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4.2 out of 5 stars52
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Back in 1978 we saw the release of James Herbert's fifth novel to be published, entitled `The Spear'. Following on from the likes of `The Rats', `The Fog, `The Survivor' and `Fluke', Herbert's next publication was highly anticipated by a growing audience.

The tale follows the principal character of Harry Steadman, an ex-agent for Mossad (the national intelligence agency for Israel) who now works as one of two partners within a private enquiry agency (similar to a private investigator's). Steadman is somewhat forced into helping out the British Secret Services to expose the organised and powerful fanatic organisation that is currently being run by some of the most powerful men in Britain.

During Steadman's investigations, a much more horrifying truth emerges surrounding this corrupt organisation of Neo-Nazi Thulists. A truth that is submerged in the occult and the dark power this group is attempting to wield from the spear that pierced Christ's side; the Spear of Longinus.

Littered with actual quotes from the likes of Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Hitler, `The Spear' has a storyline that finds itself predominately focussed on the atrocities and sheer evil behind these two historical individuals from World War II. Herbert carefully ties in their past to a modern day scenario. With a detailed complexity to the storyline, Herbert finds himself regularly detailing the plotline to the reader by way of a clichéd `bad guy to good guy explains the elaborate plotline' in an early James Bond movie way. This does come across as quite comical in places, but doesn't detract too much from the developing storyline.

The character of Steadman is another one of Herbert's typical charismatic characters who the reader can find themselves easily identifying with and indeed building up somewhat of a rapport with. His inner-torment at the violence portrayed within the novel, humanises the character, bringing out an array of sympathies from the reader towards the troubled man.

The book has the usual injection of sex and over the top violence that have become almost staple with Herbert's work (obviously with the odd exception here and there such as that of `Fluke'). Like with many of Herbert's novels, `The Spear' starts off as predominately more of an action packed crime thriller than a horror, until the dark and twisted truth is finally revealed. Snippets of the more supernatural side to the tale are thrown in on the odd occasion, but nothing to really sway the overall impression of the tale during the half of the book.

At times the elaborate storyline seems somewhat over complicated for what is actually transpiring. Herbert's intricate plot comes across as too carefully formulated without much thought given to how the explanation will be uncovered and eventually delivered to the reader. This is disappointing, especially from an author of Herbert's calibre.

The ending is suitably dramatic and conclusive. All subplots, however small, are quickly tied up leaving the grand finale to deliver its symbolic conclusion. `The Spear' is certainly not one of Herbert's stronger novels, but still delivers a thoroughly entertaining tale with an action packed storyline and an intricate plot.

The novel runs for a total of 253 pages and was published by New English Library.
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VINE VOICEon 4 June 2004
You have to admire James Herbert's willingness to experiment, even if the results aren't always successful. Following the animal reincarnation fantasy of Fluke, The Spear initially appears to be a return to horror territory, but in fact the majority of this novel reads like a James Bond-style spy thriller.
There's plenty of excitement and plot-twists on display, but on the downside when the villains' plans are revealed things go so over the top that it's difficult to take the novel seriously. The elements of horror also don't always mesh into the thriller style particularly smoothly - the zombie finale is fine, but elsewhere an otherwise exciting attempted murder on the lead character during a weapons testing session by a runaway tank is undermined by a later revelation that said tank was actually driven by the ghost of Heinrich Himmler (yes - really!).
All in all The Spear is fast moving and with some effective action scenes, but as a whole is a very pulpy (and occasionally downright corny) read - equal parts horror story, James Bond spies, and Indiana Jones-style occult Nazi romp.
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on 17 October 2010
Hello all

Most books by James Herbert set out to chill the reader but with this one I found it only gripping up to a point. It starts out with ex-Mossad agent Harry Steadman refusing to help Israeli intelligence agents in their activities in finding a missing agent, and results in the unfortunative death of Steadman's business partner. Finally forced into seeking revenge Steadman makes his way through a labyrinth of conflicting motives in the international arms trade and Israel's desire to protect itself against terrorism and persecution. I found this book good with its flashbacks to the state of Israeli politics and Nazi Germany but I thought while the novel was fast paced and full of action it seemed slightly unreal to me. Also as it is overly violent to some extent with references to the occult it is not for reading by the screamish or faint-hearted, although I found reading it reminded me of Duncan Kyle's Black Camelot with its Nazi occult Arthurian legends, and therefore worth a look by the fans of James Herbert. A good book but not for all. (This review is of the 1999 Pan Books Paperback).
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on 31 January 2012
This is the first of several James Herberts I've read, and will certainly not be the last. However, it's certainly not the best. It's an interesting book in that it's classed as horror, like most Herberts, but it's not pure horror. It's mostly adventure or intrigue, with some supernatural elements. It's also something of a time capsule, given that it's written in the late 70's, when WWII was more recent history. However, it's not a blockbuster. You'll enjoy it if action is your thing, as it's genuinely exciting and the lines between good and evil are starkly drawn, but I doubt you'll like it if horror is your thing. It's certainly not for general readers. People who favour Nick Hornby or Sophie Kinsella will certainly not respect a book featuring zombie Nazis...
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on 14 October 2012
I brought this book in second hand paperback 30 years ago but never read it. So I got it on Kindle and read it.

It's an awesome read, vary gripping, action-packed and quite brutal in places.

Some Nazi fanatics raised Himmler back from the dead to lead their new Reich organisation with the plan of ruling the world. Stead an, private detective, ex-Mossad and ex-MI5 agent must stop them.

Note on Kindle version: no proplems with formatting, typos or anything else. Chapters with back and forth tabbing.
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on 9 July 2004
This was the first James Herbert book I read, and it was not exactly bad, but after Dean R. Koontz's Night Chills and Christopher Fowler's Rune I found that this book was lacking a little. I am not exactly sure if the shortcoming is in the actual conspiracy or the credibility, but the book didn't quite seem to deliver as was expected, read it if you have nothing better on hand, but not a real MUST.
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on 4 April 2013
A good plot- as always - but so badly overwritten it becomes cloying. It reads more like a film script for a horror movie- actions scenes go on far too long and in too much detail, there are gratuitous soft porn episodes, flashbacks occur at inopportune points in the sequence appearing to have been inserted as an afterthought.

The book's only saving grace is that it was written in 1978.
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on 10 September 2011
I've really only read Herbert's Rat trillogy and so decided to give his other work a go and to be honest didn't really enjoy this one. There are some interesting parts and it does get a bit tense at times but never reaches the terror of Rats although I guess its not probaly the aim. This is good if your into your nazi history, espionage millitary etc.
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on 31 July 2015
Thoroughly enjoyed this book as I have with the other books, by James Herbert, that I have read

Although dated (smoking in hotel rooms??!!) the book is still riveting hence the five star rating I have given it

Now on to the next, again by James Herbert, this book will be a hard act to follow!!!
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on 25 February 2015
Was not sure if to read this as did not like the idea of the plot, but I thought what the hell and went for it. Glad I did as really got into it as soon as I started reading it. Great characters and story, and couldn't put it down. Well worth a read and totally recommend it. You will not be disappointed....😊
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