When British and American intelligence discover an al Qaeda operation in the works, they enlist undercover imposter Colonel Mike Martin to pass himself off as Taliban commander Izmat Khan. But nothing prepares Martin for the dark and shifting world into which he is about to enter-or the terrible things he will find there.
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The first two thirds were good: interesting and fast-paced. The ending became awkward and contrived but, overall, it was a decent read.more
The ability to describe – convincingly and in detail – how skilled and knowledgeable people do things has always been Frederick Forsyth’s particular literary talent. The scene in Day of the Jackal where the assassin methodically adjusts the sights on his newly acquired, custom-made rifle involves one deliberately underdeveloped character and no suspense at all. Nonetheless, it’s riveting (and, even after decades, memorable) because Forsyth takes his time and describes the process step by methodical step . . . taking the reader inside a secret world that would otherwise be closed to them. The trick works so well that, in The Dogs of War, an extended episode involving the smuggling of small arms across the French border is as gripping as the use of them, in the book’s climax, to stage a coup in a small African country.The Afghan has moments like that – you learn a great deal about the shipping business; about how cargoes are bought, sold, and documented; and about the tactics of modern-day pirates – and they’re as interesting as ever. Unfortunately, the story wrapped around them is far less interesting than Forsyth’s best work.The plot (like all Forsyth’s plots) is easily summarized: A retired British special-forces officer with an uncanny ability to pass as an Afghan is infiltrated into an Islamic terrorist network, posing as a recently “released” high-ranking prisoner, in a desperate attempt to disrupt an impending attack whose timing and target remain unknown. It moves (again, like all his plots) with reasonable speed, but its movements are far from graceful. The pacing is awkward, the clichés abundant (the veteran operative lured out of quiet retirement for One Last Job, the hero and villain who share An Undisclosed Bond, the complicated ritual the hero must perform Exactly Right or be revealed), and the ending oddly unsatisfying. The need to keep the exact nature of the attack a secret from the reader limits Forsyth’s opportunity to craft his trademark “how they do it” scenes, and one mid-book plot development depends on not one but two coincidences that beggar belief.The end result of all this is a book that carries you along and keeps you entertained, but never for a moment convinces you that any of it is real. It’s a routine, sometimes clunky thriller only occasionally enlivened by Forsyth’s gift for describing complex processes – not, as in his earlier work, an immersive experience that leaves you with a suspicion that “this might have happened.”more
Pacy thriller, well researched and full of obscure details, which helps you overlook some flaws.more
This is just the kind of book you would expect from Frederick Forsyth - thoroughly researched, good build up of character personalities, engaging style, excellent writing style which makes the book totally un-put-downable!However it is on his research that I would like to make a point or two, though probably minor indiscrepancies. India has been mentioned thrice in the book and twice in the context of Kerala, the other being that the book’s protagonist had an Indian grandmother.He mentions Kerala in India as being a hotbed of Islamic terrorists, once having being a hotbed for communism.Well the communism part is right- but I hope he knows that communism came to Kerala through an election, not as a revolution or a coup in other parts of the world - so it had to be a sort of popular communism and not the darker meaning his words intone.Kerala being a hotbed of islamic terrorism is a new idea to me. Kerala has never witnessed a terrorist act. People generally respect the law, are highly educated and ever vigilant. It’s commmon for complete strangers while travelling, to ask each other their destination, their native town, about their close family, even their married status, and most people reach out to each other in times of distress. The other time he mentions a couple of Indians from Kerala as being part of a pirate gang on the high seas. Likely.The third instance he mentions Keralites is of them being part of a crew of a ship hijacked by terrorists. Here there is a mention of them being "good Christians" and "trusted". Well religion is never an issue in Kerala and people of every caste and creed enthusiastically celebrate each others festivals and intermingle amongst themselves as family. If Forsyth wants to hint that Christians anywhere in the world can be trusted, they be Indians or whatever, then he is wrong. Terrorism and religion cannot be interlinked. Especially in the context of Kerala.These may be minor flaws but I wanted to keep the record straight through this forum, though of course the book was fiction.I would say his book is good except for the feeling one gets that he is being partial to his own culture as compared to other cultures. Well todays reader is cosmopolitan and his book would be read by almost anybody in any part of the world.His book is a classic I agree, but reading trends are changing and the audience is a global one. Forsyth cannot belittle a country or a culture with prejudiced notions, marginalizing some of his readers that way.English books are no longer for the English, by the English and of the English!more
Freddie living off his rep I'm afraid. It is a dismal exercise in writing though very well researched but it does this great master no credit at all.more
Set after the 2005 London bombings this is a fictional story of military intelligence and secret missions behind enemy lines in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It barely deserves half a star. If the manscript arrived on a publisher's desk from an unknown author, there is no way that it would have made it to print. An absolutely terrible book, full of stereotypes, blanket statements and unexplained abbreviations. As if this were not enough, the plot is banal, the characters are one-dimensional and the ending is guessable from the opening lines. I didn't expect a masterpiece but I didn't expect to be insulted. I think it it inevitable, but incredibly sad, that people will think that they can gain any understanding of Afghanistan from this book.more
I found this an enjoyable page turner:implausible in parts, but not to the point of being irritating, and well contrived on the whole. I thought the fake idenitity was well thought out, and the background convincing and informative. a good read!more
A rattling good yarn - but - I expected nothing else. I had a headache this morning because it kept me up late last night in order to finish it.more
It is rather unfortunate that this book is the first one in my list. Although I have been a Forsyth fan for a long, long time now, this book was a huge disappointment for me. It was crammed with useless information as opposed to gainful insights into the Afghanistan scenario. If it is compared to its predecessor [The Fist of God] it comes out not just a tad short on quality, but also lacking in suspense. Mike Martin comes across as the brilliant SAS guy again. But somewhere, the thrill of The Fist... was missingmore
Not one of his best.This has the feel of soemthing rushed out a bit in response to world wide events of the last few years. US and UK intelligence agencies co-incidently (this plot device features alot) learn of a codenamed AlQaeda forthcoming attack, but no details, their only lead jumped out of a window without giving away any details. What they need to do is something never before achieved - instigate someone into the very highest ranks of AQ, who can learn the details and get warning out. That someone turns out to be an aging Para captain Mike Martin, who can, through more co-incidences replace one of the freed prisoners from Gitanamo Bay.The prose is Forsyth's usual well detailed descriptions focusing on the how rather than the motivations of the people. Apart from the unnecessary engine fall, and resultant snowbound chase, the story hangs together well, although some of the details of the latest in american hardware are dull. The over-riding conclusion remains valid however - just how difficult it is to penetrate determined fundamentalist groups.more
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