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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Death of Achilles, Boris Akunin
Erast Fandorin returns to Russia after six year's diplomatic service in Japan, and immediately finds himself thrown into a mystery that will see his skills of both mental dexterity and physical survival tested to the limit...
General Sobolev, popularly known as "The Russian Achilles", a national hero after much distinguished conduct during the Russo-Turkish war, is...
Published on 30 Aug 2005 by RachelWalker

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but the final third is weak
The Fandorin series is being translated out of sequence. This was not such a problem for the reader where those two books were concerned, but (for me) it was a barrier to enjoying this one because we are told that Fandorin has spent 4 years in Japan, during which time he clearly had at least one mystery to solve because not only has he picked up an impressive array of...
Published on 14 Jun 2007 by I Read, Therefore I Blog


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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 6 July 2014
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This review is from: The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin 4) (Paperback)
Easy read and very enjoyable even if at the end some loose ends are left not fully explained
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5.0 out of 5 stars Erast forever, 17 Feb 2014
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Another wonderful adventure, told by a princely butler who hates Erast, but has to 'help' him. He has to overcome his snobbery, but foils budding romance
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another 'ripping yarn', 23 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin 4) (Paperback)
I am totally 'hooked' on Erast Fandorin now after picking up books 1 and 2 in a 2nd hand bookshop. As the cover blurb says, they are 'Sherlock Holmes meets James Bond'. The stories develop at a pace which means they are 'un-put-down-able', and I'm sure they are written 'tongue in cheek' so are amusing as well as gripping.
I recommend newcomers to start with book 1 (The Winter Queen) as Erast's character develops signifantly by the end of the story.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Russian Sherlock Ninja solves crime, 16 May 2013
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Lee Hanley (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin 4) (Paperback)
This is a particularly distinct Erast novel. Of note is the unusual story construction. Erast gets involved in the investigation of the death of a famous general which forms the first part of the novel. In the second half of the novel we have the detailed life story of the killer, then his movements and actions during the crime. In the last brief part we get the confrontation between the two. I have never read a novel which has this odd structure but it works somehow and is very entertaining. The character of Erast is expanded somewhat by his Asian adventures, acquiring Ninja skills which are someone outside his usual character of the reflective thinker. It is a good read and sufficiently different from the previous novels to retain interest.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A closely matched hero and anti-hero, 1 April 2013
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Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin 4) (Paperback)
At the end of "The Turkish Gambit", Akunin's hero, Erast Petrovich Fandorin, was heading for Japan to take a posting in the Russian Embassy whilst General Michel Sobolev, the hero of the Russo-Turkish War, was gaining all the military and political plaudits.

In this book, the fourth in the series to be translated into English, we move on six years to 1882 as Erast returns to Moscow as a Collegiate Assessor assigned to the service of the City's aging Governor General, Prince Dolgorukoi, with a Japanese man-servant, Masa, only to find that Sobelov has died in his hotel room of an apparent heart attack. The important word here is, of course, "apparent".

Akunin, the nom-de-plume of the Georgian-born writer, Grigory Shalvovich Chkhartishvili, may be translated in Japanese as "villain" and, in this novel, the author uses his knowledge of Japan to describe Masa, his attitudes and way of thinking, as well as describing what Erast has understood and uncovered from his stay in that country. Akunin may also refer to the character discovered to be at the centre of the plot although, if so, it is a grave underestimation of the person concerned.

The first half of the novel introduces many characters, male and female, few of whom trust one another. It appears to Fandorin, his thinking stimulated by regular baths in melting ice, that the circumstances of Sobolev's death may have been confused by the action of his staff and that a woman, or women, and a million roubles may also be involved. The German secret service also appear to be implicated. There is much dressing up in disguise and Fedorin even calls on his mentor, retired Inspector Xavior Feofilaktovich Grushin, for assistance as the investigation centres on the Hard Labour inn where the most dangerous and disreputable criminals hang out.

Expert use of various Japanese weapons enables Fandorin to emerge from capture and, as various suspicious candidates find death awaiting them, he realises that there is a master-criminal at loose. The scene is set for our hero to set a trap using himself as human bait.

The second half of the novel tells the story of the master-criminal, including an earlier meeting with Fandorin, who uses many aliases and also operates under many disguises. Born into a radical pacifist sect, orphaned in a very violent manner he seeks and gains his revenge and, over time, time becomes a robber and then a hired assassin, which led to an approach to kill Sobokin.

The two rivals are clearly evenly matched and either would have served Akunin well as a leading character. However, in the style of romantic novels of the late 19th century, good and bad, black and white, face one another and, in the short third part of the book, only one will survive.

Those already familiar with Fandorin will need no further urging to read this book whilst those who have not yet made his acquaintance may be muttering "Tosh" or its 21st century equivalent. The author's panache and brio takes the reader with him, even when the brain realises the outrageous nature of what is being described. Great credit is due to Andrew Bromfield for translating the author's original Russian so effectively.

It is fortunate that the translated novels about Fandorin's exploits come out at regular intervals because reading them one after another might dull the palate for Akunin's/Bromfield's very clever language. Reading them in the original Russian exposes additional layers of linguistic complexity, but those rendered here in English elicit a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Poor Achilles, 2 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin 4) (Paperback)
Well any woman would have fallen in love with the character known as the Russian Achilles from a previous story The Turkish Gambit. In this book he meets a sad ending which make my female heart very sad having been taken up with his character previously. Our hero, Erast Fandorin is of course asked to solve the case and he excels with his remarkable analytical skill and many adventures. Fandorin has returned to Russia after years in Japan and finds himself embroiled in court politics in Moscow. The author introduces some fascinating new characters including his new servant, the Japanese named Masa, who is an expert in yakuza and has taught Erast some fascinating new skills. Also in this book we have a court scene Russia style which is informative as it describes court activities in Russia at the time of the C19th. Excellent!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Achilles' death explained, 21 Jun 2012
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I. Raymond "beachcomber" (Bexhill, GB) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin 4) (Paperback)
Another complicated and engaging mystery from Akunin, with all the usual twists and turns - and some unexpected ones. A good read, as usual from this Russian master.
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4.0 out of 5 stars now he is a martial arts expert, 27 July 2010
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A. Browne "avid reader" (Donegal Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This is an improvement on past stories but the addition of martial arts to Erast Fandorin many skills does vear very close to the worst excesses of JT Edson. The storyline does not. It has all the complexity of the many factions vying for attention at the Russian court crossed with the many forms of opposition to that rule A welcome return to form.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Holmes Meets James Bond, 19 Jun 2009
This review is from: The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin 4) (Paperback)
Imagine if Sherlock Holmes had trained as a ninja and Dr. Watson was a King Fu expert. The picture in your mind wouldn't be far off the heroes of this book, young Russian super-sleuth Erast Fandorin and his devoted side-kick Masa. Translated into English from Russian, 'Death of Achilles' sees Fandorin take on famed hitman 'The Jackal' (the one from Day of the Jackal) in a fast paced adventure that resulted in me spending over an hour sat on the loo at one point, reading the book, gripped. Not only is this a page-turning adventure, but its beautifully written too. I found myself smiling, both with pleasure from the story and also the skill with which it was penned. Not for one second does it feel like its been translated from another language. This is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in years. I am going to order the next two in the series and then persuade my girlfriend that Moscow would be a nice place for our next Summer holiday. Go buy it now and then lend it to all your friends. They will be forever in your debt.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too many coincidences, 7 Jan 2008
By 
A.K.Farrar "AKF" (Timisoara, Romania) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin 4) (Paperback)
A little disappointing. Several elements stretch belief to the limit - and coincidence is a too frequent contributor.
I did enjoy earlier Fandorin outings but this is starting to get a little formulaic.
The best character is the villain - and there 'Akunin' managed to provide some serious interest.
The 'in-jokes' - like the price of re-building the Cathedral in Moscow and several references to 'England' I'm sure will be lost on most people.
Worth a read, but not a repeat.
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The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin 4)
The Death of Achilles (Erast Fandorin 4) by Boris Akunin (Paperback - 3 Aug 2006)
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