The Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this as part of a group read for the Action/Adventure Aficionados group on Goodreads. I'm glad this won the poll because it was a reason to read it sooner rather than later.
This book really shows the world of espionage and assassins in a way that feels realistic. I could be wrong, because I'm neither an assassin nor a spy, big surprise. The author takes the concept of how spies and assassins are made and starts with children who are more or less brainwashed or controlled by the need to please their father figure so that they make highly loyal 'soldiers'.
Saul and Chris are both orphans who meet in a boys school and look to Eliot as their father figure. While Saul seems to thrive in the life of an assassin, it cause Chris serious emotional damage. He is even at the point of a form a suicide which is compatible with his Catholic belief system when Eliot activates him to find Saul. Saul finished a mission for Eliot, but Eliot makes him a patsy in a huge conspiracy that involves the president's friend. When Saul and Chris unite, their loyalty as brothers supersedes the programming of Eliot as their father. From there, it becomes a game of cat and mouse where the master spy learns just how good his students are at the craft he has taught them.
This is a very good action thriller/suspense novel. It's set in the 80s, but it doesn't feel too dated, although the issues are related to that time and it goes back to the early days of what we consider the spy trade. The idea of the Abelard Sanction was brilliant. I don't know if that's real, but it seems like it would be something that actually exists. The training that Chris and Saul get to be assassins is pretty interesting and it goes beyond the typical special forces and martial arts training. One of my favorite aspects of this book was reading about the tradecraft as Saul and Chris try to stay one step ahead of their pursuers. Also liked Erika, a Mossad agent and old lover of Saul, who is Jewish. Morrell looks at religion in natural way. He doesn't treat is as a social ill, but a part of the makeup of people, although it can be manipulated by others, in the case of Chris.
I was sad about the fate of one of the characters. I wished better for that person. That's probably the one thing I would change. Otherwise, I was pretty satisfied with this book. There's even so good humor when Saul mentally torments his 'father' at the Rest Home. I checked and this was a TV movie back in the 80s. I would love a remake.
I recommend this book.
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