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Hannibal Rising (Hannibal Lecter Series #4)

Hannibal Rising (Hannibal Lecter Series #4)

3.6 147
by Thomas Harris

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Hannibal Lecter emerges from the nightmare of the Eastern Front, a boy in the snow, mute, with a chain around his neck.

He seems utterly alone, but he has brought his demons with him.

Hannibal’s uncle, a noted painter




Hannibal Lecter emerges from the nightmare of the Eastern Front, a boy in the snow, mute, with a chain around his neck.

He seems utterly alone, but he has brought his demons with him.

Hannibal’s uncle, a noted painter, finds him in a Soviet orphanage and brings him to France, where Hannibal will live with his uncle and his uncle’s beautiful and exotic wife, Lady Murasaki.

Lady Murasaki helps Hannibal to heal. With her help he flourishes, becoming the youngest person ever admitted to medical school in France.

But Hannibal’s demons visit him and torment him. When he is old enough, he visits them in turn.

He discovers he has gifts beyond the academic, and in that epiphany, Hannibal Lecter becomes death’s prodigy.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Twenty-five years after Thomas Harris introduced the world to one of the most memorable literary villains of all time (in 1981's Red Dragon), he revisits his signature character with a chilling prequel that chronicles the horrific childhood of Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter.

As a child growing up in Lithuania, life is blissful for young Hannibal and his little sister, Mischa, living in the majestic Castle Lecter with their loving parents. Hannibal's carefree existence, however, is turned into a living nightmare when Hitler's armies invade the Soviet Union and his family is forced to flee. After more than three years surviving in the wilderness during Hitler's bloody eastern campaign, the horror of war finally finds Hannibal, and he is forced to endure a never-ending barrage of brutality: the destruction of his home, the death of his parents, the gruesome murder of his sister at the hands of starving thugs, etc. But Hannibal's life is spared when his uncle finds him and relocates him to France. Even as he matures into an educated young man, though, the haunting images of his youth compel him to seek some kind of vengeance…

With all the hype surrounding the publication of this book, there's a significant chance that the result will fall short of readers' expectations; but Harris pulls it off with a brilliantly restrained -- and powerfully moving -- story about the transformation of a sensitive, loving, intelligent boy into a cold-blooded monster. Hard-core fans of Harris's Hannibal quartet (Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal) will undoubtedly enjoy this read with some fava beans and a nice Chianti… Paul Goat Allen
Douglas E. Winter
Harris's writing is assured, with elegant shifts of tense and point of view; perhaps it is the focused plot or the insistently visual style that acknowledges the inevitable movie adaptation, but simply in terms of craft, Hannibal Rising is arguably the best of his novels.
— The Washington Post
From the Publisher
“There are images of morbid beauty here.... Harris' handling of the wartime violence is also impressive, as swift and vicious as the blitzkrieg itself.”—Los Angeles Times
“Gripping detail.... [Harris] moves the story along at an impressively fast clip.”—Boston Globe

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Hannibal Lecter Series , #4
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt


The door to Dr. Hannibal Lecter's memory palace is in the darkness at the center of his mind and it has a latch that can be found by touch alone. This curious portal opens on immense and well-lit spaces, early baroque, and corridors and chambers rivaling in number those of the Topkapi Museum.

Everywhere there are exhibits, well-spaced and lighted, each keyed to memories that lead to other memories in geometric progression.

Spaces devoted to Hannibal Lecter’s earliest years differ from the other archives in being incomplete. Some are static scenes, fragmentary, like painted Attic shards held together by blank plaster. Other rooms hold sound and motion, great snakes wrestling and heaving in the dark and lit in flashes. Pleas and screaming fill some places on the grounds where Hannibal himself cannot go. But the corridors do not echo screaming, and there is music if you like.

The palace is a construction begun early in Hannibal’s student life. In his years of confinement he improved and enlarged his palace, and its riches sustained him for long periods while warders denied him his books.

Here in the hot darkness of his mind, let us feel together for the latch. Finding it, let us elect for music in the corridors and, looking neither left nor right, go to the Hall of the Beginning where the displays are most fragmentary.

We will add to them what we have learned elsewhere, in war records and police records, from interviews and forensics and the mute postures of the dead. Robert Lecter’s letters, recently unearthed, may help us establish the vital statistics of Hannibal, who altered dates freely to confound the authorities and his chroniclers. By our efforts we may watch as the beast within turns from the teat and, working upwind, enters the world.

Chapter 6

"Do you know what today is?" Hannibal asked over his breakfast gruel at the lodge. "It's the day the sun reaches Uncle Elgar's window."

"What time will it appear?" Mr. Jakov asked, as though he didn't know.

"It will peep around the tower at ten-thirty," Hannibal said.

"That was in 1941," Mr. Jakov said. "Do you mean to say the moment of arrival will be the same?"


"But the year is more than 365 days long."

"But, Mr. Jakov, this is the year after leap year. So wasl941, the last time we watched."

"Then does the calendar adjust perfectly, or do we live by gross corrections?"

A thorn popped in the fire.

"I think those are separate questions," Hannibal said.

Mr. Jakov was pleased, but his response was just another question: "Will the year 2000 be a leap year?"

"No—yes, yes, it will be a leap year."

"But it is divisible by one hundred," Mr. Jakov said.

"It's also divisible by four hundred," Hannibal said.

"Exactly so," Mr. Jakov said. "It will be the first time the Gregorian rule is applied.

Perhaps, on that day, surviving all gross corrections, you will remember our talk. In this strange place." He raised his cup. "Next year in Lecter Castle."

Lothar heard it first as he drew water, the roar of an engine in low gear and cracking of branches. He left the bucket on the well and in his haste he came into the lodge without wiping his feet.

A Soviet tank, a T-34 in winter camouflage of snow and straw, crashed up the horse trail and into the clearing. Painted on the turret in Russian were AVENGE OUR SOVIET GIRLS and WIPE OUT THE FASCIST VERMIN. Two soldiers in white rode on the back over the radiators. The turret swiveled to point the tank's cannon at the house. A hatch opened and a gunner in hooded winter white stood behind a machine gun. The tank commander stood in the other hatch with a megaphone. He repeated his message in Russian and in German, barking over the diesel clatter of the tank engine.

"We want water, we will not harm you or take your food unless a shot comes from the house. If we are fired on, every one of you will die. Now come outside. Gunner, lock and load. If you do not see faces by the count of ten, fire." A loud clack as the machine gun's bolt went back.

Count Lecter stepped outside, standing straight in the sunshine, his hands visible. "Take the water. We are no harm to you."

The tank commander put his megaphone aside. "Everyone outside where I can see you."

The count and the tank commander looked at each other for a long moment. The tank commander
showed his palms.

The count showed his palms. The count turned to the house. "Come."

When the commander saw the family he said, "The children can stay inside where it's warm."

And to his gunner and crew, "Cover them. Watch the upstairs windows. Start the pump. You can

The machine gunner pushed up his goggles and lit a cigarette. He was no more than a boy, the
skin of his face paler around his eyes. He saw Mischa peeping around the door facing and smiled at her.

Among the fuel and water drums lashed to the tank was a small petrol-powered pump with a rope starter.

The tank driver snaked a hose with a screen filter down the well and after many pulls on the rope the pump clattered, squealed, and primed itself.

The noise covered the scream of the Stuka dive bomber until it was almost on them, the tank's gunner swiveling his muzzle around, cranking hard to elevate his gun, firing as the airplane's winking cannon stitched the ground. Rounds screamed off the tank, the gunner hit, still firing with his remaining arm.

The Stuka's windscreen starred with fractures, the pilot's goggles filled with blood and the dive bomber, still carrying one of its eggs, hit treetops, plowed into the garden and its fuel exploded, cannon under the wings still firing after the impact. Hannibal, on the floor of the lodge, Mischa partly under him, saw his mother lying in the yard, bloody and her dress on fire.

"Stay here!" to Mischa and he ran to his mother, ammunition in the airplane cooking off now, slow and then faster, casings flying backward striking the snow, flames licking around the remaining bomb beneath the wing. The pilot sat in the cockpit, dead, his face burned to a death's head in flaming scarf and helmet, his gunner dead behind him.

Lothar alone survived in the yard and he raised a bloody arm to the boy. Then Mischa ran to her mother, out into the yard and Lothar tried to reach her and pull her down as she passed, but a cannon round from the flaming plane slammed through him, blood spattering the baby and Mischa raised her arms and screamed into the sky. Hannibal heaped snow onto the fire in his mother's clothes, stood up and ran to Mischa amid the random shots and carried her into the lodge, into the cellar. The shots outside slowed and stopped as bullets melted in the breeches of the cannon. The sky darkened and snow came again, hissing on the hot metal.

Darkness, and snow again. Hannibal among the corpses, how much later he did not know, snow drifting down to dust his mother's eyelashes and her hair. She was the only corpse not blackened and crisped. Hannibal tugged at her, but her body was frozen to the ground. He pressed his face against her. Her bosom was frozen hard, her heart silent. He put a napkin over her face and piled snow on her. Dark shapes moved at the edge of the woods. His torch reflected on wolves' eyes. He shouted at them and waved a shovel. Mischa was determined to come out to her mother—he had to choose. He took Mischa back inside and left the dead to the dark.

Mr. Jakov's book was undamaged beside his blackened hand until a wolf ate the leather cover and amid the scattered pages of Huyghens' Treatise on Light licked Mr. Jakov's brains off the snow. Hannibal and Mischa heard snuffling and growling outside. Hannibal built up the fire. To cover the noise he tried to get Mischa to sing; he sang to her. She clutched his coat in her fists.

"Ein Mannlein . . ."

Snowflakes on the windows. In the corner of a pane, a dark circle appeared, made by the tip of a glove. In the dark circle a pale blue eye.

Meet the Author

Thomas Harris began his writing career covering crime in the United States and Mexico, and was a reporter and editor for the Associated Press in New York City. His first novel, Black Sunday, was published in 1975, followed by Red Dragon in 1981, The Silence of the Lambs in 1988, and Hannibal in 1999.

From the Hardcover edition.

Brief Biography

Sag Harbor, New York, and Miami Beach, Florida
Date of Birth:
April 11, 1940
Place of Birth:
Jackson, Tennessee
B.A., Baylor University, 1964

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Hannibal Rising (Hannibal Lecter Series #4) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 147 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Did anyone notice Thomas Harris did not mention Hannibal's six-fingered hand in Hannibal Rising? I would think growing up with such a weird disfigurement would have been mentioned?
Laura Cerezo More than 1 year ago
For quite some time, i have been incredibly fascinated with the character Hannibal Lecter. This sacred literature has proven to be a chilling revelation to his past and i enjoyed every sentence. i recommend it for anyone who enjoys the mystery of a murderer's reasoning.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This fourth entry into the 'Hannibal Lecter' series (even though he is just a supporting character in the first two entries, 'Red Dragon' and 'The Silence of the Lambs') tells the story of Lecter's childhood and the events that transpired to turn him into a notorious serial killer. Good idea, bad execution. The biggest problem is the boring story, which takes far too long to get started and never really pays off. Hannibal as a young man is subjected to various atrocities during the WWII Nazi occupation of his home country of Lithuania, and he spends the rest of the story exacting his revenge. At the end, we still aren't sure why Hannibal will eventually become a violent, dangerous serial killer, although we do feel sorry for him. Pity, unfortunately, is a far cry from terror, which is what we really want. Hannibal is the villian we love to fear, and the last two books have too much defanged the 'Hannibal the Cannibal' mythos that served the series so well. Author Thomas Harris seems bored with the characters and the story -- it is said that Harris was forced to write this book (and the screenplay for the movie) at the demands of producer Dino De Laurentis, who owns the movie rights to Hannibal Lector and claims that he would have made a movie about Lector's origin with or without Harris' help. the world of Hannibal is losing its luster -- it might be time for Harris to move on.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Thank you Mr. Harris for giving me closure to the whole Lector mindset. The atrocities done to young Hannibel made me cry so hard and still haunt me today. This book was needed to explain the Dr's evil and he did it brilliantly. This part of the series allowed me to revisit the other books/movies and root for Dr Lector......all those f$ckers deserved what they got.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was not what I expected.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well researched, well written, well presented; I have read the making, educating and the development of a raging, murderous, psychotic killer turned loose on Paris and then the world. How many are there?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book thinking it was the first one in the series, and well no... as you all might know and what I learned is that this is the last one. Is has some pretty good naration parts but the story seemed too forced. I barely started enjoying it after chapter forty two (it has sixty chapters). I look foward in checking out Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, because I'm almost sure there better than this one. It honestly felt quite desperate, but the ending part was a relief in compare with the rest of the book.
YBKoz More than 1 year ago
THIS WAS A REQUESTED GIFT ITEM. If it's anything like the" Silence of the Lambs" this should be a good read
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hannibal Lecter is my favorite killer of all time...From watching the movie, to reading the book, just makes me love him that much more! To me Hannibal is just this character that moves me. His sophistication and high education, yet the way he looks into your soul, make you think..Whats going on in his head? This book explains that very question...Hannibal Lecter is my personal hero! MUST READ. THEN MUST READ AGAIN!!!
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Tied up the loose ends
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