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4.2 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 4 June 2004
You have to admire James Herbert's willingness to experiment, even if the results aren't always successful. Following the animal reincarnation fantasy of Fluke, The Spear initially appears to be a return to horror territory, but in fact the majority of this novel reads like a James Bond-style spy thriller.
There's plenty of excitement and plot-twists on display, but on the downside when the villains' plans are revealed things go so over the top that it's difficult to take the novel seriously. The elements of horror also don't always mesh into the thriller style particularly smoothly - the zombie finale is fine, but elsewhere an otherwise exciting attempted murder on the lead character during a weapons testing session by a runaway tank is undermined by a later revelation that said tank was actually driven by the ghost of Heinrich Himmler (yes - really!).
All in all The Spear is fast moving and with some effective action scenes, but as a whole is a very pulpy (and occasionally downright corny) read - equal parts horror story, James Bond spies, and Indiana Jones-style occult Nazi romp.
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Back in 1978 we saw the release of James Herbert's fifth novel to be published, entitled `The Spear'. Following on from the likes of `The Rats', `The Fog, `The Survivor' and `Fluke', Herbert's next publication was highly anticipated by a growing audience.

The tale follows the principal character of Harry Steadman, an ex-agent for Mossad (the national intelligence agency for Israel) who now works as one of two partners within a private enquiry agency (similar to a private investigator's). Steadman is somewhat forced into helping out the British Secret Services to expose the organised and powerful fanatic organisation that is currently being run by some of the most powerful men in Britain.

During Steadman's investigations, a much more horrifying truth emerges surrounding this corrupt organisation of Neo-Nazi Thulists. A truth that is submerged in the occult and the dark power this group is attempting to wield from the spear that pierced Christ's side; the Spear of Longinus.

Littered with actual quotes from the likes of Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Hitler, `The Spear' has a storyline that finds itself predominately focussed on the atrocities and sheer evil behind these two historical individuals from World War II. Herbert carefully ties in their past to a modern day scenario. With a detailed complexity to the storyline, Herbert finds himself regularly detailing the plotline to the reader by way of a clichéd `bad guy to good guy explains the elaborate plotline' in an early James Bond movie way. This does come across as quite comical in places, but doesn't detract too much from the developing storyline.

The character of Steadman is another one of Herbert's typical charismatic characters who the reader can find themselves easily identifying with and indeed building up somewhat of a rapport with. His inner-torment at the violence portrayed within the novel, humanises the character, bringing out an array of sympathies from the reader towards the troubled man.

The book has the usual injection of sex and over the top violence that have become almost staple with Herbert's work (obviously with the odd exception here and there such as that of `Fluke'). Like with many of Herbert's novels, `The Spear' starts off as predominately more of an action packed crime thriller than a horror, until the dark and twisted truth is finally revealed. Snippets of the more supernatural side to the tale are thrown in on the odd occasion, but nothing to really sway the overall impression of the tale during the half of the book.

At times the elaborate storyline seems somewhat over complicated for what is actually transpiring. Herbert's intricate plot comes across as too carefully formulated without much thought given to how the explanation will be uncovered and eventually delivered to the reader. This is disappointing, especially from an author of Herbert's calibre.

The ending is suitably dramatic and conclusive. All subplots, however small, are quickly tied up leaving the grand finale to deliver its symbolic conclusion. `The Spear' is certainly not one of Herbert's stronger novels, but still delivers a thoroughly entertaining tale with an action packed storyline and an intricate plot.

The novel runs for a total of 253 pages and was published by New English Library.
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on 9 October 2016
In my opinion this is both a thriller and a horror story combined.the character s are both interesting and believable.the pace and story crack on at breakneck's hard to think this was written in 1978' really good
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on 17 September 2000
Herbert manages to write another highly original thought provoking tale. 'The Spear' is first class tale and one that really does make the reader sit up and think. This book really does put a chill right down your spine. Harry Steadman is another one of Herbert's charismatic characters who the reader quickly builds a rapport with. As with most other of his novels 'The Spear' is easily read in one sitting and is best appreciated this way.
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on 31 July 2015
Thoroughly enjoyed this book as I have with the other books, by James Herbert, that I have read

Although dated (smoking in hotel rooms??!!) the book is still riveting hence the five star rating I have given it

Now on to the next, again by James Herbert, this book will be a hard act to follow!!!
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on 25 February 2015
Was not sure if to read this as did not like the idea of the plot, but I thought what the hell and went for it. Glad I did as really got into it as soon as I started reading it. Great characters and story, and couldn't put it down. Well worth a read and totally recommend it. You will not be disappointed....😊
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on 29 April 2015
Violence, Sex, Sinister and Nazi's to boot - what's not to like. I rate this as one of the best in Herbert repertoire, and I have read them all. This said, I digested this aged 15, and am now 50 so will read again soon to see how it stands up to time and progress.
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on 31 January 2012
This is the first of several James Herberts I've read, and will certainly not be the last. However, it's certainly not the best. It's an interesting book in that it's classed as horror, like most Herberts, but it's not pure horror. It's mostly adventure or intrigue, with some supernatural elements. It's also something of a time capsule, given that it's written in the late 70's, when WWII was more recent history. However, it's not a blockbuster. You'll enjoy it if action is your thing, as it's genuinely exciting and the lines between good and evil are starkly drawn, but I doubt you'll like it if horror is your thing. It's certainly not for general readers. People who favour Nick Hornby or Sophie Kinsella will certainly not respect a book featuring zombie Nazis...
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on 14 October 2012
I brought this book in second hand paperback 30 years ago but never read it. So I got it on Kindle and read it.

It's an awesome read, vary gripping, action-packed and quite brutal in places.

Some Nazi fanatics raised Himmler back from the dead to lead their new Reich organisation with the plan of ruling the world. Stead an, private detective, ex-Mossad and ex-MI5 agent must stop them.

Note on Kindle version: no proplems with formatting, typos or anything else. Chapters with back and forth tabbing.
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on 22 January 2014
I first read this book in my teens and loved it then, so when I finally gave in a bought a Kindle this was one book I had to get. Really enjoyed revisiting the book that got me a reasonable grade in the book review part of my O level English and also made me look into Wagnerian opera.
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