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Friends from Damascus by [Happy, Cliff]
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Friends from Damascus Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Length: 395 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1024 KB
  • Print Length: 395 pages
  • Publisher: Cliff Happy (1 Aug. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LSYLJW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #311,527 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Friends from Damascus" wasn't quite what I was expecting. Given the way the author touts his real-world experience in a bio at the front of the ebook, I was anticipating a realistic, if action-packed, spy thriller along the lines of Robert Ludlum, or perhaps the new Taken films. Instead, "Friends from Damascus" is more like James Bond: there are definite good guys and bad guys, everything was very clearly black and white, and the good guys are exceptionally good at what they do - killing the bad guys. "Nothing wrong with that!" I hear you cry - and no, there isn't, nor is that why I'm only giving the book three stars, unlike its sequels, which I enjoyed more.

I think Happy was still finding his feet somewhat as an author with this work, as it felt unbalanced in several ways. Some scenes dragged on much longer than they needed to, and a lot of the supporting case felt fairly bland in comparison with the leads, who were phenomenal at quite literally /every/ skill they might conceivably need, as well as multilingual, charismatic, and stunningly attractive to boot. There were also some plot developments (I won't say which - despite its flaws, it's still worth a read) that felt a little forced, but all in all it was still an enjoyable read, and, for the price I paid (£2.54), not a bad investment. Plot? Three stars. Execution? Two-and-a-half. If you're looking to suspend your disbelief for a spy-thriller romp that won't cost the Earth, go for it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Read his submarine books first and thoroughly enjoyed them - this was as good if not better!! A real page turner from start to finish.
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Wish they were real.
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I found this bookjust kept on flowing with a mixture of excitement and human interest. I have now read four books in the series and would give them all five stars.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 73 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable Read Despite the Flaws - If You Can Make to the Middle 2 Aug. 2012
By Lady Action Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It took me a bit of time to figure just how to review the book. On the one hand, when I was finished, I had no problem describing it as a book I couldn't put down. And it's been years since I was able to say that about a book, including those by my favorite authors. On the other hand, I almost gave up on it because I was extremely frustrated by the writing - a whole lot of "telling" and not enough "showing". This resulted in my being unable to follow where the story was going and I just couldn't connect with the characters.

Because of this, I need to separate the story into two parts. Part one is the first 50% of the book. And Part two is the last 50%. (My feelings changed at exactly the 50% mark according to my Kindle.) As such my 4-star rating is really an average. My true rating is more like:

Part One: 3 stars
Part Two: 5 stars

Part One
Although the main character is Talia/Mona and she is the constant throughout the book, part one introduces the reader to a lot of different narrators and a lot of different threads whose connections are unclear. You never really know why we're jumping all over the place. It was very disjointed and frankly annoying. The other annoyance was the way Talia was written. We're constantly being "told" how well trained she is. How deadly she is. Even to the extent where the narrator becomes some random bad guy she's gone to for information and all he can think about is how deadly she is. How much he fears her. (Making a walk on character a POV character is a major pet peeve for me). I felt yeah, yeah, whatever. Darn it, don't tell me how deadly she is. Show me.

Anyhow, there are places where the action picks up and the reader is led to the point of revealing just how deadly she is only to have it fizzle out. More talking about doing instead of actually doing. A big letdown for us action/thriller readers quite frankly. Once or twice, fine. But this happened many times. In thinking about it later, I guess this was the technique the author used to show Talia's reluctance to return to her old life. Okay, I guess, but not really convincing. Also, Talia/Mona was constantly whining about how she hated this life, hated being forced back into it. Enough already, I heard you the first three dozen times. Can we move on?

That added to the repeated reminder about her training left me feeling like a lot of things are being said over and over again but the character development wasn't really moving forward.

There are some action sequences - thanks to other characters. And the scenes between Mona and Rene are well done. Their attraction and her reluctance are clearly "shown". Her scenes with Merrick also clearly show her fear. For those reasons, Part one earns 3 stars instead of 2. However, outside these scenes, Talia is an emotional void. Again, thinking about it, I suppose this was a technique used to distinguish the Talia the assassin from Talia the woman. But because we're "told" so much about Talia the assassin rather than "experiencing" it, it feels empty and I didn't connect with Talia the assassin. She was just kind of there. Talia the woman was far more interesting.

Part Two
The story really picks up in Part Two. In thinking about it, this is when we finally (for the most part) get out of Talia's head and she starts "doing". This is when Talia the assassin become real.

The pace picks up. The various threads come together and we learn what they all mean. I even want to go back and reread a few of the early sections to see if I might have missed some clues. This part is difficult to describe without lots of spoilers so I'll leave it at once I began this section it was hard to put down. And I finished the book in a matter of hours rather than the days it took to get to get through Part One.

Part two, however, isn't without its flaws. There are times when the author reverts back to "telling," but honestly I felt they were forgivable since there weren't too many and the rest was so well done. Also, in the end, the sequences on the ship (spoiler potential so I'll leave it at that) really could have been left out. The settlement of that character almost feels like the author had bigger plans for him then changed his mind.

And finally, once the main "mission" is over (spoiler), there are a series of scenes that close up the loose ends. They're almost like a series of epilogues. I know why they're there and appreciate what they do, but they feel kind of clunky. After the denouement, these passages left me feeling a little like "enough already". Given that this book is part of a series, this probably could have been handled later. Anyway, again, forgivable since they served a purpose.

All in all, Friends from Damascus is worth the read. And I look forward to Cliff Happy's future works because I imagine he'll do nothing but get better and the flaws of this first book will disappear.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Action Brain Candy 17 July 2012
By A. Boothby - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am only writing this review because one of our small-brained people gave it one-star saying he would not read it because it appeared that all of the reviewers were friends and family. LOL. Thank you for your wise counsel, Mister BUTT.

I am a constant reader.

"Action Brain Candy." This is my description of stories that capture my attention... fiction writing that makes me look forward to sitting still... to my reading lamp during the last minutes of my day. Unwrap it, sit back and enjoy. "Friends from Damascus" did all of these things, and, as the first fiction added to my new Kindle I am very pleased. The idea that a team of professionals could rapidly eliminate those determined to commit evil upon society without the required hours and weeks of meetings/discussions/socializations by namby-pambies who have never volunteered to carry a rifle - it appeals to me. The carefully selected female roles, put simply, resonate. The woman as warrior is a very old idea that comes around again and I like it. In this volume, Talia is incredibly fascinating as a highly intelligent woman of "action."

I also admit bias toward the author. I have looked down upon the Roman encampments from the heights of Masada with Cliff Happy, swam in the Dead Sea, conducted a raid or two and marched many a dirty road. The media today tends to spin it so it looks like that the Generals run the military but it is not true. Sergeants are still doing that.

As Marine infantrymen go, Cliff Happy was one of the best, and he can tell a story!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, but enjoyable 5 Dec. 2012
By LJM - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
"Friends from Damascus" wasn't quite what I was expecting. Given the way the author touts his real-world experience in a bio at the front of the ebook, I was anticipating a realistic, if action-packed, spy thriller along the lines of Robert Ludlum, or perhaps the new Taken films. Instead, "Friends from Damascus" is more like James Bond: there are definite good guys and bad guys, everything was very clearly black and white, and the good guys are exceptionally good at what they do - killing the bad guys. "Nothing wrong with that!" I hear you cry - and no, there isn't, nor is that why I'm only giving the book three stars, unlike its sequels, which I enjoyed more.

I think Happy was still finding his feet somewhat as an author with this work, as it felt unbalanced in several ways. Some scenes dragged on much longer than they needed to, and a lot of the supporting case felt fairly bland in comparison with the leads, who were phenomenal at quite literally /every/ skill they might conceivably need, as well as multilingual, charismatic, and stunningly attractive to boot. There were also some plot developments (I won't say which - despite its flaws, it's still worth a read) that felt a little forced, but all in all it was still an enjoyable read, and, for the price I paid (£2.54), not a bad investment. Plot? Three stars. Execution? Two-and-a-half. If you're looking to suspend your disbelief for a spy-thriller romp that won't cost the Earth, go for it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jaw-Dropping 7 Oct. 2011
By Luke Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book to be thrilling. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop. It is suspenseful from cover to cover. There is beautiful imagery used, and you really get into the minds of each character. There are many unpredictable twists which allow you to really get into the book. I found myself thinking about the parts of the book even when I wasn't reading, just wondering what the last twist meant. I absolutely loved it. I can't wait for the next book in the series.
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it. Flaws and all. LOL 17 Mar. 2014
By claudette valliere - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This one starts of with Colonel Walter Merrick. Spoiler alert.

Merrick is a CIA case worker. He's the case officer for the CIA's darkest, most secretive section of operatives.

Merrick is at the home of Brett Morgan. A man he desperatly wants in his service.

Morgan is an ex-US Navy SEAL. A man who has worked for the Joint Special Operations Command and the Special Activities Division within the CIA. A man who is a brilliant tactician. A man who can plan a mission on the fly. A man who can successfully implement those missions without much planning. Missions that are always successfull. He's a man every intel agency on the planet wants to recruit. Merrick is among that number.

Morgan is also a killer elite with any weapon as well as with his hands. Morgan is no stranger to the dealing of death.Merrick has always believed that Morgan is the most dangerous man in the world.

Morgan is also the only survivor of a friendly fire tragedy. A tragedy that cost the lives of the eleven members of his team. Morgan was the lone survivor. A survivor who is scarred both inside and out and a man who isn't interested in working for anyone.

Morgan has advised Merricks cronies of this many times. Those cronies, along with those from Isreal, Britain, France, Germany and everywhere else still keep coming. Trying to recruit Morgan.

Merrick keeps his men coming to visit Morgan because he wants to make certain that he, Merrick, will be the one the ex-SEAL comes to work for when he finally decides he's mourned the loss of his team long enough.

Morgan sees Merrick as a bureaucrat. A bureaucrat just like the rest of the paper-pushing, ball-licking, indecisive law makers in Washington. Bureaucrats who have sent Morgan and his team into Pakistan, Iran, and every other God forsaken S***hole they could find only to lose their nerve when the team was finally doing some good. Finally ready to take out the jihadists. They are a bunch of people Morgan has utter disgust for.

Unknown to Merrick Morgan has plans of his own.

Plans that will take him on the road to righting wrongs and taking out the bad guys wherever they may be. A road that won't include bureaucrats in DC or Merrick. A road where he will make the decisions. A road that will win him many enemies. A road he's finally decided he will travel.

So begins one great read.

This one has friends, enemies, an American facilitating a plan to kill many, an alter ego, a woman named Talia who turns out to be a woman on the hunt for Morgan and his team, love, death, destruction, nerve gas and a group of people like no other.

One super read and well worth those five stars.
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