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robert ludlum

Date first published Mar 1990
ISBN Number0 394 584082
Page Count602 h/b
h/b= hardback : p/b= paperback

The Bourne Ultimatum


David Webb aka Jason Bourne, is living in happy retirement, with a wife and two children. However his peaceful world is torn apart when someone accesses his secret file, luring Alex Conklin, and Mo Panov into a trap. So the scene is set for Bourne to start running again.

Bourne and Conklin start the search for the leak, and come across a far more wide reaching conspiracy. Medusa has resurrected itself as a powerful conglomerate, murdering anyone that stands in his way. Bourne is not concerned, he only wants closure on the one issue that scares him - the Jackal.

The battle for supremacy rages from the Caribbean to the depths of Russia for the final showdown, from one which only one will emerge victorious.

Bourne initially uses the new Medusa, to draw out the Jackal from his hiding place. However Medusa realising that they have been discovered use Bourne's own plan against him, and once again Bourne is on his own, never really sure who is friend or foe.



A warning. If you have seen the film, but not read the book, be prepared for a very different story. This is a story about two men intent on killing each other to prove who's best. The film, is more focused on who Jason Bourne is. There is virtually nothing from the book in the film. The book is definitely a story of it's time.

At the start of the book Bourne is stated at being 50, and in nowhere near the condition he was at his peak. It appears that some 10 years have passed since the events in the Bourne Supremacy.

There are a few faults with the book. Namely it is too long by a long chalk, and parts with the Jackal have been stretched to the limits. Bourne has a confrontation with the Jackal about a third of the way through, and that would have been a good place to end the matter. The rest of the books could then have focused on the Medusa crisis.

Another fault is the interlude where Mo Panov is kidnapped by the Mafia, he subsequent escape, and the dialogue with between the various Mafia parties, which borders on the offensive. The characters are very cliche, and the dialogue very poor, seeming to resolve around faux Italian English. The whole scenario does not really enhance the story, just gives Ludlum a reason for another shoot out.

The other poor area is the saga at Novograd, the hidden Russian training camp for would be spies. It is totally unbelievable, especially the Russians allowing an American into the camp. Bourne and the Jackal could well have had the final meeting anywhere in the world.

It is apparent that the Jackal has become totally deranged, and believes that he is creating a new order within Russia, something that goes against his previous character. The first appearance of the Jackal would indicate that he is very ill, yet this, and a later serious injury seem to be forgotten about.

So thats the bad points, is there anything good? Yes there is a very good book hidden amongst the waffle. The idea of a former Medusan creating a new version with economic power is a good one, and this part of the story is the better part of the book. Unlike the other Bourne books, he is not totally reliant on his own skills, he does have help from Conklin, a Russian KGB officer and former member of the French Secret Service. The latter two characters are quite engaging. The Russian, Communist to the heart, with strong capitalist leanings (want a nice house in Geneva?).

The Frenchman is also interesting. A former agent, put out to grass to early, and wanting action in his life. The three make an engaging team, and you actually care about them, Bourne, you don't really care about. His mania has returned, and he has no interest in others, whether he hurts them verbally or physically.

Parts of the book are a good read, other parts are just padding, and you can see why this was the end of the series. It had lost it's wind. Also with the death of the Jackal Jason Bourne's reason for existing also ceases. As with some of the later Ludlum novels the book suffers from over inflated dialogue, which does nothing for the story but wears you down. If people reacted in such a way as the characters, they would be on their own!

Not Ludlums best, but above par overall, some serious editing and a slight re-jigging of the plot could have made it a whole lot better.

3 and a half out of 5

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