Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Storm Force From Navarone - Sam Llewellyn

 Sam Llewellyn was granted authorisation in the 1990's to use Alastair MacLean's Navarone novels, and their characters, in novels of his own. I don't know anymore than that suffice to say he wrote two novels about Mallory and his Navarone team. This novel was written in 1996 and implausibly picks up immediately at the end of Force 10 From Navarone.

 In this implausibility Llewellyn is following on from MacLean who followed The Guns of Navarone with Force 10. This novels first chapter begins with Force 10's very last sentence! I'm not a fan of novels being picked up and continued on with a different author, ( the worst one being Scarlett, an authorised sequel to Gone With the Wind...rubbish!! ). I find the author who attempts it usually fails to capture the original author's feel and interpretations. In Storm Force the immediate thing I picked up on was that while Llewellyn wrote very similarly to Maclean there was indefinable difference. It was noticeable in the first two chapters or so but once I found Llewellyn's voice I didn't see this difference anymore. The essence of the novel is very much MacLean and in that regard Llewellyn is right on the money.

 Both MacLean's Navarone novels are very implausible and stretch things very imaginatively. Normally this distortion of history would bug me but I put it aside somewhat as he is a fine writer of adventure driven fiction. Of course the Navarone novels came to epitomise the mission impossible genre. Storm Force From Navarone is no exception and if anything Llewellyn ups the stakes in very Maclean type fashion. I started this novel last night and read 180 pages of its 267 before turning off the light. I finished it this evening just before dinner, so it is like MacLean in being a very light, easy read.

 The whole premise of this novel is pure historical nonsense! Mallory's team is to be parachuted into Southern France to find three 'Werwolf' U-boats, each capable of carrying 100 torpedoes and travelling under water at up to 40 knots!!!! Absolute fabrication and total historical nonsense! They are a danger to the Normandy landings and Mallory's team has to destroy them before they wreak havoc on the invasion fleet. Of course what follows is classic high adventure with the many highs and lows of a Maclean novel. The team surmount impossible odds in their efforts to first find the u-boats, which they then destroy with grenades. They even have MacLean's ambiguous traitor in their mix to muddy the waters.

 I've read a few reviews on this novel around the web and most of them are highly uncomplimentary. I didn't think it that bad! Once I settled into Llewellyn's writing style the novel had a very 'Maclean' feel to it Llewellyn must be commended for achieving that at least, after all Alastair Maclean is a hard act to follow. Overall I enjoyed this novel even though it pushed implausibility to the limit. But this implausible high adventure type novel is what MacLean excelled at and Sam Llewellyn has followed in his footsteps well. MacLean purists may grumble at Llewellyn but I don't think he has done a bad job and certainly hasn't demeaned MacLean in any way. It would be interesting to know what MacLean himself thought of this homage to his Navarone novels doesn't it?!

 Utter historical nonsense, but the Navarone novels were written as mission impossibles so the missions had to implausible to make them exciting. I liked this novel and think it is a fine follow on to Alastair MacLean's two Navarone novels. For me the final test is that if it were rubbish I wouldn't have been able to read it let alone finish it! Not MacLean, but not far off. Sam Llewellyn can certainly say he had a fine teacher!!

 Amazon has this with 3 out of 5 stars from 3 reviews. In all honesty I think this is fair because whilst competently written the plausibility is a little too much to take too seriously.

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