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The Eiger Sanction (Jonathan Hemlock #1)

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  5,654 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Jonathan Hemlock, Professor of Art, world-renowned mountain climber and freelance assassin for the CII. Hemlock is sent to Switzerland on a mission to climb the notorious Eiger peak of the Alps, whose north face has meant death to many climbers. Hemlock's target: one of his three fellow climbers. The only problem is, CII can't tell him which one...
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 10th 2005 by Broadway Books (first published 1972)
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Community Reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
"Niceness is an overrated quality. Being nice is how a man pays his way into the party if he hasn't the guts to be tough or the class to be brilliant."

Jonathan Hemlock teaches art at a university, but the modest sum he makes teaching doesn't cover his extravagant habits. He is renovating a Gothic church on Long Island, expensive real estate as we all know, and the upgrades involve only the very best in Italian marbles and rare woods. Jonathan is building a shrine to his self-image. He has a coll...more
Jul 12, 2014 Mark rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of the spy book genre
Recommended to Mark by: the Clint Eastwood movie
Shelves: spies, thriller, 2013
To be honest I have seen the movie three or four times and mostly because of Clint Eastwood.
I did expect the movie to be different from the book as most movies tend to be, so I was kind of surprised that this was not the case. The Eastwood movie is rather faithfull to the novel.
That is perhaps the reason I kept seeing Eastwoods face when I read the novel. The book like the movie is not one in the vein of the 007 movie series albeit that some aspects like the "M" in this book wher quite Fleminge...more
Trevanian's stories of suspense fell somewhere between the adventurous romantic thrillers of Fleming and the dark, grimy reality of le Carre. While Trev. has his own following, I find Fleming to be more engrossingly entertaining and le Carre to be more disturbingly down-to-earth. Eiger Sanction I also don't think aged as well much of the works of the other two authors. While the basic plot is good, and well written, the sexuality of the book seems very forced and artificial, even a bit backwards...more
Su gibi akıp giden romanları seviyorum ve Trevanian da bu romanları yazmayı gerçekten iyi biliyor.
Önceden okumuş olduğum “Şibumi” den etkilenerek bu kitabını aldım. Kovalamaca, polisiye dolu olmasına rağmen okurken ana karakterden etkilenerek gayet sakin kalmayı başarabiliyorsunuz.
Okuduğum iki kitapta da çok fazla benzerlik olduğunu söyleyebilirim. Ana karakterler sanata ilgili, duygudan yoksun, yetim ve kesinlikle özel olarak büyümüş olan yetenekli insanlar. Bu özellikle ana karaktere karşı h...more
While I'm aware that "the Eiger Sanction" is widely considered a parody on the spy fiction genre, I feel it is one of Trevanian's best books. It easily holds it ground as a genuine thriller, albeit with a good dose of sarcasm and irony.

the biggest "problem" for me might have been that, I'm a big fan of the Clint Eastwood movie, and Clint is pretty a perfect cast for Jonathan Hemlock, so it's absolutely impossible reading this book without seeing the actors faces filling my head despites some dif...more
Dec 19, 2013 Mark added it
A strange and wonderful book, THE EIGER SANCTION really deserves a longer review than I can give it, because there really is nothing like it. The novel opens with an unforgettable scene of vicious skullduggery, and then introduces Jonathan Hemlock, an eccentric professor who lives in a converted church and supports his passion of collecting masterpiece paintings by . . . performing unimaginably difficult assassinations for a shadowy agency. For the first half of the book the reader is treated to...more
Almost as good as Shibumi, but far better than Don Wilson's "Shibumi Prequel" Satori. The plot is a bit predictable, but the point isn't the plot, the point is about the style of the journey. Intelligent, sarcastic, elitist. Very fun.

Intentional parody of the classic spy novel, but better written and more interesting than many of the more serious works. Every characters and places are given names that poke fun at themselves and the story.

One reader described the Eiger Sanction [assassination] as...more
"Dr. Jonathan Hemlock, Professor of Art, spun out his closing lecture to the mass class in Art and Society - a course he abhorred to teach, but one which was the bread and butter of his department. His lecture style was broadly ironic, even insulting, but he was vastly popular with the students, each of whom imagined his neighbor was writhing under Dr. Hemlock's superior disdain. They interpreted his cold acidity as an attractive bitterness in the face of the unfeeling bourgeois world, an epitom...more
Shades of Crichton, Ludlum, Le Carre. Obsessed Trevanian fans are fond of describing his work as "meta-" or "simultaneous spoof of and spy novel," but such descriptions may be a trifle too fair for the writer. This isn't some carnivalesque linguistic word-play and semiotic deconstruction with seven possible meanings to every paragraph. It's straight Ludlum or Crichton with a little bit of extra twist to make everything skippy. In fact, one might fairly say that the beginnings of Trevanian's grea...more
Ramon Yáñez lópez
Tercera novela de Trevanian que leo despues de Shibumi y El Main.

La Sanci��n de Eiger es como una novela de James Bond pero sin James Bond. Aqui el protagonista es un profesor de Historia del Arte que en sus ratos lbres hace de asesino para una agencia (de pacotilla) gubernamental.

Repleta de dialogos llenos de ironia solo hay que poner al protagonista la cara de Clint Eastwood (que la film�� en 1973) y pasareis un rato estupendo.

This really is a clever and fun book. I don't know if I'd have seen the twist coming so clearly as I did had I not read it first decades ago and remembered enough to know what was coming, but the fact that I even remember such a detail speaks to the staying power of the book. Assassin Jonathan Hemlock is hired/coerced into carrying out a dangerous "sanction" or assassination only he can manage, since the target is a mountain climber, as Hemlock was in earlier pre-assassin days. This book include...more
Kate Savage
Take an arts-history prof/secret weekend assassin, add some ridiculously named randy ladies, tough men and some mountain climbing and you have the Eiger Sanction.

Oh, what to say about this one.....adventure, sex, mystery, art, snobbery, and who-dun-it, sort of. Jonathan Hemlock is an art history professor, contraband painting collector, and (dun, dun, dun) a cold-blooded assassin on the side. No kidding. And if that doesn't sound ridiculous, he always gets the ladies. But he's looking to get out...more
Clara Mazzi
Gustosissimo. Dialoghi ammirevoli: veloci, imprevedibili. Caustici. Che portano facilmente al riso - difficilissimo quando si scrive. Scritto nel '72 -se non fosse per il tanto sesso casuale e il niente amore, non si noterebbe quasi che sono passati 30 anni dalla sua uscita. Poco suspence, questo sì. E un finale prevedibile sin per me. Ma i dialoghi, i dialoghi valgono tutto il libro.
Read this when I hung out with a climbing crowd, a phase of reading any fiction with descriptions of difficult climbs. Probably wouldn't have read it otherwise but it was a fast-moving thriller. Probably wouldn't read it these days. Ian Fleming is more kitschy so survives the test of time, thinking this would not.
I needed to take a break from serious fiction, so I picked up a vintage copy of this novel, advertising on the cover, "Now an explosive film starring Clint Eastwood." I remember watching the movie as a kid and enjoying the mountain climbing scenes.

The novel read much like Austin Powers, with women named Randie Knickers and Felicity Arce. I read it the day I picked it up, and it had the usual feel of a thriller: flipping pages to see what's going to happen next, and not being sure you like yourse...more
3.5 stars. I didn't like the main character at all and the book was 75% mountain climbing, 25% assassin /spy stuff but it was interesting to note how much technology has changed things in so few years. No Google, no cell phones, wow what a difference!
Trevanian's parody of the Ian Fleming super-spy genre is so well done, and such an entertaining thriller in its own right, that many reviewers missed the joke when the book appeared in the early Seventies. (This despite characters with names like Yurasis Dragon, Jean-Paul Bidet, and Felicity Arce.) The mountaineering details are straight out of Heinrich Harrer's The White Spider, but the High Middlebrow style -- enjoyably snide and not nearly as highbrow as the author or his hero might think --...more
i'd seen the clint eastwood movie years ago. television. description on the back says "part thriller and part satire" but for me any satire musta went over my head.

this guy lives in a renovated catholic church, new york, art collector, assassinates people upon request. sanctions them not to put too fine a point on it.

he gets the call, but he's semi-retired and needs to get in shape. does so. the eiger is a mountain.

trevanian trots around the globe w/his fiction. where hasn't he been? entertaini...more
Ricardo Bosque
Lo primero que debemos tener en cuenta es que se trata de novelas escritas en los primeros setenta, por lo que resulta conveniente, antes de comenzar su lectura, vestirnos con nuestro mejor pantalón acampanado o con nuestra minifalda preferida (según sea el caso), saquemos del armario la camisa con cuello más grande que podamos encontrar, calzarnos las Ray-Ban de cristales verdosos que teníamos olvidadas por algún cajón y disponernos a “perdonar” algunas actitudes o expresiones que ahora nos pue...more
Richard Jacoby
Well.....I had seen this movie during the early 80's on video and was somewhat interested in picking it up one day. After watching the German movie "The North Face" my interest was rekindled. Although a good bit of the book drags with snappy 70's dialogue and a tiring parade of woman wanting to bed the protagonist, it is worth getting through all of that to get to the climb on the Eiger itself. Unfortunately this is not the biggest portion of the book. Too much time wasted on the art critic side...more
Tom Donaghey
What a knock-out. Read this in a jeep while riding from Frankfurt to Nuremberg, a little under three hours. I couldn't stop. If you only know this one from the movie version, do yourself a favor and pick it up.
Joe  Noir
This is an edge of the seat thriller that I found to be more fun than any spy novel has a right to be. I'll admit that I didn't pick up on the parody until later. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It includes the first use I'd seen of a literary "split screen" technique that allows the reader to see the action from two different points of view. Although, that could be part of the parody as well. Trevanian followed up with a second Jonathan Hemlock adventure The Loo Sanction. I always hoped to see...more
From discussions with others, I have gotten the idea that Trevanian's novels are supposed to be highly intelligent spoofs of genre novels, but I have to say that I could barely see the spoof here. Maybe I'm not familiar enough with the genre, or maybe it was just too subtle for me. (It does appear to be his first.) But, invariably, it's an enjoyable enough novel, and it's certainly well-written. But the spy/counterspy tropes are a bit annoying, and like I said, it's not obviously a spoof. But I'...more
Fantastic writer in this genre!!
Riya Towner
i thought it eas great
An odd mish-mash of genres, The Eiger Sanction is a little too inconsistent to be recommendable. Sometimes it feels like an "Austin Powers" style spoof, while other parts are brutally violent, dramatic, romantic, or scathingly critical of early 20th-century international politics. The individual parts are well-done, but the book as a whole is just weird. In addition, for a book that is supposedly about climbing the Eiger, very little time is actually spent there. Overall, it just wasn't what I e...more
Jonathan Lu
I had to pick this up after watching the Clint Eastwood adaptation filled with great climbing sequences. I think it's safe to say that the film did not quite capture the essence of the book. Trevanian's words paint a clearly over the top spoof of the spy genre not meant to be taken seriously... naming that little Pomeranian "Faggot" was not straying from the book. Clint Eastwood certainly did justice to the detailed climbing imagery, but not quite (purposefully) to the non-stop coitus and bravad...more
Richard Miller
After 40 years Eigar Sanction still has the same enjoyment.
Jr W
Mar 10, 2014 Jr W added it
MOst excellent! A throwback to classic thriller with engaging character and a good pace.
Will DeBoard
This was a great adventure book and it was based in two of my favorite places in the world: The American Southwest and the Swiss Alps. Jonathan Hemlock, the protagonist, is one cool cat. He's an art professor who works as an international hitman to supplement his art collection. This book is loaded with interesting, well-rounded characters and it's based in interesting spots, too. I would call this more of a "guy's" book but really can be read by anyone looking for some adventure and intrigue.
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"Trevanian" was the pen name of American author Dr. Rodney William Whitaker (12 June 1931-14 Dec 2005). He wrote in a wide variety of genres, achieved best-seller status, and published under several names, of which the best known was Trevanian. From 1972 to 1983, five of his novels sold more than a million copies each. He was described as "the only writer of airport paperbacks to be compared to Zo...more
More about Trevanian...
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