Nov 29, 2011

Book Review– The Russian - Battlefeild 3 by Andy McNab & Peter Grimsdale

The Russian - Battlefield 3 is a book tie in with one of the hottest gaming properties on the market. As befits the kind of money thrown behind the multimedia & merchandising campaign that such a release requires, publishers Swordfish have gone with a high calibre author as the front runner on the book. 

There are precious few authors that can bring the sort of credibility to military adventure stories that McNab does and he’s backed up by Peter Grimsdale an award winning television producer who’s turned his hand to writing.

So how does this one fly?
I haven’t played the game so its difficult to tell how restricted by the game narrative this story is.  Even with the gamer demographic aging, video game narratives are really only secondary to gameplay, something that aids immersion.  From other reviews I have read, it appears to stick fairly close.

The Story
In some ways it’s standard modern military adventure.  The mission, though difficult seems pretty straightforward until SNAFU happens. The novel dances around real world conflicts – the majority of the action is set in Iran, but it’s an Iran that is crumbling from within.  The Russians are trying to recapture lost suitcase nukes from a defector who is willing to back Iranian extremists. The Americans perched on the border in Iraq roll in to stabilise the country after an earth quake and a sniff of a nuclear threat.  The Russian hierarchy are portrayed as self serving, the American's as locked in post 9-11 thinking with obstructive and counter productive security.

There’s some originality in the main character being a Russian and a good guy and the secondary character in Marine Sergeant Henry Blackburn being the thinking man’s soldier and a true patriot.

The Verdict
Truthfully, it was entertaining, I found myself rushing to the end to find out what happens.  Ultimately though I wanted to invest myself more in the characters and with it being a tie in to a game there was this thought at the edge of my consciousness that kept me from from becoming too immersed.  It was the knowledge that these characters which I had grown to like were going to be gone after this novel. That they were fluff or padding for the main show (being the game).  Is this fair? I’m not sure.

I also felt that  the ending was a bit clipped.  Our protagonist saves the world but the antagonist gets his comeuppance off screen. I’d recommend it for military fiction lovers and those who don’t want to get caught up in reading a series. The setting and action is plausible and realistic.

This book was provided to me by the publisher at no cost

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