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Portent [Paperback]

James Herbert


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Book Description

Jan. 16 2004

It is the near future and signs of an impending global disaster are multiplying. Earthquakes, floods and volcanic eruptions sweep the earth. As the storms and tempests rage, a series of ominous events signal the emergence of a new and terrifying force.

While scuba-diving on the Great Barrier Reef a diver watches fascinated as a tiny light floats past him towards the surface. Moments later he is torn to pieces as the reef erupts with colossal power.

On the banks of the Ganges, a young boy pauses from his back-breaking labours, transfixed by the play of a mysterious light amidst the monsoon rains, before a towering geyser of boiling water bursts from beneath the streets, scalding him to death.

In the Chinese city of Kashi travellers bring back reports of a strange light seen shining above the endless dunes of the Taklimakan Desert. And as the city`s inhabitants watch for its return, the desert rises up to engulf them in a tidal wave of sand.

All have seen a portent. A sign of unimaginable powers about to be unleashed. A sign that something incredible is about to begin...


Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: PAN Macmillan Adult MM (Jan. 16 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330376241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330376242
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 11.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,339,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Fast on the trail of Twister is this drawn-out apocalyptic novel replete with meteorological mayhem. Shimmering lights precede a slew of natural disasters and plunge British climatologist James Rivers into a cliched battle between good and evil. A contrived twist of events brings Rivers to Hazelrod, a deteriorated Georgian estate nestled in the English countryside. There, Rivers meets adopted Romanian twin children who possess not only phenomenal healing powers but also answers to why the planet is destroying itself. Herbert spreads his story to the remotest corners of the earth, bringing in characters of many countries (and dialects?which can make for tough reading) whose sole purpose is to observe the shimmering phenomena mentioned above and then die in some disaster or another. The only significant characters beyond Rivers and his Hazelrod companions are a Scottish Highlands hermit and the grotesque high priestess of a New Orleans earth cult. Fortunately, both characters also hold evidence crucial to the novel's outcome. Still, Herbert (The Ghosts of Sleath), has a brilliant descriptive sensibility and uses it to create unforgettable disaster scenes. His obvious knowledge of meteorology also lends credence to an otherwise far-fetched premise.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

The world is undergoing an epidemic of earthquakes, wind storms, and other catastrophes, and bright lights have been sighted prior to each new calamity. What does it all mean? Is the world coming to an end? Weather researcher James Rivers isn't sure, but in the course of his investigations he discovers two children who can help save the world. Despite all the terrifying weather, the plot builds slowly. Veteran horror hack Herbert (Ghosts of Sleath, Harper Prism, 1995) expertly sketches characters he is about to kill off, and though these vignettes are compellingly written, they compete with the plot and sometimes confuse the reader. For Herbert's fans and large fiction collections.?Robert C. Moore, DuPont Merck Pharmaceuticals Co., Information Svces.,N. Billerica, Mass.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr. Herbert's Finest Work Sept. 12 2000
By Michael Butts - Published on Amazon.com
Hailstones as big as footballs and even bigger--in Los Angeles! Earthquakes in London and Scotland. Steaming geysers erupting all over the world. Sandstorms, tsunamis, cyclones. The disasters are plenty in James Herbert's amazing view of an ecological apocalypse. So far, out of all the Herbert books I've read, this is his finest hour. In ways, it is much more accessible and believable than Stephen King's classic "The Stand." Herbert captures you from the very beginning, and sketches some very believable characters: James Rivers, at first a skeptic and then a believer, finds out the frightening truth about the ecological disasters that are threatening the world as we know it; Diane Poggs is a woman with two adopted children possessing extraordinary psychic powers; Hugo and Bibby Poggs are her father and mother-in-law; supporting characters in various scenarios are given powerful moments. And, the villain of the piece, the gargantuan Mama Pitie' is a frightening and disturbing antagonist. The rush to save the world from ultimate disaster is filled with very frightening scenes of the earth's awesome power and terror. The "lights" in the book at first frightening and disturbing transform into harbingers of hope by the end of the story.
This is a fantastic read, and certainly deserves more attention than it received.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars APOCALYPTIC LIGHTS June 13 2000
By W & T Perry - Published on Amazon.com
The synopsis on the back of the book caught my interest, because I'm a meteorologist and like end of the world stories. This book takes James Rivers on a search to find out why the Earth is going through this apocalyptic change...first by surviving a plane crash after flying through Hurricane Zelda! Busy year for the Hurricane Center. It seems that balls of light, sometimes one and sometimes many are preludes to disastrous events. Plenty of destruction, from volcanic eruptions and explosions...hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, forest fires and killer hailstorms. Herbert centers this around twins who are gypsy orphans adopted by a Diane, daughter of eccentric Hugo Poggs, who believes the Earth is one breathing organism and that it is finally lashing back after all these years of man made harm. Rivers finally meets up with Poggs and sets about finding out that there are many kids who have to power to heal the earth, but according to the Dream Man, there are also those out there to do evil, as is the case with Mama Pitie, a big woman from New Orleans who seeks the death of the twins. Fast paced book worthy of those who like this type of fiction. The story ending is predictable and it finishes too fast and should have continued for a few more chapters.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Portent May 25 2014
By Lin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Kept my interest though a little bit of rambling . A good read overall . Would recommend it if you like suspense and science fiction.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Deja Vu March 23 2011
By Sasha - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I discovered James Herbert completely by accident,in ship's library - his "Nobody true" was actually genuinely interesting,original and enjoyable thriller told from a point of view of murder victim who is watching everything from above,unable to actually react or help anybody. Than I did some research and found that Herbert is actually very famous in UK and sort of local Stephen King,I read several of other novels by him but nothing left deep impression on me like the very first one.
Now again - Deja vu - ship's library and James Herbert,perhaps he is perfect vacation read,who knows.

This time around I gulped his book but it was more in frustration than in real excitement as I waited the whole time for something exciting and in the meantime read weather reports from around the world - Herbert enjoys his little side-stories about this indian dying in earthquake,that chinese dying in tsunami,that australian dying in whatever natural catastrophe - when you look closely,it's all bombastic and real story not so interesting,actually it is a very thin,cartoonish plot focused on mysterious children and people who are protecting them from some evil fat woman. But it drags forever (because we need to go through earthquakes,floods and tsunamis) and at the end of course it's all one big explosion and evil destroyed not unlike some big budget movie hit with special effects bursting from the screen.

Because I read Herbert earlier,I noticed a certain similarities in his work - there is always some kind of disability involved (in this case main character walking with a stick and limping and falling everywhere), there are kids or some other helpless creatures in danger and FAT WOMAN who is usually negative character and described as mythical evil. Just go and check Herbert's other novels, sooner or later it turns the evil comes in disguise of fat woman who is dangerous and needs to be stopped from her evilness.
At this point I have one more Herbert's book lined in front of me and not really looking forward to it - I can imagine cliche after cliche and fat woman wanting to destroy the planet.
4.0 out of 5 stars STILL TIMELY - A UNIQUE APOCALYPTIC VISION Aug. 15 2005
By Theresa Welsh - Published on Amazon.com
This story has all the elements of a good thriller, but adds a supernatural twist, as Mother Earth deals with the damage caused by humans to the land, the seas and the air. The scene shifts from a plane swept up in a hurricane in the skies over the US to government offices in Great Britain where climatologist, James Rivers, who survived that terrifying plane ride, is trying to make sense of what's happening. Freak storms, earthquakes and tsunamis are devastating nearly every part of the planet.

Rivers meets Diane and her adopted twins who live with Diane's in-laws in a farm house in rural England. The twins are psychic - they have visions and can heal injuries. Not all their visions are happy ones as they make a psychic connection with a woman from New Orleans, a big black woman who can also heal, when she chooses to. More often she chooses to hurt rather than heal. She believes she serves Mother Earth, but her way is the way of destruction.

The story moves swiftly as Rivers begins to believe that the twins and other children like them have some connection with what's happening. The author takes us around the world to witness various destructive events (India, Japan, the Philipines, and out on the ocean), Always, there is first the small balls of light that rise from the earth. These are the portents of something big, something destructive, about to happen. How does this mysterious and beautiful light point the way to the future? Where does it come from? How do children from all over the earth, who all have the visions, fit in?

As you read, you begin to get answers. Rivers must confront the evil woman whose connection to the twins is all too real. A classic horror movie scene takes place at the farm house at the story's climax, complete with flashing lightening, crashing thunder, odd balls of light, flash floods, and ghoulish murder. The story is unique in its theory of the earth's destruction, which has within it a new beginning. Mother Earth is making an adjustment, but so is mankind in the consciousness of a new generation. It's a frightening picture of mankind reaping what it has sown, but the story also hints at a resurrection with a new improved human race.

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