Hannibal Rising

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This article is about the novel. For the film, see Hannibal Rising (film).
Hannibal Rising
First edition cover
Author Thomas Harris
Country United States
Language English
Series Hannibal Lecter
Genre Thriller
Publisher Delacorte Press
Publication date
5 December 2006
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 323
ISBN 0-385-33941-0
OCLC 82287375
Preceded by Hannibal

Hannibal Rising is a novel written by Thomas Harris, published in 2006. It is a prequel to his three previous books featuring his most famous character, the cannibalistic serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter. It is Harris' fifth and, as of 2014, most recent novel. The novel was released with an initial printing of at least 1.5 million copies[1] and met with a mixed critical response. Audiobook versions have also been released, with Harris reading the text. The novel was adapted (by Harris himself) into a film of the same name in 2007, directed by Peter Webber.

Plot summary[edit]

Lecter is eight years old at the beginning of the novel (1941), living in Lecter Castle in Lithuania, when Operation Barbarossa, Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union, turns the Baltic region into a part of the bloodiest front line of World War II. Lecter, his sister Mischa, and his parents escape to the family's hunting lodge in the woods to elude the advancing German troops. After three years, the Nazis are finally driven out of the countries now occupied by the Soviet Union. During their retreat, a German Stuka destroys a Soviet tank that had stopped at the Lecter family's lodge looking for water. The explosion kills everyone but Lecter and Mischa. They survive in the cottage until six former Lithuanian militiamen, led by a Nazi collaborator named Vladis Grutas, storm and loot it. Finding no other food, they kill and cannibalize Mischa, while Lecter watches helplessly. He blacks out and is later found wandering and mute by a Soviet tank crew that takes him back to Lecter Castle, which is now a Soviet orphanage. Lecter is irreparably traumatized by the ordeal, and develops a savage obsession with avenging his sister's death.

Lecter is removed from the orphanage by his uncle, a noted painter, and he goes to live with him in France. The happiness of their lives together is cut short with his uncle's sudden death. Most of the estate is taken for death duties.

Lecter goes to live in reduced circumstances with his Japanese aunt, Lady Murasaki, and they develop a special, quasi-romantic relationship. While in France, Lecter flourishes as a medical student. He commits his first murder as a teenager, killing a local butcher who insulted Murasaki. He is suspected of the butcher's murder by Inspector Popil, a French detective who also lost his family during the war. Thanks in part to Murasaki's intervention, Lecter escapes responsibility for the crime.

Lecter divides his time between medical school in France and hunting those who killed and cannibalized his sister. One by one, he crosses paths with Grutas' men, killing them all in the most inventively gruesome ways possible. Eventually, Popil arrests Lecter, but Lecter is freed when popular support for his dispatch of war criminals combines with a lack of hard evidence. While Lecter avoids prison, he loses his relationship with Murasaki, who tells him that there is nothing human left in him. The novel ends with Lecter going to America to begin his residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.


  • Hannibal Lecter
  • Lady Murasaki (the character shares the name of the noted Japanese writer Lady Murasaki). Possesses the arms and armor of her ancestor Date Masamune, polishes them annually.
  • Inspector Popil
  • Vladis Grutas – Has large letter 'M's carved in his chest and body; is reduced to ash when Lecter rigs his yacht to explode.
  • Zigmas Milko – Drowned in Formalin solution in a cadaver tank.
  • Enrikas Dortlich – His head is ripped off after Lecter ties his neck to a horse; his cheeks are then cut off. Hannibal later admits that he has eaten them.
  • Petras Kolnas – Is stabbed through the head with a tantō dagger.
  • Bronys Grentz – Is beheaded by Lecter who then mails the head to a taxidermist.
  • Kazys Porvik aka Pot Watcher – killed by a bomb, before Lecter begins his mission.
  • Paul Momund – Hannibal's first victim. Insults Lady Murasaki and is killed with ancestral wakizashi. (in the film, the katana is used)
  • Robert Lecter
  • Mischa Lecter


The February 22, 2007 issue of Entertainment Weekly features a quote that suggests that the only reason Thomas Harris wrote the story was out of the fear that a Lecter prequel/origin story would inevitably be written without his involvement. Hannibal Rising film producer Dino De Laurentiis said "I say to Thomas, 'If you don't do [the prequel], I will do it with someone else...I don't want to lose this franchise. And the audience wants it...' He said, 'No. I'm sorry.' And I said, 'I will do it with somebody else.' And then he said, 'Let me think about it. I will come up with an idea.'"[2]


  1. ^ AP (2006-09-19). "New Hannibal Lecter novel due in December". CNN. Archived from the original on 2006-09-20. Retrieved 2006-09-19. 
  2. ^ Fierman, Daniel (2007-02-16). "Lecter Loses His Bite". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 

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