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The Honourable Schoolboy (The Karla Trilogy #2)

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,171 Ratings  ·  507 Reviews
In the wake of a demoralizing infiltration by a Soviet double agent, Smiley has been made ringmaster of the Circus (aka the British Secret Service). Determined to restore the organization's health and reputation, and bent on revenge, Smiley thrusts his own handpicked operative into action. Jerry Westerby, "The Honourable Schoolboy," is dispatched to the Far East. A burial ...more
Paperback, 589 pages
Published October 29th 2002 by Scribner Book Company (first published January 1st 1977)
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Brendan
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
PG Since he was kicked out by Bill Haydon, opinions about Sam Collins would be necessarily divided - is he one of the "clean" ones or did Haydon shove…moreSince he was kicked out by Bill Haydon, opinions about Sam Collins would be necessarily divided - is he one of the "clean" ones or did Haydon shove him out as a cover. Once Sam is on the inside (the fifth floor), but still treated at an arm's length by Guillam, he uses the opportunity to align with the Cousins, and Saul Enderby and his administrative cohorts. If you can, recall how Guillam kicks himself for asking Sam to take a report to the committee managing "Dolphin".

As for Opium running, in addition to providing a backdrop for Liz's character, as well as providing the last shove for "shake for the tree" plan" which is to get Drake to hurry up his plans to smuggle Nelson from China.

Hope this helps.(less)
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréThe Hunt for Red October by Tom ClancyThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth
Best Spy Novels
22nd out of 876 books — 1,549 voters
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick ForsythThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
Espionage
17th out of 703 books — 833 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Warwick
Popular opinion has it that this is the weakest of the three Karla novels. I thought it was a masterpiece, and a more ambitious novel than Tinker, Tailor.

It is very different from the last book: suddenly there is this unexpectedly huge scope of Southeast Asia to go alongside the muted meetings in grey London office rooms. I can well understand how some readers might have felt it was two books jammed together, but for me the contrast worked perfectly and I was riveted by how brilliantly Le Carré
...more
Feliks
I'm a longtime reader of the espionage genre --beginning as just a lad--and although I massively enjoyed all of John LeCarre's earlier works and particularly his George Smiley series--I must call out "The Honourable Schoolboy" for especial recognition.

This penultimate work of that series is really the triumph of LeCarre's career; the point at which he reached the full breadth and scope of his powers. Afterwards--although he enjoyed further achievements--I suggest that he never again eclipses th
...more
Darwin8u
Nov 16, 2015 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
“I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

― W.H. Auden

“Yet it's not for want of future that I'm here, he thought. It's for want of a present.”
― John le Carré, The Honourable Schoolboy

description

Well sport, this was a messy, sometimes uneven AND occasionally a plodding novel but I absolutely loved every single word of it. This is the second book of le Carré's Karla trilogy. Perhaps, the greatest spy trilogy ever. While more people focus on the first
...more
Mizuki
May 09, 2016 Mizuki rated it it was ok
One of the few bright spots is how the author wrote the 1970s colonized Hong Kong, I also enjoy how the author described the international spy network and how those spies work, but all the good things I have to say about this book end here. The characters are rather flat, the plot and the war among spies slow paced and uninteresting. In the end I don't care what might happen to any of those characters. So it's a disappointed 2 stars.
rameau
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a tough act to follow, but I must admit I was expecting more. At first, I thought that’s exactly what I was getting but then the mind-numbing second third happened and I was lost in a way I never was in Tinker Tailor. I still don’t have a clear understanding of what happened—in the book or with my interest in it.

All I know is that I got sick of reading about Jerry. I got sick of Guillam’s overdone fawning. I got sick of the female characters—including Connie—portraye
...more
Vit Babenco
Jul 21, 2016 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John le Carré calls Hong Kong the world capital of espionage of the seventies. There on the invisible battlefields the unseen combats are being fought… But the invisibility doesn’t make the mêlées less cruel. Clandestinity just makes spy battles much more psychologically complex.
“A redhead, which was half-way to whoredom for a start. Not enough breast to nurse a rabbit, and worst of all a fierce eye for arithmetic. They said he found her in the town: whore again. From the first day, she had not
...more
Leelas
Oct 06, 2012 Leelas rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spies
A John le Carre novel set in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia? Yes, please!

This is the second volume in the Karla trilogy, and as such is the direct sequel to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Do not expect more of the same, however. This is, after all, John le Carre, and he rarely, if ever, writes the same novel twice.

The le Carre novels that I have read tend to make use of two general frameworks. There are the 'whodunit' style stories, set primarily in London, such as Call for the Dead and TTSS. These ar
...more
Bradley West
Jun 18, 2016 Bradley West rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, thrillers
After Tinker, Tailor, le Carre's fans waited many years for the follow-up The Honourable Schoolboy. When I first read the book 35 (!) years ago I recall being a little disappointed that the book wasn't more Smiley-centric, but in retrospect le Carre's shift in focus from treachery within the Circus to the exotic East was what the series needed lest it choke on its own incestuous fog.

The Hong Kong of the early 1970s in the book wasn't very different from the Hong Kong I encountered in the early 1
...more
Bryan Alexander
May 27, 2014 Bryan Alexander rated it it was amazing
This is one of the greatest spy novels I've ever read. It's a powerful, ambitious, satisfying sequel to the very great Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

The plot concerns the Circus (British espionage unit) tracking down a Soviet operation in the far East. Smiley rebuilds the shattered agency and hurls it into the fray. Without spoilers I can assert that The Honourable Schoolboy takes place largely in south and southeast Asia, with long stretches back in London, and an ultimate focus on Hong Kong. E
...more
Larou
Apparently, many people read John Le Carré’s spy novels for a glimpse at what the world of international espionage is really like; in other words, they read them like a kind of journalism about the shady world of Intelligence Services. And there certainly is something to it – we’ve grown used to a more realistic perspective on secret services, but we can still imagine what it must have been like to read a novel like The Spy Who Came In from the Cold for someone whose idea of spy thrillers were I ...more
Stuart Ayris
Jan 03, 2012 Stuart Ayris rated it it was amazing
This the second in the Smiley/Karla trilogy - the only one (as far as I'm aware) that hasn't been dramatised and as such the least known of the three. Yet it is my favourite by far.

The main character is not George Smiley (although he is present in much of the novel) but Jerry Westerby, one of the Occasionals as they are referred to - foreign correspondents who do a little spying on the side. As such, it is altogether more human than either Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or Smiley's People - the r
...more
Nilesh
Oct 25, 2012 Nilesh rated it it was ok
The Karla Trilogy is not a true trilogy but a marketing spin and this book proves it in more ways than one.

To start with, this book has little connection with the Karla-Smiley story of Tinker, Tailor. Yes, Karla is mentioned as linked to the spies being chased but with no other role whatsoever. Smiley team is there but more as a sideshow to the juvenile story of a fringe spy falling in crazy love over a single meeting, his Southeast Asian ventures and a complex capture tale where one is never cl
...more
Nick Baam
Feb 27, 2013 Nick Baam rated it it was amazing
Crime noir been given its due, with Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and James M. Cain all winning Nobel prizes (haven't they?) (read Cain's Serenade), I nominate for the award the spy genre's only serious candidate, John le Carre. More, I nominate The Honourable Schoolboy as the best spy novel ever written, and the author himself doesn't put it in his top four.

The Honourable Schoolboy, second in the Karla Trilogy, coming after Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and before Smiley's People, is all a
...more
Jim
Dec 12, 2010 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I really wanted to get into this for my holiday. The plot was set in Hong Kong, so what could be more appropriate, and initially I was quite gripped by the characters and potential story. But as the novel progressed I found I just wasn't interested enough in the minutiae of the spying world in the way that Le Carre so clearly is, how it operates and what legwork needs to be done in order to unearth the Red under your Bed. Which was enough of a pity that I might go back to the book soon, because ...more
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
1/3: It's 1975, and spymaster George Smiley takes charge of dealing with a betrayal. Stars Simon Russell Beale and Hugh Bonneville.

2/3: The Americans make their presence felt, and tragedy strikes in Hong Kong.

3/3: Can George Smiley keep the situation under control? Can Jerry Westerby be trusted? Stars Simon Russell Beale and Daisy Haggard.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01616ll
Chris
May 06, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honourable School Boy Another good production by the Smiley Players. This radio drama more than a straight forward audio book. The cast is great, especially Simon Russell Beale who plays Smiley. It is more of morality tales that will make you think. If you like Dowton Abbey, you might want to check this out as Hugh Bonneville has a large part. ...more
James
Sep 15, 2015 James rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller, fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Martha
Dec 11, 2014 Martha rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Very dark, very heavy, very good. I was a child when this story is set, and its easy to just think of the end of the Viet Nam war as just the US getting out. I'll admit that until I read "Bangkok 8" by John Burdett, I wasn't sure how other Asian countries participated in the war, or how the drug trade fitted in. Similar terrain in this book.

This book has a range of characters: Asian capitalists, crazy expat journalists, peasant soldiers, one femme fatale; and puts them in action in a multination
...more
Charles
Jun 30, 2012 Charles rated it liked it
I read this along with the other two volumes of the Smiley trilogy when they were first published. I found I couldn't remember this one, or imaging why it hadn't also been made into a movie. Now I know. One tip-off was how hard it was to find. I eventually got a large-print copy out of the public library. I needed the large print, because this is a slog. There are a lot of pages of arch language which gets old very fast, many more pages of sneaking up on an unintelligibly complicated scheme whic ...more
Matt Brady
It’s tough to follow up the brilliance of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and while The Honourable Schoolboy is an interesting and entertaining novel in it’s own right, it certainly paled in comparison to it’s predecessor for me.

The British Secret Service is reeling and George Smiley, the pensive, middle-aged Cold War veteran has been charged with setting the Circus back on it’s feet. To that end he employs Jerry Westerby, a minor character from Tinker, Tailor, to run down a possible lead – a myst
...more
Mitzi
May 31, 2012 Mitzi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked that le Carre writes an introduction to these editions of the Karla trilogy, because it helps me forgive the some of the distractions and ramblings in what is the most exciting but also weakest of the three. First of all, le Carre explains that he went on location to gather sights, sounds and experiences for this book, which explains the vividness and a lot of the action. It also explains why there are scenes in the book that, while interesting, don't move the plot forward. It's like he ...more
Ryan Sanderson
Jul 13, 2013 Ryan Sanderson rated it really liked it
The first forty pages of The Honourable Schoolboy read like a miraculous delivery on the promise of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, wherein LeCarre perfects, not just the art of plotting, but of obfuscation through excess. This is a mental exercise in inference and interpretation. All of the information is present but the reader is invited to plod their own way through, a thrillingly lifelike exercise few popular fictions would ever dream of allowing. LeCarre once stated that Schoolboy was the first ...more
Chris Parks
Apr 18, 2013 Chris Parks rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seriously, I can't understand why le Carre' is not even more popular. It may that he is just too good of a writer. This book was so dense, so expertly written, and so visual, I could not wait to get back to it. Yet, I recommended it to several people and almost no one shared my passion for the story. I feel the problem may be that there is a lack of early action in the story, instead, le Carre' takes his time with character development--which he probably does better than any other modern writer. ...more
Leslie Crawley
Jul 20, 2016 Leslie Crawley rated it liked it
Wow, this was hard work. So many times I put this down and thought no more. It is a great storyline, but the language is so over the top stereotypical uppercrust british, it is truly cringeworthy. I won't be reaching for a le Carre in a hurry because of this one, I may not even finish the series......Disappointed after the hugely enjoyable and engaging Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Souvik Jana
May 01, 2016 Souvik Jana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

One fat book it is and in it John Le Carre has tried to portrait the entire East Asian theatre of the mid 70s, the British colony of Hong Kong, Red China and Soviet Russia's pressure on it, the last days of the Vietnam War and the extended insurgencies into Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and the opium trails in these parts controlled by the Hong Kong elites.

The only book by John Le Carre I have read before this is The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and as a result I continued to compare the two books d

...more
Colin Powell
Feb 08, 2015 Colin Powell rated it it was amazing
This is the second of the George Smiley vs Karla stories. At the beginning we are introduced to Jerry Westerby who featured in Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy. The characters of this story are wonderfully crafted and I enjoyed the way we got to learn of these various protagonists through interviews with people who knew them from the past. These meetings and interviews are done via Connie Sachs, George Smiley etc during the middle part of the book as they gather information from parents and friends ...more
R.
Mar 11, 2016 R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Honourable Schoolboy, written by John Le Carre in 1977, reads like a travelogue and reminiscence of a Far Eastern journey taken by a cheery and likable hero named Jerry Westerby. Jerry is a British journalist and former agent who played a minor but important role in T.T.S.S.

Jerry first travels to Hong Kong because his chief, George Smiley, has reactivated him in order to investigate a fat cat businessman with ties to Moscow, China, and the underworld of South East Asia. Following the money
...more
Nomadman
Feb 06, 2015 Nomadman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Honourable Schoolboy is an epic, sprawling mess of a novel that doesn't quite deliver the payoff it promises those willing to invest in its near 700 page length. As in Tinker Tailor and Smiley's People (the other two novels making up the so-called Karla Trilogy, of which this is the second), le Carre narrates the events of the book as a sort of controlled retrospective, deliberately withholding information from the reader until the end. Here, however, the technique starts to grate due to the ...more
Jill
Jun 02, 2013 Jill rated it really liked it
The honourable (very English) schoolboy of the title is Jerry Westerby, the son of an English peer and the product of English public (i.e., elite private) schools; a gruff, hale-fellow-well-met who works for the British Secret Service while posing as a freelance journalist. Westerby’s boss is George Smiley, le Carré’s most memorable character—middle-aged, somewhat portly, the cuckold of a beautiful wife, brilliantly insightful, and a bit ruthless. The year is 1975 and the Vietnam War is drawing ...more
Dennis Fischman
May 06, 2012 Dennis Fischman rated it liked it
With this book, LeCarre bring Smiley and the British spies he calls the Circus into the Vietnam era. So, what difference does a decade make? Mostly, I think, that Smiley is not the only one who's feeling anguished about the things they have to do for a cause that seems more and more sordid. It's a post-Watergate novel, and even though the Americans in the book are still mainly cowboys, the cynicism that Nixon's fall brought about in the U.S. has infected more and more of the Brits.

The plot is s
...more
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Why Did They Let Westerby Go? 9 72 Apr 02, 2015 09:21PM  
it is hands-down, the best ever written 19 63 Nov 23, 2014 01:50PM  
Did Smiley order the death that closes the action? 4 63 Nov 07, 2013 10:19PM  
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John le Carré, the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell (born 19 October 1931 in Poole, Dorset, England), is an English author of espionage novels. Le Carré has resided in St Buryan, Cornwall, Great Britain, for more than 40 years, where he owns a mile of cliff close to Land's End.

See also: John le Carré - Wikipedia
More about John le Carré...

Other Books in the Series

The Karla Trilogy (3 books)
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
  • Smiley's People

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