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The Network [Paperback]

Jason Elliot
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

21 July 2011

The world is about to change...

In the months leading up to

9/11 the intelligence community is on high alert for terrorist threats.

Former army officer Anthony Taverner is recruited by the Secret

Intelligence Service for an apparently straightforward mission: to

destroy a cache of the CIA's precious Stinger missiles in Taliban-held


But in the kaleidoscopic world of spying, nothing is

what it seems.

And as the struggle to avert a catastrophe begins, Taverner's

allegiance is to an authority he must keep secret from even his closest


Frequently Bought Together

The Network + Mirrors of the Unseen: Journeys in Iran + An Unexpected Light: Travels in Afghanistan
Price For All Three: £22.04

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (21 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408809907
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408809907
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 275,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Fast-paced and strikingly authentic' (Stella Rimington)

'Really authentic. You can practically smell the sweat and the fear' (Frederick Forsyth)

'A terrific spy thriller' (Guardian)

'The ideal thriller for the age of C.S.I' (New York Times)

Book Description

SAS meets James Bond in this extraordinary thriller by an award-winning

travel writer.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overly complicated but comes together in the end 28 Mar 2011
By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER
The eyecatching cover of this book bears absolutely no resemblance to the story. The narrator, Anthony Taverner, is a former Army officer living in the English countryside, who is recruited to find and destroy a cache US Stinger missiles in remote Afghanistan in the months leading up to 9/11. He also has a secondary, private mission of tracking down his best friend who has been living undercover with Al-Qaeda. Before he can travel to Afghanistan, he is given extensive training. He also travels to the Sudan to retrieve information about Al-Qaeda. Finally the action shifts to Afghanistan itself and the execution of the mission.

The book starts with a bang, but then spends considerable time filling in Taverner's back story before it moves forward again. The diversion to the Sudan feels unnecessary, as does a romantic sub-plot that felt forced and which gets abandoned abruptly. The final third of the book is set in Afghanistan, and it's at this point that the book really finds its feet and grips you through to the terrific ending.

If you're looking for a fast paced thriller, the kind where you disengage your mind and turn the pages at a rapid rate, this probably isn't the book for you. If on the other hand you value authentic detail and realism, you are more likely to enjoy this story. The details about the narrator's background and training feel realistic and the superb descriptions of Afghanistan in the second half of the book reflect the author's familiarity with his topic.

When I was halfway through the book I felt like I could take or leave it, but by the end I realised that I really enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Network is a fantastically paced and gripping read but unlike many other such books, I learnt a lot from it about the world I live in, knowledge that the author must have worked hard to obtain, and not all in a library. It is clear from his earlier books, on his travels in Afghanistan and in Iran, that he is an intrepid, well-briefed and empathic traveller. Insights in the book are still working their way through my understanding.
Anyway I strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest on our relations with the Moslem world.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Network- A Compelling Read 12 July 2010
By Kairos
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I previously read Jason Elliot's `An Unexpected Light' about his travels in Afghanistan and `Mirrors of the Unseen' about Iran both of which I really enjoyed. They are quite scholarly books enlivened by the momentum that travel brings and by the fact that they are written by a young man in love with his subject. The Network is just so totally different. I couldn't put it down and felt compelled to turn the pages. The detail, the action, the romance and the passion for life itself are compelling.Elliot can't resist bringing in a few timely pearls of wisdom which, for me, are a characteristic of his earlier books. Given his previous books and the experiences he talks about there, its hard to know how much of The Network is true and how much is fiction which really adds to the interest. What was Elliot really doing in Afghanistan and Iran? It would make a great film. It ends leaving lots of scope for a sequel; I really hope there is one!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Predictable, Convoluted and Boring 12 Nov 2010
The Network is a book that appears to offer a lot. The author has written about Afghanistan and knows the region well. I cannot comment on these books but only on the execution of another Afghan-set "Action/Spy Thriller". Judging this book on its strengths as a thriller leaves me with two words: convoluted and boring. The plot revolves around an ex-British solider named Tarverner who is called back into service to work for SIS. Once signed up he does a load of predicatable things like meeting a strange, sexy woman in a foreign country and learning how to be a hard man in the Brecon Beacons - the usual tropes of action-adventure stories that we are all used to. The story is over the top, unbelievable, and poorly executed.

I simply did not care for the main character or the 250 pages of training/backstory/pointless diversions that litter the text. In the books defence it is worth stating that it is competently written in places and underlying all the flaws there is a decent idea about the existence of a shadow political structure in "The Network" of the title. However this idea is never fully formed or explored and when it is alluded to it suggests that the author has some questionable views on international relations.

Please take with a pinch of salt the rave reviews on this site. There is little to be impressed with here. The love story is not "touching" as one reviewer called it but simply unbelievable and tacked on to the plot for some light relief. If you like poor characterisation, a thin, sub-Bourne plot, and a story taking you to various locations for no reason then by all means read The Network. If you want decent spy fiction then go and read (or re-read) Le Carre, or Ambler, or Cruz Smith, or even Forsyth. This book is an unmitigated failure at coming anywhere near that cannon.

One to avoid.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully Written, Intelligent Thriller 26 Oct 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
'The Network' is Jason Elliot's first work of fiction and the first of his books that I have read. Based on this one experience of his writing it will not be the last one I pick up.

The main thing to say about The Network is that its beautifully written. There is a lyricism to Elliot's writing that elevates it above most books in the genre and allows the narrative to flow. His use of imagery is fantastic and as a result the sense of place he brings is almost overwhelming. His background as a travel writer really stands out.

He doesn't shirk when it comes to characterisation either. Taverner, H, Seethrough and the rest of the diverse cast feel like three dimensional human beings. Even minor characters are given enough complexity to make them feel like real people. The dialogue and idividuals' behaviour all feel plausible.

Less strong is the plot itself. If the Network is the first novel in a series featuring Taverner then it works as a general introduction but doesn't provide the most compelling story ever. There is an air of realism to the events that occur, backed up by Elliot's first-hand knowledge of the places featured and some solid research into weapons, spy-craft, etc. There is however, a slight lack of 'oomph' to proceedings. The chase and interrogation that opens proceedings gives the story initial impetus, but the early twist is far to predictable and after that things slow down just a touch too much until a sudden flash of action at the denoument. I wasn't bored and the quality of the writing held me, a bit more action and a slightly brisker pace would have been appreciated.

The book is also has an episodic feel (rather like a travel book?) which prevents the story from really taking flight.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Schoolmarmy Army
A British SAS officer is retrained and returned to Afghanistan to tie up the loose ends of an intelligence operation and rescue a comrade. Read more
Published on 28 Feb 2012 by Kartowidjojo
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book shame about the price
I got stung by this one as I liked the plot and downloaded the sample but didn't read it straight away. Read more
Published on 22 Oct 2011 by Dynasmum
3.0 out of 5 stars A Secret Agent Handbook
I found that the story line in this book was reasonably topical and made for an interesting plot. But the story was unnecessarily bulked out by what I can only describe as a 'How... Read more
Published on 30 Sep 2010 by Highlander
5.0 out of 5 stars John Buchan for the 21st Century
If you like John Buchan's "The Thirty-Nine Steps" and have been waiting for its 21st Century successor "The Network" is all of that and more. Read more
Published on 20 Aug 2010 by Xul Solar
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story!
This man Elliot seems to know his stuff intimately! I read his travel books and see he was with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan all those years ago but wonder where he's been... Read more
Published on 9 July 2010 by Jack Russell
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible detail, great characterisation - cracking!
If the SAS, MI6, AK47s, top secret missions etc float your boat, you should definitely read this. The level of technical detail is extraordinary - I can only imagine that the... Read more
Published on 9 July 2010 by TessieMcClaen
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