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Swan Song Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1987

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Editorial Reviews Review

Swan Song is rich with such characters as an ex-wrestler named Black Frankenstein, a New York City bag lady who feels power coursing from a weird glass ring, a boy who claws his way out of a destroyed survivalist compound. They gather their followers and travel toward each other, all bent on saving a blonde girl named Swan from the Man of Many Faces. Swan Song is often compared to Stephen King's The Stand, and for the most part, readers who enjoy one of the two novels, will enjoy the other. Like The Stand, it's an end-of-the-world novel, with epic sweep, apocalyptic drama, and a cast of vividly realized characters. But the tone is somewhat different: The good is sweeter, the evil is more sadistic, and the setting is harsher, because it's the world after a nuclear holocaust. Swan Song won a 1988 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel. It's a monster of a horror book, brimming over with stories and violence and terrific imagery--God and the Devil, the whole works.


"A wild ride into terror....A grand and disturbing adventure." (Dean R. Koontz)

"A broad, compelling story... a long, satisfying look at hell and salvation." (Publishers Weekly)

"Distinctive and engrossing... McCammon combines gritty realism with magic... you'll wish there were more [of SWAN SONG]" (Rave Reviews)

"A chilling vision that keeps you turning pages to the shocking end." (John Saul)

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (June 1, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671741039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671741037
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.7 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,384 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert McCammon is the New York Times bestselling author of nineteen novels, including the award-winning BOY'S LIFE and SPEAKS THE NIGHTBIRD. There are more than four million copies of his books in print. His latest novel, THE RIVER OF SOULS, is the fifth book in the Matthew Corbett series. It is available now from Subterranean Press in both trade hardcover and Kindle formats.

His next novel, THE BORDER, is SF/horror. It will be published in May 2015 by Subterranean Press. Later in 2015: a limited edition of BLUE WORLD and trade paperback editions of BLUE WORLD, THEY THIRST, and THE HUNTER FROM THE WOODS, as well as I TRAVEL BY NIGHT 2: LAST TRAIN FROM PERDITION.

Visit his websites: and

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

325 of 334 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on August 16, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The apocalyptic genre is an endearing phenomenon in fiction. Even after the collapse of the Cold War, authors are still pumping out new novels about the end of civilization. That's probably due to the fact that nuclear war isn't the only way to kill off the human race; Stephen King got a lot of mileage out of a killer virus in "The Stand." This book, by the excellent storyteller Robert McCammon, resembles King's classic novel in several respects, but McCammon sticks with the classic nuclear annihilation scenario in "Swan Song," a book written as the Cold War was winding down in the late 1980's.
"Swan Song" starts out on a bleak note, and quickly goes down hill from there. The world is in turmoil as terrorists use nuclear bombs with impunity, the U.S. and the USSR constantly engage in skirmishes around the world, and the economy does a nosedive straight into the ground. Inevitably, the bombs are launched and the world erupts in a thousand mushroom clouds. This is all within the first hundred pages or so. What follows is the real story, and McCammon pulls out all the stops introducing us to the characters that drive the story.
Just like McCammon's novel "Stinger," there are many major characters in "Swan Song." McCammon introduces us to Sister Creep, a New York bag lady fostering a horrific personal tragedy; Josh, a 7' black wrestler (known as Black Frankenstein) with a heart of gold; Colonel "Jimbo" Macklin, a former war hero with an ominous shadow dogging his every move; and Roland Croninger, a wise beyond his years child who grows into Macklin's sadistic acolyte.
This is post-apocalypse, so there is the unavoidable good vs. evil theme running through the book. The good is Swan, a young girl who has the power to renew earth's ecosystem.
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111 of 120 people found the following review helpful By John D. Costanzo on November 6, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Written in the mid-eighties, the book describes in chilling detail the nightmare of the times, i.e., nuclear holocaust. Some of the background events may be a bit outdated, but in light of the recent terrorist attacks we know there is still the threat of mass destruction. So my point is that the book is still pretty darn scary! The first couple of hundred pages that describe the nuclear attack and immediate aftermath are terrifying. The horrors that are described throughout the book are gruesome. America has become a scorched and barren landscape. The survivors miraculously scratch out an existence and somehow keep alive the hope of a future in which the sun will shine again and the land will bear fruit again. Ultimately, the story is about the struggle between good and evil, and how the stress of tragic events brings out the best in some and the worst in others.
For a book of over 900 pages, it is a surprisingly fast read, and there are no lulls. McCammon is a superb storyteller who has created memorable characters and a detailed setting. Swan Song is a great book that I think ranks along side The Stand, which for years has stood as my favorite horror novel.
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123 of 134 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 12, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
My aunt lent me this book and I figured it sounded a lot like the Stand, which at the time was my favorite novel. I read Swan Song every night for a week and a half. It was way better then the stand, and wasn't anything like it aside from the 'end of the world' scenario and an evil rising to threaten the survivors, so I'm not even going to compare the two books. The characters in Swan Song are so richly developped that you begin to feel for them. It's almost like you want to protect Swan just as much as the characters do. The last hundred pages or so are simply outstanding. It was so suspenseful that I could hardly sit still, and when it was over, I wished there was more to it then its 956 pages. The ending is what got me the most. There couldn't have been a more fitting end to this amazing story. I enjoyed everything about this book. It never gets boring, it doesn't have seven hundred characters in it all doing different things (like another novel i already said i wouldn't compare it to), but instead three main groups. The symbolism is just amazing, and the underlying themes and story is incredible. I can't say enough about it, so read it for yourself.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By IamOneill on February 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I write this review in the knowledge that probably no one will read it - there are already over 700 reviews and almost all of them are five star. This review is part of that legion and that's fine by me.

So given I am writing this review for me - I will take some licence. Firstly I have read loads of PA ficton ( favorite so far is The Old Man and the Wasteland), but I hesitated with my purchase of Swan Song. I kept coming across references and praise of Swan Song. At $10 is was a lot more than many Kindle reads I buy. Then I thought, the last few books I read were only a couple of bucks - but they were c#%^ and pretty short too. So I thought, Swan Song is over 800 pages - so even if it is just okay it is still better value. So I bought it and have not experienced buyers remorse.

Swan Song draws you in. It is a different type of PA novel as it as a mystical undertone. Not in the kind of 'roll your eyes, give me a break' way - but a spiritual side to the story that adds to its depth and humanity. There are several concurrent plots which weave together as the story unfolds. Each sub plot is interesting. What surprised me was that I became so engrossed with one story line, I literally forgot about some other characters and was surprised when they reappeared. It was ' oh of course, I had completly forgotten about you guys'. That is a really good thing showing just how easy it is to become lost in the story.

If I was being ultra critical I would say that there was a certain 'convenience' of events towards the end. Also - and yes this is just a personal bugbear, the author has obviously had limited exposure to horses. Horses do not lap water like a dog - they suck it. They also really don't behave in the way Mule did.
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