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on 27 March 2017
Always the same with Gerald Seymour, same as all my comments. Superb author, does his homework and so special.
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on 24 May 2017
Why I buy hardbacks.
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on 25 May 2017
Seymour always a good read
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on 26 April 2017
Great read.
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on 11 May 2017

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on 23 September 2013
I loved this book. Very gripping and kept me in suspense until the end. Great descriptions of the empty quarter in Saudi dessert. Obviously the book is fiction, however, it doesn't take too much of a stretch of the imagination to see that similar things probably do happen for real.
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on 5 September 2008
I would never have even picked up this book under normal circumstances, but a friend recently found himself in a foreign hospital for a while, and from their very limited library of English-language books read this and recommended it to me on his return... and I'm frankly sorry he did, because this is really just a very (very!) long shaggy dog story (minor spoilers follow.)

"Torn from today's headlines" it may be, but this is a tale driven by coincidence and ridiculous character motivations (it's the first book I've read in a long while that uses the notion of "love at first sight" with no irony whatsoever to trigger a huge plot shift.)

I'd have been far more interested in a whole novel based on the efforts of the UK and US agents travelling the UK to identify the terrorist, but sadly this was sidelined into a minor subplot, which in the end didn't even impact on the main story. Seymour can clearly write, but the story structure (is he paid by the word?) and characterisations could have done with a lot of editing, and the annoyingly inconclusive ending (sequel-friendly as it is) compounds the bad impression... no more for me I'm afraid!
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on 15 March 2004
The Unknown Soldier is the latest in a long line of polished and highly intelligent thrillers from Gerald Seymour. This is one of the most topical, dealing with the ongoing threat from Al Qaeda and portrays both the terrorists and those hunting them in a far more personal and insightful manner than most authors are capable of. Seymour’s objective description of the bombing campaign in Afghanistan and the conditions which exist in Guantanamo Bay are also a welcome relief from the biased, flag waving and generally ill informed writings of other western authors.
Exciting as the storyline is, the main strength of this book lies in the development of its characters. In contrast to other authors who choose the easy and simplistic option of having perfect, unblemished heroes battling fundamentally evil villains, Seymour’s characters are far more complex and realistic, depicting the ordinary and fallible human beings who lie behind the headlines in the real world, where characters like James Bond, or Jack Ryan for that matter, are about as far from reality as you are liable to get.
The only question mark I would place over this book is its very ambiguous ending which seems to suggest a sequel may be in the offing. If so, it should be one to look forward to.
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on 1 September 2004
Normally with Gerald Seymour you get a past-paced linear thriller. With "the unknown soldier" you get something quite different. I'd go as far as to say that its the first TRULY authentic post-9/11 thriller. It ties together half a dozen disparate threads and weaves them into one coherent story. This includes-
-A British born Al Queda terrorist crossing the "empty quarter" of Saudi Arabia by camal to rejoin his masters after being released from Camp Delta (Guantanimo bay)
-Two american technicians operating Predator drones to hunt terrorists near the Yemeni border
-A washed up british doctor scarred from working in Hebron now blackmailed into pasisng low grade intelligence to MI6.
-A young american female geologist hunting for meteorites in the desert.
-An American CIA agent working in Cuba interogating prisoners trying to identify "the unknown soldier" as he crosses the sand.
This technique SHOULD be interesting & done well can keep you turning the pages. Unfortunately there was too much flashback & too many fillers to keep you hooked... I hate to say it but this book bored me until the last 50 pages or so when everything came together. Ultimately I think it lacked plot, so therefore had little suspense. None of the characters were likeable.. the terrorist was so "mysterious" that I couldn't relate to him & the americans were so unpleasant and brutal that they seemed little better than terrorists themselves.
The story was accurate & does describe the problems & conflicts encountered as Al Queda are hunted down, but Gerald Seymour can normally do far better than this. I'd recommed it for a long journey when you can give it your undivided attention. Reading a dozen pages a night will prove tedious though.
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on 25 May 2008
This is Seymour's twenty-second thriller and it's up there with his best, though my favourite is still Archangel, a moving story about a man's doomed yet glorious fight against the authorities in a Russian Gulag.

As ever, Seymour is up-to-date with the world's headlines. The story begins in Afghanistan while various followers of Al Qaeda are being `mopped-up'. There's an interesting mix of characters whose lives are going to converge - and every one of them is believable, as are the subordinate characters, whether Arab, Israeli or American; a sure sign of thriller-writing of the highest order.

Caleb seems to have denied any past beyond two years ago. He survives an American ambush and is shipped off to Guantanamo Bay for processing; yet he doesn't seem to be a terrorist and after many months of interrogation he's returned to Afghanistan. Marty and Lizzy-Jo are two young Agency whizz-kids who fly the unmanned spy-planes, the Predators; they're being shipped out to Saudi Arabia.
Here already is Beth Jenkins, a school-teacher and amateur meteorologist and Bart, a doctor with a distinctly shady past, who happens to be one of several spies garnering any titbits for Eddie Wroughton, the Saudi MI6 man.
Back in London is Lovejoy, an old spy, who sits through briefings to understand the psychology of today's terrorists: the men Al Qaeda want to recruit for their dirty work are not loners, they want men who are tough, persistent, determined and bright.

Jed Dietrich is an interrogator in Guantanamo; while he was on vacation, Agency know-alls let Caleb go. On his return, he managed to unmask Caleb as a liar - too late, the man had beaten them all. The manhunt was on for someone wily enough to bide his time and beat the interrogators. Someone Al Qaeda would like to use, probably as a mule to deliver a lethal package to any city in the West.

The manhunt leads to the Empty Quarter - sand dunes and shallow mountains that cover a quarter of a million square miles of emptiness. And through the fire of the sun's unrelenting heat is a caravan with Caleb getting nearer to Al Qaeda and an appointment with immortal fame. Unless he can be stopped. Thoroughly researched, Caleb's journey becomes your journey and you can't help rooting for this brave young man who seems determined to blot out pain and other emotions just to reach his goal.
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