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The Gemini Contenders by Robert Ludlum
on 18 September 2011
As with the Bourne thrillers The Gemini Contenders is a fast paced novel with a generous mixture of action, suspense and plot twists. The main crux of the story is the quest to unearth sacred religious documents from the contents of an iron box, which if exhumed, could trigger a holy war and have a profound impact on the Second World War. As the book moves into the 1970s the threat of holy war diminishes and instead its acquisition becomes a personal goal of the two main antagonists who wish to reveal its contents for their own deluded purposes.
Although the politics and events of the second world war are a pretext to what prompts the hiding of the box, they play less and less of a role as the story unfolds. The story soon becomes inherently focused on the characters own little worlds and their individual quests. Even so there are references to fascism, nazism, MI6 and the Blitz and very minor connections with the characters lives and senior political figures such as Mussolini and Churchill. If you like books with real events and historical backgrounds that impact on the lives of the characters then this is not the strongest.
Throughout the book the story is told from the perspective of three generations of the Fontini-Cristi's, a powerful Italian family whose role in the world changes as the story progresses. Each member of the family embarks on their own personal quest in relation to the contents of the box. Savarone Fontini-Cristi's quest is to hide the box whilst his son Vittorio's is to understand what his father had hidden and to try and locate it. Finally it is Vittorio's two twin sons Adrian and Andrew, the Gemini's, whose quest it becomes to finally get to the box and reveal its contents, all be it for very different reasons.
The change in direction towards the end of the book kept the story fresh, but it felt a little less realistic. I particularly found the Eye Corps scenario a little unbelievable. However, when the contents of the documents are revealed at the end, I found the revelation quite believable and also unexpected!
A very well written book that was hard to put down. I would certainly give Robert Ludlum's other novels a read.