This is the first book I've read by Frey and I enjoyed it. The cloak-and-dagger aspect is what I expected and being a long-time fan of 'The Deadliest...moreThis is the first book I've read by Frey and I enjoyed it. The cloak-and-dagger aspect is what I expected and being a long-time fan of 'The Deadliest Catch,' the brief time the story spent off the coast of Dutch Harbor and in the Bering Sea was satisfying.
I should have realized this was a series, however, because the cliffhanger ending was less an actual 'ending' than driving and finding out abruptly the road ends and you're being asked to hurtle across a gaping chasm. The problem is that I wasn't expecting it and so I'm not mentally prepared to take that leap. I'm interested, but not entirely up for the journey just yet. The characters were only a little more complex than the garden-variety covert spy organization that zealously protects blissfully unaware citizens and politicians alike.
This is an ambitious novel that mostly works because the heroine, Phedre no Delauney, is unique. She's a courtesan and a spy, a student and a slave, a...moreThis is an ambitious novel that mostly works because the heroine, Phedre no Delauney, is unique. She's a courtesan and a spy, a student and a slave, a loyal friend and conflicted because of her beliefs. The primary conflict with Melisande is filled with tension and intrigue; their relationship is interesting and when not center-stage, always in the wings.
The voice - the old (odd, obsolete) terms and phrasing - took a chapter or two to get used to, but once my mental ear was tuned, it flowed easily. The Kindle version ruined it occasionnaly, interupting the narration because of typos (like random periods where the sentence didn't end).
It's an other-world version of Europe, complete with it's own religion, peoples and cultures. The world building is strong, but comparisons to GRRM are overblown.
I was cautious about reading this, based on other reviews about the sex and torture, but it's pretty tame compared to Outlander, as one example (another epic story) and popular movies.
At over 900 pages, I tried to think about what made it so long and whether it was longer than it needed to be. I glossed over all the names and relations, which diminished some of the intrigue but it was just too difficult to follow. People had names and relationships and sigils and countries, but without the faces and personalities and events, they ended up just being names. When the author did spend time on characters - Delauney, Alcuin,, Joscelin, Melisande, Rousse, Ysandre, Drustan, Master of the Straits, Selig, Hedwig - they came alive. The only author who really can build a world of dozens of unique, memorable characters is GRRM, and sadly this book falls short.
Phedre's relationship with Joscelin is one of the best parts, however. I cared about their relationship and while I could see where it was heading, it was satisfying all the same.
I may read the next one... when I have a few weeks to dive in and immerse myself in Terre D'Ange and become reacquainted with its inhabitants.
The fourth installment of the Stephanie Plum series was a treat, as refreshing as the orange ice cream from the Jersey boardwalk during the height of...moreThe fourth installment of the Stephanie Plum series was a treat, as refreshing as the orange ice cream from the Jersey boardwalk during the height of summer. As I'd hoped, her relationship with Morelli progresses but doesn't get boring. She's stubbornly independent but dreams about a happily ever after - happily, I'm left guessing whether it's with Morelli or not.
There's plenty of action and a new batch of quirky characters like Sugar and Sally and Kuntz. The mystery this time seemed dialed down, in terms of complexity and intrigue. Sure, there are explosions and the powder blue Ford makes a predictable appearance, but the violence and gore are tame this time around (unlike the funeral home escapades in #2).
I think it's time to take a break and revisit Stephanie, Ranger, Lula, Grandma Mazur and Morelli in High Five at a later time. I'll look forward to the movie in the meantime.(less)
I read the 'Rembrandt Affair' a year ago and really enjoyed Gabriel Allon, the Israeli spy and assassin who just can't quit his job. I expect spies to...moreI read the 'Rembrandt Affair' a year ago and really enjoyed Gabriel Allon, the Israeli spy and assassin who just can't quit his job. I expect spies to have a lot of personal baggage - why else would they gravitate to a profession that requires isolation, deception, moral ambiguity and high ideals (whether it's for a country, a religious belief, or personal gain). He had a rich background and I slipped very easily into the story, enjoying every moment. And then I found out it was the eleventh in the series. It's a mark of a great series when a book stands on its own, acknolwedging that a lot of water is under the bridge but you neither feel left out or beat over the head with recaps from prior books (the Sookie Stackhouse novels are for people who enjoy that kind of pain).
I felt compelled to go to the beginning, The Kill Artist, which is the first book in the series and where we first meet Gabriel Allon. And lo and behold, even then you understand that he's already had his share of life, and death. Silva kicks off the series with a fully-formed Allon, a spy who has already lived the enviable James Bond-style life, had a family and great success, but who has lost it all.
For anyone who loves heavy doses of exotic locations and political intrigue mixed (sparingly) with pinches of real world leaders, this series is superb. Silva is extraordinarily knowledgable about world affairs and shares insightful commentary (through his characters), due to his journalism background (including CNN) and his stint as a correspondent in the Middle East during the Iran-Iraq war. I will admit that I didn't know of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict origins and (if it's accurately told) now I have a much better understanding - there are truly two sides to that conflict.
I'm looking forward to reading books 2-9 and now number 12. I have many, many good hours of reading ahead of me.(less)
This is a thoughtful, engaging novel by an author I hadn't read before. I wish it wasn't the last one, though. I missed so much of Gabriel Allon's lif...moreThis is a thoughtful, engaging novel by an author I hadn't read before. I wish it wasn't the last one, though. I missed so much of Gabriel Allon's life, but even stepping into his world at the twilight of his career was rewarding.
I enjoyed the 'what if' aspect of the plot and could entirely believe the story behind Rembrandt's missing painting and his mistress. The cultural, historical and geographical elements were richly woven together to tell two tales - Allon's and the painting's. Both have had violent pasts and both deserve a graceful return to their natural state.
Even after reading the end first, I would enjoy starting at the beginning with "The Kill Artist" and read the eight others in the series leading up to "The Rembrandt Affair." An Israeli intelligence agent with a passion for restoring masterpieces delivers just the right balance of thrills and intrigue. (less)
I'm having a hard time getting through this one. I read the predecessor, "The Last Templar," a couple years ago and thought it was pretty good. This o...moreI'm having a hard time getting through this one. I read the predecessor, "The Last Templar," a couple years ago and thought it was pretty good. This one just doesn't keep my attention. It's what I read when I'm between books to see if just a few more pages will hook me so I can finish it. No such luck.(less)