Escape from Hell

  • by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
  • Narrated by Tom Weiner
  • 9 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Allan Carpentier escaped from hell once but remained haunted by what he saw and endured. He has now returned, on a mission to liberate those souls unfairly tortured and confined.Partnering with the famous poet and suicide, Sylvia Plath, Carpentier is a modern-day Christ who intends to harrow hell and free the damned.But now that he's returned to this Dantesque inferno, can he ever again leave?

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What the Critics Say

"This well-constructed tale will inspire many readers to seek out the original Divine Comedy." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Poor sequel

I love Niven's and Pournell's works ... well, generally I do. But I have to say that this book is a terrible disappointment. It is a sequel and really adds nothing to the original. It does not have multiple layers that unfold before you. It does not ask questions.

It is a very shallow 'formula' story. Sometimes it reads almost like a children's story - although the subject matter is not for children. Pseudo-spoiler alert. The entire book is a series of the same scene repeated ad nauseum : hero goes up to someone and says "follow me, I'll lead you out of here". That person responds, for some reason he can't leave, and then the hero moves on to a different person.
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- Ronald Albury

A confused book

In this book we see the continuing adventures of Alan Carpentier in hell. When we left Carpentier (Inferno) it was the mid 70's the height of the cold-war.

Much has changed in the 30 years between Inferno and Escape from Hell. The world is no longer divided between the U.S. v. Russia. Now countries that were previously thought of as mere "client states" suddenly have a prominence of their own. Since the Cold War the U.S. discovered the rest of the world replete with different countries, faiths, values and aims. The world has changed, Religion has changed and in this book Hell has changed.

In Inferno Hell was populated with westerners who were all at least culturally Christian. But now Hell is much more confused, middle-eastern suicide bombers walk the landscape. Now there is a place for the Mayans, Tribesmen and other "heathens" absent in the first book. Hell is in the midst of a technological upgrade as its records are computerized and the results of Vatican II have caused major bureaucratic nightmares. One is overwhelmed by the confusion raining in hell.

But its not just Hell's management, the book itself seems confused as well. Carpentier doesn't know what he's doing. Whereas inferno wrestled with the paradox of Hell and a Loving God, its not clear what the message of Escape is. The politics alone are idiosyncratic, liberals who invested in school funding experiments that went awry are in Hell as are the architects of the Iraq War. The reasons people are in hell are also strange, Trotsky is in for dividing the communist party and Oppenheimer is in, not for creating the nuclear bomb but for some obscure interpersonal betrayal. Is it intention or actions that gets you sent to hell? It is not clear. Meanwhile Sylvia Plath is an unlikely voice of naive spirituality with a judgmental spirit that would make the inquisition proud.

Flawed, but still an accessible intro to Dante.
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- R. Reed "Prof. Reed"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-17-2009
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.