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  • Rage
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3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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on 11 February 2007
From an author I'd never come across, this was a surprising discovery for me. Given to me as a birthday present, the little sticker on the front comparing it to Michael Ryan did not initially endear me to it.

However after reading the first chapter, I was immensly glad I stayed with it.

A combination of action adventure, mystery and thriller all rolled into one, this was a difficult book to put down. The fast moving plot, and a lead character that is gradually introduced as the story unfolds, draws you into the plot.

Set during the time of the second Gulf War, this is a different take on your typical wartime adventure. Obviously written by someone with more than a passing knowledge of modern warfare (the author is a former army officer), the plot line gradually draws you, the reader into a dark and at times graphic journey into the horrors of war- both for civilians and combatants alike.

An excellent effort for what is a fairly jam packed genre, and well worthy of your money. Forget the comparison to Michael Ryan et all, this stands head and shoulders above them.
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VINE VOICEon 27 September 2010
Although other reviewers have said this book hits the ground running, I'm not so sure. If it did, it stumbled several times during the first quarter of the book, leaving me wondering quite where we were going.

However, after that, the pace quickened, most things (but not all) became clearer as Major Jonah Said went about his business to the chagrin of just about everyone else in the book. It then became a fantastic read for me, as the poor old Major was dealt blow after blow both physical and emotional but somehow managed to struggle on to bring us a really taut and gripping finale. From about halfway on, I didn't want to put the book down. Conway's descriptions of the the Zone and, indeed, parts of Iraq leading up to the first days of the second Iraq War are excellent. He brings some of the horror of Saddam's regime to the fore, especially to include his horrendous sons and it's gratifying to know beforehand that those two characters met a timely death.

I gather the Major reappers in 'A Loyal Spy' so we can be sure, I hope, of another gripping read. Just where that will leave Jonah Said will remain a mystery for me until I've read the book. I look forward to it very much. Whatever else, Simon Conway knows how to tell a story.
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on 4 October 2006
Rage ia about a soldier, Jonah Said. Hes not your average run of the mill brass collecting one either. He is trouble. Jonah is sent to the Zone, Kuwait and Iraq boarders. On arrival, trouble starts and continues for him right up to the last chapter. All around him, is corruption, deceit and death, yet somehow he keeps it together. Hes a crap spy, a crap soldier and always manages to get either beaten up, tortured, buried in sand, and stabbed...but hes like a bull dog, he keeps coming back for more.

Its a fast and vivid read. The basic story line, is that everything and anything is for sale, dealing with corruption, death, betrayal. Jonah is pushed from pillar to post to find what he is looking for, which just leads him into more trouble.

The only problem with this book is that it ended! Great read.
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"There were so many things wrong with me I'd become frightened of drawing up a list of them, for fear of what I might learn." - Jonah Said

Born in California of a Black mother from Guyana and a Palestinian father and raised in the United Kingdom, Jonah Said found a home in the British Army, with which he served - losing an eye to a landmine - in the Bosnian peace-keeping force in the mid-1990s. But a divorce led to a personal scandal, and the Army, wishing to avoid embarrassment, banishes Major Said to the Demilitarized Zone between Kuwait and Iraq as a United Nations observer in 2003 on the eve of the Second Gulf War.

Arriving in Kuwait temporarily minus his glass eye after having lost it in an Edinburgh cab, Jonah is picked up at the airport by another U.N. observer, the Norwegian Odd Nordland, whose job is to make an accounting of the thousands of forty-foot cargo containers scattered about the landscape after the First Gulf War. Several hours later, Odd is dead, his throat cut, in the loo of a disreputable bar while Jonah lies passed out under a table. After Said recovers his senses, it becomes apparent over the next couple of days that everyone thinks Nordland revealed to him a great secret. Jonah's exile in the Zone becomes infinitely more complicated.

RAGE by Simon Conway is a first-rate yarn involving a multi-layered plot set in a pitiless landscape and populated by numerous, exquisitely rendered characters. And the weary, cynical Said, with his load of personal baggage, is perhaps one of the most interesting principal protagonists you'll ever come across in a pulp thriller.

Jonah returns in A Loyal Spy, and it's on my Must Get List.
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on 19 March 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this very unusual read.

I can sympathise with some of the reviewers who found the chaos and complexity of the book too much for them, but I felt it reflected the chaos of the world in which it is set, and enough fell into place in the closing chapters to make it totally gripping.

It is a very imaginative book, with a multitude of colourful characters, and the central character is an amazing creation. The mayhem of Iraq in those days comes across vividly, and it could not have been imagined by someone who did not have first hand experience of war zones.

The plot is complex, and unfolds slowly, so it is only late in the book that we get any certainty about the allegiances and motivations of the characters. If I had to find fault, I would say that I would have been gripped earlier if I had been given more clues about where the book was heading.

I strongly recommend it though, and I certainly plan to try his other books.
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on 2 March 2011
Having read an Xmas present of Simon Conway's third book first I decided to read the first two. Rage started as a bit of a disapointment then rapidly developed into a well paced thriller deserving its own merits for a well constructed plot which echoed the chaos that was in everyones mind prior to the Iraq War breaking out. Well researched and considerate of the strife torn regime of Iraq prior to the invasion without detailing to boredom the missile attacks and initial build up to invasion. The characters come out of the page with almost physical force yet always leaving the reader waiting for the next occurence that will drive the main character to greater anguish and pain.
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on 19 May 2006
`In The Land of The Blind the One Eyed Man is King'

I just read Rage by Simon Conway and loved it. What's more, my 15 year old male babysitter, who is about to go into the army, started reading it one evening after he had managed to heat seek it out of my book case (how does that happen?) and also loved it. In fact, his loving Rage and asking to borrow it has constituted the longest conversation that I have ever had with him. That we should both love it is a bit of a mystery, and has got me thinking about why.

I can't pretend I think of myself as the book's obvious audience. I haven't read another thriller army or otherwise in my life. I bought it on an impulse: I have recently been reading W. G. Seabald but needed to take a break - books on the impermanence of human endeavour were not the best thing to have been reading during this Narnia length winter we've just had: I needed a change. A radical change. I picked it in a punk-on-the-i-pod fuelled moment of ahbollocks, bring on the pain, the khaki coloured stress, the sacrificial male bodies all pummelled and bleeding but still crashing on through the sand and the lies ¬- grrrrr!

I thought it would be an easy read, a bit of bedtime lite: I was instantly hooked. Sucked in to an absurd degree - like, switch off the phone, send the kid out for temporary adoption all I want to do is read this book hooked. Rage is definitely not lite. On one level it's a richly textured thoughtful exploration of the insanities that exist in the Middle East today. Simon Conway is a man who is defiantly as angry and bemused by it all as his hero Johna Said. On another level it's a page turning rampage through madness and situations of extremism: which, contrary to most literature about the middle east these days, manifest themselves due to the character's lack of belief: be it a member of the UN Observers or the odious narcissist Uday Hussain.

Perhaps the reasons that my young male baby sitter and I love it are for different reasons: I loved it because the characters were real, he loves it cause all the army bits are real (endless guns named only by their serial number, that's definitely a guy thing, well not every guy, but those guys who knew before Clint tells us punks what exactly the most powerful hand gun in the world is). But then, if the characters weren't real then the army bits would be dull and if the noodley army bits weren't there then the character's verisimilitude wouldn't work.

I have always thought that characters in thrillers would be the hardest to create. There has to be something about them that makes you believe that they are going to be able to do all the things they in, usually, 24 hours with no food and no sleep and still find the energy for rhomahncing bebe.

I liked Johna cause he is so flawed. He is such a crap spy, something he admits to himself at the end. But he is endearing because despite all his protestations to the contrary you know that he really wants to be an invincible tough guy, who is doing all this cause this is what he does rather than because he can't think of anything else to do. And you got to love a guy who has at his core such monumental self belief that he gets the beautiful woman - despite his ugly appearance - cause he is, in his battles scared magnificence, an alpha male. The Iraq Kuwait border is the land of the blind and it is only here that the one-eyed reprobate Johna can be king.

It is very rare that we ask ourselves what we want out of literature. I mean, have you ever consciously asked yourself, what it is you want from a book? I'd warrant that, like myself, it doesn't happen often. Most of us are content with muttering, `I don't know much about literature, but I know what I like.' and then wondering why, when we steam into a book shop all full of excited book buying jizz and zoom, it quickly descends into a moment of high stress mental paralysis:

`Do I go for the 3 for 2 Offer or do I actually go choose one book that I actually want off the shelves?'

Well after reading Rage I am going to have to do a bit of a rethink about what it is that I want out of literature. Cause clearly intelligent politically sensitive thrillers set in the Middle East are the new chick lit.

You read it here first.
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on 30 May 2006
I gulped it down in a two-sitting read; a hell of a ride into a world where all the rules are put on hold. A great cast of characters and electric setting; a sense of digging into the muck of conflict to get down to a stratum of intense hard-living. So satisfying, and heartening, to read a narrative with an edge and real freshness about it.
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on 31 May 2009
I bought this for my army officer boyfriend to send to him with,while he was away.Putting it into his box of usual goodies! He emailed me a week on and said how much he had enjoyed it, so I bought him 'Damaged' by the same author and sent that off to him.When he returned on leave he brought the books back with him.I meanwhile had had a bad fall from horse riding and was stuck indoors on the couch to mend.Being bored out of my brains,I found the said books and proceeded to read.They were fantastic,not a typical womans book,But then I am not a typical woman!! The main character an enthralling mix of emotions.The stories in both books were exeptional and I could not put either book down,until the last pages.I loved this writer and the books were both entertaining and well written.I will be looking out for this author again both for myself and my partner.
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on 11 September 2013
I enjoyed Rage, I liked the way the story moved back and forth and also the more psychological aspects of Jonah's character.
That said yet again Jonah survives more near death experiences then the proverbial cat which does move a very grounded narrative into the realms of fantasy. With Him around Britain could dispense with even more of its armed forces!
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