worth the time. A good, solid ending could make me walk away with a positive feeling about it. I was wrong. There are a couple of really intriguing ideas, but they're drowned by mediocre rest. You could easily have cut out half of this book. I wonder if there was no editor at all working on it. It's not that the book is totally aweful. A very much shortened down version of it could maybe be pretty enjoyable.
There is no way I'm going to listen to anything by Simmons unless it's under 10 hours now. I don't know if I'm going to listen to anything by him at all...
Usually, i will listen to an audiobook of this length within 2 weeks. 6 weeks later i still haven't finished. I can't really say why but i think thats because i keep falling asleep. Make of that what you will but i won't be buying anything by Dan Simmons again.
"Simmons at his best"
As I said in my review of The Passage by Justin Cronin, had I known the book was about vampires, I would have taken a pass. And, as I said in that review, it would have been my loss. This really is not a book about vampires, per se, as we have come to think about them, but a variation on the theme and it was excellent. I selected this book because another reviewer had written that he thought Carrion Comfort was the best that Dan Simmons had penned. I would certainly rate it close up there with his Magnum Opus Hyperion and Endymion. It was that good and that is saying something.
The book is one of Simmons early works apparently derives its title and many of its themes from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I am also not a fan of WWII books about Nazis. This also was not what the book was about per se though it does give us the background on the main villains of the story and villains they are like perhaps we have never come upon before. That theme also is somewhat of the thread that permeates and ties things neatly through the book as it continues to America in 1981.
Saul Laski is one of a few of the heros in the tale of whom some survive and others do not. Saul is both predator and prey. Though old in 1981, he somehow manages to rise to the occasion and present a challenge to some of the most nightmarish scenes I have ever read. And, no, I am not particularly a fan of horror books either but I am a fan of Dan Simmons and will probably read anything he comes out with.
Some of the accolades and awards the book has received include Bram Stoker Award winner 1989; British Fantasy Award winner, World Fantasy Award nominee, 1990. Some have commented on the length of the book. I would not have shortened it one page. I often find unnecessary passages in books but this is not one of them. The book was thoroughly entertaining after about the first couple of chapters which, on hindsight, were just as integral as the others.
The narrators of this epic were extraordinary. This is a book made for listening to by gifted storytellers. Mel Foster acts Saul, Willi and the other men and some of the women. While I find men acting women’s roles can sometimes be impossible to pull of, Mel foster is impeccable in his narration. Laural Merlington plays the role of Melanie, the most arch of villains. She is vicious, scarier than $#it and made even more so by the incredible acting voice of Ms. Merlington. I could not rate either narrator more highly.
Bottom line if you can’t handle scary, skip this one. If you love great writing and like it complex and epic in scale, don’t miss it.
"So worth the commitment"
Yes, this book is 39 hours, but I loved it from beginning to end. The two narrators become truly invisible, allowing you to just concentrate on the story. The story has enough twists and turns and surprises to keep you guessing, but not so many that you get lost in the 39 hours. You'll love some characters and hate others and change your mind on others. I usually can come up with something I don't like about a book, but for this one, it is near perfection.
This is one of the all time classic horror novels. Well read, thought it would be long but I wanted more. Fascinating concept.
A masterful thriller, packed with suspense and intrique which kept my unflagging interest through all 5 Parts. It had me thinking and questioning the limits or boundaries of what human beings are capable of doing to one another, within a given set of circumstances. Are there any? A frightening thought.
Narration was excellent and unobtrusive, by both readers, the voices well-matched with the characters. The only criticism i would have, is Mr Foster's inability to read the German phrases. Simple rudimentary elements such as the phonetic structure of the alphabet are misread. The German glyph for double 's' is read as an 's' not a 'b'. "Dass...dass" should not be rendered as "dub, dub". The least bit of research would have elminated such ridiculous pronunciation.
I tend to evaluate a book by 2 sets of criteria: My own subjective enjoyment, and then also by literary standards.
From a literary standpoint, this is a good book, but not a great book. The characters are uni-dimensional. The good guys are angels, the baddies are rotten to their grotesque evil cores. No nuances; black and white like the chess board of the "game".
All round, i thoroughly enjoyed it and can recommend it as a captivating read.
"Long, sure...but GREAT story!"
I see other reviewers a bit put off by the length of this story. I had the thought "wow, a compelling story that the author took his time with!" What a bonus! I didn't find a single part boring. I liked how he took his time with a complicated tale. I liked the story development in between bouts of action. In typing this, I would compare it to the Steigg Larsen series...I like some story and character development with my "action sequences." I have not read Simmons' other books (for which he is apparently more famous) but this one piqued my interest in perusing more! The narrators were both excellent, too!
"Not his greatest"
I generally enjoy Dan Simmons, and this story was very good--however, as I live in Charleston, SC, one of the settings of the book, I was distracted. It would have been glaring to any Charleston resident--Simmons did not visit the area nor talk to anyone familiar with the area before writing about it. Had he done so, the richness of the story would have so very much more.
"Great Imagery, Great Storytelling"
The author's use of imagery and also the narrators really got into telling the story.
They bring the characters to life. Hearing them read this novel sets you in the midst of the story.
Melanie Fuller. She's elegant and classy yet evil and corrupt to the core.
Great novel to "take you away" for a while.
The book itself is not as strong as some of Simmons' other work I've read or listened-to. The story is a bit loose and rambling, but not in the grand tapestry way of, say, "Hyperion." Just loose and rambling.
The real source of my engagement with the audio book came from the performance(s). Mel Foster carries the bulk of the weight here, and if his vivid characterizations of the large cast are at times somewhat broadly melodramatic, the excesses are wholly in keeping with the book's unapologetic indulgences in stock characters and stereotypes. Listen to Foster's work in any of the book's crowded scenes of action or conference table exposition, though, and it's clear that he has a firm mastery of the material he has to work with.
"Windy but worth it"
This book was way too long for the story it told but still worth the listen. The tale was unique and well thought out but it should have been cut down by a third. They must pay by the pound.
A fantastically delicious novel of centering on some truly despicable and vile creatures that the main protagonist refers to as "mind-vampires", people that can invade a person's mind and control their actions.
What makes this book an absolute must-listen are the performances by Mel Foster and Laural Merlington. These two talented narrators are like chameleons in how well they can change to another voice and inhabit that character, especially Merlington. Her reading of Melanie Fuller is one of the best I've listened to.
While the story became a bit contrived towards the climax and seemed to fall into plot convenience, it more than makes up for that in an action-packed finale. This will not disappoint!
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