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X-Men - The Last Stand Mass Market Paperback – May 16, 2006

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About the Author

Chris Claremont is one of the bestselling comic writers in the world. He wrote The Uncanny X-Men for seventeen years as well as the novelization of the movie X-Men 2. He has been the co-creator of several top-selling series for Marvel Comics, including Excalibur, Wolverine, New Mutants, and, in the United Kingdom, Captain Britain. He wrote the Star Trek twenty-fifth-anniversary graphic novel Debt of Honor and a Next Generation sequel, Cry, Vengeance, for DC Comics, as well as Alien/Predator: The Deadliest of Species for Dark Horse. His debut novel was Firstflight, the story of a young female astronaut in the twenty-first century, to which he wrote two sequels, Grounded and Sundowner. He collaborated with George Lucas on three novels in The Chronicles of the Shadow War, and has delved into fantasy with the publication of Dragon Moon, a dark fantasy novel co-authored with his wife, Beth Fleisher. The couple lives in Brooklyn with their two children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

The moment her best friend died, Jean Grey first dreamed of fire, and dancing among the stars.

Neighbors since they were born, inseparable once they could crawl, she and Annie Malcolm shared toys and sandboxes, secrets and dreams, their parents, their entire lives. They had ten years together.

They never saw the car that brought that to an end.

Blind curve, guy’s in a hurry, Annie feeling competitive, totally focused on the Frisbee Jean had thrown. Reacting, not thinking, no consideration of anything but the prize, as a wayward breeze scooped the plastic disk up just beyond her reach. Tantalizing, infuriating, beyond wicked, to come so close and then fall short. For Annie, that was unacceptable.

She made a spectacular catch. Jean cheered.

Her smile was so special, a flash of pure delight that burned itself indelibly on Jean’s memory.

Then she was gone, wiped away so suddenly, so completely, it was almost as though she’d never been, thrown aside like a sackcloth dummy. There was a flash of shape and color, something big and powerful moving too fast to properly register—afterwards, when Jean tried to describe the vehicle to the police, what came out was more monster than machine. It was the first time—the only time—that her perfect memory ever failed her.

Or perhaps it was just that she didn’t care about the car.

She heard a squeal as the driver fought for control, stomping on his brakes too late to make a difference, then the roar of an accelerating engine rapidly fading in the distance, as shock gave way to panic and he decided to save himself instead.

Jean had eyes only for her friend, draped against the wall of piled fieldstone that formed the property line along River Road. Annie lay unmoving, all crumpled and bloody and broken.

Sobbing, face twisted with denial, Jean dropped to her knees, hands trembling as she reached out, not a sound issuing from her lips save Annie’s name—although every family in the neighborhood claimed later that they heard her piercing scream of anguish and horror. She repeated the name over and over, like a mantra, as if simply by saying the word she could anchor spirit to flesh and keep her friend from slipping away.

Then, she heard Annie call her name.

Instinct guided her to take a hand in both of hers, and Jean cried out again, a hoarse coughing exclamation that gave voice to all the pain balled up inside her friend. There were bursts of ice and fire along one side, scrapes and busted ribs, and a burning within one arm that told Jean it too was broken, and more pain where Annie had cracked her skull against one of the stones. That was the source of a lot of the blood, painting her face and now Jean as well as she stroked Annie’s brow and tried to kiss the pain away. There was a dull ache near the bottom of her back, a gaping hollowness in the center of her chest. With a start, Jean realized she’d forgotten to breathe, and with a frantic gulp of air realized to her horror that Annie couldn’t.

Her back was broken.

She couldn’t bear to look anymore and closed her eyes—only that didn’t help. Instead, it simply took her somewhere else.

Her own heart was a trip-hammer, pounding too hard and fast for her to separate the beats, her breath coming in shallow gasps that matched its cadence, like an animal in a terror trance, standing helpless before the predator who seeks its life. That made Jean angry; she hated being afraid and refused to be a victim, even of fate itself.

She thought at first she’d blacked out, because around her all was darkness. And then, of course, she assumed hallucinations as images rolled towards her out of that darkness, blurry in the distance, resolving as they moved closer into visions of people and places. She saw herself, arms thrown straight up as though signaling a touchdown, thought (absurdly) how familiar those clothes looked, until she realized she was wearing them now and she was looking at herself only moments ago, celebrating Annie’s catch.

Her mind took the connection a step further; she looked more closely at the other images floating past her and she knew that they were Annie’s memories.

They seemed to be coming from a central source, like stars being spun clear of the core of a spiral galaxy. Without hesitation she plunged into the heart of that glorious radiance, face transfixed with awe and wonder at the unimaginable myriad of colors and shapes that represented all of her friend’s life-experience. She couldn’t help grinning at the recognition of how many of them seemed to relate to her, and how richly textured they were.

She was still thinking in purely human terms and assumed that when she reached the heart of the radiance, she’d be this incredibly tiny dust mote facing some unimaginably huge representation of Annie. Instead, she came to her as an equal—only her body appeared wholly solid, whereas Annie’s was boiling away at the edges.

Aghast, Jean watched a string of memories—some birthday or other, a trip to grandma’s, boring days at school—tumble off into the distance until they were gone, swallowed up in darkness. Again operating from an instinct she didn’t understand, Jean reached out to try to catch them, but she might as well have been a ghost herself, grabbing at the wind. They wouldn’t be snared, couldn’t be held.

She heard Annie call her name.

They both knew what was happening; neither dared say it aloud.

“Don’t be scared, Annie,” Jean said.

“Show me how, ’kay?”

“You’ve got to hold on, Annie, you can’t give up.”

“I’m broken, Jean. There’s nothing I can do.”

“Stop it! Don’t you dare talk like that, I won’t let you go!”

The passion surprised them both, a fierce rage that outlined Jean, just for a moment, in a corona of fire, like a star casting forth a solar flare. The fire plunged into Annie, making her gasp with surprise as her fading radiance glowed more brightly.

“See,” Jean cried triumphantly. “See! I can help! I can save you!”

But Annie knew better.

“It isn’t making a difference, Jean, not so it matters.”

“Shut up, I’m working here.”

“Do you have a clue what you’re doing?” Annie asked.

“Making it up as I go. What do you care, so long as you come out all right?”

“Ain’t gonna happen.”

“Watch me.”

“No, Jean,” Annie said, “watch me.”

Jean didn’t want to, but Annie was by far the more determined of the two, always had been, with a focus (stubbornness, some said) that was legendary. They were still of the same size, a pair of galaxies, islands of breathtaking light and color, all by themselves against the backdrop of infinity. Now though, while Jean remained essentially coherent, Annie had spun off so much quantum substance that she was translucent. Yet she was visibly the more dynamic of the two—the part of her that remained burned far more brightly than it should, because Jean was sustaining it with her own energies. The consequence was that Jean’s own life-glow had dimmed considerably.

“Let me go,” Annie said quietly.

“No.” Jean could be just as muleheaded.


“You’re my best friend.”

“Can you make me better?”

“What do you mean?”

“Can you fix the all of me that’s broken? Can you find the all of me that’s lost?” Annie waved a barely corporeal arm to indicate what remained of her body, the mass of imagery cascading ever faster into oblivion.

Jean’s face twisted with a grief she’d never imagined, didn’t think could possibly be endured.

“I. Don’t. Know. How!” And with that terrible admission, her face went still with resolve. She would find a way, no matter what it took. She refused to accept that she couldn’t.

“You can’t stay,” Annie told her.

“I won’t leave you.”

“Do you want to die, too? Look at yourself, Jean.”

“I’m fine.”

“I can barely see you. You’ve poured so much light into me, yours is almost gone. If you give me all your strength, how will you find your way home?”

“We’re going home together.”


With that, Annie lunged forward, catching Jean by surprise in an embrace that carried with it every bit of love and affection, every remaining aspect of their shared lives. She thrust both hands into the core of Jean’s being and returned the strength Jean had given her.

Too much power, too fast! It burst outward like a star going supernova, impossibly—for that single flash of time—turning a totality of darkness into an absolute of light. Against such a display, Annie was too small to even quantify.

For Jean, this was beyond revelation. She understood none of it, on any level. The emotions were too primal for a child’s mind to comprehend, and she had no resources of intellect or spirit that could give her even a hope of coping. She’d been cast into a maelstrom and knew only enough to hold fast to herself until it ran its course, praying fate was smiling on her enough to survive.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; First Edition edition (May 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345492110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345492111
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,069,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Claremont is best known for his work on Marvel Comics' The Uncanny X-Men, during which time it was the bestselling comic in the Western Hemisphere; he has sold more than 100 million comic books to date. Recent projects include the dark fantasy novel Dragon Moon and Sovereign SevenTM, a comic book series published by DC Comics. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.George Lucas is the founder of Lucasfilm Ltd., one of the world's leading entertainment companies. He created the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film series. Among his story credits are THX 1138, American Graffiti, and the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films. He lives in Marin County, California.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cass Morris on June 23, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Chris Claremont gives this story what the movie could not: depth, details, and a true love for the characters. Small wonder, given that he created and developed many of them to begin with. The novel allows for a view of the insides of many of these characters' heads, most notably that of Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix. The exploration of her psyche throughout the conflict is fascinating. Rogue and Warren are also greatly improved in the book: Rogue regains her spunky, sassy self, and loses the pathetic weakness she's taken on in the movies, while Warren is made more active, more useful, and given more than three lines.

I adored all the little things Claremont included here -- just a few words that he would toss off, referring to a single incident from comics that were published years ago. The inside jokes made it feel more like my beloved fandom again, not a Hollywood travesty.

For all of that, though, the book loses none of the action or tension that were the strong points of the movie. If anything, it clips along at a better pace, in the spirit of a good adventure read.

I recommend this book especially to those fans who were disappointed by the movie's handling of their favourite characters, and to long-time X-Men fans who will appreciate all the small referneces.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Athenaeus Alexander Dukas on May 17, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Being a total X-Men/Phoenix Saga fan -- and completely addicted to this entire franchise -- I (of course) wasted no time racing-out to get this book and then blasted through it in a single day. And you know what? I think they may actually have pulled it off!

X3 should DEFINITELY exceed both X1 and X2 and will give the fans, both new and old, pretty much everything they've been looking for while solidly capping-off this 1st trilogy and while also still laying the groundwork for more down the road but in a totally non-anvilicous way. It also maintains that trademark self-referential/mocking and pithy derisive humor that made the first two movies so hysterically funny and on target.

I wasn't entirely happy with certain aspects of the ending but I can agree that they were entirely necessary and it gives a satisfactory emotional pay-off.

The film is (partly) a nifty re-working of the Dark Phoenix Saga and it also resolves the Scott/Jean/Logan triangle in a highly-effective and very believable way.

Having Chris Claremont be the novelizer was a stroke of genius because he's able to add in all sorts of thoughts and back-story to the characters they a) they won't possibly have time to feature all of in the film and b) are a good reminder of all that's happened in the X-Men Universe.

I'm sort-of holding my breath until I see the movie, however, because the X-Men franchise has a nasty little habit of adding/changing/removing scenes from the released movies that appeared in the novelizations. These changes frequently differ quite markedly from what took place in the novelization and usually affect the on-screen series of events and the final outcome.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Curran on March 2, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was disappointed with the X-Men movies. Especially, with X3. One problem was how drastically different from the comics, the characters were. It also lacked the depth of character that I had so loved in the comics, years ago.

Fortunately, two of the novelizations were written by Chris Claremont. He managed to infuse the characters with as much of their original personality (circa his original X-Men run) and history as he could. It just felt like coming home after a long, long time away. So, even though the characters were drastically different in the movie, they were recognizable in the book.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Holff on May 18, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a big fan of the original X-men comics and Chris Claremont. Action is abundant and the storyline is classic Claremont, well written and entertaining.

After seeing the first two movie adaptations, I was please with how they stuck to the original storyline with minor deviations. This book takes the deviations even farther, almost to the point of annoyance. That is why I am torn. The movie will be awesome, but the finished product compared to the potential possibilities is hard to forget. Not sure if the ending is an evolution into another trilogy or a neat way to tie up several loose ends.

Only time will tell.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Karl G on June 6, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Chris Claremont is renowned throughout the comic book world. An expert at the X-men storyline (having written 17 years of Uncanny X-Men in comics), he brings his field of expertise and imagination to words.

Chris helmed the second book as well, X2, back in 2003. He writes in a distinctive fashion that sets him apart from other authors - literature writers and movie-adaptation writers alike.

Chris writes movie-adaptations with his own style... he knows this is his book and he makes it so. The book follows the movie (as it must) but very loosely. A lot of extra stuff that wasn't in the movie is added to the book to thicken its pages and add flavor. It works, adding a lot of depth and color to each individual character.

Chris writes with a lot of detail. He puts in a substantial amount of detail... so much that the reader, while reading it, can feel the exact scene of the event, unfolding within his brain, even if he has not watched the movie. Every detail in Jean Grey's house, for example, is described such that the reader knows exactly where everything is and what is happening.

Unlike some movie-adaptations, Chris is not a slave to the movie. He has taken a near-2-hour film and turned it into a book so marvelous and creative it shames all other movie-adaptations. Chris's X-Men expertise, knowledge, and imagination comes to life here, bringing each character out from the pages, making each character move as it would if it were real, touching the readers' hearts and plucking at strings of emotion... of fear, anger, joy, sadness and other emotions that humanize the book.

Chris is truly an expert of the genre, and that is definitely to his credit. This book is amazing, the movie popular, and Chris is just the perfect persion to translate the acting to words.
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