Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Athabasca” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.5  ·  Rating details ·  1,704 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews

Two the most important oilfields in the world - one in Canada, the other in Alaska.

An unknown quantity - deadly and efficient.


One man, Jim Brady, is called in to save the life-blood of the world as unerringly, the chosen targets fall at the hands of a hidden enemy...
Mass Market Paperback, 288 pages
Published March 12th 1982 by Fawcett (first published 1980)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Athabasca, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Athabasca

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
I decided to read Athabasca, to represent the province of Alberta, in my Read Across Canada challenge. Written by the famous thriller and grand adventure author:Alistair MacLean|26970], known for Ice Station Zebra and The Guns of Navarone, "Athabasca"' was going to be a wild and exciting ride. This was not the case. I forced myself to wade through the first 100 pages, and was sorely tempted to quit, which I rarely do. I needed this book for my challenge. The main characters are a trio of oil-fie ...more
Apr 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not one of MacLean's tightly-plotted masterpieces, but it does make a really satisfying head-movie on a hot summer day. The oil fields of Alaska and the tar sands of Canada are being threatened by some shadowy and efficient terrorist organization. Our two intrepid investigators are out to find out what's going on.

Included: research nuggets about oil and the effects of extreme cold. Adorably crusty characters. Pretty girls. Hard drinking. Fisticuffs.

Read if: You are a MacLean completist.
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, indonesian
Dibandingkan novel2 Alistair MacLean yg lain, kisah yg ini jelas mengecewakan. Kurang seru. Twist akhir 'siapa dalangnya' pun jelas tertebak sejak setengah jalan.

Latar belakang industri perminyakan besar sebenarnya menarik perhatian, namun kmdn, konjungsinya untuk mengadu dombakan industri tsb dgn OPEC jelas terlalu keblabasan menurutku. Yah, alasan bahwa kisah ini dituliskan di era 80-an mmg cukup masuk akal sih. Tp jk dibaca di jaman skrg, ya kmgkinan besar pembaca (aku) lbh lgs bisa menebak
Apr 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
Not a particularly good thriller. Two oilfields, one in Alaska and one in Canada, are threatened with sabotage, so a crack team of investigators is sent in. Every time something happens at one of the oilfields, the entire team goes in response; something then happens to the other oilfield. Wouldn't you think that they could split the team in two? The investigators also make a federal case out of the fact that there is no alcohol allowed at these workstations and contrive to bring large amounts w ...more
Patrick Justo
Mar 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014

Alistair MacLean was a thriller writer who wrote Ice Station Zebra, The Guns of Navarone, Force 10 From Navarone, Where Eagles Dare, and many other great books.

He also wrote this piece of crap.

The action takes place in Maclean's beloved Arctic. Someone is sabotaging the Alaska Pipeline and the Athabasca oil sands in northern Alberta. Enter a bunch of "oil sabotage investigators", who come across like a bunch of retired CIA agents. These characters are such one dimensional stereotypes, you really
spike marlin
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
Maybe it was the year it was written (1980), maybe it was the genre of the time (spy and thriller), but it has poor research, especially when it comes to the Canadian part of the book. The language is stilted and to much of the story relies on the superhero type investigators in Houston, when there where more then competent police services in both Alaska and Alberta who could have solved the crimes. I wouldn't recommend you waste your time on this book. I have read others of Alistair MacLean, es ...more
Lenny Husen
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
This was simply dull, and not terribly well written. Plot about Industrial espionage in the oil fields of Alberta and Alaska and the fearless 2 investigators and their fat, likable, rum swilling boss.
Would not recommend this particular MacLean.
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
It was intriguing, but it was too wordy. It could have been condensed to make a better read.
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
Popcorn Novel, Reminds me of the Hardy Boys and I hope I have moved on since I was reading those.
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
Copyright 1980 so an older book about the oil fields in Alaska and Canada. Interesting about how all of that stuff works but the story line was a little lame about who was sabotaging the pipeline.
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
McClean was never a great writer but sometimes an interesting one who introduced me and others to exotic places I had not heard of. I learned little about Athabaska or Prudoe Bay, and characterization and credibility were below the James Bond level.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was just ok. It continues Maclean's rather annoying practice of maintaining suspense through a clumsy and obvious withholding of information. I don't remember being annoyed by this as a teenager, but it sure does bother me now.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: finished
I'm never sure what to make of thrillers. Felt a bit like the film "Saw" at one point.
Oct 15, 2011 rated it liked it
"Αταμπάσκα", εκδόσεις ΒΙΠΕΡ.

Απότομη αλλαγή περιβάλλοντος από το πρώτο βιβλίο του Μακλίν που διάβασα, στο δεύτερο. Από τα εξωτικά δάση της Νοτίου Αμερικής, όπου διαδραματίστηκε η ιστορία του βιβλίου "Το ποτάμι του θανάτου", στα παγωμένα εδάφη της Αλάσκας.

Κάποιοι σαμποτέρ έκαναν ζημιές σε δυο εταιρείες πετρελαίου με έδρα την Αλάσκα και τον Καναδά, με άγνωστους σκοπούς. Μια φίρμα ερευνών, με αρχηγό τον Μπρέιντι, καλείται να διαλευκάνει την υπόθεση και να βρει τους ενόχους, που μπορεί να είναι και
Rob Bleckly
Oct 29, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
It's what you would expect from MacLean, short and dated (its nearly 35 years old). I only decided to read it because I was there last year rafting the river and padding across whats left of the glacier and I remember is work fondly.

Compared to his early works the likes of The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra and Where Eagles Dare, Athabasca is not a great read. It starts slow, only raises the pulse once and dribbles away with a lame joke about an unlikely romance. The lead character is not
Jeff Crosby
I first read Athabasca in hardcover when it was published in 1980. Unlike most MacLean novels, I found that I rememered almost nothing beyond the extortion of the Alaska pipeline. Therefore, re-reading it was like exploring a new novel.

Most MacLean books have a strong central charcter who is in control, usually violent, and lacking depth. The books are driven by the plot. Athabasca is quite different. It has multiple protagonists, all of them only lightly fleshed out. The book flows unevenly, an
Jun 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: paper, reviewed
This is not one of MacLean's tightly-plotted masterpieces, but it does make a really satisfying head-movie on a hot summer day. The oil fields of Alaska and the tar sands of Canada are being threatened by some shadowy and efficient terrorist organization. Our two intrepid investigators are out to find out what's going on.

Included: research nuggets about oil and the effects of extreme cold. Adorably crusty characters. Pretty girls. Hard drinking. Fisticuffs.

Read if: You are a MacLean completist.
Benjamin Romney
Aug 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Alistair MacLean has a perfunctory, highly descriptive and engaging style. I have yet to read one of his books that did not keep me going for hours on end until I finished. He is a great screenwriter as well as author of the books. When one reads his book, the mind is caught up in the movie, even if the movie was never made. He is definitely a favorite. I wish he was still around. He can tell a story in half the space of many current authors, yet with all the detail. Of course, his Scottish, Bri ...more
Brian Wilson
Dec 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Even though now deceased, Alistair Maclean’s novels still live on holding their place amongst the best. Athabasca is one of his lesser known novels, but true to form reflects Maclean’s wealth of knowledge — this time on the oil industry. The novel commences with Jim Brady and his team being employed to stop saboteurs, but ends up with murders and kidnapping. It is a novel of suspense as well as adventure.

For me the Prologue was unnecessary and the novel did take a while to engage the reader. It
Thrivi Subramanian
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is one of MacLean's books which follows his formulaic (yet page-turning) approach. Tough resourceful duo - Check. Damsels in distress - check. Forbidden landscape - check. Ruthless villains with diabolical plot - check. Scratch that - is there a whodunit plot complete with attempted murders? Check. It also one of his novels based in North America, which understandably the author isn't too happy about (since he made his bones with gritty detective military/espionage setting thrillers). Never ...more
Sep 11, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1982, thrillers
A spark of interest (for me) was added to the formula in that it's set very close to home (Alberta), altho' i the alien world of oil production, as transmuted by MacLean's never-never-land imagination. There was one unusually striking scene where Our Hero was trapped in front of a huge - monstrously huge - mining machine, inching slowly forward, etc. Good stuff! [These notes were made in 1982:].
Jul 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
This isn't starting out very interesting... The first chapter was kinda hard to wade through. I may or may not finish this one...

Well, this ended up being a really good book. I gave it three stars just because it took so long to get interesting. But it was a really good spy novel. Very one-plot and simple, but good.
Mike S
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction-sci-fi
I remember reading Ice Station Zebra and as a kid thought that was very good, so I wondered how I would like this book as an adult. I was very disappointed. The book included a little good research but it was so slow, I think the book would have worked much better at half the word count. Definitely not one of the author's best.
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I always enjoy a good mystery and Athabasca fit this role perfectly. At first it was a little difficult to get into as Maclean had to give some background on the oil industry, but as the characters developed and the first murders occurred, I was hooked. A mix of intrigue,the almost gruesome, hair raising, and some humour too, I stayed up too late just so I could find out whodunit.
Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-thriller
A tad too techinical for light, enjoyable reading. Didn't really care about the characters either. His first book I've read but am gonna read another one before judging him as a writer (irrespective of the world's opinion)
Elaine Cougler
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Athabasca by Alistair MacLean provided entertainment for me while we were storm stayed in beautiful Beckley, West Virginia, during the Blizzard of '93. It was a good mystery and a fast, suspenseful read.
Alistaire King
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
A decent enough late MacLean thriller, took a little bit to get going. Not as tightly plotted as his earlier works but still an entertaining read.
Utsav Patel
not like typical maclain book, only few mind tangling moments and poof!!!!poor piece of fiction
Dec 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Alistair Maclean, a writer who was much famous during my college days. This is my first by him and it is a good racy thriller based on the oil industry in Alaska and Canada.
Sep 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decent romp. Seems a little dated now though.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Alistair MacLean's Air Force One Is Down
  • The Snow Tiger
  • Alistair MacLean's Red Alert
  • Levkas Man
  • Night Judgement at Sinos
  • The Wooden Spaceships (Land and Overland Series, #2)
  • The Bear's Tears  (Kenneth Aubrey and Patrick Hyde, #5)
  • Monument
  • Special Deliverance
  • The Flaxen Femme Fatale
  • Narabedla Ltd.
Alistair Stuart MacLean (Scottish Gaelic: Alasdair MacGill-Eain), the son of a Scots Minister, was brought up in the Scottish Highlands. In 1941, at the age of eighteen, he joined the Royal Navy; two and a half years spent aboard a cruiser were to give him the background for HMS Ulysses, his first novel, the outstanding documentary novel on the war at sea. After the war he gained an English Honour ...more
More about Alistair MacLean...

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »