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Monday, May 16, 2011

“Gideon’s Sword” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Order “Gideon’s SwordHERE (US) + HERE (UK)
Read Sample Chapters HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child are coauthors of the bestselling Pendergast novels, including Relic which was adapted into a film. Other novels by the coauthors include Mount Dragon, Riptide, Thunderhead, The Ice Limit and the new Gideon Crew series. Douglas Preston’s solo work includes the Wyman Ford novels and the bestselling nonfiction book, The Monster of Florence, which is being made into a major motion picture. Lincoln Child is a former book editor who has published four bestselling novels of his own.

PLOT SUMMARY: At the tender age of twelve, Gideon Crew witnessed his father, a world-class mathematician, accused of treason and gunned down.

At twenty-four, summoned to his dying mother's bedside, Gideon learned the truth: His father was framed and deliberately slaughtered. With her last breath, she begged her son to avenge him.

Now, with a new purpose in his life, he crafts a one-time mission of vengeance, aimed at the perpetrator of his father's destruction. His plan is meticulous, spectacular, and successful.

But from the shadows, someone is watching. A very powerful someone, who is impressed by Gideon's special skills. Someone who has need of just such a renegade.

For Gideon, this operation may be only the beginning . . .
FORMAT/INFO: The e-ARC of Gideon’s Sword is 513 pages divided over seventy chapters and an Epilogue. Narration is in the third person, mostly via Gideon Crew, but there are a few other POVs. Gideon’s Sword features a standalone plot, but is the first volume in the Gideon Crew series. February 22, 2011 marked the North American Hardcover publication of Gideon’s Sword via Grand Central Publishing. The UK version (see below) was published on April 28, 2011 via Orion.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: I’m a huge fan of Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child and look forward to reading their books every year, so Gideon’s Sword has been on my radar for a while, especially due to the hype surrounding the book—the film rights have already been snapped up by Paramount Pictures with Michael Bay set to produce. Gideon’s Sword is the start of a new series by the acclaimed duo, and offers a departure from the authors’ Pendergast series in the sense that it’s supposed to be more of a techno-thriller than horror and would allow them to show off their skills in a different fashion...

Gideon’s Sword begins in August 1988 with Gideon Crew, a young boy traveling with his mother who is taken by the police to a place where there’s a hostage situation in situ. There, they discover that the person in question is Gideon’s father Melvin. Things soon take a turn for the worse as Melvin is gunned down.

Eight years later, Gideon is summoned to his mother’s bedside who reveals a military secret which possibly caused his father’s death. She also names an individual who is to blame for this event and advises Gideon to take revenge against this person for their family’s misfortune. Gideon agrees and thus begins his life’s odyssey and the first part of the book.

General Chamblee Tucker is the alleged perpetrator who had a hand in Dr. Melvin Crew’s death and Gideon slowly and surely plans to bring about his downfall. Gideon does manage to locate a document which theoretically proves his father’s innocence and the way he goes about to prove Tucker’s mishandling is what forms the first part of the book. Events occur rapidly at this point and Gideon is shown to be a single minded person whose entire life focus is brought into fruition by his resolve, although an unknown but honorable person does provide a helping hand.

After the completion of his task which almost sees him killed, Gideon decides to settle down and try his hand at leading a normal life. However, things never go as planned as Gideon is approached by Eli Glinn—a character from the Pendergast novels who also appeared in The Ice Limit. Glinn reveals another secret about Gideon and then offers him a job that could benefit both the US government and Gideon himself. Apparently there’s a Chinese scientist on the run who possesses a secret technology which could change the world or be used as a weapon. Gideon’s mission is to intercept it. Thus begins a new chapter in Gideon’s life as he tries to acquire the secret technology whilst fighting assassins and different government agencies...

Gideon’s Sword can be viewed from two different levels: as a reader new to Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and longtime fans of the authors. As a first time reader, Gideon’s Sword is tremendously fun to read, with a fast-paced plot that never lets up and is engrossing from start to end despite a few improbable scenarios. Basically, this book works like a James Bond film. The action is thrilling and over-the-top, and while the hero’s success and survival is never in doubt, it’s still a blast to experience. Will no doubt translate wonderfully to a visual medium, which is probably why the film rights were sold so quickly :)

For a seasoned Preston-Child fan, Gideon’s Sword is vastly different from the Pendergast novels. For starters, the book is much faster-paced, while the protagonist in Gideon is as different from Pendergast as cats are from dogs. More specifically, Gideon Crew is his own man and does things by his own rules—akin more to the character of James Bond than George Smiley. Additionally, some of the scenarios might be a bit too over-the-top for seasoned readers to believe in, especially after having come to expect a certain amount of realism in the authors’ previous books. Other than that, the prose remains solid, although the plot can be predictable and doesn’t always do a good job of explaining things.

CONCLUSION: Personally, I read and enjoyed Gideon’s Sword because of its intriguing premise and main character, but the book heralds a different direction for Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child and it remains to be seen whether fans will follow the new series with the same vigor and vitality expressed for the Pendergast novels. My advice is keep an open mind and give yourself a chance to enjoy this entertaining thriller...


M. R. Mathias said...

I loved "Relic" & "Riptide."

The Reader said...

Hi Michael

Riptide was my first DPLC book and since then I have read all of their titles, have you read Reliquary, Relic's sequel?


Sally Bibrary said...

Pendergast is a great character, but they're non-Pendergast stories have always been different, just as their solo efforts have been different. Personally, that variety is part of what keeps me coming back to their stories.

Having said that, I often wonder if characters will cross paths . . . I'd love to see Pendergast chat with Wyman Ford. :)

I've been purposely saving this one for a summer read, so here's hoping it's worth the wait.

Jon said...

Preston & Child have done some great stuff. I'll have to check this one out.

M. R. Mathias said...

@The Reader. Yes I read Reliquary, & most of their catalogue while I was in prison in Texas.

The belly full of snails and puppy dog tails was creepy!


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