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Mortalis #1

The Brotherhood of the Rose

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Chris and Saul were orphans - raised in a Philadelphia school for boys, bonded by friendship and devoted to a mysterious man called Eliot. He visited them and brought them sweets. He treated them like sons. He trained them to be assassins.

Now he is trying to have them killed.

416 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1983

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About the author

David Morrell

226 books1,427 followers
David Morrell is a Canadian novelist from Kitchener, Ontario, who has been living in the United States for a number of years. He is best known for his debut 1972 novel First Blood, which would later become a successful film franchise starring Sylvester Stallone. More recently, he has been writing the Captain America comic books limited-series The Chosen.

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5 stars
2,876 (41%)
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3 stars
1,238 (17%)
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80 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 274 reviews
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
December 29, 2018
”In Greek mythology, the god of love once offered a rose to the god of silence, as a bribe, to keep that god from disclosing the weaknesses of the other gods. In time, the rose became the symbol for silence and secrecy. In the Middle ages, a rose was customarily suspended from the ceiling of a council chamber. The members of the council pledged themselves not to reveal what they discussed in the room, sub rosa under the rose.”

There once were two boys named Romulus and Remus, not the two founders of Rome, but two boys who found each other in an orphanage in Pennsylvania. They became closer than brothers. Isn’t that the case with many of us, finding our close friends to be more our brothers and sisters than our own flesh and blood? Chris (Remus) is visited periodically by a gray faced man named Eliot who starts every visit by extending a Baby Ruth candy bar. In an orphanage you are more likely to find a bar of gold than a bar of chocolate. He takes Chris on backpacking trips and fishing trips. Soon Saul (Romulus) joins them. As they grow up their foster father suggests certain activities for them such as Karate. When they are old enough he suggests they join the military. They are sent to Vietnam.

Suggestions from Eliot are the same as commands.

They don’t know it until later, but Eliot has several pairs of orphaned boys from various cities. Castor and Pollux, Cadmus and Cilix, Amphion and Zethus, Butes and Erectheus, and Atlas and Prometheus. They are all trained to be operatives for a shadowy sector of the CIA. The reverence they all show for Eliot borders on worship.

Eliot is also part of a national coalition of spies that formed a system called the Abelard Sanctuary. "I had come there as a fugitive and, in the depths of my despair, was granted some comfort by the grace of God.” Peter Abélard (1079-1142) was a brilliant rising star of theology, philosophy, and logician who fell in love with the scholar of classical letters Héloïse. They are secretly married to appease her uncle, but when he announces the marriage publicly it is denied by the couple. The Uncle is sure that Abélard is up to no good so he hires some thugs to pay him a visit.

They castrate him.

The letters of longing between Abélard and Héloïse become some of the most famous love letters of all time and forever immortalized the couple among the most legendary of doomed lovers rivaled only by Shakespeare’s creation of Romeo and Juliet. Abélard becomes a monk, but has difficulties with the monastery system and eventually retires to a chapel at Paraclete. He went there seeking sanctuary. If he wished to remain anonymous or forgotten it did not work. Students appeared living in tents around the chapel and soon he is teaching once again.

The coalition of spies from all over the world find that there are times when they need sanctuary. They reach an agreement to place these Abelard Sanctuaries strategically all over the world. For those that have seen the recent movie John Wick, starring Keanu Reeves, the hotel in the movie is based on the same concept as an Abelard Sanctuary. No one is allowed to kill within the walls of sanctuary. If someone breaks the truce all of the nations participating are forced by the rules of the contract to do their best to execute the killer. It is a place where enemies can mingle without fear.

Everything is going fine until Saul is ordered to blow up a close friend of the President of the United States. The assassination was made to look like the Israelis for political reasons. When Saul goes to his designated safe house some men are there to try to kill him.

He has been blacklisted.

His first thought is to call his foster father, but that was the source of the safe house location. Is it possible that the person he revers most in the world could be wanting to kill him?

Saul is forced on the run for his life. He meets up with Chris and between the two of them they come up with a plan of survival. Betrayals begat betrayals and soon all that they think they believe in is suddenly nothing more than an enigma of deception. To survive they will have to embrace revenge.

The pacing of the novel is excellent. It is certainly a page turner. David Morrell is an old hand at deftly keeping the plot from faltering. The secrecy attributed to the rose becomes an obsession for many of the Abelard Sanctuary group. Many of them begin cultivating them as a hobby, all becoming as bewitched by their beauty as the Dutch were about tulips in the 17th century. Some reviewers have found the sanctuary concept, a truce between foes, to be verging on science fiction, but for me it makes sense. The men and women who work behind the cloak of secrecy have much more in common with each other than they do with the countries they call home. By the definition of their careers they are lonely people, cut off from their families and friends, and reluctant to form relationships that could in the end compromise them. Sometimes your enemy knows you best and with them there are no pretenses about the job.

My favorite David Morrell so far is: Murder As a Fine Art a book about Thomas De Quincey the famous British Opium Eater. The second book with De Quincey is scheduled to release in March. Murder as a Fine Art Review
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,829 reviews652 followers
May 10, 2022
One of the best thrillers I have ever read - from the author of First Blood. Two orphans (Saul and Chris) are raised from boyhood to be the perfect hit team. They trust only each other - and 'Elliot' (who treats the boys like a favorite uncle would). But 'Elliot' only wants them to be the best assassins they can be. When a mission goes bad Chris and Saul start to look for answers - where is dear uncle Elliot when you need him?
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,806 followers
February 1, 2015
One of my favorite writers from a few years ago. David Morrell is (was?) the king of conspiracies (from "a few years ago"). This is the poster child...two orphans raised from a very early age to be part of a group of ultra loyal assassins.

This one stayed with me and it's the one that sent me off finding other books by the author. The characters in this book are very well drawn (one more so than the other I believe) and will create in you a strange sympathy (for the boys...all the boys).

There was also an acceptable movie/TV miniseries version of it done in 1989. It was (surprisingly) well done...but read the book.

Another update. Every time I look back to an old review I find typos...

But that said, I still recommend this book and find it one of my favorites by the author.
Profile Image for Anete.
422 reviews62 followers
February 21, 2022
Bāreņu nama draudziņi Kriss un Sauls iegūst sev tēva aizvietotāju - noslēpumaino Eliotu, kas viņus ievilinājis slepenā dienesta pasaulē.
Lielisks piedzīvoju trilleris: slepkavības, pakaļdzīšanās, nodevības, spiegu intrigas un Patvērums, kas man ļoti atgādināja Džona Vika pasaules Viesnīcas…

Profile Image for Feliks.
496 reviews
July 19, 2016
So many commentators on the GR page for this book, seem to have absorbed the experience entirely wrong. Be in no doubt: 'Brotherhood of the Rose' is is one of the greatest modern spy thrillers. I'll tell you precisely why, in a moment.

Just be aware first of all, that there was an interval in espionage publishing which had dragged on--just before this title appeared--in which nothing really excellent was being done. Nothing formidable had appeared for a while. Forsyth was quiet, Follett was quiet, LeCarre was quiet; Ludlum was static/predictable as always; and Alistair MacLean had jumped the shark...only Clive Cussler was around to (inadequately) supply the lack of gritty, tough, fast-moving, action-based reads.

What does that say to you? It was a doldrum. If you look around now, yeah sure, with the friggin' internet and Amazon available to you...you have your choice of thousands of authors. All beating a path to your door. Do you think that is the norm? Its not. Plus, look at how 'copycat' all this new bounty is. You've got a glut of hacks angling for your attention now, but very few pioneers. Morrell was--is--a pioneer.

This book emerged at the perfect moment for him to break through into the next level of his career. His very-solid writing skills were already established thanks to 'First Blood' but there was really nothing quite like 'Brotherhood' until he busted through the door with it. 'Rose' essentially revived the action/spy genre; all commando fiction got-a-new-lease-on-life; got started-back-off-on-the-right-foot. He breathed life back into the body. Its a milestone work. Its the equal of--and successor to--iconic titles like 'Eiger Sanction', 'Marathon Man', and 'Odessa File'.

And here's why: the story doesn't rely on "whatever's going on in international politics" whenever you happen to pick it up and flip through it. The story is set in an abstract world of spies and assassins. Almost no specific agencies or countries are named. No real-world details or conditions are posed at the time of writing, which might later 'break' or become anachronistic. If you read it at the time-of-release--or read it today--its still just as good. A lot of the best thriller novels ever written, all possess this quality: they're based on scenarios which can always work, no matter the timeperiod.

Its the same methodology William Goldman used with his invention of the hypothetical shadow-agency called 'the Division'; Forsyth explored with 'Die Spinne' and which Trevanian employed with his mysterious 'C-II' outfit. Saul and his brother (in this story) are 'on the run' from the global espionage community; they ricochet around the secret network of worldwide 'safe-houses' perennially relied on by that community. Thus, it has nothing to do with "what countries happen-to-be-playing-nice-with-each-other"...lately.

"Today's friend is tomorrow's enemy", (as anyone in diplomacy knows). 'Brotherhood of the Rose' works so well, because every decade of modern life holds spies, commandos, assassins, and espionage/counter-espionage agencies. They never go away; they are a fact of modern life. As long as there are nations; as long as the world has finite resources of metals and crops and timber and fisheries--spies and spy agencies will always be in motion behind the headlines. They will always be plausible in fiction; and for the authors (like David Morrell) who have the skill to craft stories about this sphere--they remain--as always--the great stand-bys of the action-genre.
Profile Image for Shannon.
885 reviews221 followers
May 3, 2014
Story follows two orphans who are cared for by a foster father who trains them to become government assassins. Even worse, they are later betrayed by this man and discover he has a network of children being raised to become top notch assassins.

Lots of twists and turns and clever ways of our heroes prevailing, especially at the end when the betraying father is being tracked down.

Be sure to seek out the sub rosa definition. Morrell likes his History which I appreciate.
Profile Image for Phil.
1,550 reviews90 followers
July 8, 2021
Thrillers tend not to age well; given their subject matter is often contemporary politics and such, they often feel rather dated. Published in 1985, TBOTR is no exception, but nonetheless, still makes for a page turning read. If the cold war had not happened, writers would have invented it as it makes a great setting for spy stories! TBOTR is a classic spy versus spy story, but one that also has some unique world building that is essential to the plot.

The main protagonist is Saul, a person trained since the age of 5 to be a super spy. Orphaned at a young age, the 'orphanage' he found himself in (with a little help) basically existed to train soldiers and spies. Fed daily doses of patriotism and competitive games, Saul, and his best bud Chris, smoothly rose to the top of the pack. Their (for lack of better words) 'foster father' Eliot was in charge of counter espionage at the CIA. After initial training, Saul and Chris were 'seasoned' in Vietnam and went on to pursue the deadliest training in hand to hand combat and such in the world. Top agents now for the CIA, they report directly to Eliot only.

The book starts off with Eliot contacting Saul about a job; it seems hinky, but Saul performs it with aplomb, but after it is done, things start to fall apart. First, he is sent to a strange place for a debriefing (Atlantic City) and then people start trying to kill him. What the hell? After contacting Eliot once again, and being led to a supposed safe house only to be ambushed once again, Saul knows Eliot wants to kill him. But why? Now, Saul is not one to take such an affront lying down, so he resolves to go after Eliot...

Yes, revenge drives the story along, but Morrell takes us on a wild (and I must admit nostalgic) ride here spanning Europe, Asia and of course the Americas. The neat addition of 'Abelard' sanctuary system is what makes this stand out from a more typical 80s spy thriller. Just before WWII, the heads of the espionage units of the USSR, Germany, England, France and the USA had a meeting where they proposed and approved various sanctuaries in neutral nations where agents of any stripe would be guaranteed safe housing once inside. Any action against an agent in a sanctuary would result in the global spy networks hunting the offender down with prejudice. The logic behind such a system is that while politics change, and enemies become friends and vice versa, the spies remain regardless. In a way, it is tacit agreement among the heads of espionage to 'keep the peace' in certain locations while they still play the game.

Action packed, with some very interesting characters, TBOTR is still an engaging read. If you like crazy 80s action movies, you should love this. Feeling nostalgic about the cold war? Give it a shot. 4 rosy stars.
Profile Image for Pramod Nair.
232 reviews193 followers
June 5, 2015
If you are a reader who loves taut, suspenseful spy thrillers from the cold war era with a good dose of plot twists and turns then you will definitely love ‘The Brotherhood of the Rose’. Written by ‘David Morrell’ - the man who created the legendary character ‘John Rambo’ - this classic espionage thriller, which is the first book in a trilogy, is full of spies, killers, trade-craft and high-octane action spread across locations all over the globe.

The author is a master in controlling the suspense factor so effectively that reading this book becomes a constant ‘edge of the seat’ affair. David Morrell’s characters are pretty strong and connect emotionally with the reader in a strong manner.

‘The Brotherhood of the Rose’ is a book written purely for entertaining the reader and like other David Morrell Thrillers, it is detailed, fast paced and pulsates with non-stop action so that the fans of ‘espionage thriller’/ ‘political thriller’ genre will find it extremely satisfying.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,023 followers
April 9, 2016
I'm really glad I reread this. It's been too long & I'd forgotten many of the details. Morrell does a great job spinning conspiracy theories together into an action packed, but quite believable adventure. If you like "The Black List" on TV (the 1st season) you'll love this book. I reread for Action/Adventure Aficionados group April 2016

Morrell's writing is tight and the characters are well drawn. The conspiracies are deep, but easy to believe. Eliot is an old, powerful spymaster who has been the only good thing in the brutal life of Chris & Saul who were orphaned early. He gave them kindness, attention, & eventually purpose, but when needs must, the devil drives & then there's hell to pay. Welcome to Hell where who did what to whom & why becomes a question of survival, but who will survive? Who should?

I've read several other books like this in the past year or so. Today authors jump the shark too often, but Morrell manages to create heroes & heroines that don't need to go beyond the realm of reality to keep the action boiling. Very well done.

March 2005 Review:
It's been a long time since I read this, but a friend's review brought it to mind.

As I recall, it was very twisty & quite good, but a little too full of angst for me. One or two other books of Morrell's tie in with this, The Fraternity Of The Stone for sure. It's been a while since I read them & it was years between, but I think it was just as good.
Profile Image for Kittie.
38 reviews
July 23, 2010
While initially getting into the book was hard to do, I really got attached to Chris and Saul, so much so that I found myself crying several times throughout the book. The characters of the brothers were well rounded and left you wondering how one could embrace violence so naturally and the other would later shy away from his life as an assassin.

I'm not sure why so many people brought up technology in their reviews, the book was written when people still knew what the phrase "cold war" meant. I didn't find that the "older" technology took anything from the book since the references were time appropriate.

The ending could have been a little tighter in my opinion but ultimately it's a fascinating glimpse into the spy business as it was 20 years ago and the human connections that men in that business form.
Profile Image for Emily.
510 reviews46 followers
October 25, 2017
Στυγεροί δολοφόνοι που είναι κατά βάθος αθεράπευτα αισθηματίες.
Αδίστακτοι δολοπλόκοι που καλλιεργούν με φροντίδα τριαντάφυλλα.
Δράση, κυνηγητά, σχέδια εξόντωσης, απίθανες ικανότητες συμβατές με ημίθεους, σφαίρες που σφυρίζουν, μαχαίρια που κόβουν καρωτίδες, προδοσία, εκδίκηση και άλλα πολλά επιδιώκουν να καθηλώσουν τον αναγνώστη της αδελφότητας.
Η ιστορία του Σολ και του Κρις ξεκινάει από ένα ορφανοτροφείο και μια σοκολάτα. Ο μέντορας των δύο παιδιών, Έλιοτ, θα τους εκπαιδεύσει ως δολοφόνους, εκμεταλλευόμενος τη δίψα τους για αγάπη και αποδοχή.
Τυπικά αμερικάνικη ιστορία δράσης από τον συγγραφέα του "Ράμπο".
Ο συγγραφέας έχει μελετήσει διεξοδικά τους τρόπους αντίδρασης σε κίνδυνο, τις διάφορες τεχνικές επιβίωσης σε δύσκολες συνθήκες και τις τεχνικές πάλης.
Η ανάγνωση του Δημήτρη Νικολαϊδη ήταν αρκετά ερασιτεχνική, όμως αντισταθμιζόταν από την ωραία χροιά της φωνής του.
Profile Image for Michele Harrod.
513 reviews47 followers
September 6, 2012
Ah, just saw someone reading a Morrell novel and thought I'd check if it was the same writer. It is indeed. I read this years ago, and I LOVED it. It was made into a TV mini-series too, which, if I recall, was almost as good.
5 reviews1 follower
October 6, 2010
David Morrell, better known as the writer of the novel the first Rambo movie was based on, wrote a spy trilogy in the early 1980s that has just been released in ebook format.
The first, Brotherhood of the Rose, follows two orphans that have been raised as brothers and trained to become expert operatives for a secret branch of the CIA.
One of the things that sets this book apart from other spy novels is a great concept – on the eve of WWII all of the directors of the various intelligence organizations banded together to create secret spy safe havens. A spy could go to one of these safe houses to retire in peace without worrying about anyone settling old scores. Not only is this an intriguing and semi believable idea, Morrell milks all of the twists and turns that are possible when two spies that are mortal enemies become trapped in the one place where they are prevented from harming each other.
Last words: Brotherhood is not that convincing if you are hoping for a look at real tradecraft. However, when viewed among other spy thrillers this ranks very high with not only interesting and unique characters, but a really neat concept.

More spy news and reviews at http://www.spywrite.com
Profile Image for Josen.
293 reviews10 followers
November 22, 2015
4.5......This book was written in the early 80's and was set some time after the Vietnam war. It's a story of two men, orphaned at a young age and brought up by a man who trained them in a military system. They grew to love him as a father and after the war he trained them even more into being the elite of the elite in special forces. So it comes as a shock when he decides to kill them.

I really liked this book. It was a random one I pulled while at the library browsing. I'd never read David Morrell but the title caught my eye and the synopsis sounded good. From the beginning this book was action packed. Very Jason Bourne-ish but with not as many resources. Because of its time setting it was kind of fun to watch them gain information through dictionaries, encyclopedias and fold out maps.

I think this might be a series but it seemed like a stand alone book. Either way, I liked Morrell's style and will definitely look into reading more of his books.
Profile Image for Prosenjit "Librarywallah" Paul.
25 reviews3 followers
September 9, 2013
One of the best spy thrillers I have read,and I have read quite a few. This was recommended as part of a book club discussion, and I am glad I read this. Fast paced, with enough twists and turns for the intelligent reader. This book is great enough for a reread :-D
Profile Image for LuckyLuke.
56 reviews
January 8, 2019
Zero zaskoczeń, zaledwie ułamek emocji. Nawet wysokie tempo i mnogość wydarzeń nie rekompensują tego, że akcja jest schematyczna i do bólu przewidywalna. Do tego jeszcze to tłumaczenie, które nieraz sprawiało wrażenie strasznie topornego. Chętnie cofnąłbym czas i poświęcił go na jakąś ciekawszą lekturę. W mojej opinii spory zawód...
Profile Image for Daniel James.
Author 4 books61 followers
August 4, 2019
The Abelard Sanction, an agreed policy between world governments which provides a number of neutral-ground sanctuaries for any operative of the global intelligence community who needs to lie low and evade danger. Mortal enemies must abide by the rules whilst under the roof of such establishments, or face their fallout of their continued hostility.

I love this idea. It's very much in line with John Wick's Continental, however this book was written quite a few years prior to Reeve's on-screen bad-assery.
However, this agreement, whilst becoming central to the plot, is only a part of this great story, and in order to keep this review light and spoiler-free, I won't delve into the complexities of the whole thing because I'll end up yapping away and ruining it for would-be readers.

So I'll keep it simple...

Saul Grisman and Chris Kilmoonie (Romulus and Remus), are two Philadelphia orphans taken in by CIA brass Eliot, who enters them into an orphanage which is essentially a military academy. The two young boys begin to flourish amongst their peers, causing Eliot to pay them special attention, and training them to become highly-skilled assassins. Now in his adulthood (and the downswing of his career as a field op), Saul has just successfully completed his latest assignment, eliminating a private economic summit between the Paradigm Foundation (a small organisation of wealthy US corporate leaders), and Arabian oil magnates; but somehow, for some reason, everywhere Saul turns he finds the walls closing in on him, and no shortage of enemies attempting to kill him despite his propitious completion of the mission.
Meanwhile, Chris has forsaken the life of a CIA assassin and spent his last years in a monastery in an attempt to atone for his bloody history, but whilst passing through Bangkok, Thailand, he is involved in an incident within the hallowed walls of an Abelard-sanctioned haven which is set to trigger an international incident.
Now, in order to survive, the estranged brothers must reunite and attempt to stay one step ahead of the global intelligence network, but in doing so, they will be forced to come face-to-face with some very harsh truths about family and their past.

I really enjoyed the characters of Saul and Chris, their childhood histories were both tragic, yet endearing, and their ability to find strength in each other through the various scrapes was very engaging. And I also found Eliot to be very interesting and nuanced individual.
The story was gripping from the first page, pulling me into the fascinating world of covert operatives, shades-of-grey politics, and assassins. The prose is tight and skilful, with just enough poetic grace to paint the scenes; and the action was magnetic.

I'll definitely be finishing this series.
Profile Image for Dale.
1,718 reviews59 followers
July 18, 2012
Like all Morrell books, a good bit of action


Brotherhood of the Rose is set in the Cold War era in the world of big time spies. Two orphans living in an orphanage, Saul and Chris, were singled out for education and training that led to them being paired together as super spies working for the CIA. Now, the man who trained them - the man they consider to be their father - has betrayed them. Saul and Chris avoid all sorts of troubles as they unravel an international plot against them and combat the international forces arrayed against them.

My review:

Like in all of Morrell's books, there is plenty of well-written action and interesting characters. Plenty of thought went into this world of conspiracy. The action is detailed, but not overly so. It is not Morrell's best work, but it is certainly worth the read.

Read all of my reviews of David Morrell's books at: http://dwdsreviews.blogspot.com/searc...
Profile Image for Roger Weston.
Author 30 books69 followers
February 1, 2015
This book drags me along like a little girl drags a rag doll down the street. The doll ain't getting away. Sometimes the girl shakes the doll or pulls it through the mud. Maybe a dog tries to wrench it away from her, but she wins the tug of war. Likewise, this book pulls me through a rocky adventure. I'm happy to be dragged along.

If you crave adventure stories, you might also try The Golden Catch, a thriller/adventure novel where the action unfolds in the stormy Aleutian Islands.

Roger Weston, author of The Golden Catch
Profile Image for Greg Lang.
69 reviews1 follower
January 11, 2017
I love this book so much I read it three times over the years. Two highly trained CIA operatives that were once orphans are betrayed by the only father they ever knew. They desperately attempt to discover the truth as operatives from every network in the world hunt them down with orders to kill. It's a fast-paced race against time with plenty of plot twists and suspense to keep you glued to your reading chair! It was also a pretty cool TV movie about 20 years ago with Peter Strauss, David Morse, Connie Sellecca and Robert Mitchum as the main characters.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,256 reviews5 followers
February 28, 2014
I was entranced in this story from the very start. It was well written with solid characters and plenty of twist and turns. The attention to detail is exceptional. It moves along at a very fast pace with plenty of action.

Some language and sex takes place but not detailed.
Profile Image for Andreai.
18 reviews32 followers
July 27, 2007
This is possibly one of the best thrillers that I have ever read. If you like Robert Ludlum....you will like this David Morrell
Profile Image for Mike.
1,107 reviews150 followers
April 19, 2008
An engaging spy thriller that isn't outdated even now. Reads fast, mixes up action and plot in a world-wide arena. Bought it at the local thrift store and it was a good deal.
Profile Image for Mike Kratts.
17 reviews
March 7, 2008
One of the best international intrigue books ever written. About two brothers (by adoption) who are raised as assassins from a very young age by their adopted father. Could not put this down.
Profile Image for Deanna.
39 reviews
October 4, 2012
I love almost anything by David Morrell. This was the book that turned me on to his fast paced, heart-stopping style of writing. If you like mystery, action, and page-turning intrigue, read this.
Profile Image for Tim.
2,111 reviews193 followers
March 16, 2016
A solid beginning is wasted by this story that goes over the world and gets nowhere. Even the ending is incomplete. 1 of 10 stars
Profile Image for Tom S.
417 reviews2 followers
May 15, 2018
Fun Espionage read from David Morrell. Looking forward to grabbing the rest of this series.
Profile Image for Matt Persson.
79 reviews3 followers
September 6, 2020
A great book from the Legend Himself David Morrell. When it comes to character development and story Mr Morrell is in a league of his own with First Blood and Brotherhood of the Rose. With the combination of US and British spies and spy craft he weaves a tale that is easy to follow and gripping from cover to cover. Run out and find a copy of this right now!!!
May 16, 2016
I read this as part of a group read for the Action/Adventure Aficionados group on Goodreads. I'm glad this won the poll because it was a reason to read it sooner rather than later.

This book really shows the world of espionage and assassins in a way that feels realistic. I could be wrong, because I'm neither an assassin nor a spy, big surprise. The author takes the concept of how spies and assassins are made and starts with children who are more or less brainwashed or controlled by the need to please their father figure so that they make highly loyal 'soldiers'.

Saul and Chris are both orphans who meet in a boys school and look to Eliot as their father figure. While Saul seems to thrive in the life of an assassin, it cause Chris serious emotional damage. He is even at the point of a form a suicide which is compatible with his Catholic belief system when Eliot activates him to find Saul. Saul finished a mission for Eliot, but Eliot makes him a patsy in a huge conspiracy that involves the president's friend. When Saul and Chris unite, their loyalty as brothers supersedes the programming of Eliot as their father. From there, it becomes a game of cat and mouse where the master spy learns just how good his students are at the craft he has taught them.

This is a very good action thriller/suspense novel. It's set in the 80s, but it doesn't feel too dated, although the issues are related to that time and it goes back to the early days of what we consider the spy trade. The idea of the Abelard Sanction was brilliant. I don't know if that's real, but it seems like it would be something that actually exists. The training that Chris and Saul get to be assassins is pretty interesting and it goes beyond the typical special forces and martial arts training. One of my favorite aspects of this book was reading about the tradecraft as Saul and Chris try to stay one step ahead of their pursuers. Also liked Erika, a Mossad agent and old lover of Saul, who is Jewish. Morrell looks at religion in natural way. He doesn't treat is as a social ill, but a part of the makeup of people, although it can be manipulated by others, in the case of Chris.

I was sad about the fate of one of the characters. I wished better for that person. That's probably the one thing I would change. Otherwise, I was pretty satisfied with this book. There's even so good humor when Saul mentally torments his 'father' at the Rest Home. I checked and this was a TV movie back in the 80s. I would love a remake.

I recommend this book.
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