Title: Hannibal Rising
Author: Thomas Harris
Page Count/Review Word Count: 416
I really enjoyed Hannibal Rising, more so than any other book in the series. Thomas Harris was always a master storyteller, but here I feel he’s at his finest, and you can tell that he’s done his research, too. The novel acts as a prequel, and it tells the story of the young Hannibal Lecter and his struggles during the Second World War in Eastern Europe, when he was little more than a boy.
And many ways, that’s what makes this work stand out from Harris’ other work – in many ways, it’s almost a different genre to the other books in the series, touching on historical and military thrillers, as well as its traditional blood and gore. Add that to the fact that it’s also his most recent, at least at the time of writing, and that he hasn’t written another book for the last eight years, and you can see why this is a little bit special.
Not all of the critics agreed, but what do I care? I rate my books on how much I enjoy them, and I loved this – I’d go so far as to say that if you haven’t read any of the Hannibal books, you should start here. After all, you’ll get to see his character develop, and it’s arguably the best Thomas Harris novel in my opinion, and so what have you got to lose?
The supporting characters are also fantastic, and Lady Murasaki and Mischa Lecter in particular stand out, in part because of the similar, enigmatic quality they share, and partly because they play a huge role in the development of the cannibalistic killer. That said, just because he isn’t fully developed, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t capable of violence – in fact, there’s plenty of death throughout the novel, as well as the hideous, twisted genius that Lecter shows in the ways in which he kills people.
In fact, when I first read this novel, I worried about Harris’ mental health – you know the feeling you get when you’re reading a book and it’s so vivid and thought out that it seems like no-one other than a homicidal maniac would come up with it? I always used to think that if there was any writer who turned out to actually be a murderer, to be basing his novels on his own terrible crimes, it would be Harris.