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robert ludlum

Date first published27 May 2010Bourne Objective
ISBN Number9-781-40910163-5
Page Count437 h/b
h/b= hardback : p/b= paperback

The Bourne Objective


Facing down Mercenaries in Africa, Bourne witnesses the death of an art dealer named Tracy Atherton. Her death triggers flashbacks to the killing of another young woman in Bali. A woman who entrusted to Bourne a strangely engraved ring, an artifact of such significance that people are willing to kill for it. Bourne is determined to hunt fo the ring's owner and discover its true purpose.

Bourne's trail leads him through layers of conspiracy to a vicious Russian mercenary Leonid Arkadin, who, like Bourne was a graduate of the Central Intelligence training program Treadstone. A covert course designed to create ruthless assassins, it was shut down by Congress for corruption. But before it was dismantled, it produced Bourne and Arkadin, giving them equal skill, equal force and cunning.

As Bourne's destiny circles closer to Arkadin's, it becomes clear their eventual collision is not of their own making. Someone else has been watching and manipulating both men. Someone wants to know, who is the more deadly agent? Perhaps they will find out.



I have to admit I have lost the thread with the current Bourne series. Perhaps it is because I have missed an installment (The Bourne Sanction), or simply the book makes too many assumptions about the reader. Whilst it may be accepted that the true Bourne fan will have bought each installment in turn, the book should be able to stand on its own, without the reader having to have read the rest of the series. You can read any of the first 3 books in any order, and the basic story makes sense. To my mind this doesn't.

If you had the basic Bourne/Arkadin battle of wits you could get away with it, but behind the scenes you also have the ongoing saga of CI's take over by the NSA, and the aftermath of a company called Black River. I'm not sure whether either are really important to the series, and I'm not sure I really care!

I also got confused about the number of players involved, you have Bourne, Arkadin, Willard, Soraya, and a number of others all vying for equal space in the story. Besides the main characters you also have a number of Arkadins henchmen, and of course Bourne's mystic gurus. Confused? I was. The problem was also made worse by the fact that I didn't get a chance to read the story in a relatively short space of time, it took me nearly 2 months, which may not have helped.

I think the essence of the original Bourne has been lost. A special sort of secret agent, hired, trained to do a single special job. he then is seriously injured, causing persistent amnesia. The original books deal with him trying to sort out his life, fact from fiction, whilst trying to stay alive from the men who trained him, and his original target (The Jackal). The two later books follow a similar pattern, where he was manipulated into coming out of retirement for one reason or another.

In these later books I can't see what his motivation is. In Legacy he had effectively retired into academic life, but his violent path catches up with him, and Conklin. Now he seems to be wandering the world aimlessly looking for trouble. He also seems to have become some sort of mystic creation with a path to a destiny.

There is a lot of action, but it seems to me a lot of it is retread, gone is the sophistication of evasion disguise and guile, now it seems to be a bull in china shop mentality. We also have characters appear which leads to violence, without ever fully understanding how they know/knew Bourne, and who then end up dead before the question is answered.

In the first three books, the story was fast paced, with evasion being the name of the game, before an explosion into violence, usually because Bourne/Marie had made a minor error which allowed their enemies to trace and attack. Now Bourne seems oblivious to evasion and we get fight, after fight.

The other issue is Bournes age. He served in Vietnam, so as the stories are set in modern day, I would think that he is now around the 75 mark. Yet can take on everyone he meets. Obviously time lines do get bent a bit (The Dirk Pitt series for instance has got very confused, but it has been sorted with the acceptance that Dirk is getting older), here Bourne is still in his late forties, perhaps early fifties. I also get the feeling the original amnesia is brought back into play when the author gets stuck with the storyline, or the plot has reached an impasse.

The book is not awful, just not very good. It could have done with a good edit, lose some of the characters, and lose some of the mystic mumbo jumbo.

I may well read this book again, once I have added the Bourne Sanction to the collection, and perhaps read the later series right from the start. In which case this review might change.

2 out of 5

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27 Oct 2011

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