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In his fourth novel-adventure, art restorer Gabriel Allon is recalled to action by the Israeli intelligence service for which he once worked. A massive truck bomb at the Israeli embassy in Rome and the shooting of fleeing victims has left fifty-two dead. When the Israelis obtain a computer disk from the terrorists' house outside of Milan, they discover recent photos of Gabriel Allon and his lover, notes about his real identity, and details of his sanctioned killing of Black September members, along with the second in command in the PLO. Yassir Arafat himself ordered reprisals against Allon, which resulted in the deaths of Allon's wife and son in a car bombing.
Believing the Rome bombing to be connected to the bombings of a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994 and the bombing of Istanbul's main synagogue in 2003, Allon and his mentor, Ari Shamron, an advisor to the prime minister of Israel, soon focus on three generations of a single family. Sheikh Asad led the Arab Revolt in 1936, unleashing deadly attacks all over Israel, until he was assassinated on orders of Yitzhak Rabin. The Sheik's son, Sabri, a friend of Yassir Arafat, accepted his father's terrorist mantle, until he was eliminated. Sabri's orphaned son, young Khaled, adopted by Yassir Arafat, is believed to be behind the recent spate of bombings of Jewish buildings around the world. Allon is now assigned to find and execute him.
The novel, the fourth in the Allon series, is filled with familiar main characters from the past, both in Allon's personal life and in his life as part of the Israeli security service. These familiar "faces" and the numerous references to Allon's previous adventures add depth and important historical background to this novel. The past relationships of characters and their interconnections are written clearly so new readers will not become confused, as Allon and Shamron try to find Khaled and prevent another attack, this time in France.
Silva is a particularly efficient novelist, writing in an exciting narrative style which keeps the tension high while he explores contemporary issues. He is a master at juggling subplots and developing his characters, especially his flawed main character, Gabriel Allon. His inclusion of real people, such as Itzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat, gives immediacy to the action, and his background information on the continuing war between the Arabs and Jews for the land in Palestine gives a sense of context to this long-standing enmity. Beautifully paced, the novel offers glimpses of life in contemporary Israel and the historic reasons for the violence there. Mary Whipple
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on 28 July 2005
The Prince of Fire is Daniel Silva's fifth "Gabriel Allon" novel. The story evolves after a bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Rome. Allon's "handler", Ari Shamron directs Allon to investigate. Allon is subsequently assigned to find and execute Khaled, who is thought to be behind many bombings of Jewish targets around the world. As with all of Silva's novels, it is extremely well written, and it certainly entertains. So, why the three-star rating? Szilva has set quite a standard for himself, particularly, in my opinion, with The Kill Artist and The Confessor. However, one gets the distinct impression in this novel that Silva is running out of ideas about what to do with Allon (not surprising perhaps after four excellent novels before this one!). Perhaps to compenaste for this, the novel suddenly gets buried in political/historical details. While these were always a feature of Silva's novels, they were usually very well "worked into" the story, and seemed a real part of the story. Now they appear to be there for lack of any other story to tell. Furthermore, there is noticably more political bias in this novel. While it was always there, since Silva is clearly pro-Israeli and pro-Zionist, it was never as apparent before as it is now. I feel that these two new developments detract from the pleasure of reading the book, and I found myself skipping a few pages now and then. Furthermore, the formal relationship between Allon and Chiara seems out of place in Allon's life, who Silva has always been at pains before to paint (no pun intended) as a loner. I believe that Silva should take care with Allon in his next novel (which is sure to come). Silva has spent a lot of time creating and developing a strong, compassionate, sensitive character with a profound sense of values. From this latest novel, this same character appears to weaken, lose his way, and seems a little dull at times. This is not the Allon we know! Take care Daniel.... don't ruin him! Having made these criticisms, The Prince of Fire remains an excellent read, and true to Silva fashion, we are taken on a wonderful journey to many enchanting places. I particularly liked the descriptions of life in Jerusalem, which I found quite accurate from my own experiences. I would recommend prospective readers, who have not read Silva before, to start with the first "Gabriel Allon" novels: The Kill Artist, The English Assasin, and The Confessor.
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The other reviews of Prince of Fire summarise the plot succinctly and there is little I could add to their descriptions. I can't really fault their assessments either. Daniel Silva's latest novel is yet another excellent thriller. Written in his usual, spare, linear and clear style, he avoids the long winded, know it all pomposity of many authors of this genre without sacrificing detail or character. The plot, another well crafted tale that merges fact and fiction into a seamless whole, is told well and made easy to follow. Characters, both old and new, are well developed and given room to breathe and grow. The action, when it comes, is handled competently and with realism. Silva is not an author who avoids showing the real horror of violence.
My only warnings to readers who might consider picking up Prince of Fire are as follows. First, read the previous Gabriel Allon books before this one so that you truly understand the character and his background. Whilst events from his past are dealt with in some detail here reading the books in order is far better. Second, you may find yourself vehemently disagreeing with the politics of this and the other Allon novels. All of the books in this series revolve around the issues of Palestinian/Israeli conflict, the Intifada, the founding of Israel, Zionism and the legacy of the Holocaust and although he doesn't state it overtly, when it comes to these subjects Silva's sympathies definitely lie with Israelis. Some readers may find that incompatible with their own opinions or beliefs and I will admit that I found some of the spin Silva puts on events is a little too one-sided.
If you can get past this conservative, right-wing slant however, then there is much to enjoy in Prince of Fire. Personally I have read all of Silva's thrillers and will read the next one. I might not necessarily agree with his politics but I do like his style.....
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 February 2016
The Israeli embassy in Rome is attacked by a car bomber. It becomes apparent that the attack was part of a wider conspiracy to target Gabriel Allon, who has to track down the terrorists before they can track him down.

This is a perfectly readable thriller but maybe because I read it straight after "A Death in Vienna" I felt irritated by how lazy the writing is.

For example, in A Death in Vienna this is how Gabriel Allon is described:
"(His) gait was smooth and seemingly without effort. The slight outward bend to his legs suggested speed and surefootedness. The face was long and narrow at the chin, with a slender nose that looked as if it had been carved from wood. The cheekbones were wide, and there was a hint of the Russian steppes in the restless green eyes. The black hair was cropped short and shot with grey at the temples."

This is how he is described in "Prince of Fire":
"His walk was smooth and seemingly without wffort, and there was a slight outward bend to his legs that Isherwood always associated with men who could run very fast or were good at football...The face came into focus - long, high at the forehead, narrow at the chin. The nose looked at though it had been carved from wood, the cheekbones were wide and prominent, and there was a hint of the Russian steppes in the green, restless eyes. The black hair was cropped short and very grey at the temples."

This is but one example of many elements that feel completely recycled from previous books. The plot is also extremely pro-Israeli and anti-Arab, to the point that starts to feel less like a thriller and more like a lecture.

I do like this series but I think the moral is not to read them too close to one another!
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VINE VOICEon 16 January 2010
True to form, the author provides the reader with some very illuminating historical facts coupled with the usual action from Gabriel Allon, the subject of the book's title. Having rounded off the Holocaust trilogy, Silva turns his attention to the conflict between Jews and Palestinians, as he did with the first Allon book, 'The Kill Artist'. I still rate this first book the best so far. 'The Prince of Fire' tries hard to follow up this success but, for me, falls a little short. Allon is just too careless sometimes - or maybe he's just getting older but, even so, we are treated to a passionate and sympathetic approach to the troubles in the Middle East. Allon even manages to cling on to a little love interest continuing from the previous novel whilst his wife, too, begins to feature a little more in the storyline.

I have no idea if Arafat was as black as he's painted. I've no idea if the Israelis have such a department as the 'Office' but it certainly makes for an interesting action-filled journey through, as usual, several different countries, even down to one of my favourite areas of France. Marseilles has always been an intriguing place for dark stories, though Silva relents a little and moves the real action elsewhere. A great read. Though I have all the other books, I plan to turn to a few other authors before I revisit Gabriel Allon. I think I need a breather.
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on 16 January 2011
Daniel Silva's Mossad agent Gabriel Allon is, by profession, an art restorer. This not only makes the character three-dimensional, but adds to the reader's interest when the action flags - which is not often. Silva's background research is meticulous and where I was familiar with some of the many locations, the writer transported me back once again. Not only was I unable to put down the book once I started it, but towards the end I really wished the book was longer. I cannot wait to get the whole series!
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on 24 January 2007
From the very first pages with a terrorist attack on the Israeli embassy in Rome, the book moves quickly forward with Gabriel Allon being forced to leave his beloved Venice to return to Israel after his identity is compromised and to track down the culprit. To the reader it is pretty obvious who the 'baddie' is but it does not detract from the story. The author cleverly weaves historical fact about the reasons behind the attack even bringing in Arafat of the PLO into the story and some background into the Israeli/Palastinian conflict. The story also brings Leah, Allon's badly-injured and traumatised wife from the earlier stories back. Shamron, Gabriel's mentor and friend also has a part to play with his past playing a major part in the terrorist's past. A good read, leaving me wanting more.
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on 17 August 2009
I only discovered Daniel Silva this year and am working my way through the 'back list'. PRINCE OF FIRE is a humdinger of a thriller, pitching Mossad super-agent Gabriel Allon against another team of Palestinians plotting terror attacks in Europe. Silva gives team-leader Khaled and his female accomplice personal as well as nationalist motives for wanting revenge on Israel and the nations that support Israel. Yasser Arafat makes a brief but chilling appearance; he was, in Silva's book, an implacable enemy of the peace process.

PRINCE OF FIRE zaps from location to location at a cracking pace. The climax comes three-quarters of the way through: a horrific attack in Paris. Between this climax and its inevitable corollary we get an extended glimpse of Gabriel's personal tragedy as his wife Leah begins to emerge from the fugue state brought on by the explosion that took their daughter's life years earlier. The price of terror is one that both sides continue to pay. Brilliant stuff, Mr Silva.

[The reviewer is the author of SHAIKH-DOWN]
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VINE VOICEon 10 October 2014
Seconds after a car bomb virtually destroys the Israeli embassy in Rome four gunmen indiscriminately mow down the survivors. As Gabriel Allon starts to search for those behind the atrocity the trail leads from Rome to Cairo, Sardinia and to Marseilles - and the worrying coincidence that the date of the Rome attack is close to the anniversary of other suicide bombings.

For a few days, as the pieces fall neatly into place, it seems that Gabriel and Israeli intelligence are close to identifying both the master terrorist and his next target. But, in a sudden and unexpected twist, Gabriel makes a mistake - and completely underestimates the utter ruthlessness of his opponent.

It's the fifth book in the Gabriel Allon saga - and the most gripping thriller Daniel Silva has so far given us.

Read and enjoy...
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on 22 July 2010
I generally don't like books with a central character who lives on and on and on (despite being riddled with bullets every time they appear) as one tends to lose the sense of fear for their safety after a few books. I mean why would an author kill off their golden child?

Gabriel Allon is different, and his flaws are in so many 'normal' lives. This book shows more of his character, and is easy to read without putting it down.

As ever, the author's research is extraordinarily good.

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