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The Night Eternal Hardcover – October 25, 2011
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Amazon Guest Review: Stephen King on The Night Eternal
Stephen King is the author of more than 50 books, all of them worldwide best-sellers. Among his most recent are the Dark Tower novels, Cell, From a Buick 8, Everything's Eventual, Hearts in Atlantis, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and Bag of Bones. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
The Strain trilogy opened with an authentic wow moment: a Boeing 777 arrives at JFK airport with all but four of the passengers dead in their seats. The flashlight beams of the first responders “registered dully in the dead jewels of their open eyes.” Not much later these corpses begin to rise from their morgue slabs, and a plague of blood-hungry predators overwhelms New York. The first hundred pages of The Strain is a sustained exercise in terror that held this reader in spellbound delight, because del Toro and Hogan write with crisp authenticity about both the fantastical (vampires) and the completely real (New York City, with all its odd nooks and crannies).
What began in The Strain comes to a sublimely satisfying conclusion in The Night Eternal. Del Toro and Hogan have taken Dracula, the greatest vampire tale of them all, and deftly turned it inside out. In Stoker’s novel, Bloodsucker Zero arrives in England on a sailing ship called the Demeter. As with the Regis Air 777, the Demeter is a ghost ship when it reaches port, the eponymous Count having snacked his way across the ocean. The difference is that Dracula is confronted by a heroic band of vampire-hunters who eventually drive him from England by using modern technology—everything from diaries kept on wax recording cylinders to blood transfusions. In The Strain Trilogy, the body-hopping Master—who arrives at JFK in the person of Polish nobleman Jusef Sardu—uses the very technology that defeated his honorable forebear to destroy the civilized world. Big corporations are his tools; modern transportation serves to spread the vampire virus; nuclear weapons usher in a new era of pollution and atmospheric darkness.
Only jolly old England escapes; the wily Brits have blown up the Chunnel early on, and remain relatively vampire-free. At moments like this, the reader senses del Toro and Hogan tucking their tongues in their cheeks and having a gleeful blast.
When speaking of the New World Order in Henry the Sixth, Shakespeare has one of his characters say, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” As The Night Eternal opens, the Master (currently having traded the body of Sardu for that of rock star Gabriel Bolivar) doubles down on that, ordering his minions to kill not just those in the legal profession but all the CEOs, tycoons, intellectuals, rebels, and artists. “Their execution was swift, public and brutal. Out they marched, the damned, out of the River House, the Dakota, the Beresford and their ilk…in a horrific pageant of carnage, they were disposed of.”
With the exception of heroic pawnbroker/scholar Abraham Setrakian (who almost destroyed the Master in Volume Two, The Fall), the winning cast of human characters from the previous novels are all present and accounted for: Nora Martinez, who has traded in her scientist’s microscope for a silver sword; Vasily Fet, who now exterminates vampires instead of rats; Augustin “Gus” Elizade, once a gangbanger and now a hero of resistance. There’s also the less-than-admirable but fascinating (in a repulsive way, it’s true) Alfonso Creem, with his insatiable appetite and his vampire-repelling mouthful of silver teeth.
And there’s Eph Goodweather, the epidemiologist around whom all these others revolve. When The Night Eternal begins, two years after the Master has used nuclear weapons to create vampire-friendly darkness all over the planet, Eph has fallen on hard times. His undead ex-wife stalks him relentlessly (he is, after all, one of her “Dear Ones”), his son has become a rifle-toting, obsessive-compulsive acolyte of the Master, and Eph himself has started popping Vicodin and oxycodone. Nora has left him for Vasily Fet, and Eph is viewed with distrust by those who used to rally around him. Justifiable distrust; he keeps showing up late for meetings and vampire-killing gigs.
Fet has managed to purchase a rogue nuke (it’s wrapped in garbage bags and looks like a trashcan), and the resistance fighters have a sacred book that may—if deciphered—lead them to the Black Site where the Master’s earthly life began. If they can destroy that holy soil, they believe the vampire plague will end.
There’s a certain amount of perhaps dispensable hugger-mugger about vampires in Rome and archangels in Sodom, but the main attractions here are the resistance fighters’ fierce dedication to their cause, and Eph Goodweather’s slow and painful realization that if he destroys the Master, he may also destroy his son Zachary, the last person on earth he truly loves. Heroes of tragic dimension are rare in popular fiction, but Goodweather fills the bill nicely.
After a small (and perhaps unavoidable—see Tolkein’s The Two Towers) letdown in The Fall, The Strain Trilogy comes to a rip-roaring conclusion in The Night Eternal. The action is non-stop, and the fantasy element is anchored in enough satisfying detail to make it believable. All the New York landmarks, such as Central Park’s Belvedere Castle and The Cloisters, are real. And while you’re discovering such essential vampire facts as the undead’s inability to cross running water without human help, you’ll also find out that the stone lions outside the New York Public Library have names: Patience and Fortitude. Plus, come on, admit it—there’s something about seeing vampires massing for an attack in a Wendy’s parking lot that makes them more real. The devil’s in the details, and this is one devilishly good read full of satisfying scares. --Stephen King
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Top Customer Reviews
This is an action-packed story, set two years after the Fall of humanity at the hands of the vampires. The characters from the first books appear to be the only resistance, and they have to figure out how to win back the world. All while the main character, Eph Goodweather, tries to also free his son, taken captive by his vampire ex-wife in the last book.
What follows is a page turning thrill-ride, with narrow escapes, decent characterization, and finally, a backstory explanation and conclusion. As with the previous books, this is very well paced and will hold your attention as you read through to the very end.
It is not without flaws, however. The backstory was adequate, but a departure from the rest of the series. From the start, the authors have soaked us in the scientific aspects of vampirism, including its spread and the biology of a vampire (to be fair, ripped from Del Toro's movie, Blade II). The ultimate explanations are more mystical than scientific, and it seems odd to have gone to all the trouble of making two main characters scientists and exhaustively explaining the biology of vampires, only to make the origin decidedly non-scientific.
Whatever. It wasn't enough of a problem for me to have not really enjoyed the book, just not getting the fifth star from me.
If you have gotten through the first two books, you really should finish the trilogy. You'll have fun, and that's really what these types of books are about, isn't it?
We went from having a really original vampire concept to one that is not only very hard to swallow, but also is very, very similar to other vampire origin stories we've seen over and over. Disappointed.
There aren't really any sympathetic characters at this point. Eph has turned into a druggie alcoholic. Nora and Fet are having a random love triangle with Eph. Zach's becoming a lovely little sociopath. The other characters (whose names I can't even remember...that tells you something) are just generic. No depth, no real motivation. The story drags because the characterization sucks and I just don't care about what happens to them.
The world could have been so interesting. Post-vampire-apocalypse. But there are huge plot holes everywhere you look. Tons of unanswered questions. It just feels hugely unsatisfying.
I couldn't finish it. I was about page 175 and realized that I was actually avoiding picking my book back up, and the few times I did I was just trying to finish it just to finish it. That I had finished two other books while reading this one and had no desire to go back to it. So I didn't. If I'm not enjoying it, what's the point? So I gave up on it.
Oh, wait, is that what I did or is that what the authors did? It's hard to tell. The only thing I know for sure is that they had no idea how to end the trilogy after the events in the second book, so they copped out hard. Skip ahead two years, change the characters, skip the science, full steam ahead on the mythology! And then the end of the book is truly one of the most anti-climactic endings in recent memory. They spend so much time on earlier battles and then rush the ending in a few pages.
One can only hope the TV series manages to stray from the source material and provide a more satisfying conclusion. Of course, one can always hope to win the lottery as well.
** SPOILERS **
"The Night Eternal" has way too many "deus ex machina" moments that really cheesed me off. The ISS falls at just the right time to save the characters. Why did it fall? Because God's dog told the astronaut on board to bring the ISS down. At the end, another ray of sunshine appears suddenly to help the bomb go off.
But what really set my teeth on edge was the Old Testament origin BS. Sodom and Gomorrah? Lot? Archangels? Pieces of an archangel turning into vampires? Stupid prophecies? In the first two books, it is apparently clear that the vampires are some sort of product of nature. Ephraim and Nora determine the complex life cycle of the vampires (virus, worms, etc.), and with Setrakian's help figure out the creatures' weaknesses. As it turns out, it's all just magic, and really stupid magic at that.
I found the plot in this book to be quite tedious and unbelievable compared to the first two books. The malnourished and beaten down heroes somehow manage to wheel around Manhattan, New Jersey, and beyond without any problem, hacking hundreds of vampires in every battle.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a rewarding end to the trilogy. I am really glad I stuck with the series and completed the Strain.Published 4 days ago by Austin Reader
I have never been so disappointed by a book before. I loved the first two books in this series but this, THIS!!! I almost feel insulted by the authors. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Michelle Christine
All I have to say is that it was really good and everybody should read it. A really great series, and I'm sad it's over.Published 26 days ago by nathan guilde
This final volume in The Strain trilogy concludes the harrowing vampire apocalypse and recasts the story of the Master’s global dominance as a domestic redemption narrative of Eph... Read morePublished 1 month ago by James R. Gilligan
Each book has its moment in this trilogy but the ending did not have a great pay off. If you read books 1 & 2 then read 3, otherwise I'd passPublished 1 month ago by jason thomas
I assign 5 stars to this book as well as to the whole trilogy. Simply fantastic. I couldn't put the book down.Published 1 month ago by diego